Those overpaid city employees? Mostly cops

|
(14)

The big banner headline on the front page of today's Chronicle exposes the fact that one out of every three city employees makes more than $100,000 -- great fodder for the no-new-taxes-we-pay-the-workers-too-much bunch. But it's worth taking a second to run the full database (which sfgate has made easy for you); ask for the top 20 earners.

Here's what you find:

Four of the top five are cops (Deputy Chief Charles Keohane, $516,000; Deputy Chief Morris Tabak, $425,000, Cpatain Greg Suhr, $345,000 and Captain Sylvia Harper, $345,000. The only civilian in the bunch is the head of Muni, Nat Ford, who has a contract paying him $354,000. What puts the top cops over the top is overtime, hundreds of thousands of dollars of overtime. Nat Ford -- who also works hard, probably as many hours as a deputy chief -- doesn't get overtime. The chief of police doesn't get overtime. Why do top-level police managers?

Okay, that's the top five. Of the top 20, 11 are either cops or firefighters. The only civilians? The head of the Public Utilties Commission, Ed Harrington, the guy who manages investments for the city, Kavid Kushner, and three doctors who work in the Medical Examiner's Office. Investment managers get paid pretty well in the private sector; so do pathologists, and you have to pay a fair amount to get people with those specialized skills.

And the docs put in for a combined $4,300 in OT; the retirement guy got none.

So if you want to complain about overpaid city employees, let's be honest about where the problem starts. We're paying far too much overtime to management-level cops and firefighters, who already make very comfortable salaries. And while it's tough to be a cop or a firefighter, most of these senior managers are not putting their lives on the line every day busting bad guys and walking into burning buildings; they're supervisors.

I hope all the cut-the-fat folks will keep that in mind.

 

Comments

CITY RANK EMPLOYEE NAME JOB CLASS DESCRIPTION DEPARTMENT NAME OVERTIME OVERTIME RANK TOTAL PAY

952 SCOTT WIENER ATTORNEY (CIVIL/CRIMINAL) CITY ATTORNEY $0.00 6356 $168,107.58

7091 REBECCA PROZAN ATTORNEY (CIVIL/CRIMINAL) DISTRICT ATTORNEY $0.00 8476 $111,352.32

369 LAURA SPANJIAN DEPUTY DIRECTOR V PUC - GENERAL OFFICE $0.00 6026 $186,108.81

5075 HYDRA MENDOZA MAYORAL STAFF XV MAYOR $0.00 7763 $122,408.00

Why is Theresa Sparks not listed? Was she not employed for the entirety of last year?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 26, 2010 @ 4:13 pm

Public-sector jobs used to pay less than privates under the assumption that public employees had job security.

However, the Chron article says public-sector pencil-pushers get 20% more than their private counterparts, not counting their huge healthcare/pension obligations that are slowly destroying city finances.

Until February 2009, anybody who worked for the city for five years or more got healthcare benefits for life on the public's dime.

Fiscal armageddon awaits us. But I know fiscal responsibility is not of much interst to the Bay Guardian.

Posted by Barton on Apr. 26, 2010 @ 4:52 pm

The hack parade continues...

2146 CATHERINE DODD MAYORAL STAFF XVII MAYOR $0.00 6771 $147,101.61

3200 DOUGLAS SHOEMAKER MAYORAL STAFF XVII MAYOR $0.00 7056 $135,649.83

3851 MARGARET BRODKIN MAYORAL STAFF XVII MAYOR $0.00 7315 $130,689.84

4742 CRAIG ADELMAN MAYORAL STAFF XVI MAYOR $0.00 7582 $124,279.00

Posted by Guest on Apr. 26, 2010 @ 4:20 pm

Public-sector jobs used to pay less than privates under the assumption that public employees had job security.

However, the Chron article says public-sector pencil-pushers get 20% more than their private counterparts, not counting their huge healthcare/pension obligations that are slowly destroying city finances.

Until February 2009, anybody who worked for the city for five years or more got healthcare benefits for life on the public's dime.

Fiscal armageddon awaits us. But I know fiscal responsibility is not of much interst to the Bay Guardian.

Posted by Barton on Apr. 26, 2010 @ 4:51 pm

Last week, the Chron reported that healthcare/pension obligations to retired employees are rising by $100 million annually!

That's money that could have been spent keeping our hospitals, schools, and parks open, and on running more MUNI lines.

The public-sector unionocracy has to start paying for its pensions out of pocket more.

Posted by Barton on Apr. 26, 2010 @ 4:57 pm

I wholeheartedly support unions in the private sector.

But public-sector workers know they cannot get fired (we cannot fire the SF police and fire depts.), and city workers will support any politician who gives into their demands en masse.

Thus, the public-sector unionocracy has created a huge feather-bed of future retirement/healthcare obligations for itself.

And it will eventually bankrupt San Francisco unless we do something about it.

Case in Point: Look at Vallejo.

Posted by Barton on Apr. 26, 2010 @ 5:01 pm

Barton

Yes, or look at Oakland where 2/3 of their budget is public safety and it's out of control.

Cops and fire are always going to be paid a lot due to the nature of their work. But the probleme xtends far beyond them, and it is the unfunded pension laibility that really scares me.

We need to cut this beast to something we can sustainably afford, and if that means tearing up contracts and mass firings, then so be it.

But you dont start with the cops. Pick the low-hanging fruit first

Posted by Tom Foolery on Apr. 26, 2010 @ 10:21 pm

All this talk of "unfunded pension liability" needs to really be put into perspective. Prior to the GASB 45 GUIDELINE (emphasis added) pensions were a pay as you go system, and were generally self sustaining and the term "Unfunded Liability" didn't really exist. Retirees, pre-GASB 45, would be paid their pension out of some of the money they had paid in to the plan over their career, but also were collecting an amount of what current employees were paying in (hence, self-sustaining). Think of it like a mortgage on a house. Today you buy a $500,000 house and pay monthly on it for 30 years until you own it.

Retirees, post-GASB 45, now are paid their pension out of some of the money they had paid in to the plan over their career, but also are collecting an amount of what current employees are paying in (so, technically still self-sustaining). The problem is that, most of the Public Sector Municipalities use Bonds to create cash flow now, that they then pay on over time. In order to get these bonds as cheap as possible, these municipalities need to have a high credit ranking. This is where the GASB 45 guideline is hurting ALL OF US. This GUIDELINE states (I'm paraphrasing here) the retirement fund of the municipality has to have the funding available, currently, to fund current and future liabilities or else the municipality will lose its high credit ranking thus causing Bonds to be WAY more expensive. So, again, think of buying a house for $500,000 with a 30 year mortgage. The only problem is that now with the GASB 45 guidelines in place, your mortgage company says to you that you need to prove to them that you can pay off the entire mortgage right now or else your low finance rate and great monthly price will go up drastically. If you don't have, currently, enough funding to pay off the house entirely, you will have to do some drastic budget realigning to be able to afford your monthly payments. The easiest way to save enough money to pay your mortgage every month is to lower the cost you pay to your personnel. One way of doing that is to have a two-tier retirement system that lowers what you have to pay to future employees of your business, but not current employees. Sounds good, right? Well, now, with that practice in place, the current employees aren't paying the same amount into the pension plan, thus reducing the funding of the pension plan, and it is a self-fulfilling prophecy that we now have the creation of "Unfunded Liabilities".

That is not good. We should not be trying to bring the ceiling down to the floor, we should try to raise ourselves up off the floor and get to where the ceiling is. Or another way of saying it is that all the talk about the Public Sector workers getting what we private sector workers don't have and that they should give up what they are getting so that they then get what we are getting is a way to say that you would rather be in a race to win the least amount of benefits for all, than in a race to get the best benefits for all.

Please, stop and think about it before you respond to this. Think about our economy currently vs. our economy of the past. Think about what racing to the bottom has done for us. We don't have the pride of craftsmanship we used to have, nor the respect that "Made in the U.S.A." labels used to carry. We are ok buying cheap, poorly made items from Wal-Mart because they are cheap, instead of puchasing something that will last, that may cost more, but wasn't made in China and was made by our USA Craftsmen and women. We have a problem here, and it isn't the Public Sector Unionocracy, nor is it the union worker, it is US (and I don't mean the United States). It is time we take some personal responsibility for what WE have done to ourselves. We have let ourselves be talked into the thought that cheaper, faster, disposable, is better, when in reality we all know it isn't. It is time for us to take pride in ourselves again, and to really make US (United States) what we have always been...THE BEST COUNTRY ON EARTH.

Posted by Guest on May. 01, 2010 @ 1:50 pm

All this race to the bottom thing is terrible I agree.

Progressive are working by putting the cart before the horse, they just want us all to pony up so that government workers don't have to live in the same world as the rest of us.

Instead of whining about how people buying all their cheap garbage from over seas, they whine that we should just pay more in taxes to support the public union class.

The number one employer in Sacramento is the various level of government, if all those people stopped shopping at wallmart and started buying American all those crappy stores would either close are start selling American.

That will never happen, so fuck em.

Posted by glen matlock on May. 01, 2010 @ 10:57 pm

Police and fire depts. are usually the worst violators in the public-sector unionocracy, as Tim illustrates in his article.

This applies to the Defense Dept. at the national level (where there is almost no transparency) as well because conservatives support "safety workers" without every questioning their benefits. Veterans of war deserve good benefits. But all people in the armed service can retire at full pay at age 55 for life (same with California Highway Patrol officers).

We need to rein in public-sector pension benefits across the board--whether they be pencil-pushers at city hall, firemen, policemen, or the US Army.

Posted by Barton on Apr. 27, 2010 @ 6:28 am

We need to figure out as a society how we're going to provide health care and retirement security to all Americans instead of fighting a race to the bottom.

The lack of those basic necessities results in all sorts of financial distortions, most critically the inflation of housing prices as a surrogate for retirement security.

Posted by so sad on Apr. 27, 2010 @ 12:08 pm

Why do we have a pension scheme for public sector employees? Pensions went away in the private sector; why not in the public sector too? Let the employees contribute to a 401(k) like the rest of us. Why are we saddling the future generations with these ENORMOUS pensions? The pension system is also rife with abuse (folks bump up their salaries temporarily by overtime, cashing in sick days, etc. and then get a percentage of that as a pension for the rest of their lives).

The City is hurting, with massive unemployment. Why are those at the public trough immune from this pain?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 27, 2010 @ 12:45 pm

Not sure about the city, but I worked for the State before retiring and one of the main reasons the State had pensions was that it was cheaper than paying Social Security tax for State employees.

The pension plan is not like a 401K plan, it is in lieu of Social Security. State Employees lose Social Security benefits, even those of us who paid into Social Security for years before becoming State employees.

If we were in the Social Security system, we would have to pay 6% of our income to S.S. *AND* the State would be required by law to match that. Instead, we paid 6% into the CalPERS pension system and the amount the State had to pay varied by year. During boom years, the pension system was "superfunded," meaning the State contributed NOTHING.

State Employees went along because the benefit amount was larger than Social Security (though nowhere near the lies that we get our full salaries in retirement)--I get 24%--and we could retire earlier.

I have a feeling that if the State tried to eliminate pensions retroactively they would be required to pay back Social Security taxes, which would be billions of dollars.

Posted by Guest on May. 06, 2010 @ 10:16 am

Not sure about the city, but I worked for the State before retiring and one of the main reasons the State had pensions was that it was cheaper than paying Social Security tax for State employees.

The pension plan is not like a 401K plan, it is in lieu of Social Security. State Employees lose Social Security benefits, even those of us who paid into Social Security for years before becoming State employees.

If we were in the Social Security system, we would have to pay 6% of our income to S.S. *AND* the State would be required by law to match that. Instead, we paid 6% into the CalPERS pension system and the amount the State had to pay varied by year. During boom years, the pension system was "superfunded," meaning the State contributed NOTHING.

State Employees went along because the benefit amount was larger than Social Security (though nowhere near the lies that we get our full salaries in retirement)--I get 24%--and we could retire earlier.

I have a feeling that if the State tried to eliminate pensions retroactively they would be required to pay back Social Security taxes, which would be billions of dollars.

Posted by Guest on May. 06, 2010 @ 10:16 am

why do librarians get six figures? Herrera and 18 others make over 100,000... Libraries are great, but the city's librarians aren't running into burning buildings, or stopping terrorists.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 30, 2010 @ 8:35 am

"the city's librarians aren't running into burning buildings, or stopping terrorists."

Neither are cops or firemen for the most part, get a clue. Truck drivers have more dangerous jobs than cops or firemen, yet they're paid a fraction of what those leaches are.

Cops and firemen have a big scam going: they scare people into thinking that they'll die if the hero cops and firemen are not there to protect them, which is easy to do, especially in this country, then extort massive pay and benefits out of them. Because of modern fire codes and sprinkler systems, San Francisco has far more firemen than it actually needs. And you know what most cops are for? Protecting property and the people who own it, and by property I don't mean a house or a car. For example, when the first Iraq war started, an army of cops was dispatched to guard the Chevron building on Market Street (despite the fact that no one even hinted at a threat to that building or anyone in it). Any honest and competent criminologist will tell you that the only way to eliminate street crime is to eliminate poverty, unless you want cops everywhere (no thanks!).

So enough of this right wing crap about how great cops and firemen are. They are nothing but leaches in this city, sucking out huge amounts of money and giving little or nothing in return.

Posted by Jeff Hoffman on May. 01, 2010 @ 11:57 pm