Overmanwarrior's Wisdom

Official Site of Rich Hoffman. Connecting the dots in a complicated world.

Archive for March 12th, 2011

“Oh What Big Teeth You Have”: How much do police and firefighters cost in West Chester?

with 80 comments

I wondered why when the film Red Riding Hood was announced to be released, film producers were re-telling that old child hood story. Can’t they come up with anything else? Then I watched all the “collective bargaining” debates over the last couple of weeks and realized that people needed to relearn how the wolf ate Little Red Riding Hood, so the timing of the film seemed suddenly appropriate. In that story The Wolf disguised itself as Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother, so to take the poor little girl by surprise trying to appear as something she trusted.

I have held on to information regarding the amount that Police and Fire Departments cost their communities for several months now. When I first came across this information it was way back in October of 2010. The West Chester Police Department was putting up a levy, and many of the people who were against the Lakota Levy were of course against the police levy. I assured many of those people there was no way people would pass the Police Levy, not as strapped as the community was, and the cops were crazy for asking. After all, weren’t they already very well compensated? I had seen the numbers, where some of them were making well over 90K per year. Some people in the community had no idea that the police and fire departments made so much. Many, myself included thought that police and fire fighters should be well paid, because we ask them to do a lot in the community, and figured that a good wage was somewhere around 55K to 65K per year. 100K per year seems outrageous, but that’s what the numbers told me was going on.

Below I include that list of all police and fire department staff in West Chester, Ohio where a levy was just approved in November that are currently making over 60K per year. This is public information because they are public employees. They report to the public! Not the other way around. They chose to work for the public, so should not be upset that this information is available. The reason it’s available is so that the community can understand how their tax money is spent. In this case, when we are discussing the problems with collective bargaining it has been the police and firefighters that have been complaining that they should somehow be exempt from the debate, because as they put it, “when society runs away from danger, they run to it.”

For the convenience of protecting society, I would say they are worth something like I described above. But anything over 65K I’d be against. The median household income in West Chester, Ohio is just a bit above 90K. Some of those homes are from single income families, but vast majorities are dual income homes, or homes where two married people and a child are working, which stacks up the numbers. So the misconception that residents in the wealthy area of West Chester are all rich is just that, a misconception. Divide the median income by two and that gives you the average wage in West Chester of around 50K per year. Yet through collective bargaining, the police and firefighter unions, just like the teachers unions, have driven up the cost of their service to extraordinary levels. The levy in November had to be implemented for one primary reason and that was to deal with the “step increases” scheduled for the upcoming years. That means that many of the people on the list you’ll see below are scheduled for an increase just because of their tenure. It doesn’t matter if they are already at a wage level that the rest of society deems reasonable. The collective bargaining agreements don’t care about common sense. The union mentality is that they don’t care where the money comes from. They have become extraordinarily arrogant over the years and many Republicans have been soft and non-combative, and have not meant them equally on the field of battle in the arena of ideas. Republicans have routinely caved under union pressure. This left Democrats to ram through State Revised Code and collective bargaining negotiations that are quite insane if looked upon with financial eyes.

Yet this is the cause of the current financial crises being felt all across this country. And in a few locations, like Ohio and Wisconsin a new type of conservative is being put into political positions by people who are sick of the game. These conservatives, driven by the Tea Party are expected to actually do the job, not cut deals with machine politics. And that’s part of what everyone is confused by. The United States is a Republic, not a democracy. If you don’t like what the representatives in government do, dump them on the next election. But what these Republicans are doing, they aren’t doing it for the Koch brothers, or any other corporate interest. They are doing it because it has been noticed, first by the Tea Party people all across the nation, that we need government to operate more like a business, in order to achieve a smaller government with more fiscal responsibility. Unfortunately, public sector jobs, like fireman, police officers and teachers who have used emotion to negotiate great wages are going to be the first to endure this scrutiny, which must happen.

Those three public sector unions, teachers, firemen, and police have used emotion for a long time to pass tax increases that their union leaders clearly understand must happen in order to sustain the contracts they’ve negotiated with school boards, trustees and city councils. In the case of West Chester, which is no different from any place else, signs went up all over our community in November reminding us how important police are to our safety, and we must pass a levy to keep our families safe.

We hear the same thing from firemen when they need to increase their funding, and we all know that’s what happens in schools. It’s all about the kids, right!

But when you understand that at some point someone in the union leadership should have recognized that they were maxing out their wage levels, someone should have put on the wage brakes, but nobody did. They seem to really think that wages can continue to climb at a proportional rate regardless of productivity or actual job skills.

One of the questions I asked of several public officials is who regulates how much overtime firemen and police apply to their jobs? Who decides if it’s needed or not, because what’s happening is many of the senior officers are logging more OT hours closer to their retirement so they can have a greater retirement payout. But why? Who is protecting the tax payer from such cost overruns? Because that job isn’t being done.

I can say that in companies that I’ve worked for; overtime is something that we always watched carefully. We look at labor hours each week and determine what any OT gave us in relation to product output. Who’s doing that for the public sector, because the costs according to the list below appear to be extremely high! If such payrolls as listed below were submitted in the private sector to a careful business owner, heads would roll in a major way at such obvious waste. But in the public sector, such costs over runs are just part of the way business is done. This is why these organizations are afraid of S.B.5. They know in their hearts they’ve been gaming the system for a long time, and they are being exposed. The manipulative marketing techniques are losing their appeal, especially when America has the opportunity to see these public sector workers in action during these protests.

Many of these public workers have buried themselves in debt, and their lifestyle dictates such high levels of income, even though it’s always been unsustainable. Nobody told them that though. Their union leaders just encouraged them to continue buying luxuries without question so long as their union dues were paid on time.

Now they are worried because they see the public anger headed in their direction. The old tricks aren’t working, so now their union leaders are resorting to violence and the kind of threats that got us into all this trouble to begin with.

You see, the reason I don’t want to support unions is because of the radicals behind the movement. It’s nothing against the members themselves, but I despise bullies and there have been a lot of bullies emerging lately. I have two examples below.

These public workers have not been so well compensated because of their incredible value. They’ve been so well compensated because of the strong-armed tactics of the unions, and the weakness of our public officials we put into office that did not stand up to them over the years. This allowed for the incredible budget problems we have today. There is not an infinite amount of money being held at the end of a rainbow by some rich leprechaun, like the Koch brothers or anybody else, that if released would save everyone. Those types of fantasies are the rhetoric of the economic illiterate. The rich will always be rich. If you go after them, they’ll just move to another country and take their jobs with them. In fact, that’s exactly what’s happened. Where are the jobs? Mexico, India, China, Europe, and why? They don’t want to deal with union thugs. So what’s the response from SEIU? “We have to become global.” Good luck with that in China. Such a thought shows the vast ignorance of union leadership and their understanding of economics.

One such extreme example of this union mentality is the below letter sent to the senate in Wisconsin just after they voted to strip away collective bargaining. This isn’t a new strategy by the union radicals. This went on in the 60’s and 70’s to great effect. I see them no different from an organized crime element. The sole purpose of this letter is to strike fear in the minds of these politicians and discourage any courageous union reforms in the future. This letter is complete as written minus the senders email address; misspellings are left as they were written. The source of this letter is 620 WTMJ Wisconsin News Radio. They are pushing for a police investigation which appears to be not happening, which in itself should be shocking! This letter was signed. I would expect to see this on the front page of every newspaper and this person should be immediately taken into custody for his terrorist’s threat. But I can find no place where this has happened as of this writing.

http://www.620wtmj.com/shows/charliesykes/117726263.html?blog=y

____________________________________________________________________________________________

From: XXXX
Sent: Wed 3/9/2011 9:18 PM
To: Sen.Kapanke; Sen.Darling; Sen.Cowles; Sen.Ellis; Sen.Fitzgerald; Sen.Galloway; Sen.Grothman; Sen.Harsdorf; Sen.Hopper; Sen.Kedzie; Sen.Lasee; Sen.Lazich; Sen.Leibham; Sen.Moulton; Sen.Olsen
Subject: Atten: Death threat!!!! Bomb!!!!
Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your familes
will also be killed due to your actions in the last 8 weeks. Please explain
to them that this is because if we get rid of you and your families then it
will save the rights of 300,000 people and also be able to close the deficit
that you have created. I hope you have a good time in hell. Read below for
more information on possible scenarios in which you will die.
WE want to make this perfectly clear. Because of your actions today and in
the past couple of weeks I and the group of people that are working with me
have decided that we’ve had enough. We feel that you and the people that
support the dictator have to die. We have tried many other ways of dealing
with your corruption but you have taken things too far and we will not stand
for it any longer. So, this is how it’s going to happen: I as well as many
others know where you and your family live, it’s a matter of public records.
We have all planned to assult you by arriving at your house and putting a
nice little bullet in your head. However, we decided that we wouldn’t leave
it there. We also have decided that this may not be enough to send the
message to you since you are so “high” on Koch and have decided that you are
now going to single handedly make this a dictatorship instead of a
demorcratic process. So we have also built several bombs that we have placed
in various locations around the areas in which we know that you frequent.
This includes, your house, your car, the state capitol, and well I won’t
tell you all of them because that’s just no fun. Since we know that you are
not smart enough to figure out why this is happening to you we have decided
to make it perfectly clear to you. If you and your goonies feel that it’s
necessary to strip the rights of 300,000 people and ruin their lives, making
them unable to feed, clothe, and provide the necessities to their families
and themselves then We Will “get rid of” (in which I mean kill) you. Please
understand that this does not include the heroic Rep. Senator that risked
everything to go aganist what you and your goonies wanted him to do. We feel
that it’s worth our lives to do this, because we would be saving the lives
of 300,000 people. Please make your peace with God as soon as possible and
say goodbye to your loved ones we will not wait any longer. YOU WILL DIE!!!!

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The second event occurred at the Liberty Twp Tea Party meeting on Monday March 7, 2011. That meeting focused on excessive costs and red tape that business must endure to do business. Much of that discussion centered on the effects of the “CAT Tax,” prevailing wages, unemployment rate increases, and problems centering on the 1099 forms. Roger Reynolds spoke about the ridiculous regulations in the government building in Hamilton where if mail is delivered to the wrong floor, the mail cannot be just walked up to the next floor, but must be resent through the post office, which defies common sense. The gist of the discussion was that most of the regulations in place were simply to preserve jobs, which has a noble intent, but has directly contributed to the budget problems all across the State of Ohio, and the nation of the United States.

Things became exciting as the meeting was closing. A teacher and a fireman, crashed our Tea Party to protest S.B.5. Being good Tea Party people, there was no anger at this imposition, but a lively discussion erupted as the two public workers stood before the crowd of approximately 250 people and pleaded to us not to support the S.B.5 Bill. The argument centered on the usual stuff, “S.B.5 will put us out of work. It’s not fair to ask us to work for less. Who’s going to pay our pension fund?”

They spoke for about 15 minutes then started repeating themselves. The Tea Party people had been very patient asking hard questions, but never getting divisive. Since the building we were renting had it’s time expire some of us starting folding up the chairs to put them away and let the two public workers know that the meeting was over, as politely as possible. Before they left, I approached the two workers and asked them, “So what do you propose to do? How do we pay for you? Raise taxes even more?”

We shook hands and parted disagreeing, but not hateful to each other. They didn’t have an answer on how to pay for their work. Especially when you realize how much we are spending on public workers. For those workers, I found out the teacher was only making 52K and he had a Master’s Degree. That didn’t seem unreasonable, but I know of many more public workers out there that have allowed “collective bargaining” to give them wages that would be unheard of in the private sector. Many of these so-called middle-class jobs that police, firefighters, and teachers are engaging in are at the top of the pay scale for any job, and when they argue that they are just simple middle-class citizens that are sacrificing themselves for the good of our nation and our future, it leaves you scratching your head when you find out how much they make, because in a lot of house holds, their income makes them considerably wealthy compared to the other 83% of the state that is not a part of “collective bargaining.”

I thought about the Tea Party crashers for a good part of the week and considered their audacity of coming to that group uninvited to make a personal emotional plea. They felt empowered to do so. Their action demonstrates their mentality which truly believes they are entitled to the benefits they’ve become accustom to.

Because of these two actions I decided to put the information I had been holding for so long onto these pages for others to see, because if we’re ever going to fix these problems, we all need to understand what we’re dealing with. So here is that list I mentioned of the police and fire officers and support staff of West Chester Twp. It’s not to put a specific light on them, because the problem is statewide, even nationwide. But because they just passed a levy a few months ago and are in my community, so I already had these numbers. They make a good example of how much these services cost. It becomes clear when looking over this list that the police and fire department unions are trying to protect this very lucrative compensation that collective bargaining has yielded them. This is why they are protesting S.B.5 so furiously, and this is why they are already planning to put the issue on a referendum for the November ballot, hoping to return to the “good ol’ days” that they are currently enjoying once S.B.5 becomes law by the end of March.

From a management side, it is also clear why our taxes are so out of control. The reason for S.B.5 is to put local communities back in control of these types of costs, which of course the unions don’t want. They want chaos so they can continue to push up the costs of their members. To give you an idea how much the union is relied upon among the people listed above I can report that there are two police captains on that list that are not in the union, because their positions are a bit like a superintendent of a school system. They currently have appeals filed where a judge struck down their attempts to re-join the union on grounds that they would not be impartial to negotiate contracts if they were a part of the union. This says everything about where those captains’ loyalties are. A judge’s opinion wasn’t good enough so the appeals were filed. This is the game we’re playing and what they are protecting.

And who could blame them? These people are being paid “extremely” well, and they know it. What is disappointing is that they aren’t putting the good of the community in their thoughts. Further taxation among a public that is making 30% to 45% less in most cases is the only option they are interested in exploring.

My mind on this issue is open because danger doesn’t impress me. Many are not comfortable looking at firefighters and police officers, or even teachers with scrutiny because there is an inner guilt that is built into all of us not to question these professions. It’s considered un-patriotic. For many, many years the media has pandered to these groups in order to get their support in exchange for stories. Talk show hosts claiming to wrap themselves in the American flag hang themselves to police and firefighters particularly after 911 in order to associate their image with justice. And for year’s police, judges, lawyers and many others in the legal profession have formed a brotherhood of nepotism that cannot be ignored as they share in the defense of that thin blue line. But worst of all has been politicians looking for the FOP vote. Those politicians are just as guilty of pandering to bloc voting with police and fireman as those accused of doing the same with immigrants and other minorities.

As I look at the wage rate numbers and watch the protests on TV about collective bargaining, I now understand how, Little Red Riding Hood ended up in the stomach of the wolf. “Oh Grandma, what big eyes you have.”

“The better to see you with.”

The enemy that seeks to eat us comes to us as a trusted representative in order to lure us close enough to eat. It’s a classic story that we teach our young to avoid these very types of pitfalls. Is the wolf evil for wanting to eat Little Red Riding Hood? No. It’s just a wolf. It eats to fill its belly. That’s all it understands.

The dark side to the pandering of police officers and fire departments by politicians for such a long time is the same as the reason many people appease a bully. Nobody wants to be on the bad side of the police, because there are plenty of stories of retaliation from “the brotherhood.” Massaging the ego of someone more powerful is the most effective way to avoid trouble, and politicians and other media personalities are very guilty of doing just that. The cost of that pandering can be seen in the wages which are in my opinion way out of control. In organized crime they might call it a “paying for protection.” In our communities, we call it a “tax increase.”

Now that S.B.5 has been put on the table, I’m sure it’s shocking to many of these unions to see that a great number of people see through the game they’ve been playing for such a long time. I’m sure many of them are hurt, because most of the employees in the public sector believe in what they are doing. Like most people they put on blinders to the negatives around them. We all know of trouble in our work places, improprieties that we choose to overlook because that’s how we get up and go to work every day. Most of the public workers are no different, and aren’t openly plotting to bankrupt the communities they work in. They see themselves as heroes, because they’ve been told that by so many over the years. It is difficult for them to suddenly see themselves as the “big bad wolf.” But the reality is that’s how people really feel deep down inside. Appeasement is confused with respect.

To me, a hero is someone who acts out of sacrifice. Running into danger when the rest of society runs away is what the tax payers pay those people for, so they do it for money, which is fine, but don’t pretend that doing a job that’s dangerous makes someone heroic with danger being the qualifier of heroism. The real heroes are those that do good deeds without any compensation, not even a pat on the back, because it’s the right thing to do. Paying over 90K for police and firefighters doesn’t qualify as heroism. It qualifies as an expensive employee for the community.

When the threats and intimidation strategies come into play we see what these people we thought were heroes are really about. A hero would admit that they have been taking too much from the community and would come to the table and put themselves in line with the rest of the community because they are public servants. They wouldn’t seek to send threatening letters to senators, call people names, or crash local Tea Parties to plead to the emotions of the good public just trying to do the right thing and afford our tax burdens.

The Big Bad Wolf only thinks of filling its belly even if it means eating the innocent.

Rich Hoffman

https://overmanwarrior.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/ten-rules-to-live-by/
http://twitter.com/#!/overmanwarrior
www.overmanwarrior.com

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 881 other followers