Thursday, July 15, 2010

Police layoffs in Oakland, California: can it happen here and will it? !

Two things made Buz's eyebrows go up yesterday, and got him wondering and thinking (thinking is always dangerous!). One was that the FOP has assessed an extra deduction on both active and retired officers in order to support the lawsuit against the city (the irony was not lost on me).

The other was that the city of Oakland, California is laying off 80 police officers, because the city is broke, and you guessed it, pension issues.

Now, mind you, Oakland only has a authorized strength of 800; so the layoffs represent 10% of the force. And IT IS NOT A LOW CRIME CITY. A police force of 800 in a city of 400,000 residents?! Baltimore has a force of 3000 in a city of 650,000 residents.

Will the city next year be forced to lay off lot of cops here?

So, the FOPs treasury cannot now afford to pay the only winners in this situation: the lawyers for the FOP and firefighters who are charging $100,000 per week. Will they win? I dunno (a technical term). Of course, they've assured their clients that they will win.

But what happens if they win? What taxes will the mayor raise to pay for a decade of her predecessors malfeasance in funding the pension? She'll never get a property tax increase thru city council; she couldn't even get a 4-cent bottle tax. So, what programs will be therefore cut?
Which agencies?
I guess we shall see, but I wouldn't want to be on probation next spring.

While Buz is not a great negotiator, his gut wishes that our union head would stop publicly calling the mayor "a liar"--even if he really thinks she is. Say it to each other in private, and remember: she's a politician, and conditions change. And perhaps saying that police and fire are going to turn their backs on the mayor and city council is a hard-nosed negotiating tactic, but I would be loath to say something like that. Because I painfully remember the police strike of 1974.