Our “About this Blog” page, the first thing we wrote and what drove us to start this blog, says in its opening:
“In this City, the generally held view is that City government (those running it), whether in the hands of democrats or republicans, is out for itself, first and foremost. Contracts awarded, variances or permits given or denied, hires and fires, raises and promotions — determined by your relationships with those in power. But what about the masses, who just want to live in a seaside town, watch our kids play ball and swim, jog the boardwalk, with pride in our town and homes, with clean, unbroken streets and well-kempt and patrolled public spaces? Does the power simply say to itself that so long as the public has that Long Beach sand between its toes, we don’t have to do what’s best for them? Will City services and infrastructure and upkeep and escalating taxes and debt levels always play second fiddle to decisions tainted by crony capitalism?”
The sparring between the LBPFF (LB Professional Fire Fighters) and the City has gotten the attention of many and also brings, or hopefully brings, into focus for them what we were talking about above. At the outset, we want to say that our position on the dispute generally remains as when we touched on it in our December 15 post – “Massive Overtime, Large Salaries…” – (i) something’s odd about the budgeting, (ii) but we are largely in favor of limiting headcount because of the out of control OT, juiced pensions and medical that lead to high taxes and broken streets. We would add to our view that there are very few fires in LB. Our needs are EMS and ambulances. We (TLBS) do not know the cost differential, but every citizen should want to know and the City should know or find out what is the best way to enhance/add to these vital services and then take steps to move in that direction. If that is to increase or decrease the LBFF ranks, so be it. But the decision must be guided by the safety and welfare of the residents and sound management of our assets. Period.
Sound management. That is where we are focused. Jay Gusler’s comment to our December 15 post, which we added as its own post a few days’ ago brings us to this point.
The City employee ranks are swollen by far too many generals in relation to infantry. This has the following bad effects: (a) we are paying for supervisors that are not required, (b) that unnecessary higher pay rate translates into higher pension obligations that we will pay 25 or more years after the employee left service — longer than they may have been in service, (c) the title does or can mean that such person cannot do the work that a non-supervisor does (b/c of union/CBA rules), so while the supervisor perhaps does not do work that needs to get done, non-supervisors are being paid for OT (leading to larger pensions, etc.), and (d) we are potentially not hiring needed lower cost employees because a supervisor is eating up budget. Gusler’s post says this straight from one on that side of the fence. The number of “supervisors” in water, sewer, maintenance, PD, FD, is ludicrous. So why does it exist? Patronage, cronyism, foxes guarding the henhouse? Yup.
Gusler states the fact that FD has too many lieutenants and also states how even reorganizing that manipulated system would free up the money needed to keep the 5 men. Why is that not being done?
Because the system is broken and corrupt and used to bestow benefits (or take them away) for reasons having little to do with sound management. We need to demand changes to a system abused and designed to be abused.
Those up in arms about or paying attention because of the 5 firefighters, now is a good time to take stock of our City’s employment and how it affects you and our City every day. Demand sound management.