Friday, January 14, 2011

Take-a-way / Give-a-way

I get it, I really do. I see it in the faces of the business owners when I walk in the door to inspect them, I see it in the eyes of the former Sax Fifth Avenue shoppers that are now driving their 5 year old Suburbans to Wal-Mart and I see the results when the lien sales are held on the steps of the courthouse. A big chunk of our country is hurting and hurting bad.

We here at the K.B.F.P.D. have been pretty fortunate, our pain has been pretty minor. The positions that we have lost have been mostly support and prevention personnel. Most of those spots were through retirements or some other form of attrition. A few that we have let go have found gigs with other governmental agencies and we have even hired one inspector back.

Even though we have done OK so far, we know that a lot of people are not so lucky. We also know that there is tremendous pressure being placed on our governing board to reduce costs as much as possible. The groundswell of people demanding spending reform has grown into a tsunami of anti-public employee sentiment. Some of this sentiment is justified, some is not. Regardless, smart local government is being proactive and trying to head some of these issues off at the pass. For the most part, our governing entity is fairly smart and has taken steps in cutting costs and is intent on reducing costs further.

That is why I was not that surprised when the district asked to meet and confer regarding wages and working conditions a little early this go around. Nor was I surprised when an agreement was reached in a rapid fashion. We are not stupid either and realize that this is not the environment where we want to get all militant and everything. The district and the association are both smart enough to realize that neither side benefits when our issues are spread across the front page of the local newspaper and commented upon in the editorial page.

The district has the wave of public opinion on their side right now, much as we did immediately after the terrorist attacks of 2001. That adds to their power, it decreases ours. We know it as do they. To the district's credit, they didn't exploit it unreasonably, but they did use it.

In a nutshell, existing members of the K.B.F.P.D. will not lose any wages or benefits, with the exception of members absorbing the cost of an insurance policy, which will cost each member about ninety bucks a month. However, new hires, will be placed into a different retirement plan, one that will require them to work five years longer to receive the maximum benefit and also requires them to pay for half of the cost of this plan.

There are a few of us that feel we are selling out future member's financial security in exchange for saving our own skin. However, most of us feel that the external influences are affecting this issue are so strong, this is a necessary measure. 

That is going to save the district a ton of money, especially down the road. More importantly, they/we can say that we have instituted a pension reform plan, one that takes a real bite out of costs. Whether that will satisfy the horde of media representatives and their clamor about pensions remains to be seen. Some of the hyperbole about this issue defies rational debate and is more about selling ad space than about accurately presenting the issues. That subject is worth a post of it's own, I'm just not sure it's worth the trouble.

For those of you who have lost your jobs, our concessions probably seem insignificant. In comparison to your troubles, they are. Some of you have suffered even more severe reductions in wages and benefits, I understand your plight as well.

For those of you who have not suffered at all or have even prospered during this time of economic turmoil, I am happy for you and I cheer your good fortune. I only hope that some of your windfall can help alleviate someone else's  pain.

It is my sincere desire that this period of economic strife ends and we can all have a sense of financial security. I wish I had the knowledge to make this happen, alas it is not so. Until it does happen, good luck to all anyway.

Thanks for reading,


  1. Good job. This is not an easy decision to make, but I think it's the right thing to do. The hard truth is that there is less wealth now than there was 20 years ago, and we all have to adjust.

  2. Indeed. I wonder when the bleeding will truly stop or if the endgame is the Chinese sending their old garage doors to the U.S. so we can make houses out of them.

    I dunno.