Brian Nakamura wants to keep the public out of the contract talks – some sunshine!

20 Mar

Several years ago, because of inquiries and complaints on the part of various citizens, including myself, Chico city council made a verbal agreement with the public, recorded in the minutes of the meeting, that they would “sunshine” future cop contracts  before they voted on them.   So, if you look at the agenda for March 5, you will see the proposed cop contract.

I went over this in a letter to the Enterprise Record:

The tentative Chico police contract is available in the March 5 city council agenda packet at 

http://www.chico.ca.us/government/minutes_agendas/city_council.asp

 Some highlights:  
 
Page 33: the taxpayers will continue to pay most or all of the health insurance premium. 
 
Page 34: the taxpayers will pay the employee’s full life insurance premium based on salary plus lesser policies for spouse and children. 
 
Page 35: the taxpayers will pay the full long term care insurance premium.  
 
Page 42: the taxpayers will continue to pay both the “employee’s” and “employer’s” share of pension premiums, for current employees only.   For employees hired on or after January 1, 2013,”the city shall not pay any employee contribution, and those employees shall pay the entire employee contribution rate of 50 percent…”  
 
Page 43: “City agrees to the establishment of a retiree Medical Expense and Health Insurance Trust…funded by monthly contributions made by the city…” of more than $300/employee. 
 
Chico Police currently boasts 147 full-time employees. They claim to be short of staff, but still demand very generous salary and benefit packages for current employees. Their demands place not only the public, but the police themselves, at risk. This contract also creates a dangerous disparity between existing and incoming employees.  There’s already an issue of “compaction” between lieutenants and sergeants, two lieutenants have filed formal complaints.  
 
Brian Nakamura recently announced a $50 million deficit  related directly to the “unfunded pension liability”. When will the CPOA bring a rational proposal to the table?
 

Juanita Sumner, Chico

I read  the entire contract, and was really interested in what the council had to say about it – turns out, “sunshining” does not mean, “public discussion.”  They posted the contract on the agenda for the public to see, but when that item came up at the end of the meeting, Mayor Goloff simply closed the meeting. She didn’t even mention that the contract was available for public review.

I’m not the only person who’s miffed about that. Below read Stephanie Taber’s e-mail to city council and Brian Nakamura:

6.3 on the agenda last week was the sun-shinning of the new CPOA MOU.  Apparently based on a conversation between the City Manager and the city’s chief legal strategist there was no mandate that there be an open discussion regarding the contents and that is now sufficient to just place it on the agenda.  I do not recall that as a decision by council during discussions regarding transparency and sun-shinning.  I object.  I think it is necessary for the City Manager to justify why this MOU is being placed on the agenda for apparent approval without regard to the cost to the city taxpayers.  No fiscal impact – really?

There is no dispute that Public Safety consumes the majority of the General Fund budget.  There is also no dispute that those employees under the Public Safety umbrella deserve the wages they make.  But that is where the consensus ends for many of us.

Why has the city not mandated that current Public Safety employees pay their share of retirement benefits?  The County was able to negotiate a gradual down-tick of employer pick up of their retiree benefits over a three year period.  Why hasn’t the city taken the same approach?

Why hasn’t the city discontinued the $300 per month per employee toward the employees “retirement trust fund”.  That is an incredibly costly benefit – $3,600 per year for one employee, in ten years that is $36,000; 20 and that’s $72,000.  And how many Public Safety employees do we have?  Do the math. What is the justification for that?  What private employer in Chico provides a similar benefit?  And this has been in effect since 2007.

In these tough economic times, City employees who make 2, 3 and even 4 times the wages of those working for private employers, not including very generous city benefits, need to consider shared sacrifice.I see no evidence of that in this current agreement with Chico Police Officers Association.

Perhaps it is time for the city to consider the hiring of a profession labor negotiator to deal with the unions.

Stephanie Taber

Apparently, Stephanie found out, this was Brian Nakamura’s decision.

He’s Mark Sorensen’s pit bull, Sorensen needs to answer for this too. 

UPDATE: Mark Sorensen responded to my e-mail query, but I’m out of town this weekend – I’ll get back to it on Monday. Unless there’s wi-fi in my cheap motel room. 

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