Leave The Fire And Police Pension Alone - And Response (7)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Let me see if I have read this right. Mayor Berke has said that he wants to cut some of the pension because the taxpayers can't afford the current rate. What do the taxpayers have to do with it? 

My brother retired from the Police Department after 27 years. During those years he paid part of his salary into the pension fund instead of Social Security. 

For anyone to suggest they take the money from these retirees is simply wrong.

These people put their lives on the line each and every day and some don't make it home. And now you have the nerve to want to take "their" money with the excuse the taxpayers can't afford it. 

This is ludicrous and I think the people who are wanting to do this should retire to keep from embarrassing themselves any more than they already have.

Bettye Wilkey Clark


* * * 

I see today another group of government employees (police chief and his assistant chiefs) are set to retire - - in their "late 40s."   Is there any doubt why there is a revenue crisis when government employees can retire with a full pension in their 40s?     

Nothing against the police officers taking what was promised - - that was the deal they entered, and they are "entitled."   But, for new government employees these benefits must come to an end.  There is simply no way to afford to pay people who may very well be on retirement longer than years of employment.  
The "bread and butter" average middle class taxpayer will never be in a position to retire with a full pension in their "late 40s."  No private employer could afford such a program.
Bob Purcell 

* * * 

Well the CPD Titanic can't take on anymore water. The years of it taking hits from all the micro managing mayors and especially Berke now going after the police officers' pensions, the ship has its propellers sticking out of the water and has begun its nose dive to the bottom.  

I can't imagine the damage this mayor has done to the departments recruitment pool. Like Obamacare and the DMV to name only two, the government has a horrible record in managing.  I'd love to see the CPD become privatized and run by a person(s) who knows how to make a organization work.  

I don't know anything that has a chance of great success when every few years it has a different boss and CEO. The CPD had a very good chance when it had Bobby Dodd but when you have a nerdy little mayor that knows nothing of being a cop, running things like the previous ones, Dodd didn't have a chance.  

Berke, like all our politicians, have their eyes on the police budget and now even their pensions. They keep trying to trim it down to save a buck.  

You may cut back on salting the roads or manicuring the city's vast park land but in today's violent world you cannot cut or short change the CPD and its troops. You instead need lots of good people, big equipment and a shooting range......and yes it's expensive but that's the nature of the beast.  

I suggest Berke keep pushing his pencils and getting his picture taken, but he has no business tinkering with a police department while the shootings soar.  

I say privatize CPD and keep the grubby little politicians' hands off its police officers' money and keep their noses out of the police business.  

Michael Burns 

* * * 

Bravo for you and your views. I especially like the quotation marks around the word entitled. Even though you say you have nothing against the fire and police taking what is promised, it still makes me think that you don't believe they deserve the money that they have paid into their pensions over their many years of service.  

I myself have a hard time wanting to screw our fire and police yet again. They do a tough thankless job and put their life on the line everyday. I'd rather see my taxes go up a few cents, but then, I have a conscience.  

Herb Montgomery

* * * 

I see that most people that take the time to write in to this forum tend to be behind the Fire and Police pension. I can appreciate that because my husband just so happens to work for the CPD. For those who have feelings similar to Mr. Purcell, let me offer some insight. 

Google "life expectancy for police officers." What you will find is that while the national average for life expectancy in the United States is 78 years, for police officers it's 59.5 years. What does that mean for someone like my husband? It means that he will get to enjoy retirement, job free, for 4.5 years. Isn't that something to look forward to?  

How many old, retired police officers do you know? I don't know of any. I know a lot of old retired teachers, electricians, etc. Private sector jobs and careers may have longer spans until retirement but the stresses and hazards are not comparable to law enforcement.  

By the way, I didn't see you write anything about the military which one can join at 17, do their 20 years to retirement, and leave with benefits at the ripe old age of 37.  

Thank you to everyone for the support that you give to officers of both the CPD and CFD and the "entitlements" that they receive. 

Nicole Tinney

* * * 

Mr. Purcell,

I graduated high school in 1990, and a classmate from an earlier class joined the Navy as a sonar man at age 17.

For 20 years he was in the silent service, spending his time in schools and in a rolling office chair at a console staring at a sonar screen.  (There is obviously more to that job, but I'm keeping this simple for time’s sake.) He became retirement eligible and left with full benefits at age 37.

Do you know what people call him? A veteran and a national hero. No surface warfare device, no combat injuries, and if he saw blood it was as a result of a personal or industrial accident. These are his words. In other words? A hero.

On a local level, a police officer can join the force shortly after their 21st birthday, even entering the Academy just prior to it so long as the birth date passes before they graduate. After 25 years, that police officer can retire from the force at 46 years old. 

During those 25 years, that officer does not stare at a sonar screen or a galley stove top. That officer stares at his neighbors and relatives of friends mangled in car wrecks, deaths he is reminded of on a daily basis as he passes through that very location time and time again, reminded by gouges in the asphalt only he knows to look for, and indentations on utility poles only he knows the source of. 

 He breaks up fights between members of an opposite race, and it's called a racist for his trouble. 

He is the victim of multimillion dollar lawsuits for the aforementioned fight he broke up, for which he was labeled a racist because his skin was a different color and his lawyer knows that label is a scarlet letter unto itself, and will do wonders with the judicial aspects of the resulting case.

He stares at children duct taped to trees in a graveyard after having been ravaged to the point of death by care providers. He stares at what a pet will do to its owner when they die of natural causes and there is no other source of food. How is this comparing to your own private employer thus far?

He does this day after day, marriage after marriage, dodging chemical addictions more frequently than bullets or unwarranted labels, 25 years dealing with the absolute worst humanity has to offer, and at the end of those 25 years?

You don't call him a hero like the sonar man, or the food specialist. You call him an entitlement leech with your "quotations" and cavalier, smarmy references. 

You ignore the PTSD inherent in seeing the evil we are capable of doing unto one another day after day for over two and a half decades, and hold him to the standard of an "average middle class tax payer." "Average." 

Then after you're done with that, you tell him that he has to work until he's 55 years old, 55 years old chasing violent criminals with the average age is running from 17-19 years old because over half the force consists of street cops, not administrators and detectives.  Fifty-five years old chasing these bad guys at 4 a.m. or 8 p.m. or anytime of the day for that matter, then blaming him for spikes in crime. Then tell him he has an entitlement mentality and compare him to a CPA or a pipe fitter or a machinist or any other profession. Tell him the sonar man is a hero, but imply he is a leech and "unsustainable."

The reason we work for 25 years and hope to retire is because after five or six years, believe it or not, it's a pretty horrible job on occasion and making it to 10 and 15 years was hard enough. But you feel that maybe you could squeeze another few daily tragedies into our skulls I suppose, because you really want to stretch your tax dollars.  Sickening.

Cops (and firefighters) are walking out the door, brother. Maybe they are looking for sonar screens and stove-tops so they can be heroes? Or maybe you should more carefully consider what you call "average work" and what it costs to perform a service that occasionally drives us crazy or to suicide as it did to a retiree I knew just within the last few weeks. Or less dramatically but more frequently, to the doorway "out."

"No private employer could afford such a program," indeed. There is a reason for that, sir, and if the above examples didn't illustrate those reasons then I don’t think I’ll be able to explain it further. Not without duct tape and a graveyard anyway.

Cops and firefighters generally don't expect appreciation for what they do, we usually don't even get acknowledgment. But cruelty?

Thank you, sir. It's days like this it all really pays off, and it's no wonder only a quarter of the average police Academy even makes it to retirement with treatment like this, never mind the horror coating our brains from such an "average job."  You have to let us stop working at some point as our bodies (and minds) give out, and you have to give us an incentive to stay, even if that incentive costs money.

Your shortsightedness and cruelty is quite apparent, and the way things are going, you are apparently not alone. 

Relax.  You are definitely on the way to saving money based on the headlines today.

(And in advance of the inevitable "If you can't handle it, you should quit" responses?  No need to say it.  Again, read the headlines these days.)

Craig Joel
“Average Middle Class Taxpayer" 


* * *

Mr. Burns, 

The mayor hasn't done damage to the recruiting pool; he actually increased it with the Domestic Partners Ordinance. Don't you remember? The city is now a more competitive employer.

And while we are talking about the police and how the administrations screw them at every turn, has anyone else noticed the abandoned cop cars all over town? Remember when cop cars were expensive and the hard working men in blue (black) couldn't drive their car home? Now we just leave them where they may. The one at the 75/24 interchange looks like it is begging to be totaled for insurance money. And the other one that bounces around is really convincing all frosted over.

Tim Giordano

* * * 

The problem at hand is not greedy public workers. The problem is government priorities, from the federal government all the way to city government. The politicians are demonizing public workers to get control of more pork spending funds. The politicians are in office a relatively short time, such as mayor, and need cash to back scratch their benefactors and complete their personal pet projects.  

The city of Chattanooga has given up services over the past 25 years to Hamilton County, for examples, the jail, the ambulance, and the school system. The Hamilton County taxes increased to take over the services however, Chattanooga taxes did not decrease not one cent. Where is all the money going that once funded these services? Is this just another attempt to accomplish metro government by reducing firefighter and police department’s budgets so the county can take over?  

The fire department and the police department is the biggest stumbling block for their secret metro agenda between the city and the county.  

So in the grand scheme of things, who is being greedy public workers or career politicians? 

Charles Thomason

* * * 

I have never submitted an opinion here before but after reading the comments of Mr. Joel, I could not stand it any longer. 

Mr. Joel, yes the sailor probably rolled around in a chair and watched a screen, but did you ever consider he probably had not seen or talked to his family in several months? He was not riding around in a heated/AC vehicle talking on his cell phone and looking at his computer. Why didn’t you ever put on a uniform and try it? 

My grandson spent 10 months in the desert last summer fighting along side and treating wounded Marines, did your A/C in your car ever stop working? Yes, he is a hero, more than you will ever measure up to, and he does not spend his time whining and crying about the money he makes, even though it’s below minimum wage. 

In 1968, I watched 200 Marines hold off two divisions of screaming yelling VC for 77 days, last week I watched 40 police dressed in their GI Joe suits surround a house with an armored vehicle and there was nobody there, the cameras and spotlights were though. There is a little place in South Carolina called Paris Island that will issue you and them all the gear you want for free and send you to a place where you will really need it. 

Sick of your crying, do something productive for this country. I am sick and tired of people like you berating our ,ilitary, as Col. Jessup said, “I would rather you pick up a rifle and stand a watch, otherwise, shut up.”


Richard Cook

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