Watchdog: Council does end run around new state law on pensions

“I’m only going to dread one day at a time.” – Charles Schulz

Folks, this is my new philosophy for the coming year, because I live in Antioch and council decisions have had me pulling my hair out all last year and the prognosis for 2013 isn’t much better.

Council pulled an end run on December 27 at a special council meeting, just before AB340, California’s new voter approved law increasing retirement ages for new public employees (2.7% @ age 57 for Safety and 2% @ 62 for Miscellaneous) becomes effective on January 1. They did so by adopting an Urgency Ordinance for Public Peace, Health or Safety which needed to become effective by December 31, 1012.

The ordinance amended the signed September 1, 2012 contract agreement with police officers (3% at 55) and restored the more lucrative 3% at 50 pension formula for veteran police officers and a 2.7% @ 55 formula for miscellaneous employees. The ordinance required an affirmative 4/5th vote of Council to pass. The vote was 4-1 with Councilman Gary Agopian voting no.

The city’s rational for the ordinance was the need to implement a recruitment advantage in the marketplace in order to be able to recruit and retain Public Safety employees, both sworn and non-sworn. The Antioch Police Department now has 32 vacancies, with an anticipated minimum of 10 more within the next 12 months. Note, however, that the following agencies have 3% @ 55 retirement formulas: Tracy (Wade Harper’s former employer as it’s my understanding he just retired), Benicia, Brentwood, Fairfield, Hercules, Martinez, Pittsburg, San Ramon, and Walnut Creek. Frankly, I think the city’s argument doesn’t hold water.

Regrettably, no alternative options such as signing bonuses were offered as incentive alternatives. (In 2005 the City offered lateral police officers a signing bonus of $2,000, $1,000 at time of appointment, $1,000 at end of probation). Ironically, the city did hire two lateral officers in July, both of whom were prior Antioch Officers who had taken positions with a neighboring jurisdiction. Only one remains with the City, the other is returning to his prior position elsewhere. Additionally, in November the City had five candidates scheduled for interviews. All five canceled or did not show. On December 13th, two lateral officer candidates were interviewed but neither are expected to continue on in the recruitment process.

Frankly, I think it’s our high crime rate that scared them away, as well as lack of confidence in the City’s financial stability, a deciding factor for several candidates who turned down conditional offers of employment.


5 Comments to “Watchdog: Council does end run around new state law on pensions”

  1. Mike Gillman says:

    As a midwestern City Commissioner who has come to understand and fear the threat to our communities from defined benefit pensions and the legislative unwillingness to address that issue, I stumbled across the story about Antioch’s recent ordinance. Simply put, I am appalled but not surprised. Is it so important to the four-person majority to hold onto Council seats that it is willing to burden (literally) another generation of residents to help pay for services rendered in 2013? One can expect your Governor and legislators to pretend the pension firestorm won’t destroy government’s ability to provided needed services eventually. But for a lousy city council job you would sell your soul for pottage and a pat on the back from public employees? God help you.
    Mike Gillman, Traverse City, Michigan Commissioner.

  2. Michael Ferreira says:

    It isn’t surprising the Antioch Police Department is the same old story as when I worked there. If you give them no budget to do their job effectively, cherry pick new recruits then pretend that the problem only lies in signing bonuses and retirement incentives, you lose sight that moral is what makes an officer want to come to work every day knowing calls for service will outpace the time he/she has to work a shift. Antioch has turned into the Wild West again and safer towns and better departments to work at are just down the road. Every Officer wants to go home safe at night.

  3. karl says:

    i went to that council meeting, and what a circus it was. i am still sick.
    first, three of the council people run during the November election on, how they have single handedly rescued the city from bankruptcy. Part of it was, having saved the city millions by negotiating those new 3/55 contract. Now only 3 month later they reverse their vote.
    No other incentives to hire new cops were discussed or explored.
    It is very scary that the three leaders, city manager, chief of police, hr person, and the council is unable to hire the 14 new cops they authorized. hire 6 cso’s (which are authorized) that would free up 6 officers on the spot.
    2 new officers got hired, the main message is, our chief wants to have “seasoned” officers. why? our 90 officers can’t carry, support, form, train, new young officers?

  4. eatingdogfood says:

    Democratic Hustler Politicians + Corrupt Greedy Unions = BANKRUPTCY BABY!

  5. Robert Mitchell says:

    Did the council have their facts on the additional pension liability they have assumed? Will they be able to fund the pension costs that result? For each $100,000 of police pay, will they also be funding an extra $50,000 into the pension fund?
    If not, they just lied to their public.

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