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.