Tag Archives: Ken Campbell Chico Ca

Yes, many city of Chico employees are overcompensated

27 Dec

NOTE: a person recently tried to get my contact information from the ER editor saying they wanted to discuss this piece – look for the “comment” button at the bottom of the page. If you want to be anonymous, let me know, or just use an acronym. 

Right now, our city “leaders” are kicking around the city employee contracts, and as everybody knows by now, the most important of those contracts are police, fire, and management in general. These employees are not only our most highly paid, but currently pay little to nothing for their  very generous benefits and pension packages. The “public safetly” employees also manage to bolster their agreed-upon salaries with 10’s of thousands in overtime. They also get some pretty ridiculous perks – for example, police officers are paid to put on and take off their uniforms, paid to shower (including the water and gas bills that put the department over budget), paid to work out at the gym, and if their hijinks get them sued, we pay their lawyer and pay them to sit in court. They get vision, dental, life insurance, rest-home insurance, etc, etc, etc. And out of their average $90,000 a year salaries (before overtime), they don’t pay squat for their pensions – 9o percent of their highest year’s salary, available at age 50.

Meanwhile, any cop will tell you, fire employees get paid to sleep, shower, sit on their X-boxes, eat, shop, whatever they want to do over their shifts. They don’t work a normal eight hour shift like private employees, they’ve manipulated a guaranteed overtime system by threatening us with “slow response times.” Sure, they’ve got that hook and ladder at the grocery store around the corner from your house, but they’re all inside the store loading up groceries they don’t pay for to eat on our dime. Sorry, but everybody knows this is true. They chase ambulances, with no recompense from the ambulance companies, who charge somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,000 per mile for your patient to be transported. And then you pay for the  fire department too, isn’t that funny? And you pay for their medical and legal expenses, and you pay for them to sit on their asses into perpetuity when they turn 50 years old. 

So, excuse me if I feel these people need to be taken to task, I don’t care if they are insulted. It hurts my feelings when I have to pay my property taxes to foot the bill for a bunch of guys to sit around farting in front of a big screen tv.

There’s been some discussion in the letters section, I hope there will be more. Below I’ve got a few letters I’ve seen, although I’ve missed others, I wanted to get these out here, get some more conversation out of them. The ER not only dumps letters after a day or so, but the forum they run demands that you have Facebook, and isn’t available to those who don’t have an online subscription. So, here are a couple of pro-employee letters, and one from Michael Jones that I think says it very well. 

Letter: Police, fire not overcompensated

Chico Enterprise-Record

POSTED:   11/30/2013 10:39:31 PM PST
 
 

One letter printed Nov. 24 (“Stone sticks up for taxpayers”) was reported that, “The average police or fireperson in Chico makes three times as much in wages and benefits as the average Chico taxpayer.”The city of Chico is currently advertising for a police patrol officer position. The listed salary range is $53,000 to $71,000. City of Chico firefighters are close to that same salary range, from $55,00 to $77,500.

Even using the higher Chico firefighter wages, a third of their listed salaries would be just over $18,000 (low) and nearly $26,000 (high).

The lowest Chico-wide mean salary (i.e., average Chico taxpayer) I’ve found online was $36,000 (“Simply Hired”) and the highest was almost $69,500 (“Salary List”).

While I recognize that the level of contractual benefits that can be earned — above and beyond the base salary — can vary significantly from one career to the next, I believe it is somewhat disingenuous to suggest that Chico police officers and firefighters are grossly overcompensated in relation to the average Chico taxpayer.

On a side note, due to the Windfall Elimination Provision, police, firefighters and public school teachers receive virtually nothing in Social Security benefits — even if those benefits were rightfully earned in work done prior to the public service employee’s pension years.

— Mark S. Gailey, Chico

I’m sorry, yes they are too!  Gailey tries to play the numbers, but it’s all there. Yes, a lot of private citizens in Chico, including my family, live on less than $30,000. The average cop makes about $92,000, and many firefighters as much as double their $55 – 75,000 salaries with overtime.  That’s about three times the average or “mean” income. And, we’re comparing one person’s wages to a “household” income. 

He says they receive “virtually nothing” in social security – “virtually” is in the eye of the beholder. Read the contracts yourselves, you won’t believe all the perks they get. Gailey is using the facts he likes and leaving the rest out.  He’s betting nobody really reads those contracts. Please do, they’re available on the city website, under Human Resources.

Now, here, Don Grant says we must not blame the employee, it’s the politicians’ fault:

Letter: Blame politicians, not employees

Chico Enterprise-Record

POSTED:   12/11/2013 09:59:37 PM PST

 Read a letter the other day from a Joseph Neff concerning his ideas on public pensions. I have seen several letters targeting public pensions and workers and it seems that is a favorite target for individuals to vent toward.What almost all of these people don’t realize is the pay and pension programs for these public employees were not just handed out to them. These are all negotiated pay scales and benefit packages that elected or appointed officials have negotiated with the respective groups of employees. These are the same employees who year after year have gone without any raises and usually each year have had to give just to be able to stay employed. Most of these individuals make under $45,000 per year and still have to contribute a portion of that to their health coverage and public pension.

I would like to see Neff provide for a family of four all the necessary basics on that salary and still be able to save for retirement as he suggests. He also says that SSI will make up the rest. Who’s to say SSI will be available in the future. Invest in 401(k)? Does the crash of 2008 ring a bell?

Stop lambasting the public worker. They do a very fine job. I hope this blame game will run its course and get these sour grape people off their necks, and no I have never held a public works position. Private sector only.

— Don Grant, Oroville

Maybe Mr. Grant is talking about city of Oroville when he mentions employees who’ve gone without pay raises – not Chico or Butte County. I was just looking at the salaries for managing the county dump, and those guys have received $10 – 20,000 in raises over the last few years. City of Chico employees, especially cops and fire, have gone right along getting their scheduled raises – they just promoted a bunch of cops, and I’ve seen two now retire within a year to six months of promotion – Dye and Laver. That’s called “spiking,” and now those two will retire at 90 percent of their newly inflated salaries. 

Mr. Grant seems to be trying to use the lower paid “classified staff” as shields – yes, the lower paid employees get less salary, but they also get a benefits and retirement package for which they only pay nine percent of the cost. I will leave my little violin in it’s case. 

Finally Mr. Grant, I will continue to lambaste a group of people who expect to be kept like prize pigs. PAY YOUR OWN BENEFITS, SOOOOO-UUUU-IIIIIIEEE!  Then I’ll stop basting you. Oh, excuse me, I guess I meant lambasting!  It’s just all this pork folks, it gets me a little excited.

Finally, I’m so glad to see Michael Jones getting in there. Mr. Jones is more patient than I am, he is willing to take the conversation further without stomping on the floor until his foot gets stuck. That would be me.

Letter: Big pensions lead to big expense cuts

Chico Enterprise-Record

POSTED:   12/16/2013 09:16:55 PM PST

No one begrudges the public employee who makes $45,000 a year, and retires on less than that. But Chico firefighters on average make $80,000 a year and retire on $90,000 a year. And can retire at age 50.

That’s why the public employees over in maintenance and parks are being laid off. The City Council needs to correct this misallocation of resources. Mayor Scott Gruendl is up for re-election next November. Here’s his chance to earn it.

— Michael Jones, Chico

Yes, he’s put his finger right on it – we have a misallocation of resources.  I don’t want to talk about “what people are worth.” If you want to go there, I’ll tell you what – I’m worth a lot more than that little shit, Ken Campbell. So, like I say, let’s not go there. Let’s just set a wage that’s available for performing a certain task. Let’s say if you don’t like that  wage you can hit the road and give somebody else a chance. And, given a reasonable wage, we should expect our employees to take care of their own retirement and medical expenses, with some compensation for years of service, but not just a guaranteed free ride all the way through. 

The real problem here is management. Our overcompensated city manager also plays double as our contract negotiator. I think I finally understand the expression, “in the catbird seat…

Did you know – firefighters are pigs too? Ever try to pull a shoat off a teat? Good luck. Might have to get rid of the sow too.

2 Aug

I went to the Airport Commission meeting the other night, but I been so busy since then I have not had a chance to sit down and post about it. As usual, I went to the meeting for one thing and ended up learning all about stuff I thought I didn’t care about.

I’m like a dog sometimes, when I am after something, I don’t always notice other stuff. I wanted to hear about the airport budget, the other agenda items didn’t interest me. I thought the first item – the closing of the airport fire station, #3, had already been hashed out, beaten to death, stuck a fork in and turned over twice. I forgot – the Airport Commission didn’t even get asked for their two cents during that entire conversation. Boy, hell hath no fury like a bunch of old guys who get passed over on an important decision.

It sure doesn’t seem like anybody puts any importance on this commission. They only have quarterly meetings. The council meeting at which this whole thing was set in motion was back in June, when council told all the department heads, including the fire department, that they needed to take 10 percent off the top of their budgets. The Airport Commission met in April, and wasn’t even noticed, apparently, for the council meeting in June.  It was left to the department heads to decide what to cut, snip snip. There really is no “Airport Department.” Chief Beery brought the airport into the fracas when he made a tactical decision to tie it to the railroad  tracks by closing Station 3, loudly insinuating that we would lose commercial air service because of the closure. Later, under intense criticism,  he reneged on that threat, suddenly remembering that the Federal Air Administration would be satisfied with one guy and a utility truck.

From the reaction the commission had last night, they don’t even read the newspaper. In fact, one commissioner complained loudly that “you can’t believe what you read in the newspaper.” Well, at least you could read it, and then check it out for yourself. These guys all spoke as though they’d been out of town the last few months.  Commissioners Gosling and Sanger just kept going on about how upset they were to be passed over, BT Chapman complained aloud that there is no real airport manager.  They all agreed they should write a letter to council about their feelings – well, look out for the Airport Commission, these guys are a pack of pistols! They be bad!

$taffer Debbie Collins and Ass City Mangler Mark Orme informed them that the decision had been made, they were just being “kept in the loop.” Orme and Chief Keith Carter, sent as a substitute pinata for Chief Beery, kept telling the commission it was a budgetary decision, as if that was supposed to be comforting in some way. 

Carter informed us that this decision did not even meet the 10 percent cut asked for by city management. When Commissioner Sanger asked him, childlike – “what if the city orders you to keep Station 3 open?” Without a pause, Carter replied, “We’d close Station 5.” “Where’s that?” responded Sanger. I wanted to throw my notebook at the old fart. Get the hell out of the kitchen Old Man!

Sorry to be rude. People think it’s such a lofty ideal to serve on one of these commissions, that they expect to be served like royalty at a table. These old gasbags just sit and wait for Debbie Collins to send them stuff – they don’t even attend meetings, read agendas?  This commission just serves as a badge of mismanagement at the airport. 

The commission spent an hour flapping it’s wings over this, even though Collins and airport facilities manager Kim Parks reassured them repeatedly that the station would remain open with one staffer and a utility truck and that is all the FAA requires for commercial flights. The commission just wouldn’t be satisfied.   At one point they demanded to see the e-mail correspondence between Collins and the FAA.  I frankly don’t blame them – Collins handles them like a bunch of escapees from a rest home. She was bitchy with me when I asked her about complaints about Northgate Aviation – said she has had plenty but wouldn’t show them  to me or tell me how many, of what nature, from who.  This woman is effectively our airport manager, the head of the stinking fish.  Nakamura didn’t even show up, sending Orme in his place. 

Laura Urseny’s story this morning reports that the firefighters’ union had something to do with keeping the station open at all , as if they are responsible for saving the station!  No, they made the decision to cut Station 3, from three firefighters and two trucks to one guy with a truck.   Now, from what Collins told us the other night, it will really mean no difference in service. None of the three that were there had medical training. They have special training in putting out airplane crash fires, but would still have to call for help from surrounding stations. So, nothing’s really changed – they still have a guy out there who can call for help, and that’s about all they would have done before anyway.  But the union was trying to play us, having Beery announce that this would threaten commercial air service. I will not forget what happened last year when council asked the fire department to cut their budget and Beery immediately closed Station 5  – union president Ken Campbell went door-to-door in the surrounding neighborhoods, lying to the neighbors and telling them to write to council. Bob Evans called Campbell on the carpet at the next council meeting, and Campbell admitted to telling people that council had ordered the station closed when it had been Beery’s decision. 

What got left out of this whole conversation is the pensions. We pay about $10 million a year in pension payments for our employees, over half goes for the cops, and almost that amount goes for fire. Paying their own pensions out of their outrageous salaries would solve the problem without closing any station or cutting any positions. But our fire department are greedy little shoats, who won’t let go of the teat.

I had gone to that meeting to hear about the airport budget, but  this ridiculous little howl took the entire first hour of the meeting. I don’t know if Orme was ever able to give the report, I had to leave to go to my kid’s hockey game.  But I got it from him the next day and will share that later. 

 

Maybe Linda Murphy should have “the facts” before she accuses another letter writer of mis-stating anything.

1 Jan

Here’s Ken Campbell’s response to the questions I asked him in my letter to the editor – he got somebody’s mother to call me a liar. 

Letter: Letters didn’t have the facts

Chico Enterprise-Record
Posted:   01/01/2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Two recent letters in the E-R incorrectly state facts that are not true.In one letter, the writer states the Chico Fire Department is the only city department that contributes to its own pension plan and they pay 4 percent. I don’t know if they are the only department, but I do know they already contribute 7 percent.

Secondly, it is stated the Fire Department gets paid for 56 hours a week with 16 of those hours being overtime. No, their salary is based on 56 hours of straight time worked per week. After 56 hours, they are paid overtime. An employee who works 40 hours for a $60,000 salary actually makes more money per hour than an employee who works 56 hours for that same $60,000 salary.

It would seem to me that the Chico Taxpayers Association should be calling on the city of Chico management to explain the benefit packages offered by the city to all employees, not just one department. If benefits need to be changed, it should apply to everyone.

— Linda Murphy, Chico

First of all, I never “stated facts” in  the letter – I asked questions. Ken Campbell never came back, but this woman, whose name matches a fire department staffer, comes back to put words in my mouth and  call me a liar. Not by name, of course, but she references the Chico Taxpayers Association.

Second, she says the fire department contributes 7 percent – they do not. I’ve got the figures.  I’ll cut and paste it here from the records I was sent, sorry it’s kind of a mess, but you can figure it out.

Bargaining Units Employer Rate Employee Contribution
City Payment of
Employee Contribution
Total CalPERS
Contribution (City &
Employee)
Retirement Formula EPMC

CEA 23.831% 6% 2% 31.831% 3% at 60 Yes
SEIU ‐ TC 23.831% 3% 5% 31.831% 3% at 60 Yes
WPEA 23.831% 3% 5% 31.831% 3% at 60 Yes
IAFF 31.006% 2% 7% 40.006% 3% at 50 Yes
CPOA 31.006% 0% 9% 40.006% 3% at 50 Yes
CPSA 23.831% 0% 8% 31.831% 3% at 60 Yes
MGMT 23.831% 4% 4% 31.831% 3% at 60 Yes
PSM 31.006% 0% 9% 40.006% 3% at 50 Yes
CONFID 23.831% 8% 0% 31.831% 3% at 60 Yes

Let me sort that out for Linda – the fire department “Bargaining Unit” is the IAFF, or “International Association of Fire Fighters.” The “Employer Rate” is 31.006%, the “Employee Contribution” is 2%. The “City Payment of Employee Contribution” means, the part of the “employee share” that is PAID BY THE CITY. There’s another 7 percent, paid by US! That adds up to a total contribution of 40.006 percent, on a pension that will pay 90 percent at age 50. “Yes” means, they get the “EPMC”, or “Employer Paid Member Contribution” – that’s the 7 percent paid by the city. 

So, yes, I was wrong in my letter! They don’t pay 4 percent, THEY PAY 2 PERCENT! And we, the taxpayers, pay the other 7 percent of their share, plus another 31%. And our share increases every year, according to documents I was given by city councilor  Mark Sorensen and city manager Brian Nakamura.

Linda, you need to get the facts straight before you sit down in front of your box again and call ME a liar. 

 

More questions for Ken Campbell – every answer is just another can of worms!

16 Dec

As I was saying in a previous blog, I recently been struggling through the city firefighters’ contracts, and I don’t mind saying, it’s all Greek to me. “Legalese,” I think it’s called. The worst thing is, they treat you like a moranus because you don’t understand the gobble-ty-gook they spin up just to make sure you don’t understand.

Here’s how they explain the pay rate in the current IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters, the union) contract:

Regular Hourly Rate

 1.2.5. Regular Hourly Rate. Regular Hourly Rate shall mean an hourly rate calculated by summing all non-overtime and non-out of class pay for the bi-weekly pay period, with the specific exception of Holiday Pay as defined in Section 2, Subsection 5.3.1, and dividing the total by 112 for Employees assigned to a fifty-six (56) hour work week, and by 80 for those employees assigned to a forty (40) hour work week.

As my friend Stephanie Taber said recently about the firefighters’ contract, “confused???? so am I!”   Stephanie is way more patient than I am, when she doesn’t understand these documents, she e-mails the appropriate department and asks the questions, then sticks around long enough to get an answer. 

In the letter I wrote to the editor, I asked about the 56 hour week – did that mean 16 hours of guaranteed overtime? Is that how some of these employees almost DOUBLE their salaries?   One person I saw on the salary charts had added $80,000 in OT to his $90,000 salary – and he’s not the only one who does that.  As I pointed out in my letter, the fire department alone bills for over a million dollars a year in overtime. I wonder, how do they do that? 

When Stephanie asked the human resources department about overtime, here was the response: “Under the terms of the IAFF MOU City firefighters get paid overtime for any hours they work in excess of 56 in a seven day period.”

Okay, now I’m confused. You can schedule people for 56 hours without paying them overtime? News to me. And, I still don’t understand, how do they rack up the overtime pay when they have to work over 56 hours a week to get  it? I mean, there’s not a house burning down or an accident every freaking minute. In fact, hours and hours go by, every day, when nothing justifying the use of gasoline even happens around here. 

I got a new question. Are we paying people to sleep? To watch tv? To take the hook and ladder to the grocery store? 

Human Resources offered more explanation: “In addition, under the terms of the Fair Labor Standards Act, they get paid overtime for any hours they work in excess of 182 in a 24 day period.  For the City of Chico this equates to an additional 5 hours of pay for each person every 24 day period.”

I keep seeing that word, “work”, and I keep wondering, “what do they mean by ‘work‘?” 

So I will keep asking my questions.

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?