Oh, let me get my little violin for the poor policeman!

11 Mar

The Chico PD and fire department are the biggest salary suckers in town. Together they take about 85 percent or more of our city pie, with the cops getting over half.

It’s not just their salaries, which were artificially raised along with all city workers by that MOU that linked pay to revenue INCREASES but NOT DECREASES. The cops and fire department are the worst because they have managed to get overtime written in to their contracts. They are guaranteed a certain amount of overtime, and given just about as much as they want beyond that. Some of them double their salaries with overtime, a practice know in the industry as “spiking.”

Spiking has driven our city employee costs through the roof, especially pension costs. See, cops and fire are allowed to retire at 90 PERCENT of their highest year’s salary. So, you got these people who agreed to salaries in the $50 – 80,000 range, “spiking” their pensions up to  $100,000 plus. Fire Chief John Brown retired a couple of years ago at over $206,000. I used to watch this man struggle to stay awake in meetings, just so he could give his two cents that overtime saves money over new hires. What a crock of bullshit, but council has bought this line for years, allowing the police and fire departments to suck the city dry without really providing any service.

Another problem with the fire and police departments is workman’s comp. For two years running, I’ve heard Malfeasance Director Jennifer Hennessy report that we are “again” overbudget in this fund, due to excessive injuries in the Chico police  and fire departments.

So yesterday we are treated to a front page story in the Enterprise Wreched – “Officer who suffered career-ending injury in Chico riot dies in Willows.” 

I usually try to avoid disrespect for the dead, but I’m certainly not going to try to manufacture any phony respect for a guy who saw an opportunity to rack up some overtime playing “Riot Cop” in another town when he knew damned well he had a bad knee and didn’t have any business on active duty. 

According to Greg Welters epic sob story, then-47-year-old Willows police sargeant Bill Carter injured himself during the Rancho Chico day “riots” of 1990. But as you read the story, a few things stand out.  At some point during the mayhem, Carter claimed, “Something popped in his left leg, and he knew his knee had become dislocated.”  Yes, he knew his knee had become dislocated, because it had happened before.

What was a 47 year old man with a bad knee doing at a riot in another town? 

Well, of course, he was SPIKING HIS SALARY. And, he got his cherry on top – retirement with full disability at 47 years old, with a pension based on that last years spiked salary. 

And now I’m supposed to cry for a guy who just spend the last 20 years milking a bad knee? He even went on to another job – how ironic – he went into fraud investigation work. Maybe he should have investigated himself. Read the story – at several points, he knew his knee was injured, but he made the decision to keep re-injuring himself, until he had an injury that was sure to end his “career” and set him up for life.

Cry for a 69 year old man who just died after milking the system for the last 20 plus years? I don’t think so. I think there should be a special place in Hell for people who take advantage of the public trust. And their widows, too. 

When I did some research regarding knee injuries, I found a list of specific jobs in which knee injuries are considered part of the game – three were sports, the fourth was carpet layer. Neither cops nor firefighters were on the list. Only jobs in which a repetitive action will result in a predictable type of injury were listed. For carpet layers, it’s the knee kicker that moves the carpet into place. That will also give a person a hernia. So will carrying giant rolls of carpet onto a job site without any assistance. My husband has had both of those injuries, but because he’s a contractor instead of a publicly-paid trough sucker, we had to pay the doctors out of our own pocket, and he’s not eligible for workman’s comp, so he was just unemployed. 

The next two reasons given for the average knee injury were age and obesity. I didn’t know Bill Carter, but let’s face it – 47 is old for any active job. You wouldn’t have found a 47-year-old Nolan Ryan running out to fight with drunk 20-somethings in a riot. Any adult should have better sense. I think Carter did it on purpose, but that’s my opinion.

There also ought to be a special place in hell for journalists who write this kind of crap, but it’s about what I’ve come to expect from Greg Welter. Welter never writes a story that’s NOT slanted. He’s on the cop beat – funny, he was also on the Redevelopment Agency’s “citizen’s oversight committee” a few years back. The committee that was disbanded on Scott Gruendl’s request when I and some other citizens asked that the commitee’s activities be opened up to the scrutiny of the public. I was put on their e-mail chat list, and I read over the conversations they were having among themselves. At one point, when other members balked at the (then) $40 million price tag for the new police station, Welter argued that the cops should get whatever they want. “Whatever we do, ” he cautioned, ” we (the RDA committee) don’t want to be perceived as ‘anti-police’…” 

I don’t know why he’s so worried about being perceived “anti-police”.   Maybe he should try to be perceived as an honest journalist who writes unbiased stories. But maybe that’s not why he got into journalism, I don’t know. 

6 Responses to “Oh, let me get my little violin for the poor policeman!”

  1. Joseph March 11, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

    What’s the lesson here?

    Well, ol’ Willie Nelson’s gonna have to write a song called “Momma’s Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Private Sector Workers.”

    Make sure they become gummit workers, especially fire fighters or cops.

    There’s a book called “How Public Employee Unions Are Raiding Treasuries Controlling Our Lives And Bankrupting the Nation” which pretty much sums up the situaton.

    You are right again Juanita, but remember, there is nothing too good for our government masters and their minions, especially their henchmen.

  2. Joseph March 11, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    “Welter never writes a story that’s NOT slanted.”

    What passes for journalism in this town is pathetic.

    You look at what the ER and TV and radio news report and it is pretty much all slanted.

    These “journalists” just regurgitate what the local government officials tell them. Never any analysis or questioning. I can’t tell if it’s just because these “journalists” are lazy or naive. I’m guessing both.

    From Welter to little Katy what’s her name to the reporters on channels 12 and 24 there is no real journalism in this town.

    • Joesph March 11, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

      Dang, that’s outrageous.

      But our union friends will tell us “Nothing to see here. folks. Just move along” and then of course tell us we must raise taxes to avoid catastrophic cuts that will cause the sky to fall.

      • Juanita Sumner March 12, 2012 at 6:32 am #

        Well, I realize, we are surrounded by public workers. I am, literally – my neighbors to the west are both teachers at Chico State, my neighbor to the east is a teacher in the Oroville school district, and my neighbor to the south works for Chico State. I don’t know what the fellow who lives behind me does, but his wife runs a day care full of teachers’ kids.

        We’re becoming like Greece – at least Chico is – with about a third of our workforce being publicly employed. The shit won’t really hit the fan until these people are either asked to shoulder the full burden of their pension packages (hah!), or when they just don’t get their checks anymore.

        I had a friend who worked for a company that suddenly went under – his last paycheck BOUNCED!

    • Juanita Sumner March 12, 2012 at 6:28 am #

      thanks Rick, this is a barnburner.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: