Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Saturday, September 30, 2006

POA Meets at Harry's

The Santa Barbara Police Officers Association met at Harry's Plaza Cafe the other day to vote on whether to accept the City's "last, best and final" contract of 24.2 percent over three years. This wasn't a typical union meeting, however, as POA President Mike McGrew made sure that members of the press and two council members were present. What the News-Press didn't tell you is that it took a motion and a vote from the rank and file to get them out of the room for members to discuss the contract.

Much like chess champion Vladimir Kramnik's silly, unprofessional grandstanding this week over bathroom rights at the World Chess Championsip, one has to wonder how much of this meeting was for a straight up and down vote on the contract and how much of it was pure grandstanding in anticipation of a ballot measure next election.

Orginally the POA came in with a request of 10% and the City came in a couple of percent under -- is that what it's really about? They are lucky that they have gotten their health care paid for in the past as far as I am concerned -- most employers maybe pay for half. I want our police officers paid what they deserve and commensurate with other cities -- but how far do we have to go to get there? No very far but it might take some sacrifices on both sides...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A nice website on police salary...

Salary Wizard

Median salary for Santa Barbara... $50,557.

Ventura median salary is $50,869. Lompoc... $49,880. Santa Maria... $49,880. Los Angeles... $52,301. Long Beach.... $51,855. Monterey... $50,589. Orange County... $50,935. San Diego... $49,346. Santa Cruz... $50,970. San Jose... $55,098.

That the POA wants 24% is not supportable by these comparisions. I say... if they want an initiative, bring it on. Then there will be a big discussion of their huge salary request, their retirement at 50, the inflation adjustments on their pensions, and the relative lack of danger in polic work relative to other professions.

I am in no way anti-Police. They deserve a fair raise. But 24% is out of line, and they turned it down!

9/30/2006 12:14 PM  
Anonymous emily said...

Hasn't this City lost perspective on what it's supposed to be all about? Our police force cannot keep up with the petty crime that's rampant these days. My neighbors have reported an alarming number of recent thefts, tagging is seriously everywhere, and we all know this place has way too many traffic-pedestrian-cyclist fatalities for a city of this size. Is this related to underpaid police force? I sure want them to be happy, not frustrated on the job. Yet at the same time, we have a very well-paid planning staff ready and willing to usher in all kinds of development, whether it fits or not. I say more $$$ for police, and a lot less for planners. (And does anyone remember the $35 million de-sal boondoggle? Where did that money come from?) Our City officials are now so concerned with fiscal responsibility, but they may really be missing the point. It matters where you put your dollars.

9/30/2006 4:24 PM  
Anonymous Valerio said...

Is Santa Barbara going to be better if planners are paid even less? Is more INexperience by staff going to make a better City?

Maybe they should be paid the same or more, so they are more accountable for doing a better job? But that would mean the City authorities also would need to exercise their authority to make sure those same planners also do not get away with sloppy or lazy work and also do what the upper management and City Council tell them to do.

9/30/2006 5:29 PM  
Blogger john san roque said...

There are two types of comments I see on this subject. The people supporting the raise (like Emily above) cite problems and make the assumption that paying police more will solve those problems (e.g. bike accidents). Or they cite issues which I believe are irrelevant, like the cost of the desal plant or the undocumented assumption that planning staff is paid too much.

One the other side are the people who question the amount of the raise requested. These people are not anti-police. They just want to see some comparative fiscal data and where the requested raise would place SB police officers. Maybe I missed something, but I keep hearing the SB police say that they are underpaid in comparison with other cities' police, but they haven't been willing to put out any data, or to consider some type of arbitration solution.

I don't know what they should be paid, but they could bolster their argument with some easy-to-prepare facts and numbers. I think the initiative is a bluff, and I think they'd lose a public vote with the information available now.

9/30/2006 7:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, compared to salaries in other cities, a 24% pay increase on top of their current benefits is really excessive. Does that median salary include overtime?

How many boats and RV's will that pay increase buy?

Maybe if they get that kind of pay increase, we should look at the super generous retirement package. Wow, retirement at 20 years with full medical benefits. With increased life expectancies, maybe it's time to look at 30 or 40 years before retirement.

I compare their salaries with those in the military who truly do face life threatening dangers every day. Many are returning home with severe injuries, both physical and mental. Although their work is far more dangerous and life threatening, they are paid much less. On top of that, they're even required to be in much better physical condition than SB's finest. It was really sad to read about the West Point graduate who, as a black, female 2ndLt was killed recently by an IED -- and those are every day occurences.

Oh, if only we could apply the physical and weight standards required of the military to those of the SBPD.

I doubt if more pay will adress issues of more tagging and traffic-pedestrian-cyclist fatalities. I'm not sure how the police could have prevented the death of the teen cyclist a couple of weeks ago. I never see the police even bother with enforcing helmet laws.

I don't think the City has lost perspective on what it's supposed to be about. Why not less pay for police AND less pay for planners. A 28% pay increase is fiscally irresponsbile.

I'm willing to give our City officials more credit of trying to maintain some fiscal responsibility without being held hostage by the Police Union.

9/30/2006 8:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a straight salary comparison doesn't cut it. Are condos in those other communities $1 million plus? I don't think so. Give them what they want and start discussing housing too. If we can do it for the Cottage Nurses, why not the PD and Fire Department? Don't forget the City helped Police Chief Cam Sanchez get housing to take the job here.

9/30/2006 8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They will lose a public vote because they are acting like bullies. From their intimidation tactics in council chambers and their hysterical 9-11 Emergency campaign, to their recent thuggish, rampant misuse of tasers, it's clear there is a massive leadership problem at the SBPD. The City Council needs to clean house. Get some leaders who can instill some professionalism in their officers, then maybe we can consider a raise. But not for what we're getting today.

9/30/2006 10:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Condos here are not $1 million plus... more like $800K in Santa Barbara and $600K in Goleta, less in Lompoc.

Monterey, San Jose, and San Diego are pretty comparable to Goleta and Lompoc, and even parts of Santa Barbara.

Affordable housing for law enforcement officers is a terrific idea.

10/01/2006 1:02 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

IMHO, this whole issue could be solved quite easily. What SBPD wants to do is use the same cities for salary comparisons that the top paid administrators use when they negotiate salaries.

I don't see a problem with doing that. This way everybody within city employement has to use the same comp's - when city administrators got a notable pay raise, the PD wanted to use the same comp cities. The CFO said no way - the PD says "why not".

When you remove the pick and choose mentality of the administrators (I'll get mine but I'll be damned if I'll let you get yours) and level the playing field, (if we all use the same cities then I can't make this an issue)then you remove a very big obstacle in salary negotations.

Just make it fair. JMHO dd

10/01/2006 8:29 AM  
Anonymous Civil Service said...

102 am: civil service rules for comparison cities won't allow for your cherry picking. Where was the outcry when City Admin. Armstrong's salary shot above 200K? based on a comparison of certain locales. Logic---and past practice===demand the same comps for other salaries including [but not limited to] Police. Keep in mind---the 28% is over a three year period.

So your snide comments about running out to purchase rvs, boats and other comments about weight requirements really belie your antipathy towards law enforcement.

10/01/2006 9:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds good dd... what's great about an initiative is that someone like the League of Women Voters, who are pretty neutral, can publish a comprehensive table of comparisions, and include all the benefits, retirement, etc.

Otherwise it seems to me both sides... the POA and the Council... do their best to bury the kind of information that would help a truly neutral party reach a fair decision.

A pox on the both of the sides.

10/01/2006 9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would agree with dd at 8:29, so long as the comp cities are in fact comparable (which are they?) and, especially if it includes all city employees, including the teachers!

Why should the city administrators AND the police get a break that's not coming to the teachers? (At the risk of offending the park employees and janitors, I can see some argument for excluding those for whom there is private sector work that is not much available, for instance, to the teachers.)

10/01/2006 10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems to be both a moral and ethical issue. Use one set of numbers for the City Administrator, and then essentially spit on the PD.

Can we justify the increase Jim Armstrong gave himself? Hardly.

I'm for giving the PD more money and housing.

10/01/2006 1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good point, why not contract out a lot of the work being done by the Parks Department and pass the saving on to the Police and Fire Departments?

10/01/2006 1:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I say let's replace the police leadership - they can't control their officers - then bring in some new brass according to the city administrator salary comparison method. A better-run department without a bunch of half-wit thugs brutalizing people will attract good officers at the same pay as today. $70k is plenty - ask any veteran officer and they will tell you that bad, out of control new hires are giving them a bad name and destroying morale.

10/01/2006 1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

$70k is chicken feed. Couldn't even buy a condo on that salary, let alone raise a family.

10/01/2006 2:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've heard that Bill Brown is interested in the SBPD chief's job, quietly trying to make an end run around Sanchez's back.

Wonder if the officers would like to have Brown?

10/01/2006 3:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing new, seems like this was the same tactic used when Mr. Armstrong was Manager for the City of Fullerton:

City Manager Armstrong also noted that, with the exception of the three new Police Officer positions, the new budget continues the trend of the past six years to downsize: "Overall, the number of City employees has been reduced 16 percent over the past seven years.

"I am extremely proud of how our employees have responded to the years of downsizing and reduced funding, and I am especially proud of the higher levels of productivity they have achieved. The citizens are extremely fortunate to have such a dedicated and conscientious group of employees working for them."

This being the case, outsource some city services and pay those in charge of public safety more.

10/01/2006 5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's outsource the City Manager's Job. A well educated Brit or even better, an English-speaking East Indian could be had for much cheaper than $200K. Probably could get them for $80K. Let `em videoconference with everyone.

10/01/2006 8:41 PM  
Anonymous can't make it on $70K said...

Because everyone in Santa Barbara should be able to afford to buy a condo, and if they could, the prices would not go up.

And because no one ever raised a family on an income of ONLY $70K per year!!

IF the POA keeps pushing this and really thinks a 24% raise is not enough, they better get used to these themes, especially with overtime pay they easily make more than $100K and thus work the same overtime hours most professionals, with advanced degrees, earn for even less than a six-figure salary.

10/01/2006 10:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I am extremely proud of how our employees have responded to the years of downsizing and reduced funding, and I am especially proud of the higher levels of productivity they have achieved. The citizens are extremely fortunate to have such a dedicated and conscientious group of employees working for them."

Almost sounds like Wendy and the NP

10/02/2006 7:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think many here are missing some key points. Ordinarily, in a city where the City Administrator doesn't have a strangehold on his negotiatiors, this deal would have been done long time ago. In fact the current offer would have been accepted by the POA at anytime. What has happened is that the negotiations dragged on for so long that next years health insurance costs were released. They show a gigantic increase. Had the City signed the POA a couple of weeks ago, it would have been too bad, deal closed. But because the contract is still open the POA realizes that a great deal of their raise will go to covering increases in their health insurance, keeping them still farther behind the average. Obviously they will try to recover the costs while negotiations are still open. Expect this to go past Christmas and run into the Firefighter negotiations of next year. Armstrong is in total control and that is where the battle lies. You don't really think that anyone is expecting the Mayor to be able to solve this? Or Council? They simply aren't up to the task.

Wherever you come down on this wage issue, isn't it a terrrible indictment of City leadership that this issue has been characterized by the most petty, childish behavior all the way around. It is truly an embarrassment.

10/02/2006 8:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even $100K doesn't seem like enough.

10/02/2006 9:42 AM  
Anonymous Where's the Leadership??? said...

The current Council majority, and especially the MAYOR is completely controlled by the CITY ADMINISTRATOR---to the detriment of the community....this was also the case during Tripp-Jones tenure though we had a stronger Mayor and Council. But that downfall is what brought us the "dig your heels in" approach to the discrimination lawsuits against the SBPD...and is now bringing us the dig your heels in approach to the SBPD contract. Come on Council--we need LEADERS----a MAJORITY of LEADERS---NOW
or you are all on your last term, believe me

10/02/2006 10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:58, it's also an indictment of SBPD leadership. Unfortunately the cops are venting their frustration with tasers.

10/02/2006 1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The PD aren't the only one's getting their health care paid for. All City employees do (except temps) - it's a gravy train.

10/02/2006 1:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Mayor and Council are a rubber stamp for the City Administrator, nothing more.

10/02/2006 8:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1:34 PM

You really don't know what you are talking about. Health care is a nationwide crisis and your mistaken belief that City employees get all their health care paid is only feeding the bad information machine. You could check it out, it might actually require some work, but it can be done.

10/02/2006 8:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could do the same, but here you go, from the City's website:

Vacation is accrued at ten days per year for most employees and increases with City service.

Nine holidays are observed per year with an additional four floating personal leave days (pro-rated the first year).

Sick leave is accrued at the rate of one day per month.

City-paid retirement coverage is available for all employees under the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS). The City does not participate in Social Security.

Employee must pay an amount equal to 1.45% of salary toward Medicare. An equal amount is paid by the employer.

Health Insurance, including medical, dental, vision, and psychological benefits, is available through a cafeteria plan.

Life insurance coverage is provided by the City. Supplemental and dependent life insurance are available through the Cafeteria plan.

Uniform allowance or uniforms may be provided by the City.

A Deferred Compensation Program (457) and a Credit Union are available.

10/03/2006 6:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not a mistaken belief, I've got friends that work for the city. The go to the doctor for everything, colds, scratches, etc. All paid for.

10/03/2006 11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All the more reason the City should give the PD better health benefits.

10/03/2006 11:47 AM  
Anonymous harping said...

Where's the Leadership??? is right. The best thing that can be said about our current mayor & council is that they are not corrupt. I guess we should look at what happened in San Diego (& many other cities) to feel grateful. By comparison, our well-meaning but inept "leaders" are paragons of virtue.

10/04/2006 7:27 PM  

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