I am writing this in response to Debra Marlow, the police officer’s wife residing in Brentwood. She rebutted my prior writing to the editor that, amongst other things, stated my feelings that the police of Antioch are overcompensated both in current pay and in retirement benefits, to the considerable detriment of the taxpayers who pay their freight.
With the exception of the royalty amongst us, namely our police (and firefighters, I should add), none of the taxpayers are now drawing, or ever will draw, the obscene compensation packages our City Council and administrators have bestowed upon these chosen few.
I am not sure of the exact wording of a motion passed by the Antioch City Council some years back, but it is to the effect that Antioch will keep its police officers at something like within the top two or three in Contra Costa County in pay and benefits.
Maybe that’s why Antioch police have paid, I believe, 0 percent, nothing, nada, zero toward their own retirement packages up until a year or so ago, at which time they began paying a paltry 3 percent of their gross pay.
Wow, industry workers paid 6.2 percent FICA and that was matched equally by their employers up until last year, when Congress passed a temporary reduction to 4.2 percent to put more money back into the economy. When I was a firefighter, I paid 9 percent of my pay to CALPERS, plus at least as much was paid by my employer. We then received a 60-percent pension after working 30 years.
How in the world is it fair to compensate those who serve us as police and fire personnel to a level which none of us can ever hope to attain? Retirement pay of 90 to 100 percent (and more) as a benefit is obscene at best and, in fact, is morally and economically incomprehensible; no public entity can remain solvent while effectively continuing to carry forever on its payroll all police and firefighters that have ever been in their employ.
The only other royalty amongst us besides police and fire that we have in California is our congressional delegation to the U.S. Congress. They are eligible for 100 percent of their pay as retirement after serving as little as one term in office. Insanity, indeed, reigns supreme in the USA.
This is exactly the reality that now faces virtually every government jurisdiction within the State of California. Either a tax jurisdiction now has to jack its tax rates out of sight, or gain concessions from those who due to the incompetence of its administrators are being obscenely and unsustainably overcompensated, or file for bankruptcy, as happened in Vallejo some time back.
Naturally, as is common in politics, some people when confronted with an unpleasant charge or accusation find that it is better to ignore the facts of the matter and resort to hysterics and superfluous banter, as has Debra Marlow. The fact that she has lost her job has no bearing whatsoever on what the compensation package of her husband, a police officer, is or should be.
An important fact for Debra Marlow to understand is that, if there were no recession/depression at all, and housing prices were still at bubble levels, the City of Antioch and all other jurisdictions in the state providing police and fire protection would still be facing bankruptcy because of this very real issue: police and fire are unjustly overcompensated.
Oh, and there are clearly hundreds, if not thousands, of candidates who will happily apply for open police jobs in Antioch, even though there will be a two-tier compensation package in effect, with the new hires getting dramatically less than their royal counterparts, who are now employed here.
In all likelihood, we will then have police officers pitted against each other, even as we now have taxpayers pitted against other taxpayers, all brought on by the city’s unwise use of the Mello-Roos tax path to quick and dirty subdivisions. Can you imagine wage and benefit negotiations with two distinctly differently compensated police groups sitting at the bargaining table?
Clearly the only naivety to be found between me and Debra Marlow rests within herself and some city administrators.
At least that’s the way it appears from my overtaxed Antioch abode.
James C. Morris, Antioch