Don't Dis The Public Safety Unions

I heard a very disturbing story today on a Sacramento radio news program, leaving me to wonder what happened to the “Protect and Serve” oath for public safety workers. Firefighting and policing are voluntary careers — no one forces anyone to become public a safety worker. However, unlike America’s all volunteer military, the all volunteer public safety employees are unionized and receive high pay, benefits and pensions.

According to the blog that broke the story, Watch Sonoma County, “North Bay firefighters launched a boycott of a Napa Valley winery this weekend after its owner criticized their wages and benefits in a letter published in the St. Helena Star.” But more than a boycott was launched, as the winery owner has received veiled threats online from some public safety employees, potentially refusing to fight a fire at his home or winery, or save him from choking in a restaurant.

Napa Valley winery owner Dario Sattui of V. Sattui Winery wrote a letter to the Editor of the St. Helena Star, venting about the benefits and pensions that firefighters receive. In his April 9 letter, Sattui wrote, “I thought I was doing well in the wine business. Had I had any real brains I would have become a firefighter. What a racket they have. While I respect the work they do and the inherent dangers, they are greatly overpaid, work only two days a week (a third of which they sleep) and get to retire at 50 years old at 90 percent of their pay after working 30 years. I don’t blame the firefighters. Good for them for getting as much as they can. The blame goes to the politicians and the government administrators. What do they care? It isn’t their money.”

Of the more vicious comments left on online, Watch Sonoma County reported the comment, “I only hope that when your winery is burning down, no fire fighters come to help your business,” stated one post, submitted under the name of Emily Morena Orloff. “I hope your business rots in hell in this economy.”

A post submitted under the name of Brad Conners — vice president of the Santa Rosa Police Officers’ Association — featured a picture of Sattui along with the caption: “Our hero….should anyone get flagged down by him or see him choking in a restaurant.” The post and photo were removed Sunday evening.

The radio talk show host stated that Sattui received other online nastiness, including on the winery’s Facebook page

While the element of safety is always present for police and fire fighters, much of their work is working as emergency medical responders, providing CPR and life saving techniques for 9-1-1 calls and auto accidents. I am not diminishing what public safety officers do; they save lives. But too many public safety workers have become union workers first, and the job is secondary, leaving many to believe that the pay, benefits and pensions are more important than the job.

I know several police officers who take very seriously the public safety commitment of their chosen careers, thankfully. However, I also know many decent taxpayers who fear the police because of the abuse of their power. .

When the members of the public fear public safety officials and the police, the balance of power is out of whack and leaning dramatically in the wrong direction. Paid by the taxpayers, police and firefighters are public servants. But as with too many public employees, the union-first mentality seems to dominate the purpose instead of the work — perhaps it’s because there is not enough of the work to go around to the expanding base of public safety employees, particularly when the unions are demanding more in pay, for fewer workers. The City of Vallejo is an example of what happens with too few, very highly paid public safety workers.

Private sector employers and employees work to do more with less in an atmosphere where customer is king. That is the message that Dario Sattui was trying to convey. The public safety employees who levied threats should be reprimanded and disciplined. In the private sector, they’d be fired.

-Katy Grimes


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  1. PRI
    PRI Author 20 April, 2010, 07:11

    Since the government no longer is going to “protect” him, can Dario Sattui now stop paying his immense taxes to all levels of government?

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  2. StevefromSacto
    StevefromSacto 20 April, 2010, 10:17

    Good idea, John. I’d like to take it one step further. Any legislative district whose representatives refuse to allow new revenue to fund state programs should lose them. For example, close down the universities in the Central Valley. Don’t repair the roads or build new ones. Shut down public hospitals that receive state funding. Close DMV offices and fire stations.

    Reply this comment
  3. EastBayLarry
    EastBayLarry 20 April, 2010, 14:19

    Is somebody paying you for these obnoxious comments? If so, you must get a bonus for every time you type ‘Rabid Right’. Oops! You missed your bonus today.

    Reply this comment
  4. StevefromSacto
    StevefromSacto 20 April, 2010, 16:43

    Way to avoid commenting on my suggestion, Larry!

    No one is paying me. That’s unfortunate. If I had a dime for every hypocritical action or hateful utterance by the right wing (yes, Rabid Right), I would be one of those rich folks that you are so eager to defend instead of a poor working stiff.

    I guess it’s OK to accuse Democrats of being Communists, Stalinists, and worse.

    Reply this comment
  5. Max
    Max 20 April, 2010, 19:24

    StevefromSacto, You are going to die broke.

    Reply this comment
  6. dimitri
    dimitri 20 April, 2010, 19:33

    It is OK to accuse many Democrats of being Communists, Stalinists, and worse. I would know. I had lived among their kind for 17 years of my life and can spot them a mile away. And here I thought I had run away for good…

    Reply this comment
  7. Densityduck
    Densityduck 20 April, 2010, 19:49

    Road maintenance is paid for by gas taxes, you twink.

    Reply this comment
  8. JGalt
    JGalt 20 April, 2010, 19:50

    Steve; no need to bother with either. The businesses are fleeing California as fast as refugees fled East Berlin before the wall went up. The fate will be the same. Who will create the Wine that the Fire-fighters drink? Who will build the car for the police to drive? Those who produce are not bound to give to you or others who don’t. The retired state workers do not have the right to enslave other citizens for their retirement payments. What will the state do when all capital leaves and there is nothing left to produce tax revenue? What will 49 other states think about having to pay for California state workers luxurious retirements? This issue is easily more divisive than the issues from 1860’s. In 1860 it was continuation of the evil enslavement of people. In 2010 its the new enslavement of vastly more people.

    Reply this comment
  9. ThomasD
    ThomasD 20 April, 2010, 19:52

    “refuse to allow new revenue”

    Orwell would be impressed.

    I doubt anyone is against ‘allowing’ revenue. Steve is free to give every penny he has to prop up the State, no one will stop him.

    Steve is willing to compel onerous taxation of others in order to prop up leviathan, he just isn’t comfortable saying it directly.

    Reply this comment
  10. Mike_K
    Mike_K 20 April, 2010, 19:53

    Steve, I guess you are in favor of actions like these and what makes you so different from the Stalinists ? The Ukraine objected to the taking of their agriculture for the Soviet Union and the murder of the Kulaks. How is that different from the threats we see here ?

    Reply this comment
  11. edh
    edh 20 April, 2010, 20:12

    “Way to avoid commenting on my suggestion, Larry!”

    Okay, I will comment on your ridiculous suggestion.

    PRI suggested not paying taxes after a denial of service. No service, no tax.

    What StevefromSacto suggests is denial of service, not for a failure to pay taxes, but a failure to vote consistently for ever higher taxes.

    Quite literally, no amount of taxes already paid would ever be enough to receive services in return if one did not vote for a proposal to raise them yet again.

    Very revealing.

    Reply this comment
  12. Xavier Itzmann
    Xavier Itzmann 20 April, 2010, 20:13

    Well, I went and bought a case of nice Merlot from Mr. Sattui’s winery.

    I support those who speak truth to power!

    Reply this comment
  13. TmjUtah
    TmjUtah 20 April, 2010, 20:15

    What was that line from that sixties song?

    “Battle lines being drawn…”?

    Funny how history repeats.

    Reply this comment
  14. John Q Taxpayer
    John Q Taxpayer 20 April, 2010, 20:16

    Firefighters are screwing taxpayers all across the country. Look at what they are doing to one of poorest cities in America

    Reply this comment
  15. mojavewolf
    mojavewolf 20 April, 2010, 20:39

    Your reasoning doesn’t hold water, Steve. You are saying unless those of one district support NEW taxes, they shouldn’t receive the services they ALREADY fund. The natural reaction, of course, would be for that district to proclaim, OK, if you don’t provide the services we already pay for, we won’t send you anything. Ultimately you partition the country into two groups: those who want much and provide little, and those who provide much and are sick of those who act resentful after taking half their check.

    Sorry, but I don’t equate democrats with communists. Traditional democrats are smart enough not to allow the parasites to kill the host (In this case, literally.) Unfortunately for them and all of us, too many of their camp followers, especially public sector unions, aren’t that smart.

    Reply this comment
  16. Jonathan Nolan
    Jonathan Nolan 20 April, 2010, 20:39

    I guess it’s OK to accuse Democrats of being Communists, Stalinists, and worse.

    Certainly is. But only because of the factual support for the opinion. Shill.

    Reply this comment
  17. mplsbob
    mplsbob 20 April, 2010, 20:46

    So what you are saying Steve is that if you make comments that are negative to public sector employees, you deserve no help from them? I thought their duty was to help a person whose house is on fire. Funny you say the rich are the rabid right. Another talking point from the left that is wrong. Why is it that L.A. and NYC are full of rich people and are big liberals? You propagate the big lie that only republicans are rich. This is why the conservative movement confuses you. Why is it bad that people want to keep the money that they worked so hard for? Democrats want to take your money and decide what is best for you. They think you are too stupid to decide what is best for you. They think you are too stupid to make decisions which is why they ban smoking and salt and certain types of fat. When will the masses realize that the democrat party has been commandeered by the socialist party? JFK would not be accepted into the current democrat party. Which is why I left that party.

    Reply this comment
  18. Crash the System
    Crash the System 20 April, 2010, 22:30

    El Stevo,

    It’s not like Kalifornia existed before your benighted presence . It winked into being when you progressive puritans came to be.

    All hail Obama!

    Reply this comment
  19. MickeyFromSacto
    MickeyFromSacto 20 April, 2010, 23:57

    Any legislative district whose representatives refuse to allow new revenue to fund state programs should lose them. For example, close down the universities in the Central Valley. Don’t repair the roads or build new ones. Shut down public hospitals that receive state funding. Close DMV offices and fire stations.-StevefromSacto

    Can we who live in legislative districts whose representatives are leeches get those benefits too?

    Sure, close down the CSU and UC schools in the Central Valley. We’ll watch as they re-open under new, private management minus the Grievance Studies departments and others that supply dilletante diplomas.

    What about the roads, you say? They aren’t being repaired these days anyway (duh!) and any new ones not already financed by fees imposed on builders are the mostly-empty HOV lanes. So what’s the downside for saying “No” to new taxes to pay for old promises?

    Shut down public hospitals, you say? No problemo. I’m Catholic. Good luck procuring an abortion tho’ for that girl you knock up Steve.

    Close DMV? Sure. Up to half of drivers in some places already lack drivers licences and insurance. Licensing and the drivers tests are already jokes. That means your DMV is failing its primary mission, Steve.

    Close fire stations? If that happened, they too will be replaced by private companies – that’s who built and manned the first fire stations in America.

    You forgot to mention the politician-run K-12 schools, Steve. I guess you already see what expensive failures Sacramento City USD schools have become and didn’t want your nose rubbed in that fact. Yep, close ’em and sell the buildings.

    Reply this comment
  20. Daniel
    Daniel 21 April, 2010, 01:28

    What I understand you to be suggesting is that those who disagree with government policy should be discriminated against by the government.
    Are you aware of how loathsome this notion is?
    The ideal government is one that treats everyone fairly and in the same way, no matter who they are and what they believe. Anything else is tyranny.
    Your comment here makes you seem to be a thug, who wishes to silence annoying opposition by having the government punish it.
    In your view those who work for the government have the right to use their positions to favor their supporters and to suppress their opponents.
    We have given our government the right to use force in seeing that its rules are obeyed. It is the only element of society with this right. That government employees use this right to favor friends is called corruption. To do what you advocate is much worse than that.
    You should be ashamed of yourself.

    Reply this comment
  21. jeanneb
    jeanneb 21 April, 2010, 02:39

    I’m afraid we’ve now arrived at the point where it’s the government against the people. Or, as I prefer to call it: The Machine vs. The People.

    One of the most striking things one hears these days is “Do they work for us or do we work for them?!”. I think that one’s been resolved already. We work for them.

    These government entities control the flow of information and they know all the inside tricks for enriching themselves while hiding it from taxpayers. With few exceptions, the lazy media simply regurgitates their press releases, seldom probing deeply enough to expose the insiders’ game.

    The only hope is an ironic one. Taxpayers are now so broke we can’t possibly pay for all their excesses. Blood, meet turnip.

    Reply this comment
  22. EdfromElsewhere
    EdfromElsewhere 21 April, 2010, 03:20

    Oh noze, if I don’t vote right I’ll lose my wonderful universities! And the DMV!

    Reply this comment
  23. DinkumThinkum
    DinkumThinkum 21 April, 2010, 03:40

    Unions should realize that no one forced to stay forever in California.
    What if the taxpayers leave and move to live in sane states.
    Who is going to pay the union pensions then?
    Will Sacramento just print Monopoly money for that?

    Reply this comment
  24. Bob
    Bob 21 April, 2010, 04:14

    Unfortunately, too many of today’s cops are nothing more than uniformed thugs. Brad Conners, vice president of the Santa Rosa Police Officers’ Association, is a prime example of this. I suspect the rest of the union membership are thugs as well.

    Reply this comment
  25. Rich
    Rich 21 April, 2010, 04:21


    Your writing indicates that you have swallowed whole the idea that these “public servants” are poor working stiffs. In general they have the same or higher salaries, better benefits and higher annual pay raises that the majority of people in the towns they serve. They have become the new rich and the rest of us are tired of it.

    As to the rabid right – I think we are seeing more “rabidness” on the left than we ever saw on the right.

    You sir are what is commonly referred to as a troll. Enjoy your day.

    Reply this comment
  26. Arty
    Arty 21 April, 2010, 04:28

    “new revenue to fund state programs”

    there’s still some blood in the corpse, all able-bodied sactoemployees get over here and get your lips on it. I repeat, all sactoemployees resume bloodsucking the corpse. The maggots and beetles can wait their turn.

    Reply this comment
  27. Alinksy
    Alinksy 21 April, 2010, 04:47

    Screw the public unions, they can take their threats and shove ’em where the sun don’t shine.

    If California can’t get these parasites under control this year, then it is time to for those who can to depart.

    Don’t spend a dime you don’t have to spend. Strangle these thieves and their enablers.

    I am proud to say that I have gone from paying $7,000.00 a year in property taxes alone for a similiar ripoff in the Chicago area, to $350.00 a year for a nice rural area.

    Those democrat a*holes are just going to have to get along without my contribution, lol.

    Reply this comment
  28. Yassir Sanchez
    Yassir Sanchez 21 April, 2010, 05:11

    Meanwhile the mainstream media is focusing its entire attention on the Tea Party gatherings just in case some liberal politician imagines another racial slur.

    I am a “working stiff”. I am a teacher and Coach in Texas and I am sick to death of public sector employees that think they have some sort of special right to a lifetime of employment free of worry from salary cutbacks or layoffs.

    Any public sector employee that EVER abuses by word or deed a taxpayer, ESPECIALLY a taxpayer using his civil rights of free speech should be fired.

    And as to the person who does not like when conservatives accuse liberals of being Marxist or Communist, tough crap. Your side can’t go to the bathroom without accusing Conservatives of being Nazi’s or worse.

    The biggest problem with liberals is that they love to dish it out but when it comes to taking it they act like two year olds denied of skittles in the checkout line.

    Thankfully here in Texas our public service employees are prohibited by law from joining a union OR striking.

    Reply this comment
  29. EastBayLarry
    EastBayLarry 21 April, 2010, 07:23

    When you say “…hateful utterance by the right wing…”, I’m not sure where you are reading these. The only hateful comments on this blog seem to to yours.

    Reply this comment
  30. Anon
    Anon 21 April, 2010, 07:26


    Too late on the monopoly money. They already did. Remember the IOUs that California gave out last year?

    I’d love it if people would take the IOUs they got… and hand them right back to the state for this year’s various taxes. Consider it paid in full.

    Reply this comment
  31. StevefromSacto
    StevefromSacto 21 April, 2010, 11:07

    So much garbage here, I don’t know where to begin.

    OK, I’ll go with this statement that I never made: “those who disagree with government policy should be discriminated against by the government.”

    What I did say was that those who refuse to pay for the cost of public services shouldn’t get them.

    Apparently, you folks believe that only the poor and middle class should be responsible for solving the state’s budget crisis by having their services cut. The well-to-do and well-connected should be given a pass.

    As to hateful comments, how’s this Fax to Senator Leland Yee for starters:

    (The fax, which included a graphic of an American flag adorned pickup truck dragging a noose, also states “FIGHTING The Marxist Nig**r Thug Hussein Obama” and “Safeguard the Constitution, Death of all Domestic Marxists!”)

    Reply this comment
  32. Bob
    Bob 21 April, 2010, 11:45

    What exactly does that fax have to do with the subject at hand?

    Reply this comment
  33. J
    J 21 April, 2010, 18:13

    “just in case some liberal politician imagines another racial slur”

    They didn’t “imagine” anything – they just made it up.

    “What I did say was that those who refuse to pay for the cost of public services shouldn’t get them”

    Um, no. You said people who wouldn’t come up with “new” revenue should be denied what they already paid for.

    “Apparently, you folks believe that only the poor and middle class should be responsible for solving the state’s budget crisis by having their services cut”

    Dude, you’re the one who said “those who refuse to pay for the cost of public services shouldn’t get them”. Projection, no?

    Reply this comment
  34. SL
    SL 22 April, 2010, 10:00

    City employees that are not envolved with police and fire are starting to realize that they are being let go to save money to pay for police and fire. How dangerous can a police or fire job be compared to being a Marine in Afgan or Iraq, what do they get for pay, death benefits? Can they form a union?
    The legislators are to blame for this mess but they cowed to the union demands. The State is run for the benefit of its residents, not just for the benefit of its employees.

    Reply this comment
  35. StevefromSacto
    StevefromSacto 22 April, 2010, 10:42

    What exactly does that fax have to do with the subject at hand?

    Just an example of “hateful comments” by the Rabid Right, that’s all.

    Oh, I forgot, all this stuff is just made up by liberals. And I suppose the anti-tax guy who crashed his plane into the IRS office was just a figment or our imagination.

    Gee, I’m kind of honored that 30 of you have decided to debate me. Wish I had more time to respond to each of you. But I’ll just summarize: Any of you who would rather close schools than tax loopholes and any of you who would rather eliminate homecare for Alzheimer’s patients than put a tax on oil production will hopefully make good on your threats and move to Nevada or Arizona. It would certainly make California more civilized.

    Have a nice day, y’all.

    Reply this comment
  36. J
    J 22 April, 2010, 20:44

    “a tax on oil production”

    Actually, royalties on mineral resources the state owns aren’t technically taxes. If CA would go all out developing the oil and natural gas resources in the state and coastal waters, they could be running a surplus within a decade without reductions in any programs. I’m kind of surprised the oil industry isn’t already pushing this idea with the unions. Of course, maybe they are.

    “I suppose the anti-tax guy who crashed his plane into the IRS office was just a figment or our imagination”

    FWIW, that guy was a leftist.

    Reply this comment
  37. lee
    lee 23 April, 2010, 05:51

    You have no right to expect the police to protect you from crime. Incredible as it may seem, the courts have ruled that the police are not obligated to even respond to your calls for help, even in life threatening situations!. To be fair to our men in blue, I think most officers really do want to save lives and stop dangerous situations before people get hurt. But the key point to remember is that they are under no legal obligation to do so……

    Reply this comment
  38. Look behind you
    Look behind you 23 April, 2010, 06:25

    Kathy (author),

    You could be next on these clowns’ hit list for not supporting their ridiculous pay, pension, and benefits.

    So much for free speech in a world dominated by public sector unions.

    Reply this comment
  39. Look behind you
    Look behind you 23 April, 2010, 06:30

    Quoting …”StevefromSacto, You are going to die broke.”

    Not to worry, he already emotionally bankrupt.

    Reply this comment
  40. OCO
    OCO 23 April, 2010, 08:42

    Stevefromsacto is a trough feeding public employee-every word he types is biased with bogus claims and info.

    Reply this comment
  41. StevefromSacto
    StevefromSacto 23 April, 2010, 09:00

    OCO, you are full of crap! I am NOT a public employee.

    And why is it that folks like you who would rather close schools than tax loopholes and would rather protect oil companies than Alzheimer’s patients are not the greedy ones?

    With all the lies you guys are preaching, I know you can get confused by the facts. For example, a recent survey found that “34 percent of those surveyed believed that President Obama raised their taxes last year,” even though this is NOT TRUE. And you have the nerve to talk about “bogus claims and info.”

    p.s. Hey, J, if that anti-tax guy who crashed his plane into the IRS office was a “leftist,” then I guess Rush Limbaugh is a liberal.

    Reply this comment
  42. OCO
    OCO 23 April, 2010, 18:37

    Steve, yes you are a public employee, you have even said so yourself in other forums.

    Reply this comment
  43. jim g
    jim g 24 April, 2010, 09:56

    steve just checked pay stubs from 09 and10. my with holding on federal taxes went up 11%. Those 34% ARE RIGHT.

    Reply this comment
  44. The Redneck
    The Redneck 2 May, 2010, 15:06

    –p.s. Hey, J, if that anti-tax guy who crashed his plane into the IRS office was a “leftist,” then I guess Rush Limbaugh is a liberal.–
    That anti-tax guy was indeed leftist. In fact, his last words were in support of communism.

    So, by the way, was Von Brunn, Amy Bishop, and several other examples of “right wing violence.” I’ve documented a few of them myself, right here:

    As for the rest, we wouldn’t rather close schools. We’d rather close PUBLIC schools, and replace them with private schools that actually educate kids and fire a teacher if he or she tries to have sex with a student.

    Likewise, none of us are in favor protecting oil companies. We just don’t hate them with a rabid, mindless hate.

    And finally, why is it that when somebody thinks he’s entitled to what he earns, he’s “greedy”, but when somebody thinks he’s entitled to what someone ~else~ earns, he’s some kind of saint?

    Oh, and as for your fax? Five bucks says that if it exists at all, it was sent by a liberal. Check out sometime.

    Reply this comment

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