Last November, a flyer in the shape of an oversized Irvine Police Badge showed up on cars parked outside of churches and temples throughout Irvine from an Independent Expenditure that let every know “Your Irvine Police Officers Support Jeff Lalloway.” While it’s almost certain some members of the police department do support Mayor Pro Tem Lalloway, he failed to get the Irvine Police Union’s endorsement.
And even though he was on vacation when the vote to approve a new contract for Irvine Police took place last month, his comments on social media make it almost certain he’ll never get the endorsement of this or other city public employee unions again.
Lalloway posted this on Facebook shortly after the 3-1 vote was taken (Lynn Schott was the lone vote against the deal)>
“I am again extremely disappointed in the GOP led Irvine City Council. Last week, they approved a new union contract. It is a $10 million total raise for the unions in Irvine. A 10% raise for the police and an 8% raise for the other employees. All base building which means higher pensions for all of the employees. Choi and Shea voted with liberal Krom for the deal. Schott voted no. I was absent for the final vote, going on a long ago planned vacation. But I knew where the deal was headed based upon closed session meetings. A terrible deal for the taxpayers of our city. Now, all of the other unions in our county will want to be paid higher which raises the budgets and pension payments for all of the cities in Orange County. It is a terrible deal.”
What Lalloway doesn’t seem to understand is that during the bad post-George W, Bush economy of 2009-2011, these very unions worked closely with the progressive council majority to let positions go unfilled or delay salary increases and bonuses. They made a sacrifice in pay without a sacrifice in service to the community to help Irvine weather the storm better than others.
But apparently, most Republicans in office believe high salaries, bonuses or raises are only reserved for the private sector.
The mostly amicable negotiations with unions that represent the police rank and file, city administrators and three other worker groups netted most employees a 4% salary hike in each of the next two years taking effect immediately.
“Obviously the bargaining groups are always looking for as much as they can possibly get. I would expect that and I respect that,” said Councilwoman Beth Krom. “In the end, I think they got a very good package.”
The two-year agreement, yet to be formally ratified, will cost the city a little more than $4.8 million in the first year and escalates to just under $5.1 million in the second. Approval passed by a 3-1 vote at Tuesday’s regular meeting with Councilwoman Lynn Schott dissenting and Mayor Pro Tem Jeffrey Lalloway absent.
Schott cited the overall budget implications and $1.1 million in excess of the planned contract cost for this year as reasons for not supporting the resolution. She explained the city budgeted for 3% salary increases for top-tier employees. The more than a million dollars in cost overrun will come out of a budget surplus from fiscal year 2014-15.
“The negotiations quickly went beyond that range. So I simply felt uncomfortable,” Schott said. Moreover, she said she felt the impact on city pension funding needed closer scrutiny.
“It seems like we’re trying to get out of a pension deficit hole and then increasing salaries above and beyond our target was for this year,” Schott explained. “I felt we were sending two separate signals — trying to get out of that pension hole but then increasing salaries and increasing our pension liability.”
Other council members noted the police association and other unions were accommodating in past negotiations during more difficult times.
“People did participate in a respectful way during the economic downturn,” Krom said, “so this gives us a chance to bring them back to a place that’s a little bit better.”
Lalloway’s rant on social media did not go unnoticed by former Irvine Police officer and frequent blog commenter Pat Rodgers who left this comment on the Daily Pilot story:
To Councilman Jeff Lalloway, It appears you would like to turn Irivne (sic) Police department into the disaster area your buddies, The Three Stooges, have done in Costa Mesa. The end result of their efforts sows (sic) crime is up, response times are longer and specialized areas of citizen protection have been decimated. Is that really the kind of service you want for the citizens of Irvine? At the same time, Jeff you parade around, patting yourself on the back and bragging how Irvine is the Safest City in America, when actually you had nothing to do with it. Worse yet, you refuse to show up to support or object, to what I consider to be not enough of a pay raise for the men and women actually keeping the City safe. At one time, when we had a more reasonable group of City Council Members running things, Irvine was the top paid Law Enforcement Agency in Orange County. Now, you will find Irvine ranked in the third to fifth catagory, while still keeping Irvine #1 Safety wise. Moral of the story is, you get what you pay for. The citizens of Irvine are in fact getting a lot more than they are currently paying for?
You also criticize the Safety Retirement Plan, of which you know nothing of it’s history or how it progressed over the years. We started out with a private Defined Benefit Plan in 1975. This Plan was not comparable to PERS, which mosts other Cities in Orange County used. Over the next fifteen years in salary negotiations, which I was in charge of, we gave up pay raises putting the money into the Retirement Plan rather than our pockets. That Mr. Lalloway, is how we got that 90% at age 50 Plan, you so strongly criticize. The City did not give us anything, we paid for every aspect of enhancements to the Plan. You also failed to mention that in order to get the 90% benefit, an Officer must work for 30 years on the job. When I myself retired becaue of a heart attack, I was 62 years old and had only 27 years of service in Irvine. As such, I get 81% of my base salary. If the truth be known, you will find very few Officers retiring at age 50 with the maximum benefit.
I am a huge proponent of smaller, cost efective and less restrictive government. Having worked in municipal governement for 35 years, I also understand there are critical services and there are comfort services. Public Safety is at the heart of the Mission of Government, that being to provide a safe and secure environment for citizens to work and live in. As said earlier, you get what you pay for and if you want the best, you should also pay the best. Concilman Lalloway, I encourage you to remove the blinders, appreciate the dedicated men and women of the Irvine Police Department for the job they do and pay them the best in Orange County. .
While Irvine Police do an excellent job, their union forgets candidates who always have their backs at election time. Perhaps in 2016, it’ll be a different story.