Apr 032020

Those of you that read Right On Daily frequently remember our epic take down of the Corrupt Sheriff of Riverside County – Stan Sniff.

During the course of said mission I interacted with a TON of Sheriff Deputies and employees.

In Memory of Riverside Deputy Dave Werskman who passed away this morning 4-3-2020 at age 49. (Note, your intrepid blogger is also 49)

In the course of talking to the law enforcement employees I was invariably treated to the talking points about pay and benefits and how they deserved more. As a political operative, I am pretty much numb to standard arguments from any group of people.

Something happened to my paradigm. Almost everyone I talked to in Law Enforcement in Riverside County had a partner or co-worker die young. (Think less than age 60) There was no way that many people were getting murdered by criminals in the line of duty. Still other perfectly young and healthy deputies were suffering career ending injuries (which I literally witnessed in real time while engaged in the heat of political battle).

One of the most evil things former Governor Gray Davis did (speaking of corrupt) was opened the door to pretty much EVERY State / Public Employee getting a 2.5ish% at 50 pension. He did it to get desperately needed campaign cash (something like $5 Million as it was pre prop 34 rules) to try and save himself politically. It was combined with a 34% pay raise to the CCPOA’s members as well. Almost every local government felt pressure to give out massive pensions to every level of government employee as a result of what Davis did.

I remember this as 2003 was a pivotal year for Republicans in California. We were signing our death warrant politically as we were electing a comic book character governor.

The sinister disservice to Law Enforcement was complete. Gray Davis had just decimated their argument for why their benefits were so rich. Today, in the pension reform environment – all government employees believe they are entitled to the same rich benefits that Public Safety Are.

However, a pencil pusher that fines businesses for breathing or who seeks to sue religious conservatives in the name of LGBT rights does not have the same mortality or morbidity as a cop. They should have never been able to retire at Age 50 with 3%xYears of service. The abuses are rampant with retired 50-something government leeches getting another job while drawing 6 figure pensions.

This does not happen with Cops and Fire Fighters. When they retire at age 52-53 with a 90% pension, their body is shot and their health is shot. Now that I am looking in to the Placer DA’s office drama, I am seeing that the same dynamic is in play in Placer. I know this is not isolated to Riverside.

I looked at statistics – depending on which website you use, a cop lives to be age 56-59. A firefighter barely longer. Firefighters tend to get cancer at extremely high rates and cops get heart disease at extremely high rates.

Given that bureaucrats tend to live normal lives (age 75-80), paying them 70-90% of their salary for life is unsustainable. This is why there are labor union strikes, lawsuits, recalls, million dollar city council elections and the like. Non Public Safety unions want to keep their gravy train running despite the truth. I support eliminating pensions completely (for non public safety public employee unions) as the taxpayers should not be assuming all the risk of funding the retirement of millions. As an intermediate step I support 2.0%-2.5% at age 60/62 in order to keep governments from collapsing financially. It is time for a matched 401K plan to replace most of the retirement plan benefits for non-public safety public employees. It is absurd to make the taxpayers guarantee market returns for millions of people whose careers are made out of fining businesses, threatening people and regulating the public in to the poor house. It is an injustice to millions that Government Jobs are far more lucrative than private sector jobs on the whole.

However, I have no such issue with giving away pensions and rich medical benefits to the Public Safety Unions – especially when cutting other government union benefits could offset the cost of maintaining high levels for Public Safety. You’d have to be without any emotion whatsoever to see people in their late 30’s permanently disabled due to arresting some slimebag (and getting assaulted in the process) or a 45 year old firefighter with the lungs of a 75 year old smoker – dozens of times over – and not say they deserve something extra. Before some of you make the idiotic argument that they signed up to be police and fire of their own free will, remember that without police and fire you do not have a society. (Just like without borders and a military you have no nation) Due to the necessity of their occupation, it is not like a Roofer or and Air-Hammer operator that can switch trades in their Mid-30’s when their body can’t take the pounding anymore.

Then add in that the County Worker’s Comp in many areas is full of bureaucrats that abuse the system to deny benefits to injured public safety employees and it is even more infuriating. (More on the Riverside County Worker’s Comp soon)

Dave Werksman is the third source of information I had in the 2018 election that has died before his 54th Birthday. Two other people I communicated with regularly, one Mid 30’s and the other Mid 40’s got injured while I was working on ousting Stan Sniff and are both now permanently disabled. That means 5 people I relied on from Oct 2017 through Nov 2018 are dead or disabled. In fact, one of the disabled was injured on my 47th Birthday in 2018.

I will be forever grateful to Dave Werksman as he provided me with a slew of information on the Bomb Squad which led to several discoveries of dirty promotions, retaliation, cronyism and corruption unrelated to the bomb squad. I have been able to find out that Werksman was indeed in below average health when he contracted the ChinaVirus in the SouthWest command of the Sheriff’s Department. Sadly, Werksman was to have retired when he turned 50.

I do not believe it is inauthentic as a conservative to understand that public safety comes at a cost. It is a cost I am willing to pay now that I have seen firsthand what the price is for people that commit their lives to it. RIP Mr. Werksman.

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  8 Responses to “A Blogger’s Personal Comentary: Why I Have Changed My Position on Public Safety Pensions and Benefits”

  1. Thank you. CalPers pension, the one you describe, is more than fair for 1st responders. That term is being overused in an attempt to receive the same retirement package as police and fire. Also as you say many govt workers wants the same thing. There was a time everyone was ok with generous pensions for the right people because we understood they had unique skills like running towards an emergency while others run away. It was a conservative worldview. Today police are held in less regard.

  2. First, I want to thank Mr. Werksman, for your service and in the line of duty, gave his life for us. May he rest in peace. My prayers are with his family at this time of loss.

    Thank you, Aaron, for pointing out the difference between public safety employees, such as police and firefighters in the category different than someone who sits at a desk as a public employee. A public (government) employee does not deserve the same compensation as a public safety officer is entitled. Since my husband is a retired firefighter, I speak from experience. We have many friends that have worked with my husband who have died prematurely, either from injury resulting in death, disability, cancer, heart problems, etc. Two of his retired co-workers are right now fighting cancer. Some have already succumb to their fate. Their Doctors even admitted that this form of cancer happens to many firefighters due to all the smoke and other particles in the air that they come in contact with while fighting fires, even with air masks and protective clothing. I appreciate that you have explained and separated that fact the a government public employee is in a very different category than government public safety employees. Bless you!

  3. I retired in Sept. 2014 after 31years of service.Since then there have been approx. 12 people I worked with or knew, my age, (59), and younger, who have died. Cancer, diabetes and heart related issues have been the causes. I questioned if this is normal or are law enforcement officers dying young because of their chosen profession. I ask non L.E. people I talk to if this is normal and they seem puzzled at the question as if they don’t keep track or have no idea who dies other than family members. I wonder if we are more aware of the deaths because the department sends out a notification when someone dies. But man, for the past 6 months one death notification after the other was being put out on deputies I worked with. Back in the day, Sgt Bill Strickland, excellent Sgt, would tell us in briefing that our whole career we’re going to have jolts of adrenaline surging through our bodies because of the danger and nature of the job. He told us when we retire we don’t get that anymore and your body flatlines. Add stress, which is a given in our job and the #1 killer and agitator of all illnesses, and it a recipe for death.

    I know the physical toll the job took on me, but no one talks about the mental drain. You can’t turn off the evil you have seen and the way people treat each other at times. Negative thinking about the world is a killer. To everyone out there from the academy recruits to veterans, try every day to de-stress because if you don’t that bill is going to paid when you retire.

    This pandemic is an elusive suspect but without hesitation Law Enforcement Officers go to work and fight the fight, it’s who they are. So I agree they should be compensated in a different category.

    Best wishes to the families of the deceased your loved ones died HEROS.

  4. I am a retired firefighter that has outlived the norm (73) and I am grateful for the generous pension. But, I observed how they got so good for us first responders. Normal citizens do not pay attention to the election of the district boards, supervisors, and councils. The unions love to see their people elected to these positions. I watched strong union activists get elected to those positions and then later negotiate with the unions for benefits. What a deal, negotiate with yourself. When I started working in public safety, I paid most of the cost of my PERS pension. As the years went by the city or district during negotiations would offer to pay a percentage of my PERS costs in lieu of a percent pay increase. Sounded like a great deal. But after many years they offered to pay it all. Then in the good years PERS didn’t require them to pay into because dividends were great. Now cities, counties, and districts have unfunded liabilities. Gee how did that happen. Funding of PERS needs to be adjusted and benefits realistic.

  5. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-09/calpers-forfeited-a-1-billion-payday-by-scrapping-market-hedge. Earl I’ve read article after article about how mismanaged Calpers has been over the years. I believe someday I’m going to be notified the fund is broke and have a nice life. No doubt it’s going to need a major bailout sometime in the future. Read attached article where Calpers canceled an insurance hedge fund where they would have received a billion dollars in the event the market took a dive. They canceled the fund right before the pandemic hit and market took a dive. Missed out on a billion dollars. They also have problems keeping leaders which is troublesome. The most recent, a Chinese guy, quit.

  6. Thank you for clarifying something that can be hard to see. There’s a vast difference between the two groups of public sector workers, and you nailed it. Desk jockeying just isn’t as dangerous as dedicating oneself to public safety.

    “It is absurd to make the taxpayers guarantee market returns for millions of people whose careers are made out of fining businesses, threatening people and regulating the public in to the poor house.”

  7. CalPERS Staff Seeks to Strip Board of Remaining Authority Even as Press Exposes Multi-Billion Cost of Lack of Supervision; Elected Board Members Thumb Nose at Public by Seeking to Be Paid for Doing Almost Nothing

    Taleb Questions CalPERS Ben Meng’s Competence and Honesty in Defending Missed $1 Billion Hedge Gain; Taleb Estimates CalPERS Net Loss on Meng’s “Alternative Mitigation” Over Two Years at $19 Billion
    We’re screwed. Unbelievable their playing games with people’s lives. Board members don’t seem to care. I believe there is criminal behavior related to greed not yet revealed. There needs to be a serious audit.

  8. They’re

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