Its round two in the pension fight as the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association is attacking the firefighter’s pension using the same dirty tricks against CONFIRE as they used against our firefighters in ECCFPD. This time, the lies about their so-called $100k Pension Club have now caught up with them as this yearlong battle of lies has now been exposed by their own oversight.
For starters, in a debate that should be about operational money to keep stations open, CoCo Tax and opponents of the $75 parcel tax continues to change the topic to pension reform. They used this same tactic in East County to try and force pension reform as the ultimate reason to vote no. Once the Measure S failed, we haven’t heard a peep out of CoCo Tax or have seen any proposal for pension reform—they disappeared while firefighters were laid off and three stations were closed.
The only solution CoCo Tax had was closing three stations while saying no to a tax.
Imagine the most recent Richmond fire at Chevron if that had happened in Martinez, Pittsburg or somewhere else, there would be 7-10 fewer stations to respond. When an incident overwhelms their internal resources, don’t they feel the surrounding communities should have the resources to back them up? CoCo Tax apparently doesn’t feel this is necessary.
Like I stated above, these anti-tax folks not interested in your public safety or discussions about responses to disasters like Chevron, they are interested in pension reform because it’s the only thing that can and will defeat the Measure. With that said, Bill Pollacek and Ms. Hunt should have chatted before his piece yesterday because he mistakenly exposed her lies while trying to make his point about a pension problem.
For the last year, Kris Hunt and CoCo Tax talked about pensions being the enemy and vilified the 3@50, however, yesterday via Halfway to Concord, they posted a piece written by Bill Pollacek which explained that 3@50 did not occur until 2002. If people pay attention to what he just wrote, it disproves Ms. Hunt’s “$100k Pension Club” was caused by 3@50 which only applies to rank and file–or simply put, firefighters driving around in engines.
Mr. Pollacek writes
In late 2002 the Board of Supervisors approved the 2% at 55 for General members (2% of salary for each year worked), and 3% at 50 for Safety members (3% of salary for each year worked) enhanced retirement benefits.As part of the agreement, General members received pay raises of 2%-3% per year while Safety members were granted four annual pay raises of 5% less a 2.25% deduction for retirement benefits. In other words, the Board of Supervisors gave the firefighters the raise to pay for those enhanced retirement benefits (See Board Resolution 2002/608 dated October 1, 2002).
Mr. Pollacek thinks he is pretty clever here, but let me break this down what really happened. This 5% pay raise is misleading because they didn’t see half of their raise because it went directly into their retirement–this is on top of their 26% they already pay.
More to the point, this deal was done 10 years ago which means 3@50 would not really even be effecting pensions at this time which is CoCo Tax big elephant in the room that can now be refuted as a non-conversation starter. Firefighters have already agreed to a 10% pay cut which also reduces the strain on this so called pension problem.
You see, Kris Hunt and her supporters likes to bring up this so called “$100k Pension Club” for CONFIRE which is roughly 200 former employees as a way to force pension reform as the topic of discussion as opposed to operational budget to keep station open. She claims 3@50 is the problem, but when you break down her list, 3@50 did not apply to a majority of folks on this list—meaning 3@50 is not the problem!
If the Taxpayers Association would like to be honest in their debate, they would remove anyone who is non-union from this list which would include Chiefs, Administration, and anyone who retired under the old pension rules. This would also mean they need to remove anyone who retired prior to 2002.
By being honest and fully disclosing the truth, you have greatly reduced the $100k pension club under 3@50.
Now take it a step closer and remove the employees (Chiefs) who work for other districts and have been depooled and have nothing to do with CONFIRE or the unions—essentially have no relationship to CONFIRE. This is Ms. Hunts and Mr. Borensteins of the Contra Costa Times dirty little secret they never care to share in their arguments.
At this point, you now have a shallow pool to work from during a debate.
So while CoCo tax loves to talk about pension reform, ultimately 3@50 in 2002 and moving people to that formula was a way to close the loopholes which folks were able to take advantage of the system. It closed the gaps in legal maneuvering, reduces pension spiking, overtime being calculated in pensions, highest paid year as part of the formula, they have been closed for the most part.
The factors which largely contributed to the six-figure pensions that CoCo Tax are already gone through negotiations over the years. The union and the county already closed what they are complaining about—the loopholes are closed! While it’s not perfect, both sides have been working within the law to make further changes.
Local 1230 already agreed to a 10% salary reduction and second tier for new hires—this will reduce the pension obligation in the future.
Point blank, the pension spiking components and opportunity to maximize on those components have been removed for many years now, unfortunately, it takes years to see the results and many years for the critics to acknowledge these important steps.
But what is stunning is while it has been explained numerous of times, CoCo Tax continues to play dumb and attack pensions. It’s almost as if they want the Board of Supervisors and Local 1230 to break the law based on a philosophical belief.
For example, take what transpired at the last CCCFPD Meeting with the Board of Supervisors.
Gioia:We need to be 100% accurate here (about pension reform). There is 1 of 2 ways for change.1. Negotiate with union and union agrees to having prospective service under lower pension tier. All it takes is 1 or 2 members who disagree and they can sue and it falls apart. Means union cant bargain change.2. In case of those members who want to change going forward (volunteer), we are prevented from doing that from IRS.
Gioia: Vince can correct me, but I would bet firefighters would agree to that. But Federal Law prevents us from that. So its really important for the public to realize this is a change under State and Federal Law. We are trying to get the most we can get by working together.
Anderson: Explained again how she has been exploring this with the IRS and a decision is coming that may address this problem
Piepho: We have been waiting for that same IRS decision for 5 years. We keep waiting and waiting.
The real goal of CoCo Tax appears not to be actual pension reform because they would already be hard at work in East County on this after Measure S, but rather the elimination of pension all together.
So while CoCo tax uses pensions as the main tactic to defeat the $75 measure, they want to put little fires on pensions here and there as a distraction to voters to create emotional appear to vilify the firefighters. If they were serious about pension reform, they would have provided an actual plan within the last year of fighting local 1230!
According to Kris Hunt during the last CCC Fire meeting, she is a financial guru, but has failed to provide any sort of financial plan, mock contract, a proposed service model adjustment, or a spreadsheet of how the District could save money. Heck, Supervisor Glover gave the Taxpayer Association homework which they failed to turn it in.
Since none of these documents were ever submitted or discussed in public during Measure S, or over the last few months with CONFIRE, I stand by my observation she and her organization is not interested in actual pension reform, but the elimination of pensions all together.
If there is no end goal to eliminate pensions by CoCo Tax., then I ask to see their plan once and for all and stop with the games because for a group who is backed by the oil companies, you would think they would want as much firefighters available to protect the oil supply during a fire.
After all, should Chevron or refineries go up in flames, bye-bye profits and bye-bye CoCo Tax and their main source of funding is gone.
Enough with this pension talk because its off-topic and nothing more than a distraction since its is not on the ballot. The only issue on the ballot is operational monies which ensures ten stations remain open and ensures services are not reduced.