I got a few questions for Ken Campbell

8 Dec

NOTE: a person recently tried to contact me through the ER editor – if you want to discuss this post look for the “comment” button at the bottom of the page. If you want to be anonymous let me know or use an acronym.

A week or so ago, firefighter and fire department political action committee chairman Ken Campbell wrote a pretty condescending letter to the Enterprise Record, insinuating that anybody who criticized the fire department would change their mind if they just came down for a tour of a fire station.

He says, “In the last month there have been a few letters to the editor criticizing the response of the emergency services within the city of Chico, particularly the Fire Department.” But I looked, I never found any letters to that effect. What I did find were comments regarding the fire department budget, the contracts and the excessive amounts the city is paying for the “employee’s share” of the benefits.

Stephanie Taber brought up these points in her response to Campbell.

Reference Ken Campbell’s (Chico Fire Dept.) letter of December 1 which invites the public to visit a Fire Station and talk with any department member so we the public can better understand their mission.

I think the public knows fairly well what the department’s mission is; what we don’t understand is why it costs us so much.  Of the $13 million dollar Fire Department budget $11.5 million is spent on salaries, holiday pay, overtime, gym fees, wellness physicals, and “other” benefits.  That “other” category includes Fire personnel’s share of their pension retirement benefits.  Why are we paying that 7% when we already pay the employer (taxpayer) share?  Why are we paying the employer AND employee share of FICA from the date of hire till retirement?  Why are we paying $350 each month, tax free, for every Fire Department employee toward their retirement medical from the time of hire till retirement at 50?  Do you know how many more firemen we could hire if just that one part of the department’s benefit package were eliminated?  Then add to that the Fire Department employee’s 7% share of their pension benefit and I’ll bet we’re talking about being able to fully staff the Fire Department and the elimination of all that overtime.

The City Manager should invite Chief Berry to discuss Fire personnel’s job responsibilities.  And I’d like to invite the IAFF to explain why the 47% (low income earners) should continue to pay the top 1% (Fire Dept. personnel) incredibly generous benefit package.”

To which local liberal shoofly Ron Sherman responded, “I guess you have a rather selective memory. The current contracts are successors to those approved by the conservative Chico City Councils dominated by Rick Keene and Larry Wahl, so that they could secure the endorsement of the fire department.”  Sorry, Ron, again you are confused – Larry was the only one who voted NO on that contract. It’s up for renewal right now, and our “liberal-dominated” council is about to give it the old rubber stamp, three of them having already approved the same contract, two others sure to follow their mentors on to Perdition. That’s five to two – SWOOSH! And, I’m betting Morgan will also sign the contract, he’s already made it clear he’s up there to represent “the public safety ‘workers'”.

I couldn’t find the contract now up for consideration – I think it’s buried somewhere on the city website – if anybody can send me a link, I’d appreciate it. But, here’s the current contract:

http://ebookbrowse.com/iaff-mou-pdf-d33663777

You might have to cut-and-paste that link, but it’s worth it.  It’s a confusing yet interesting read, just stick with it. For example, I have finally  figured out how they manage to rack up so much overtime – some of them as much as double their agreed-upon salary with overtime. For one thing, they are guaranteed a 56 hour week. That’s 16 hours of overtime, given for starters. And get aload of this – every week the captain is supposed to determine whether or not he’s going to need a firefighter to work his overtime. Or, get ” Compensated Time Off in Lieu of Overtime“. That means, instead of working and getting paid for an hour of overtime, the firefighter can take time off, at a rate of an hour and a half off for each hour of overtime.  And, at the end of the year, the firefighter can exchange his unused CTO for pay, again, at a rate of one and a half hours pay for every hour of CTO accrued.

Yeah, you better read that again. I’m not sure, but it almost looks like they’re  getting an hour and a half for an hour, and then getting an hour and a half for every hour of that.  For example, 4 hours of overtime becomes six hours of CTO, and then each hour of that CTO is worth an hour and a half of pay? What? 

What I understand loud and clear is, they get paid for overtime they don’t even work, overtime that is scheduled in UNNECESSARILY. Simply to guarantee a fat salary.

In his insulting little letter to the ER, Campbell suggests “The department would welcome the opportunity to answer all questions and explain what citizens receive for .41 cents a day. If you are unsatisfied with the answers you receive, then write a letter to the editor and state your opinions with credibility because you actually did some homework and tried to gain complete understanding.” 

Well, I did my homework, Ken, and now you got some explaining to do alright.

UPDATE:

Well, just when I got around to complaining about that section of the fire contracts, it has already been changed.

(I can’t post the link, for some bizarre reason, you have to go to the city website, hit the bar at the top of the home page that says, “How do I…” and then choose “Get city salary/benefits information”, then choose “Labor Agreements” from the menu at the left. And you thought you’d never find a needle in a haystack!)

The section I”m referring to above is almost cut out of the new contracts – they’ve completely eliminated the section that says “exchange his unused CTO for pay at a rate of one and a half hours pay for every hour of CTO accrued.”  They don’t call it “compensated time off” anymore, they call it “compensating time off,” which means, they get the time off but don’t get paid? I’m still wondering there.

But, they still get 16 hours of scheduled overtime, and can exchange it, for whatever reason, for an hour and a half of (paid?) time off for every hour of overtime they actually work.  They are certainly getting paid for time they aren’t even at the station (grocery shopping with the hook and ladder?!), much less “working”.  And then, if there’s a need while they’re on CTO, another firefighter is called in, probably on overtime him/herself.

This is left to the discretion of the chief. Yeah, Chief Beery, the guy who closed Station 5 because he was pissed at the city for cutting his budget $90,000.

This is the scam through which some of these people as much as DOUBLE their agreed upon salary with overtime, still crying for more hires.  I’m still asking  Ken Campbell – why does the fire department get guaranteed overtime, even when it’s not needed? Why can’t  the fire department be staffed just like any other 24 hour business?

5 Responses to “I got a few questions for Ken Campbell”

  1. Ken Campbell December 10, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    Thanks for the big smile this morning Juanita, your my favorite fiction writer! Your a Hoot!

    • Juanita Sumner December 10, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

      Ken, I took the stuff right out of your current contract. I’ve said, it’s confusing, I’d like some explanation, and you, the president of the firefighter PAC, come back baiting me for a fight? Just like the night you accosted my husband and I behind City Hall, in the dark. Now you call me a liar from behind your keyboard, but you don’t have any facts to back it up?

      When I was mistaken, I made a correction. Although, I still don’t understand alot of the double talk in your contracts.

      Plus, “your” spelling is horrible. “You’re” in need of a first grade reading and writing lesson.

      This is the kind of “quality” employee we attract with these salaries – Campbell makes over $120,000 a year – is that right Ken? Hello, Ken?

      I hope you don’t mind if I quote you in the letter I’m writing to the editor.

    • Juanita Sumner December 10, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

      I’d also like to remind everybody that Ken is the guy who was lectured by Bob Evans at a council meeting last summer for spreading false information among the neighbors regarding the closure of Station 5. Evans ande other council members received some pretty rude and even threatening e-mails because Ken Campbell and some other firefighters walked the adjacent neighborhood telling people that the city council closed Station 5 and they should complain to the council. It was actually Chief Beery who made the decision to close Station 5.

      That was over a $90,000 budget cut, which is less than Ken Campbell’s salary.

      Furthermore, the city spends over $425,000 a year paying the employee’s share of pension premiums. That’s just for the fire department. I got that figure from Mark Sorensen, who got it from Jennifer Hennessy.

      Ken, I have to ask, on a salary of over $120,000/year, why can’t you pay your own “employee share”?

      • Joseph December 11, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

        Ah, come on Juanita.

        Don’t be so tough on poor ol’ Kenny.

        After all, he’s a hero, dontcha know?

        Just like all cops and fire people, heck, just like all government employees.

        After all, don’t you know your government loves you and everything it does is for the children. Hey, it takes a village, ya know?

        Kenny will continue to get his 6 figure salary as long as he wants and when he retires in his 50’s he’ll get a six figure pension for life and when he dies his spouse will continue to get the six figure pension for her life.

        But hey, he’s a hero. He shouldn’t have to pay a cent for that 6 figure pension. After all, he’s entitled, just like all of our government overlords.

        Now you and your husband just get back to work so you people can generate more tax revenue for your government masters.

      • Juanita Sumner December 12, 2012 at 6:29 am #

        Thanks for coming on over Joseph, it’s been boring without you. Ken’s no fun – he snipes and then he runs, like a chickenshit. Trying to get straight answers out of the fire department is like a greased pig contest – you mess with these people, and all you will get is shit all over your clothes.

        I’ll tell you what’s really frustrating though – I attended the Finance Committee meeting, and they discussed the failure of Measure J. All Nakamura had to offer was threats to lay off cops and close a fire station. When I asked Jennifer Hennessy, during that discussion, how much the city paid for the “employee share” of the pension costs, she said $7 million dollars. Later she e-mailed me to say she’d made a mistake – it’s actually $10.1 million. For THE EMPLOYEE SHARE!

        So last night I was looking over the posted minutes of that meeting. The clerk had recorded a question I’d asked about the cost of a consulting firm the city uses to make the reports, but did not record my question about the pension premiums. At all.

        Now, they tape record these meetings so the clerk can have an accurate record for the minutes – but she chooses what to write down, then shows it to the committee, and they ask that things be removed, and she does it. So, I’m wondering – did the clerk just skip that question and answer, or did somebody, like Hennessy or Gruendl?, have it stricken?

        I notice, the police advisory board minutes are “verbatim”, which is supposed to mean, every single word. You gotta wonder, did they record it that way, or do they leave stuff out of those too? And you must also wonder – why can’t ALL the meeting records be verbatim? Willows School Board does their meetings that way – every word, every the flag salute – as well as every petty little cat fight.

        I used to take a video cam to these meetings, I may start wearing my kid’s go-pro on my head from now on. But for now, I’m going to write to the clerk, and ask that those remarks be restored to the record.

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