State turns bureaucrats into millionaires

UnionsLastHopeDec. 26, 2012

By Steven Greenhut

California’s political leaders continue to defend a public-employee-compensation system that is so far beyond sanity it’s hard to know where to begin. Here is a Bloomberg story about a cop — a California Highway Patrol division chief — who is “earning” nearly half a million bucks in a year, an absurd enrichment scheme that explains much about why California is heading toward the poorhouse.

Per Bloomberg:

California Highway Patrol division chief Jeff Talbott retired last year as the best-paid officer in the 12 most-populous U.S. states, collecting $483,581 in salary, pension and other compensation.

“Talbott, 53, received $280,259 for accrued leave and vacation time and took a new job running the public-safety department at a private university in Southern California. He also began collecting an annual pension of $174,888 from the state.

“Union-negotiated benefits, coupled with overtime that can exceed regular pay and lax enforcement of limits on accumulating unused vacation, allow some troopers to double their annual earnings and retire as young as age 50. The payments they get are unmatched by those elsewhere, according to data compiled by Bloomberg on 1.4 million employees of the 12 states. Some, like Talbott, go on to second careers.”

This legal thievery has so many crazy elements. You have a bureaucrat retired at the level of royalty at age 53. Yet Californians, in their wisdom, believed Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative Democrats who argued that there’s absolutely positively nothing that can be trimmed from our state budget and the only solution is higher taxes.

The taxes are bad enough, but the idea that state leaders really believe that the budget is tight is even worse. The state’s public-safety unions use the “hero” card whenever anyone tries to trim their outsized pay and benefits, but these union officials are doing something that is the opposite of heroic — they are placing their own selfish demands above everything else. They will do anything to protect an enrichment scheme that turns every public-safety official into a multi-millionaire. If you take a public safety job and stay on it for 30 years, then you will retire with a millionaire’s pension. Think about how much money you would need to have saved to sustain a six-figure pension until you die.

Defenders of this system will of course refer to the Jeff Talbot situation as the example of an abuse, but this is not an aberration, even if Talbot played the system to extremes.

Now that voters approved Prop. 30 and gave Democrats a supermajority in the Legislature, forget about reforms. The only thing that will change this is insolvency. Now that’s something to look forward to.




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  1. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 26 December, 2012, 16:20

    I’m beginning to think inner city residents have a point when they say “F*** Tha Poh-leece”.

    But seriously. The whole pension-spiking game is simply morally wrong – yet far too many of our “heroes” have absolutely no qualms about it.

    I need a barf bag.

    Reply this comment
  2. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 26 December, 2012, 17:14

    What have I said a million times?? These are GED level jobs that require NO training or other special skill prior to hire. It is all on the job training that is very basic and the vast majority of the applicants who apply with a GED could do these jobs if given the opportunity. The free market does not apply to the government-or these jobs. These GED Wonders are making MORE than any Fortune 100 manager, and MORE than most Fortune 1,000 CEO’S.

    Reply this comment
  3. Donkey
    Donkey 26 December, 2012, 17:27

    Yea Steven, the PS RAGWUS has nothing on organized crime, in fact it is just better organized!! 🙂

    Yea Rex, you have always been clear on this subject!! 🙂

    Jimmydeeoc, yep!!! 🙂

    Reply this comment
  4. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 26 December, 2012, 23:01

    And then there’s the story of Jimmy Owens, the 30-year OCFA firefighter who collapsed and died during a training exercise a couple years back at age 51 or so.

    Every flamehead from Brawley to Morro Bay showed up for his funeral. There was a traffic jam of Big Shiny Red Trucks.

    Now I don’t hope anyone croaks at 51 and I certainly don’t wish ill will on his family……


    “….But the firefighter who accrued the most overtime was Jim Owen, a 30-year veteran who died during a training exercise in September. Known to his colleagues as “Jimmy,” “The Mayor,” and “Jimmy-overtime,” Owen amassed more than $120,000 in overtime alone in 2009….”

    Believe me…I was able to maintain dry eyes when reading about the SOB in the OCRegister. Quite easily, in fact.

    Reply this comment
  5. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 26 December, 2012, 23:10

    Owens’ funeral, Sept, 23 2010.

    Your tax dollars at work.

    (I’d be a tad more sympathetic if it really was “died in the performance of duty”. Having a heart attack is very much a gray area.

    Reply this comment
  6. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 27 December, 2012, 08:27

    It’s just as bad in Illinois, where a firefighter’s family gets hero pay even when the firefighter dies in a lawnmowing accident:
    –Steven Greenhut

    Reply this comment
  7. Hondo
    Hondo 27 December, 2012, 09:42

    But back to reality. There is simply no more money left to steal. The budget deficit is far bigger than they let on, especially when you account for all the borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. With all those tax increases passed at all levels of govt from prop 30 to the local cemetery districts in this last election, don’t expect to see any level of economic growth that will come close to funding this organized theft. Despite all the hype about this great Xmas season at the stores, the credit card numbers showed a huge decline in spending this year. And this latest study which shows Kali, along with 11 other states, have more people on the dole that have jobs in the private sector. Kali simply doesn’t have the economic growth to fund the welfare state and the public union thefts. If not this year, then the next, Kali will produce more huge deficits sending the state into utter bankruptcy with no more taxes to be raised( They will have dumped prop 13 by then anyways). They will be in the same boat as Illinois and Connecticut are this year. More huge deficits this year after huge tax increases last year.
    Hold onto your hats. 2013 is gonna be a wild ride.

    Reply this comment
  8. Hondo
    Hondo 27 December, 2012, 09:54

    Just how bad is our federal deficit, how deep is the fiscal cliff? To balance Obama’s budget for this year, you would have to take 100% of ALL corporate taxes. AND take 100% of all the income from ALL americans making more than 66k a year. These numbers come from a group president CLINTON put together while he was in office and is still around.
    We are gonna be like Wile-e-Coyote going off the cliff chasing the Road runner.
    “Mem mep” said the road runner.

    Reply this comment
  9. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 27 December, 2012, 11:43

    Thought of this late last night…..

    THIS is why some of us have a problem with government trough feeders…..and while this applies LEAST to Police and Fire, who have sometimes-dangerous jobs…..

    “They are paid as adults – and then some. But have all the responsibility and accountability of children.”

    It’s true and you know it.

    Reply this comment
  10. Ftheunions
    Ftheunions 27 December, 2012, 22:09

    Since early childhood we have all been fed the ridiculous stories of fire and police as heroes. That fire and police, and teachers for that matter, are our heroes because they “sacrifice” and do what they do for “public service,” but the hard reality is that police departments are largely composed of former high school football players whose options were minimal and limited but found organizations where where they could thrive despite their limited abilities. As for teachers, the truth is that they come from the bottom third of all college graduates and often land in education by default. And those that remain in the field will go on to earn graduate degrees in Education–a field of study with near zero academic rigor.

    Reply this comment

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