Tag Archives: Joe Matthews KCRW radio

There’s a whole lotta lootin’ goin’ on!

5 Jun

Thanks Dave, for sending me the following article from KCRW radio in Los Angeles:

https://www.kcrw.com/news/shows/zocalos-connecting-california/joe-mathews-police-have-been-looting-for-years

This article makes a very important point that I never get around to making – public employees have become so expensive we can’t afford to hire enough of them to provide even the most essential services. Ever. 

Radio commentator Joe Mathews uses the police as an example, 

The escalating police pensions, along with lucrative disability benefits and costly retiree health coverage, crushed city budgets. They also contribute to the ironies of the current crisis.

One irony is that today’s young protestors will spend decades paying the unaffordable retirements of the cops who are using tear gas and rubber bullets against them. Another irony is that massive increases in police budgets haven’t produced more police. Most cities have fewer sworn officers than they did in 2008. That’s why police departments are now struggling to muster personnel to protect property from vandalism and looting. “

but it’s not just the cops. Since 2012 Chico city management has pared away lower-paid staffers while raising management salaries all around. They’ve laid off maintenance workers and deferred maintenance in favor of  raising management salaries. In 2017, City Manager Mark Orme added a Fund 457 to his contract – a type of 401K for public workers. In addition to over 80% of his CalPERS pension costs, the city of Chico gives Orme $10,000 + 4.5% of his $207,000/year salary via this slush fund.  

Hey, did I ever tell you guys – your city council members receive salaries and health insurance benefits? The salary might not seem like much – only $600/month ($720 for mayor).  But that’s the catch – they only pay 2% of their salary toward benefit packages of their choosing.  According to publicpay.gov, in 2018, their benefits packages ranged from a low of about $7200 (one member) to a high of nearly $20,000 (most members chose packages over $15,000/year). Do the math – 2% of a $7200 council salary is $144 of a $20,000 package. Well, duh, of course they choose the $20,000 package.  The taxpayers pay the rest.  

Okay, just tell me to stop – the city of Chico also has a very common clause in the contracts, including those made with city council members, that if they have insurance from another job, they can choose between that package and the city’s package, and if they choose the package they get with their job, the city will give them cash in lieu of health insurance. 

And stop right there, I already know what you’re going to ask – yes, council sets the terms of their own salaries and benefits, and of course can give themselves raises. 

So when you are staring buggy-eyed at your tv, watching the world gone mad, you better wonder what’s going on at city hall.