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Taxpayer Associations “$100k Pension Club” Fib Exposed

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.

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Categorised in: CONFIRE, Contra Costa County

29 Responses »

  1. Way to attack the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association and Kris Hunt, does that make you feel like a man? You have really gone off the deep end on this one Burke. I think you have gone CRAZY to be honest! This $100k list stil is CONFIRE no matter what you say. They work for the County! Nice try Burke, you look like a fool with this one.

    • I love this line, “It’s almost as if they want the Board of Supervisors and Local 1230 to break the law based on a philosophical belief.”

      Well could we make the same arguement Burke is defending the firefighters based on his philosphy that they are the greatest thing since sliced bread? Come on Burke, its okay to admit you are wrong and can jump off that ship that is sinking which is your credability.

  2. Mike, i want to know how much the Board of Supervisors, Vince Wells, Local 1230 have paid you to write this garbage. You are a very angry person, I think you need to go to counceling and take a cource in pension 101. There is a big unfunded liability that you are ignoring, until that liability is reduced, no more extra money!

  3. I actually agree with Mikes logic. If you are going to have a debate, be honest with the facts. This Parcel Tax is not about pensions and neither was East County’s, what is so complicated about understanding that? Strip down the pension club list to actually apply and lets see if its a real problem.

    Attacking Mike and his credibility is a defense tactic since none of you above have anything to stand on to defend against what he wrote. Keep on drinking that Taxpayer Association kool-aid.

    • Jim,

      What facts has he proved other than he disagrees with the $100k Pension club? He provided none other than his opinion while trying to imply Chevron will be the new scare tactic which doesn’t even apply to CONFIRE.

    • @ Jim Simmons,

      VERY well put.

      It is obvious that Bobby Lott, Dave Right and Jill just don’t get it. I looked at the list and it is obvious there are some major discrepencies. You cannot argue with the points Burk has raised. A lot of those names on the list don’t work for Con Fire-they are employeed by other agenicies and retired before the enhanced benefits were granted. I think that Bobby, Dave and Jill (and probably Kris Hunt) are just upset because their arguement is falling apart.

      Burk-thanks for shedding even more light on this important issue.

      • Thank you Reader. I don’t agree with everything Mike says, but he is right most of the time and when it comes to public safety. He has good information in one spot which I appreciate. When it comes to politics, depends on the issue, but we all will never agree 100% of the time. I was on Halfway to Concord per his reference and that site scared me half to death. Those people do not care about safety, they want to save a few pennies at the expense of saving a life. How some of those people survive in life is pretty scary based on how they think and I am someone who tries to keep an open mind.

  4. Give up Mike! Its like talking to a wall. People refuse to research and learn about issues. They will believe what ever the media and special interest groups say. That is exactly what the CC Taxpayers Assn is. They do not represent the best interest of the taxpayers ( you and me). They have their own agenda.
    .

  5. I love the viciousness of CoCo tax supporters. You are all cowards. The truth will set us free!

  6. For those who actually read this article instead of taking talking points of CoCo Tax and repeat them, you will see that CoCo Tax has actually been exposed because Mike is 100% correct. 3@50 has been their biggest complaint and they tie that to their list. Well, he brings up the point that it didn’t even begin until 2002 which simply put, there is not enough people on the retirement roll for it to cause the pension problem they claim Contra Costa Fire has. I’d love to see an updated list of rank and file where pensions are the problem.

    Shame on CoCo Tax for stretching the truth and changing the topic. Just look at Gioa’s comments from the last meeting which I can appreciate the transcript. That says it all.

    I appreciate you calling it like it is and what this is really about which is the elimination of pensions all together. Great article and I hope CONFIRE takes a similar approach by just calling it like it is instead of playing nice like East County did.

  7. Great job Burk. This is a great site compared to Jellow Journalism Specalist Billy Gram-Reefer over there on Halfway to Concord. This article is awesome and you do the emergancyresponse folks proud. I do not believe Contra Costa County can afford a reduction in service based on as many problems as we currently have.

  8. Burk, you really are a jerk to call these people out, but you are a smart one for doing it! It will be hard for this Hunt person to defend her list going forward if people would just hold her accountable for what she says. The firefighters should be held accountable for not holding her accountable in a public setting.

  9. CoCo County Tax has been exposed! Their “100k pension club” gilded egg has cracked, now we can actually smell what is on the inside and it stinks like… (you fill in the blank)

    They lied, twisted the truth…. all to vilify the people that risk their lives to save them. Now,
    their statements and information is falling apart under their feet. If you build a house on sand (aka lies) it will topple over. Karma at its finest!

    Mike, I have to tell you… reading the comments posted here, makes me a little giddy. All they can do now is attack you with insults because there really is no valid argument that they can make. Their list is Bogus!

    Maybe those who have bought into their lies will see that they have been following a rouge group of thugs. The tax association should reconsider who they choose to represent them, all Kris Hunt did is make them look like fools. Maybe next time they should double check the facts before making public statements that are false.

    • Well said Kelly, I hope CONFIRE and its consultant can take what Mike has provided and reach the voters. Of all these comments, none of them dispute the article or actually defends the list. AMAZING!

    • No egg has been cracked, he didn’t quote sources or give any examples, he gave opinion! Burke is the one lying. Kris Hunt has spoke many times at ECCFPD and the Board of Supervisors, where has Burke been? Being a computer. Kris has submitted documents, Burke has been behind a computer. Go ahead and cheer Burke on, the only thing that has been exposed is Burke has a strong opinion and will bully others.

      • Jill are you kidding? Mike has been at almost every single ECCFPD meeting and countless BOS meetings. Your one to talk, I havent seen you post any documents. Mike takes the time to ask people in the know face to face. Thats why after board meetings he is up discussing items and getting clarification with board members. Unlike others that just spew regurgitated false, non-relevant, or half-truth propaganda. If you cant handle common sense go continue to drink the Kool-aid somewhere else.

      • Jill,

        I have attended a majority of the ECCFPD Board Meetings (I missed August due to soccer) and I haven’t seen Kris Hunt there providing any sort of documents in support of her statements. Maybe you have ECCFPD and Con Fire confused? I have watched the video provided by Burk regarding Kris Hunt’s statements for the ConFire Meetings and I have seen Federal Glover ask her to provide her “homework”, I have yet to see her post said “homework” or provide a detailed plan other than her “Just say No” slogan.

        I live in East County and I am incredibly worried about the stations closures, as a matter of fact, my homeowners insurance USAA contacted me directly regarding the station closures and let me know that they will be “re-evaluating” my coverage. I am not sure how anyone at Coco tax can claim what happened at ECCFPD is a scare tactic, it happened and it will happen with ConFire if the parcel tax does pass. Which just screws my community even further. If you have a solution that will work – other than pension reform – I would love to hear it.

      • @ Jill-
        Not only has the egg been cracked, it is obviously rotten too. I have now had time to study the names and positions of the pension club and frankly it stinks. Here are just a few issues;
        Many names are of retired Fire Chiefs, Assistant Chiefs, Deputy Chiefs and Admin., which are not union members. I found that these employee classifications negotiate their own retirements with their employer separately, so pension reform targeted at the unions is irrelevant.

        Next is the undeniable fact that many members on this list worked for other agencies and not the county. You have been duped by the Contra Costa Times and the CCTPA if you think that just because their employer (San Ramon Valley Fire/Orinda Moraga Fire/others) operates within Contra Costa County they are county (Con Fire) employees. The fact is they are and were not. For the record there appears to be as many as 9 fire “districts” located in the county which are run outside con fire’s jurisdictions-just as cities operate independently of the county. The only one that I can find that has some ties to the County is East Co. Fire, but even that one is questionable.

        Another fallacy of the list is that the enhanced pension did not take effect until 2002! (thanks Burk).

        Since the specific information needed to draw proper conclusions about how many of these firemen fit into the category of “needing pension reform”, I think it is very unfair to promote such a list or blindly support it based on its merits. We need to question if the amounts received are accurate-but it appears that you, Kris Hunt and the CCTPA don’t really want to go there! For all we know the figures listed were the employee’s salaries and benefits which may or may not be eligible for total retirement compensation. As near as I can figure, if an employee put in the maximum time the most they could get is 90 percent of their salary. That is the most a retired person could qualify for, but the averages and lesser amounts would be far below that 90 percent.

        If you haven’t already figured it out, defending such an incomplete and obviously factually flawed list makes you look bad Jill. Attacking Burk and others that are trying to get to the bottom of things makes you the thug that you previously accused the union members of being. If you really wanted to make things better I wonder why you would not strive to have all of the details of the list made public. I wonder why the newspaper or the Kris Hunt would not do the same? The answers seem fairly simple.

        That’s right….total disclosure really doesn’t work for them. It would expose their end game.
        I’m not sure if Burk has the time or desire but someone should really take that list and follow up on how many are chief officers, how many retired before the 3/50 pension, and how many work for Con Fire. I’ll bet the list shrinks by at least one half and loses its relevancy.

    • Thanks Sara, I hope we all can reach people and educate them. Mike has simply given us the tools to combat the lies and false information that Kris Hunt and CoCo Tax Association have spewed for months and years. We have work to do, a lot of work to correct the damage that they have done. Shame on them and the Contra Costa Times.

      It amazes me how people can actually publicly release information that is incorrect and jeopardize the citizens of this county. It actually breaks my heart, because the people that will suffer, likely are not the ones that voted no.

      I just don’t ever think I could have the death of someone hanging over my head. One thing that is obvious is that these 2 groups of ill informed bullies, don’t care. They don’t care about your safety, or mine. They effectively dismantled the safety of every East Contra Costa citizen.

      On Friday, a Pittsburg Contra Costa Fire unit was dispatched to a medical on Bethel Island. Almost 19 miles! That is their reality. The one thing I can assure everyone, if ConFire has to close 7 stations there will be people who die, die because some people listened to Kris Hunt and the Contra Costa Times. Wow! How could someone live with that?

    • Well said Kelly!

  10. Outta the park, Eastcountyreader.

    The sham arguments that CoCoTaxpayers Ass has been using are unraveling. They caught the east county voters sleeping. But people are waking up to their scam and asking questions that should been asked long ago. Not that Kris Hunt will ever respond to them. Not the way she rolls. She’ll just move on to her next talking point.

    Scuttlebutt is she’s a short timer here anyway. Just like they dug up former official Bill Pollacek. Who I understand no longer lives here. But he was a part of the cocotax bunch when he was around. But Kris Hunt is trying to lay waste to services before she bails out of town. She won’t have to deal with the aftermath, so who cares.

    This clan is a glorified lobbying group. Shilling for corporate and commercial interests. Members of their board have tens of thousands of dollars at stake in commercial parcel taxes that they would rather not be burdened with. You know who they are, right? Wait, I forgot. They don’t publish that list. You have to dig for it in official filings they don’t put on the site.

    CoCoTax Ass sits in prime office space in downtown Martinez. They get subsidized rates from their landlord who happens to sit on their executive board. Guess who has extensive real estate holdings in the fire district and an interest to keep the costs on them down?

    Like the saying goes, follow the money.

    Probably old news to you since the CoCoTax Ass is an open book and they have divulged most of that info to the reading public.

    What’s that you say? You never knew anything about all of that? Well I’ll be darned. Probably just an oversight on the executive director’s part. Maybe you should ask her about it the next time she pops up at a public outing.

    • @ Jigs,

      All great points! Looks like we missed an opportunity to question Kris Hunt at a public outing! I understand she was in attendance in Martinez yesterday at a public meeting where all of the emergency services in the county were being addressed. I guess she wasn’t feeling all that comfortable since she did not utter a single word amongst all of the professionals in the room.

      After watching her stutter and stammer through her routine at the Board of Supervisors/Fire Commission meeting last month, I just figured someone must have told her how foolish she looked and how poorly she represented the taxpayers club she works for. She was actually worse than Wendy Lack who is nothing more than just irritating. You would think these people would stop reloading as they continually shoot themselves in the foot.

      Some of them are going farther and farther into that tin foil hat wearing crowd, which is doing nothing to help their already weak talking points. I think the more people that read and hear their wild conspiracy theories the better chance the fire tax has of passing.

    • Do you have any documentation? Can you share or email so I can post?

  11. Burk, you may have posted this before, but this video link gives a great example of the issues through commentary and exchange of relevant information. As an added bonus you also get to see the Kris and Wendy show. That alone is worth the time spent watching. It’s almost hard not to feel bad for Kris Hunt. She comes across as very disjointed and unorganized. View it for yourself-as they say a picture is worth a 1,000 words.

    http://www.pbtech.org/clients/CCBOS/agenda/cccfpd07312012.html

  12. I love how people on here continue to attack Mike and not the issue. I appreciate the comment from Kelly, Reader, Jana and Jigs

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