Sunday February 14
A recent raid made on a local medical marijuana dispensary has caused much concern. It has given the people a Long Beach a true distaste for police in this city – as if it wasn’t bad enough. The police entered in civilian clothes and begin to raid the medical dispensary in a very unprofessional manner.
As a tax-paying citizen of this state I am appalled that this city has not allowed the medical marijuana dispensaries to operate to help those of us who use this plant as a medicine to help with our cancers, HIV/AIDS, arthritis, sleep and anxiety disorders, stroke recovery, etc.
It is so sad to see the city council allow this unprofessional treatment of these much-needed medicinal operations. We have learned that computers were taken by police that contain our medical diagnosis for which we use this medicine. There is no reason this information should be in the hands of the Long Beach Police Department. I am asking as a tax-paying and voting citizen that our information be deleted or given back to the dispensary.
I do not understand the Long Beach City Council actions. I feel that I have been violated by what was taken from the dispensary. I will pursue any course of action to ensure that the city does not benefit from the tax being paid in other cities that do allow medicinal dispensary operations.
Billy W. Taylor
Friday February 5
I am rarely surprised by the creative methods union leaders use to extract more money from lapdog government agencies, but in this case, the unjust enrichment is given to the individual, instead of being spread around to all workers.
Providing overtime pay (and vacation buy-outs) for union work is not consistent with the original purpose of the MMBA, but these shameful arrangements flourish when taxpayers are expected to pay the bills and ask no questions.
Pellissier is the President of California Pension Reform
I enjoyed Stephen Downing’s article especially in light of Mayor Garcia thinking about raising taxes. Another website which may be of interest is http://publicpay.ca.gov/Reports/Cities/Cities.aspx
Mayor Garcia does not seem to have the fiscal responsibility as Mayor Foster did. Deficits projected without the latest lower gas prices factored in were $7.5 million for 2017 and $10.3 million for 2018. This year’s city’s spending plan had no significant reductions and applied a $3.1 million surplus. Each year of delay costs our residents millions in services and much more in future unfunded costs.
Foster had the foresight in proposing merging agencies, consolidating job classifications, reducing pensions, technological improvements (surveillance, etc.) to reduce workforce and importantly outsourcing. (One outsource option proposed was street sweepers that according to staff would save a minimum $864,802 annually and shed as many as 19 full-time union employees. Only when threaten of outsourcing did employees come up with a cost improvement of replacing some trucks that use brushes with those that blow air, saving $500,000 per year.)
Stephen Downing’s article of January 22 entitled “LB City $200K Club 647% Larger than Comparable City,” in my opinion is a poorly designed study, is crafted to malign our city’s officials and management and contains information that I believe, by design or lack of understanding, is distorted and disparaging.
First, comparing Long Beach with the cities of Sacramento and Fresno is, in my judgment, a fatal flaw in the study. It would be like comparing Yonkers, New York (population 196,086) which is adjacent to New York City, with Rochester, New York (population 219,773) which is hundreds of miles away in the western end of the state. Studies such as Downing’s is attempting should focus on the labor pool and the housing market, and both Fresno and Sacramento are seriously different from Long Beach.
Our Long Beach employee’s would love to acquire homes at Fresno’s market prices. Stephen Downing is a retired Los Angeles Police Department deputy chief who resides in Long Beach. I make this point because we have many LAPD Officers who live in our city. We share a region of work and housing. Many LA city and county workers live here.
I became a Long Beach police officer in 1959. It has been my experience over the last 55 years that Los Angeles city and county have been the giants in our labor market setting wage and benefit standards for all of the surrounding cities, and they still set those standards.
Second, Downing singled out our city attorney’s salary as excessive. We are not just another city of 500,000 people. We have differences: miles of state tidelands, a world-class port, oil operations, an airport, water and gas departments, municipal police and fire departments, and all of the other city services.
I believe almost all of Los Angeles’ city comparable employees make higher salaries and receive superior benefits than those in Long Beach. What is the total salary and benefit package for the Los Angeles city attorney?
Third, Downing hammers overtime. He uses employee names. While I know that is legal, it is tacky and demeaning. These employees did their job, in some cases well beyond the call of duty. Were these overtime hours properly assigned and necessary? Those are different questions. Sometime areas of the police department are short staffed, such as our jail and communications sections, and they require minimum staffing. Downing, do your homework. Don’t name the workers. You are making them look bad and they have no means to respond. Your attacks, to me, do not exemplify good leadership.
Fourth, our port is clearly the same size is the Port of Los Angeles. LA moves more containers. We handle more liquid and dry bulk. LA has twice as many employees. I believe, without exception, job compared to job, LA pays more at every level. I know our managers in the Port of Long Beach make less money than their LA counterparts. Our city, at every level, in my opinion, is more prudent than Los Angeles.
Fifth, Downing does not reveal or compare the LAPD deputy chief salary and compare it with Long Beach. What is your annual retirement income? Is it a pension that fully fluctuates with the cost of living? And, is it true that you have lifetime medical coverage? What do these benefits cost Los Angeles City? Long Beach retired employees do not have fully fluctuating pensions and lifetime medical programs. And, please explain the DROP Program which provides full retirement income and full salary, at the same time, in the closing years of a career. Did Deputy Police Chief Downing collect on the DROP Program? What total benefits did he receive?
Sixth, I think Downing’s study should also identify the $200K and $300K LA city employees and LAPD officers, by name and amount. Then, compare the numbers, reflecting the differential sizes of the cities. That would be a fair comparison. Somehow, though, I do not think retired Deputy Chief Downing would expose his former fellow employees to similar scrutiny and make it so public.
I am proud of the City of Long Beach and appreciate our employee’s service to their community.
Editor’s Note: The data reported in Downing’s column was obtained from a source available for all to see at www.transparentcalifornia.com.
I’m sure many of your readers were outraged by your recent article about city employees’ salaries and overtime. I’m pretty sure none were angrier than myself.
I am a city employee, a proud and dedicated civil servant who loves his career. I too am upset by the bloated salaries of the city’s one percenters being completely acceptable to Pat West, the council and mayor while they insist on keeping their well-heeled foot on the neck of the city’s rank and file.
The press demonizes public employees and their pensions routinely, unfairly painting us all with the same brush in a thinly disguised attack on the working class in general and unions specifically.
A common refrain is that high pay and good benefits are needed in order to “recruit and retain the best and the brightest.” Just ask the UC Board of Regents who keep raising tuition. In Long Beach that mantra only applies to the elite staff. For the rest of us the city is on the attack, stripping away more of our modest compensation.
In their latest salvo they seek to cut retiree sick-time conversion by 50 percent for existing employees and eliminate it altogether for new-hires. They want us to pick up two percent of their pension obligation, since we already pay our full portion (which is a $250 million savings to the city). They want to change how overtime is calculated in order to penalize us for working ourselves to the bone. They’re offering a one percent “raise” at the end of four years, years in which the mayor and council will get annual cost of living raises.
This is a city awash in money. Long Beach is a microcosm of the nation, where there’s always unlimited funds for what those in power want to do and never enough trickling down to The People. The underclass’ money is sucked upward to those already well to-do while the crumbling infrastructure is shrugged off.
In his first State of the City address Mayor Garcia waved his fist crying “The age of overspending is over!” – referring to city employees’ wages. This after creating an entire new department whose top dog gets $208K to start.
Lastly,the overtime issue is in part due to deliberate understaffing, the idea being that overtime ultimately costs less than more bodies with benefits. While overtime is welcome when the rent is due, it’s gotten so demanding that an eight hour free-from-duty period was mandated in the last contract negotiation to protect workers and the public from the safety hazards inherent with exhaustion.
The rank and file workers that make Long Beach such a good place to live are not draining the city’s coffers. They’re draining their bank accounts to raise and educate their families in a city with regressive high taxes and a median home price above $500K. We aren’t the problem. We provide solutions to an array of problems around the clock. We are your humble servants. We both deserve and demand to be treated with respect.
East is a trustee of IAM Local 1930