There are still some politicians out there clinging to the “pension reform” argument along with Chuck Reed, the person who dismantled San Jose PD near single-handedly. Our incumbent sheriff seems to have latched on to this argument in order to share flyer costs and GOP space on not one, but two flyers with Chuck “I didn’t steal that sign” Page. (Another questionable political quid pro quo a la Shirokawa?)
Not one, but two flyers supporting Smith and Page have gone out funded by SVGOP, one of the driving forces behind Measure B that has torn San Jose Police Department nearly to the ground and added the costly court expenses to see the majority of the measure thrown out as illegal. You’ll note names like Charles Munger (who also brought our incumbent the ultra-conservative Lincoln endorsement despite her lack of conservative credentials) and Pete Constant (whom the incumbent endorsed as knowing what was best for public safety).
The Sheriff, incredibly, seems to not realize that significant pension reform was passed at the state level through AB 340 in September of 2012. Nor does she seem to be aware that her deputies, despite having 5 years to adhere to the new pension laws, worked with the county to include pension reform and costs savings measures in their MOU as of December 2012, putting the county ahead of the curve on pension reform by years. Yet, where has anyone reported that the DSA willingly worked with the county repeatedly over the years to help keep the county financially sound? I couldn’t find anywhere that the deputies were recognized for their willingness to work things out in just a matter of months to benefit taxpayers. We only hear about how the deputies want more money and that’s why they’re trying to get a new boss, widely ignoring their new boss doesn’t negotiate MOUs with them.
The incumbent wants to attack pension reform and she is so deeply involved in the issues of her office that she failed to realize that she has a staff on a 2 tier plan exactly because pension reform and a staff that has been more than willing than the average department to work with the county.
It’s just yet another example of how far displaced the incumbent is from her office. Maybe if she talked to her executive staff that she sent to negotiate for the county against her deputies last go ’round she would know what the status of pension reform is and wouldn’t look like she’s desperately trailing with issues from 4 years ago.
Oh, wait… 4 years ago, when pension reform was actually an issue and not just a political buzzword to lead people around by their noses, the sheriff never indicated an interest in pension reform other than endorsement of others who did support it. She doesn’t negotiate with the DSA or CPOA for contracts, the county does. What does she care if the deputies took cuts, passed over raises and signed zero increase MOUs as long as she got to say she was “under budget” it didn’t matter how it was done or who gave up what. It was about her.
Reading her candidate statement from the last election she repeats all the same empty promises she’s making this election, from unsubstantiated claims of a “premier agency, right down to “dedicated to keeping our kids off drugs, out of gangs and in school” catch phrase she likes so much this time. Yet over the last four years since the incumbent had made those promises, where’s the programs the incumbent keeps talking about? Will another four years actually get these programs running in Santa Clara County or is this just another empty promise? Is she hoping that adding “pension reform” to her argument will distract us from the fact that she’s using exactly the same platform of promises she didn’t keep from lat election, only this time in the third person?
Let’s talk about what pension reform does still need to happen that the sheriff and Chuck Page don’t want to talk about. The County BoS, the Sheriff, the County Exec and so on not only get their PERS retirements, but since the Sheriff maxed out, which means she has to pay in, but can not receive any more than the 90%, the county created a 2-tier system for them several years ago. Their 2 tier system works a little differently though. While your taxpayer portion and the employee portion go to PERS as they’re supposed to, the county doubles down on your end for these elected elite giving them a matching 401K plan which the Sheriff reaps over $22,000 a year in matching payments on top of her PERS retirement of 90% of $231,000 ($207,900 a year retirement for her, 61% more than the average public safety PERS retirement payout).
While people like Mayor Reed, Chuck Page and Laurie Smith continue to attack public safety pensions for political gain, they fail to recognize they’re a bigger part of the problem with much larger pension payouts and double dipping via mechanisms like matching 401k funds without even ever having to go get a new job. Not to mention this circumvents the illegality of two pensions from the same pension fund.
To top all that off, the incumbent lied to the public in 2010 about the raises she’s received since she took office, claiming she’s received less in raises than her personnel at the same time claiming she’s added to the office when the reality is, the more she cut from the office, the more she personally gained from the county. Most of her deputies are taking home less than they were 10 years ago after giving up several negotiated raises to help the county and then taking about 5 years of 0% increases over the past decade, including this year and giving up a significant amount to pension reform starting in 2013.
To the deputies working so hard with the county on cost of living saving, pension reform and other cost saving measures, to have their Sheriff, with her 2 pension plans from the county, say pension reform is a problem for their office is nothing short than the figurative slap in the face.
But if that’s what she has to do to get your vote, she’s okay with that.