Jeff Smith noon, March 8
- Community Blog
- San Diego - No Longer America's Finest City
City Workers, Pensions, and The Truth
By the responses I got from the first blog, I can see that the general public know nothing about how things work in San Diego. I should start this by saying that I am NOT a San Diego City Employee, but I am married to a 24 year veteran of the San Diego Police Department who is about to lose her job. I get to see the public perception, and to learn the reality of what goes on. Let's do this by the numbers -
1.) At one time, San Diego City Workers all paid into Social Security, had medicare benefits, and got all the benefits that everyone else gets in the workplace. Then one day, the City Council asked public employees to accept a pension plan and medical care plan that gave them similar benefits to those other plans, but guaranteed them a return on their pension, and allowed them to collect it after a specified number of years and after reaching a certain age. The down side of this program is the loss of both Social Security and Medicare for all of those employees. The City Council told the workers that they would be helping the city by accepting the deal, and the workers, reluctantly, agreed. The workers continued to pay their fair share of their retirement, and the city deposited their share when it was convenient for the city, allowing more financial flexibility.
2.) Somewhere along the way, the city stopped depositing their share of the retirement fund, and even began spending the money their employees put away, stripping the anuity that should have paid all the pensions with a profit for the city, as the originators of this program envisioned. If a normal employer were to do the same thing, they would go to jail, but the city council, being politicians, just continued to spend, with no consequences. They, in fact, blamed the retirement board, who, by the way, were just exonerated, aside from the one board member who may have actually been part of the plan.
3.) Now, the Mayor, City council, and , virtually, everyone else blame the city workers who have been stolen from for the problem. That's like blaming a bank for being robbed.
Just a recap here - City workers have no Social Security, no Medicare, no Medi Cal , or any other retirement plan except for the retirement and medical from the city, as they were promised for the last 30 years, or so.
Now, I'd like to address pay for City Workers. Certainly, some city workers get paid very well for their services. Some don't. It really depends on what you do, just like every other walk of life. Golf starters, for example may make around minimum wage, while Police Captains with masters degrees in law enforcement can make 6 figures, like every other walk of life. One big difference, of course, is that the city council decided years ago that they couldn't give raises to city workers without looking bad to the voters, so, while they were stealing their retirement money, they would increase their retirement benefits and retirement medical benefits instead of giving raises. The result of this plan is that a normal city worker can retire at age 55, and will get 2.5% of their pay for each year worked. The Police and Fire - you know, the folks who risk their lives every day and need to be young and agile to safely do their jobs - get to retire at age 50, and get a slightly higher 3% of their pay per year worked. (at least, that's the police program)
One last thing - I get a little irritated by people who are so jealous of city workers that they make the city a victim to the workers. City workers do their jobs every day, just like everyone else. Some dedicate their lives to the safety and well being of others. My wife has worked investigating burglaries in the central division area, and has worked crashes so grisley she still sees them at night. That dedication will be repaid in 22 months, when she can collect her pension, but we have no guarantee that the city council won't change her available health care before that, and she has no other options.