Dave Roberts put out a disgusting piece in the Contra Costa Times yesterday that attacked safety employees based on false numbers, false situations, and highly unlikely scenarios that were aimed at emotionally hitting voters. This is a slap in the face to all public safety personnel and we should not stand for it as a community.
I’ll be blunt and say that I don’t care if it’s a parcel tax of $197 a year, or $500 a year, we need to stop treating our fire and police personnel like second class citizens. We are talking about public safety; I don’t give a damn about these guys’ pensions or retirement or whatever you want to call it because without public safety, there is chaos in crisis’.
We need firefighters right now more than they need us. We should be supporting them, not given them a public lashing! Unlike other public agencies, these guys are not taking advantage of the pension system so it’s time to knock off the childish behavior of Mr. Roberts and the phony Contra Costa Taxpayer Association.
Our firefighters are model citizens of the community. They enhance the community both on and off duty. We need to stop slapping them in the face with false information like the ones Mr. Roberts submitted to the Times (apparently the Times does not do fact checking anymore). This rhetoric going around that wants to punish the Fire District and those who put their lives on the line for you and I should stop immediately.
These guys should be applauded, not crucified.
I would urge people to look into the facts and not let jerks like Dave Roberts or Kris Hunt sway your opinion over false numbers and phony arguments. Let’s pass this parcel tax and lets buy 10 years to solve this problem once and for all and stay on top of the District each month to ensure they are working on a solution.
Now back to Mr. Roberts who pretty much works in cahoots with Ms. Kris Hunt.
Mr. Roberts is advocating he does not want to pay $2,200 over a 10 year period but it appears he would rather ultimately pay double that (in a best case scenario) to the insurance companies—that goes to show you how bright this guy is.
The reality is you are either going to pay a little to ECCFPD, or a lot more to your insurance company. No matter what anyone says, home insurance premiums never go down! With reduced fire services, premiums go up!
The numbers Mr. Roberts used are wrong, misleading, and a slap in the face to anyone who attended any of the fire boards educational outreach sessions. If you go back and read Mr. Roberts submission to the Times and this time pay close attention, he played with his words to make it look like fact when really it’s an opinion. As a co-author in the argument against Measure S, I’d expect nothing less from him.
The irony of Dave Roberts is that he is a so called journalist putting out false information to get his way. He stretched truths, his scenarios are hypotheticals at best, and he doesn’t even know how fire services work when he calls the District top heavy.
Let’s take a look at a few of his points shall we?
Mr. Roberts claims: But that’s exactly the situation in the East Contra Costa Fire District, which wants to raise your taxes by $2,200 over the next 10 years (the $197 parcel tax could increase as much as 3 percent annually with inflation). It might be worth it if all of that money actually provided more fire protection. But a good chunk of it will go to retirees who can quit at 50 with nearly full pay — none of whom will show up if your house is on fire.
First off, he is making the smug statement that the parcel tax may be worth it if it all went to provide more fire services shows is ignorance. I don’t know how saving 24-jobs, opening up stations, improving paramedics on rigs does not improve fire services? Explain it to us Dave!
My question for Mr. Roberts is why did he not clarify what he means when he says a good chunk? He is purposely not giving the actual number because it hurts his argument—it’s actually a small amount. The reality is using common sense, the majority of Public Safety members does not retire at 50 and would not get “nearly full salary” as Mr. Roberts implies.
Does one really think someone is hired at 20? You have to have training, in many cases a college degree, and in most departments be a paramedic to get your food in the door in most Districts. All of that takes years….then it is a crap shoot to getting hired. You have to go through many tests which you have to pass them all, and then go to an oral board. Then a chiefs interview. Then and only then are you placed on a list-where you might get called.
The average age of entry into the fire department is 26-27 which would mean the employee would work until 56-57. It should also be noted that Firefighters, Police officers and Safety workers are eligible for this enhanced benefit due to the physical challenges of the job and the cumulative exposures that day to day emergencies produce.
To put it bluntly, something not talked about often is we actually want firefighters to retire early because the older they get, the more prone they are to injuries because of the extreme physical demands with extended work hours—meaning we would actually be paying more due to workers compensation related requirements than we would in salary.
Mr. Roberts also states: As a result, a firefighter who puts in 30 years and retires at age 50 might receive $65,000 every year for the rest of his life. A retired fire engineer might get $82,000 annually, a retired fire captain might receive $78,000 per year, a battalion chief might retire on $103,000 per year and the retired chief would have to get by on $124,000 each year for the rest of his retirement. Retiree medical benefits are an added bonus.
First off, the reality is there are in fact over 251 law enforcement agencies in California that use the 3 @ 50 calculation. Second, to make his points, each example uses the word “might” in it which is a worst case scenario which is a very low percentage of it actually happening.
It’s very important for people to understand that Mr. Roberts is giving examples using “fictitious firefighters” but I’d challenge Mr. Roberts to actually prove this example actually exists within ECCFPD. I’d urge Mr. Roberts to provide a name or two to prove his theory correct.
Equally important, Mr. Robert’s gives examples of salaries, but fails to disclose that his examples factor in overtime and “other earnings” of which are NOT compensable in the calculation for retirement. That is right-overtime and “other earnings” do not count. So the figures listed are ridiculously inflated. The reality is ECCFPD are the lowest paid, in the Bay Area!
Finally, his assumption that the District is top heavy clearly shows this guy’s naive views of public safety and how fireworks. My guess is he has never visited any of our stations or met with our amazing crews. Truth is, this is one of the most un-top heavy Districts around.
Funny thing, did anyone catch that he has Engineers making more than Captains? That is like saying a Stewardess makes more than a pilot!
Please take a look at a post from Robert Ruddick—he stated it beautifully.
Robert Ruddick of ECCFPD provided a nice explanation of the so called top heavy claim by Mr. Roberts. Here is what he said in response to Mr. Roberts’s commentary:
I will have to assume by your belief that the district is “top-heavy” that you do not understand the role of ranks in the fire service. Similar to the military the fire service has long ago adopted ranks as a way of establishing a hierarchy. Could you imagine how General Patton’s army would have performed if Patton were not a General but rather a private? I’ll try my best but here is a brief description of the Ranks and their jobs.
The Fire Chief is really like a General. He is all powerful when it comes to his troops but at the same time he must report to and follow the direction of his elected civilian bosses.
The usual 3 shift battalion chiefs are Fire Chief’s deputies and they are in charge of a battalion (1-7 stations in a close geographic area). The Battalion Chiefs are in charge of day to day fires, accidents etc. inside the battalion.
Next you have the Captain, this person is in charge of the individual engine company and the station they live in.
Then you have the Engineer who is responsible for the driving, pumping and maintenance of all equipment on a fire engine and other apparatus in the station.
Finally you have the Firefighter who is in 95%+ of the bay area also a paramedic. East Contra Costa’s fire fighters fall in the less than 5%. The Firefighter one of the hardest workers on an engine company. They are both the muscle for breaking down doors as well as the compassionate healer who takes a person who is having the worst day of their life and helps them start toward recovery.
I hope I don’t come across like I’m am giving an elementary school lesson on firefighting but I just want to make it as clear as I can so everyone can understand ranks and roles. I’m positive that Mr. Roberts is very well educated but his arguments are flawed on this subject for no other reason than lack of understanding of how the fire service works. East Contra Costa is not top-heavy. They have done their best on a volunteer fire budget to provide full-time fire protection to the states leading region for growth for most of the past decade. I’m sure I would make the same mistakes if I were asked to argue the top-heaviness of the string group of an orchestra versus the other groups since I am not as qualified when it comes to music.
This is just another case of bad journalism by the Contra Costa Times by not fact checking submissions from rouge journalist. Mr. Roberts should be dismissed as nothing more than an angry old man who really needs to find another profession. Everything he writes turns to crap and the same will occur with this piece as his facts are disproved and he is exposed for being a fraud.
Mr. Roberts claim that this is not a revenue problem but rather a spending problem? Funding for the department has been frozen at an apportionment (California Proposition 13) set in 1978. What other service, business or commodity has remained flat in relationship to costs and inflation? Gas was under .70 a gallon! Mr. Roberts, you are wrong.
This department does have a revenue problem-not a spending problem. If Measure S fails, citizens of East County will soon have a service problem. It’s as simple as that.