Sunday, June 12, 2011

City firefighters: Heroes or bullies?


From Matier and Ross in today's Chronicle:

According to witnesses, a large firefighter in uniform came up to Adachi and asked him to leave, at the request of a member of the fallen firefighter's family.
When asked about the incident, Adachi confirmed that he had been asked to leave. "I had gone to pay my respects. I was asked to leave by a captain, I think."
Adachi said "thank you," but stayed put.
According to witnesses, after a couple of minutes the same officer came back and told him, "We don't want to have any problems" and again asked Adachi to leave. So he did.

Adachi should have told him to go fuck himself. The "problem" the bullyboy fireman had: Adachi and lot of other people think firemen should pay more for their pension plan.

And this from Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White: "There are no words to describe the pain, anger and sorrow that we are feeling." Anger? Who are they angry at? These privileged city workers need to get a grip. Like being a cop, being a fireman can be dangerous, but doing your job doesn't make you a hero. The danger---and the importance of the job---is why firemen are compensated so well by city taxpayers. In fact they may be over-compensated: 

From a post last year on the Grand Jury's report on the city's pension problem:

Of the retirees who are getting a pension of more than $75,000 a year, former cops and firemen lead the way with 1,713 (82%), while only 671 (4%) of retirees from all other categories get that much. And the disparity holds true for those receiving pensions of more than $100,000 a year, with 741 (36%) of those lucky old farts being cops/firemen and only 159 (1%) from other job categories.

And retiring firemen are guilty of gaming the system more than other city workers. Another Grand Jury report showed us how this works:

A Lieutenant [in the fire department] was temporarily assigned to a rank of Battalion Chief in his last year of service. As a result, the Lieutenant contributed $1,915 into the pension fund during the final year of employment, which raised his pension amount by $25,500 per year for every year of his retirement. The present value of the incremental pension cost of $25,500 over his life expectancy was estimated to be $296,000 ("Beyond Our Ability to Pay," page 4).

Instead of indulging in anger and self-pity, these people should understand that they are lucky to have these well-paid jobs.

We can only hope that city voters pass Adachi's pension reform measure in November to make them pay more for their benefits.

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Popular JROTC program still struggles to survive

JROTC in the Saint Patrick's Day parade. Photo by Edward Chow

Today's story in the Examiner on JROTC characterizes the struggle to retain the program in city schools as

...a program that has been mired in controversy. Teachers and students rallied two years ago to keep the program from being cut. In that instance, the school district struck a deal to keep the JROTC as an independent study course for students, as a way to partially fulfill the state requirement for high school students to have 400 minutes of physical education per week.

It wasn't just "teachers and students" who rallied in support of JROTC. It was the school board and then city voters who chose in 2008 to keep the program by 55-45%. It was only the city's "progressive" political community that created the "controversy," as they tried to kill the program for political reasons using the credential issue as a pretext.

Rachel Norton is right: it's ridiculous to make long-time teachers go through a program that makes them repeat the student teaching requirement to get this credential.

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