Letters to Editor
Double-Digit Raises for City Management
From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 14
Mr. West and his managers are still paying only 2 percent of the 22 percent of salary it takes to fund their pensions. Now Mr. West wants to negotiate double digit raises for upper management personnel? Management, including Mr. West, is the only employee group who is not paying the full employee share of their pension costs, leaving the taxpayers on the hook to pay 90 percent of the overall cost. This is just the cost for existing pensions, and does not include future payments for the employees' unfunded pension liability of $800 million, starting in 2015. Because of current CalPERS restrictions, this additional cost will be 100 percent absorbed by the taxpayers.
Who exactly does Mr. West think he is? He negotiates contracts with the POA, firefighters and IAM to have them contribute their full pension share; an expense that was originally set up by CalPERS to have miscellaneous employees pay 8 percent and safety employees to pay 9percent of salary towards their pensions; however, City Manager West has not volunteered to have himself and his management group pay their full 8 percent share. Instead, he is allowing the taxpayers to continue paying 90 percent of the pension cost for the highest paid employees in Long Beach.
He continues a policy that existed for 30 years, allowing employees a pass and having the taxpayers pay 90 percent – 100 percent of the employees’ share in addition to the city’s full share of the pension costs. Many citizens don't even realize that they are also making social security payments on behalf of the miscellaneous employees.
City Manager West has figured out a way to stick it to the taxpayers and benefit himself by secretly negotiating with CalPERS to have the taxpayers pay off an $800 million unfunded pension liability over a 30 year period. Now someone is proposing double digit raises for upper management personnel. If these raises for upper management do come to fruition, the unfunded pension liability will continue to increase.
Will Mr. West and his Managers agree to pay their full share of their pension cost, plus voluntarily contribute more to help taxpayers pay down the exploding pension liability? This liability will be imposed on the taxpayers by the same group of people who recklessly managed Long Beach finances, but who now will be rewarded with raises.
Increasing upper managements' salary now is just another ploy by management to squeeze as much as they can out of the taxpayers and pretend they didn't know about the additional costs for the unfunded pension liability when the figures are released in October. It is still a mystery behind who is calling for management raises. Does Mayor Foster want to give a golden handshake to his managers on his way out, or are the raises a thank you from City Manager West before October, when the true costs and payment plan for the unfunded liability is revealed by CalPERS? It would be almost impossible to give raises to anyone after the taxpayers learn what they will pay yearly on the unfunded pension liability.
If Mr. West is floating the idea of management raises to see how the public will react, the citizens of Long Beach need to demand his firing. Some of City Manager West's actions mimic those of former City Manager Toboada, who exited office right after big pension increases were given; although, this time, the big bonus will be in form of raises to upper management before they retire at 55.
Instead of the gold watch, 1/2 million dollars or so will be given in pension benefits to 'the family' at City Hall. Mr. West may not get a raise immediately, but it will come. Public employees have all fed off each other for increased salary and benefits, and it will continue, because the people have allowed it.
The question remains who on the City Council backs these raises? Any incumbent favoring employee raises in a struggling economy should be voted out of office, and those running for City Council or Mayor, who side with Mr. West or Mayor Foster, should not be given the opportunity to vote on matters of finance or importance. For now, we can speculate on who is behind the raises, so if the Mayor is against the raises, he needs to speak up as should City Manager West and all of the Council members. They are all being paid by the citizens of Long Beach.
Long Beach needs people with integrity, and the willingness to answer a question proudly and truthfully, and always in the interest of the citizens of Long Beach.