The Gravy Train (platinum edition)

The SacBee’s Dan Walters reports (subscription) that San Bernadino — bankrupt San Bernardino — has to give its police a $1 million raise. A provision in the city charter says the city must keep up with certain other cities.

That’s laugh-out-loud ludicrous. Salary surveys linking public employee pay to other regions (inevitably more affluent regions) should be the first thing to go when a city spirals toward insolvency. 

The situation is analgous to Stockton’s Fire Department. Years ago, the Fire Department managed to insert language into the city charter (or other agreements) requiring its staffing remain at 75 firefighters 24/7 regardless of need or cost. The cost of this provision was burdensome enough, but firefighters learned to play the system for overtime — $6 million one year.

City leaders put Measure H on the ballot on 2010 to undo this budget busting provision, and voters approved it. San Berdoo, are you listening?

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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