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The Carlsbad Police Officer's Association dominated the public commentary portion of the City Council meeting on April 27, accusing council members of being short sighted when it comes to public safety. Rod Mortenson, President of the CPOA and the first to address the council, said that a few council members, motivated by their political agendas for upcoming elections rather than public safety, have displayed an unwillingness to compromise. Mortenson said impasse was "just around the corner" and that his bargaining unit's last proposal would have been a victory for both sides. Mortenson pointed out that Carlsbad city manager Lisa Hildebrand has not been asked to take a hit to her $200,000-plus salary, yet public safety officials have.

Bud Lewis, who will not be running for re-election after more than two decades as mayor of Carlsbad, has been calling for reform of the city's pension plan, a system which he believes is unsustainable. The proposed retirement benefit cuts would make Carlsbad's the lowest in the county and tied for the lowest in the state, according to Mickey Williams, a POA member and city resident. He said that the proposed benefit reductions are unnecessary because the city isn't financially distressed, citing a $400,000 cash reserve and $500,000 worth of investments.

Mortenson, who cited larger numbers, called the proposed cuts a "pinch and reform guise."

The last POA member to address the council, Eric Prior, asserted that the police department would lose its competitive edge in hiring and would lose good officers under the proposed benefits plans, leaving the streets of Carlsbad less safe and less desirable to potential residents.

"You can play politics with my benefits ... I'll go elsewhere ... but as a resident, you do not have the right to play politics with the future safety of my family and community," he concluded.

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Comments

Visduh May 2, 2010 @ 7:28 p.m.

It is hard to know whether to laugh or cry at the issues of this piece. Big Bad Bud Lewis, the North County "CarlsBad Neighbor" for all the surrounding cities, might have it right. Carlsbad's "Mayor-for-Life" is about to retire after a too-long career in the saddle. He's run the city like a fiefdom for decades, making it in his own image.

The bullying comments from its police union will be repeated all through the county, state and nation. Public employee pay is out of line with the pay of the citizenry in general, and the retirement is unsustainable. Emergence of the reality of this disparity has not been easy. Most of us do not want to admit that those we hire to protect us are earning, on average, more than double what we earn. Yet we are the taxpayers who fund it all.

When all cities and counties in the state and the nation say "enough", these cops who threaten to "go elsewhere" will find there are no greener pastures. In the short run, there may be an elsewhere for him to go, and that keeps the pressure on those cities trying to be responsible stewards of the public safety and public finds.

Who'd a thunk I'd ever be on the same side of an issue as Big Bad Bud Lewis? "Kim-Il Bud" has been an example of what happens to a city that rolls over and trusts a strongman mayor, and just keeps reelecting him. Doggone, but he's right this time.

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akey May 9, 2010 @ 3:12 p.m.

Don't be to fast to thank Bud on this topic. Don't you think it's a little hypocritical for someone to preach about pension reform, and that same person is receiving a california pension retirement for being a teacher, and will receive a california retirement check for being an elected official? People should dig a little deeper before jumping on the band wagon....Why is it that the Carlsbad City Council is only targeting line level public safety (police/fire) and not others within the city. Don't you think they should lead from top by cutting their retirement benefits first? Maybe Mr. Lewis should target term limits now that he's leaving after 20 something years.....funny that's what he's done with the pension issue.....but I doubt he will be sending any retirement checks back.........

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