We Need Firefighters and Police Officers Not Politicians

By: 
Kathy Ryan

We need the fire department and police officers to serve as protectors of the people, not politicians. What we have seen in the past three municipal elections is the Long Beach Firefighters Union (LBFU) and Long Beach Police Officers Association (LBPOA) working with the city, against the welfare of the community, who pays for services. Worse yet, the LB Beach LBFU and LBPOA have become lobbyist for the City of Long Beach; funding hundreds of thousands of dollars on the city’s behalf in order to safeguard their pensions. This transformation from ‘heroes” to politicians / lobbyist by monetarily supporting the city in taxing its citizens through Measure A and M compromised the LBFU and LBPOA integrity. It leaves the citizens with an unanswered question. Why?

The money the LBFU and LBPOA have spent in the past three elections supporting the city with flashy flyers, while misleading the public does not make sense. But, when examining the facts, we should realize how serious the issue is, because the LBFU and LBPOA now expect the public to accept as gospel what they and the City of Long Beach endorse. After all, the LB Firefighters Union’s and LBPOA’s propaganda did work with Measure A and Measure M and more recently with Measures AAA; BBB; CCC and DDD.

Voters not only need to scrutinize the issues, but they need to scrutinize those who endorse the city’s incessant need for power and money. It is important that public safety personnel remain neutral as a group; after all, we are paying the cost of their salaries and pensions. To ‘pay to play’ and help the city mislead and help to tax its’ citizens is unacceptable.

What the LBFU and LBPOA have done is work with the city to protect their pensions while helping the city to pass Measures A and M. The LBFU and LBPOA need the city to back them when they want raises and support them in their lobbying efforts to protect their egregious pensions. Although the city will not mention the pension debt, or the future increase in contributions by the taxpayers, the fact is they will be extremely costly.

I believe recent Measures AAA, BBB, CCC and DDD are perfect examples of “pay to play,” like Measure A and M were in past elections. The LBFU and LBPOA had learned from the past how to play the game; but recently they, along with city officials promoted an endless round of measures to increase city official’s power. We saw the city, again, retain the LBFU’s and the LBPOA’s help in securing more power for city officials in exchange for help from city to stay clear of any meaningful pension reform. Instead of voting ‘YES’ for recent ballot measures, the voters should have demanded the truth and more accountability, not less.

The city, the LBFU and LBPOA have been co-conspirators during recent elections, helping each other to get what they want. That colorful tactic, “pay to play,” helps to sway voters with flyers from the LBFU and the LBPOA who propagandize the issues. By the city using the LBPOA and LB LBFU to gain power through BBB; they have learned that flashy brochures, filled with propaganda can mutually benefit both the city, the LBFU and LBPOA. The losers are the taxpayers of Long Beach, because the LBFU and LBPOA are willing to mislead the voters in order to fleece them for their current and future pension debt.

It is time to call on the LBFU and LBPOA, along with all past and present employees of the city to be the sole contributors in paying down the twenty-year payment for Long Beach’s $1Billion Dollar unfunded pension liability. The State of California, thus Long Beach, should take a lesson from the state of Kentucky, who has serious pension problems like California and its’ cities, including Long Beach. Since the taxpayers of Kentucky are not willing to pay higher taxes in order to bail out pensions,

Kentucky’s Governor and Legislature were forced to come up with other solutions. Instead, Kentucky has admitted that a defined pension plan is becoming a benefit of the past as all pension plans for public employees will be insolvent in three years in Kentucky. The state of Kentucky is eliminating their defined pension plan for new employees and starting them on a 401K plan; transferring some current employees to a 401K and mandate other employees pay 3 percent of their salary to shore up Kentucky’s pension fiasco.

There is no benefit to having Long Beach taxpayers pay for someone else’s pension debt, but Long Beach has chosen to lie and hide our pension debacle and tax its citizens through various measures to cover our pension liabilities. Only public employees should pay for their pension debt, because the taxpayers never voted for their define pension benefit, which is unsustainable.

According to figures from CalPERS and released by Councilwomen Price s office; in 2025 the city of Long Beach will be paying $.62 towards the pension costs for every dollar a fireman and police officer earns. The taxpayers will absorb 91 percent of the cost, while the LBFU and LBPOA employees will be responsible for only 9 percent of the cost. I believe these figures were the reason the city and the LBFU have become co-conspirators in past elections by endorsing Measure A, Measure M and more recently endorsing Measure AAA, BBB, CCC and DDD in their “pay to play” scheme.

Nine months after a League of California Cities report warned that pension costs were increasingly unsustainable; more than 100 local governments in the Golden State are asking voters for tax hikes on Nov. 6 – which Bond Buyer says, “Is nearly double the record of 56 set in November 2016.”

Because the salaries of the LBFU and LBPOA employees are paid by the people, like all other citizen groups advocating a specific position on a city issue, they should hold public meetings with the people to justify their endorsements of city-backed measures.

It is never too late to take our government back and have the LBFU and LBPOA serve the public as intended, and for the city to get their power from the people through honesty.

 

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Comments

As a public sector employee (not LB), my mantra has been something like Ok on the front end but good on the back end.

That is exactly why the mayor and city council never hold the police department accountable for the PD corruption, to get their support. This is an example of why the mayor never fired dirty Chief Luna and his staff after the TigerText debacle. The PD has shown time and time again that they will cover for dirty politicians if these same people cover for these dirty cops. The PD is a disgrace to our city.

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