Daily Archives: January 5, 2011

Oregon Left’s Plastic Bag Ban Claim: Garbage Patch "Twice the Size of Texas" Isn’t. Not Even Close.

Gyres and Liars. Don’t act like I never told you. They used it as an excuse to ban plastic bags in Portland and Oregon. They’re using it again to try to ban them in the upcoming legislature. Sam Adams and Mark Hass relied upon the enviros to give them the straight scoop and once again the left in Oregon has bought another lie. And now an Oregon professor has called them out.


We talked about it yesterday and we’ll talk about it today. One of the big “reasons” cited by Oregon and Portland elected ‘leaders’ to ban the plastic bag centered around the “swirling mass of garbage twice the size of Texas off Oregon’s coast.” We questioned that claim before. Remember this post at VictoriaTaft.com before? And this one? How about this one? Here’s an excerpt:

Remember now in the infamous poll question approved by the City Council (and paid for by taxpayers) claimed that plastic bags contributed to a garbage island off the coast of Oregon twice the size of Texas?

“Single-use petroleum-based plastic shopping bags pollute our land, contribute to a swirling mass of garbage twice the size of Texas off Oregon’s coast, and continue our dependence on dangerous foreign oil supplies. Making paper shopping bags is a toxic process that pollutes our rivers. To encourage more use of reusable shopping bags, do you favor or oppose banning plastic bags in the City of Portland and requiring a 5-cent fee on paper bags?”

Even though a call to the Mayor’s office couldn’t produce a picture of this huge swirling mass of garbage,  Roy Kauffman, Sam Adams’ spokesman, says he’d seen pictures at this website. Eric the Great combed through the website. No pictures. You know, you’d think anything that big should have a resort on it or something, but it isn’t there.
Even if the Mayor’s office (relying upon environmentalist websites for his ban information) calculate “twice the size of Texas” in linear miles, it’s still a 5,000 mile long span of garbage isle. The distance from southern Oregon to the Bering Straight is 2,300 miles, so you’d think SOMEone would have seen a 5,000 mile long span of garbage off the coast. We’re waiting for the pictures.

As we predicted. The story about the ‘swirling mass of garbage twice the size of Texas” isn’t true. Never was. An OSU Oceanography says there’s junk about there and plenty of it but the enviros have got to stop lying about it. Wait, just more hype by the enviros??!! Here’s a quickie story in the Zero about it.

Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com

Pete the Banker: Imagine That! More Electeds Rigging Results of Public "Debate"

Speaking of rigging the results at the Clackamas County hearing.  Notice the results of the final Lake Oswego Vision Survey conducted last Summer with 800 responses (allegedly LO residents).  Look at question 5 where respondents were asked about the most desirable elements of a great neighborhood in 2035.  There were questions specifically asking about the ability to walk, bike or take mass transit, but there was no question asking about the importance of ease of access by automobile.  I’m sure simply a minor oversight by those creating the survey?? 
 
Pete
 
 
Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com

Bernie Giusto: Portland Cop Shootings and Shoot or Don’t Shoot

Police roll calls are all about lives waiting for immediate help and for the the cops to hit the streets.  The roll call atmosphere is always somewhere between a group therapy session and a circus.  

No one escapes the chopping digs. If the prior days shift had any calls with notable facts or characters with which you were involved, stand by for the coming verbal assaults–all in good fun.

As the sergeant  begins handing out assignments and passing on suspect information there is the undeniable presence of the unknown in the air.  The sergeant seldom has to say “be careful out there,” because every cop knows what could happen. It’s that unknown that draws those of strong spirit to the police profession. It’s the unknown keeps them focused on surviving it.


Training
All cops know that training, equipment and experience sharpened by instinct are the best preparation for what whatever waits. Generations of American police and policing philosophies are now in found the rear view mirror so is the much of the training that supported that policing of the unknown.  The same is true of the equipment that accompanied police to the streets in those eras minus one, the firearm. While the firearms of choice that have armed our police have changed dramatically, the situations in which they must decide to shoot or don’t shoot really have not. What is clear is that those decision points will always be part of protecting our citizens. What is not so clear is how effective the policing profession has been in preparing officers to make those decisions.

My career has lasted four decades straddled over parts of two centuries and the same questions about Shoot…Don’t Shoot have persisted. In fact during the late part of the 1970s there was a training program of that exact title which was used all the time by police agencies. In this scenario officers (for me troopers) would be set against a filmed scenario beginning as the trooper arrived on the scene of different types of calls armed with only certain facts not always that guns maybe involved.  As the scenario unfolded the facts changed often very quickly. There were only two decisions points possible as the scenario on the screen in front of you came to a heightened sense of urgency and conclusion…Shoot or Don’t Shoot.

You were judged on everything.Your decision, how you interacted with the situations, did you verbalize your thoughts to suspects and others, did you take cover. Often the decision to Shoot or Not Shoot was correct but sometimes it wasn’t, for instance “shooting” someone you thought was a deadly threat but really an innocent caught up in a deadly situation. Worse yet was the decision not to shoot leading to the responding officer, his cover partner or another innocent person being shot instead.

The most significant change in shaping the mentality of street cops in Oregon came into early and mid part of the eighties decade.  Street Survival seminars for police officers were all the rage. Larger agencies across the state sponsored seminars presented by out of state “experts”, often from California, aimed at keeping police officers alive by creating an always ready for the worst, ultra prepared, street mentality. I remember one of the first the Oregon State Police became involved with was titled “Stay Alert, Stay Alive”. Portland Police were a major sponsor of these seminars on a number of occasions over a number of years.

The basic message of these two or three day seminars was every traffic stop, every person contact needed to be treated as it could be the last if the cops were not super vigilant. Horror stories of officer deaths or near death experiences were on full display. The training came complete with with a clear message that it was the cops against the rest of them. There were criminals waiting in trunks to spring a trunk on the unprepared officer. If my contemporaries were honest there was no redeeming message about police community relationship anywhere to be found.  In other words, trust no one. While there was nothing particularly sinister about the intent of the training, this take-no-hostages approach left its mark on the street  in a number of ways.

Training: Us versus Them
You could feel the change in policing attitudes although at the time it seemed only prudent. Perhaps the most important outcome was how police agencies and top police officials reacted to what officers brought back with them.  Training disciplines and lesson plans started to reflect the prepared-to-act-at-all-costs mentality. Officer began to arm themselves differently. The most problematic was the change this policing philosophy promoted in our relationship with the communities we served.

Back up weapons, second guns, became the norm. Officer began carrying these second weapons secreted on their person just in case their duty weapon was lost to the bad guys. You did not have to carry one but if you didn’t you were thought of as being at great risk. Hidden knives were not unheard of even if not authorized. The tone of how we approached our citizen contacts were undeniably affected negatively in the transition.

Individual police agencies began to modify there training disciplines and training protocols.  However, it was the under current of change to policing policy and supervisory tolerance that went unnoticed in many agencies.  The acceptance of a harder edge policing by top cops in some agencies gave street supervisors the impression that if an officer was tough on citizen without being totally outside of policy don’t worry about it.  After all they are just staying ready. As a result citizen concerns were often treated as baseless and just the cost of doing business.

These types of changes in policing cannot be dismissed as a passing fad. They became embossed in the attitudes of 25 year police careers. They are passed on through generations of young police officers although they may be tempered under community pressure. However in their wake they can leave a rift of consequential proportion between community and police. Remember that many recent top Oregon police administrators were those young officers, then street supervisors, sitting in those seminars twenty five years ago. The survival seminars went away but their effect has not.

None of this to say that policing is not a dangerous profession. Neither is it to imply to imply that police policy and weapons deployment should not evolve to be serve police and citizens in a constantly changing social environment. Nor should anyone believe that I am being soft on being tough when the police need to be. 

Distance is Danger
There will always be a critical and unresolved tension between the use of deadly force and the values of the community. Not all of that tension is negative even though the loss of human life under such circumstances may well always be but be for different reasons. But artificially pushing our community away to serve the interest of over developed police egos is dangerous. Being closer to our community is safer, distance is danger.

Along the way police were continually assessing the equipment including the type of firearms officers take on patrol.  In 1974 when I was a young recruit with the Oregon State Police the .357/six shot revolver was the assigned sidearm.  State police vehicles were equipped with twelve gauge shotguns placed in cases that ran across the front side of the front seat and were the weapon meant for heavy lifting situations such as felony car stops. From time to time you would find a 30/30 rifle instead in the same location.

Jumping forward now, most Oregon police officers are now armed with high capacity semi–automatic sidearms usually 9MM or .40 as their primary firearm. Some are issued by the employing agencies some are approved for individual officer purchase. For many police agencies like the Portland Police shotguns housed in electra-locks have been replaced by the much greater fire power of weapons like the AR-15.  The wooden batons we used then first evolved through generations of other types of close up striking devices, we added spray, and then those were either supplemented or were replaced by bean bag rounds fired from shotgun like weapons and the deployment of the Taser.

All of these changes in equipping officers with this less lethal equipment, (that below the use of a firearm), are meant to do three things. First better protect the officer from not only death but injury which happen in to hand to hand fighting. However they are also meant to minimize the injury to those who the weapons are used against.  Most importantly these state of the art tools are meant to greatly reduce the need to use deadly force.
Mentally Ill, Leadership Fail
Armed with this background, Portland Police Command have reason to be concerned about the number of type of recent situations in which officers have chosen or if you like been forced to use deadly force. Yes, Portland Police do make more contacts than do other police agencies due to more officers on the street and more calls for police service. Certainly the Portland urban environment gives rise to more close up encounters in pure numbers if not per capita. It would be difficult to argue that the mental health debacle, created by the failure of leadership of the Oregon legislature and Multnomah County, finds its epicenter on the streets of Portland.

Given all of those mitigating factors, something is not working. This burst of police shootings isn’t just a run of bad luck or wrong place at the wrong time. Neither it is reasonable to take the position that those who present a very real danger and/or won’t comply will or should suffer the ultimate consequences. Taking a life or for that matter using deadly force at all has lasting consequences for that person, their family, the officer(s) involved and the community as a whole.

I will not pretend to have all the facts surrounding these recent shootings. I also acknowledge the individual police shootings often turn on small facts on which those shootings are later judged. No two police shootings are the same.  However after 34 years working as a sworn Oregon police officer, twenty two years with the Oregon State Police, six years as Chief of Gresham Police, and six as Multnomah County Sheriff, I can tell you something is not working. I worry for our citizens, their confidence in police generally and you’ll excuse me if I worry the most about the careers of individual Portland Police Officers.
AR 15 Weapons of Choice?
That something that is not working has little to do with the number of shootings although that is the catalyst for my concerns.

Let’s be specific:

  • In three of these situations both the use of the bean bag or taser or both have failed. Why?  The lack of effect of these tools because of intoxicated state or state of mental distress of the person involved is too simple in this many incidents.
  • In two of the situations AR-15 were the weapons of first choice. One in which a person who was being addressed or commanded by police turned to flee.  My guess is had the AR-15 not been deployed as the officers arrived there would not have been a fatal result.
  • In the other the AR-15 was used as the first firearm of choice when reportedly bean bag and tazers failed to work.
  • I assume in both cases the AR-15 were used a a distance from the target. Meaning that since sidearms were not used first, it was predetermined that the first shot would come from the AR-15.
  • If that is not the case why was the AR-15 the first weapon fired?  What specific policy control is their regarding the deployment and use of the AR-15?


Then there is the entire question of the training protocols regarding the use of force that officers go through as part of their in-service training.  The mindset those protocols create are extremely important from the time the officer receives the call, to his or her mental preparation enroute to the call, to arrival and officer engagement at the call. In other words as the officer will again be required to face the unknown.
Bring on ‘The Couch’
Finally, the Police Bureau needs to review the psychological profile it is using to develop the screen for hiring police officers.  This element of the examination is not about trying to determine what evil lurks, but to be doubly sure the profile developed reflects the reality of streets. Especially important is how this screen is evaluated. It’s important that the profile scoring tool does not value ‘kinder gentler’ traits above those that display a strong decision-making ability– a trait which measures ability to function correctly under great stress. This doesn’t mean strong decision makers don’t have a kinder side but there must be a balance. Because out of balance and under great stress, the ‘kinder gentler’ side of the psyche may well cease to function correctly or at all when the decision is as simple as……… “SHOOT…..DON’T SHOOT”.

Bernie Giusto is the former Multnomah County Sheriff, former Gresham Police Chief, and OSP Officer.

Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com

Oregon Left’s Plastic Bag Ban Claim: Garbage Patch "Twice the Size of Texas" Isn’t. Not Even Close.

Gyres and Liars. Don’t act like I never told you. They used it as an excuse to ban plastic bags in Portland and Oregon. They’re using it again to try to ban them in the upcoming legislature. Sam Adams and Mark Hass relied upon the enviros to give them the straight scoop and once again the left in Oregon has bought another lie. And now an Oregon professor has called them out.


We talked about it yesterday and we’ll talk about it today. One of the big “reasons” cited by Oregon and Portland elected ‘leaders’ to ban the plastic bag centered around the “swirling mass of garbage twice the size of Texas off Oregon’s coast.” We questioned that claim before. Remember this post at VictoriaTaft.com before? And this one? How about this one? Here’s an excerpt:

Remember now in the infamous poll question approved by the City Council (and paid for by taxpayers) claimed that plastic bags contributed to a garbage island off the coast of Oregon twice the size of Texas?

“Single-use petroleum-based plastic shopping bags pollute our land, contribute to a swirling mass of garbage twice the size of Texas off Oregon’s coast, and continue our dependence on dangerous foreign oil supplies. Making paper shopping bags is a toxic process that pollutes our rivers. To encourage more use of reusable shopping bags, do you favor or oppose banning plastic bags in the City of Portland and requiring a 5-cent fee on paper bags?”

Even though a call to the Mayor’s office couldn’t produce a picture of this huge swirling mass of garbage,  Roy Kauffman, Sam Adams’ spokesman, says he’d seen pictures at this website. Eric the Great combed through the website. No pictures. You know, you’d think anything that big should have a resort on it or something, but it isn’t there.
Even if the Mayor’s office (relying upon environmentalist websites for his ban information) calculate “twice the size of Texas” in linear miles, it’s still a 5,000 mile long span of garbage isle. The distance from southern Oregon to the Bering Straight is 2,300 miles, so you’d think SOMEone would have seen a 5,000 mile long span of garbage off the coast. We’re waiting for the pictures.

As we predicted. The story about the ‘swirling mass of garbage twice the size of Texas” isn’t true. Never was. An OSU Oceanography says there’s junk about there and plenty of it but the enviros have got to stop lying about it. Wait, just more hype by the enviros??!! Here’s a quickie story in the Zero about it.

Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com

Pete the Banker: Imagine That! More Electeds Rigging Results of Public "Debate"

Speaking of rigging the results at the Clackamas County hearing.  Notice the results of the final Lake Oswego Vision Survey conducted last Summer with 800 responses (allegedly LO residents).  Look at question 5 where respondents were asked about the most desirable elements of a great neighborhood in 2035.  There were questions specifically asking about the ability to walk, bike or take mass transit, but there was no question asking about the importance of ease of access by automobile.  I’m sure simply a minor oversight by those creating the survey?? 
 
Pete
 
 
Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com

Bernie Giusto: Portland Cop Shootings and Shoot or Don’t Shoot

Police roll calls are all about lives waiting for immediate help and for the the cops to hit the streets.  The roll call atmosphere is always somewhere between a group therapy session and a circus.  

No one escapes the chopping digs. If the prior days shift had any calls with notable facts or characters with which you were involved, stand by for the coming verbal assaults–all in good fun.

As the sergeant  begins handing out assignments and passing on suspect information there is the undeniable presence of the unknown in the air.  The sergeant seldom has to say “be careful out there,” because every cop knows what could happen. It’s that unknown that draws those of strong spirit to the police profession. It’s the unknown keeps them focused on surviving it.


Training
All cops know that training, equipment and experience sharpened by instinct are the best preparation for what whatever waits. Generations of American police and policing philosophies are now in found the rear view mirror so is the much of the training that supported that policing of the unknown.  The same is true of the equipment that accompanied police to the streets in those eras minus one, the firearm. While the firearms of choice that have armed our police have changed dramatically, the situations in which they must decide to shoot or don’t shoot really have not. What is clear is that those decision points will always be part of protecting our citizens. What is not so clear is how effective the policing profession has been in preparing officers to make those decisions.

My career has lasted four decades straddled over parts of two centuries and the same questions about Shoot…Don’t Shoot have persisted. In fact during the late part of the 1970s there was a training program of that exact title which was used all the time by police agencies. In this scenario officers (for me troopers) would be set against a filmed scenario beginning as the trooper arrived on the scene of different types of calls armed with only certain facts not always that guns maybe involved.  As the scenario unfolded the facts changed often very quickly. There were only two decisions points possible as the scenario on the screen in front of you came to a heightened sense of urgency and conclusion…Shoot or Don’t Shoot.

You were judged on everything.Your decision, how you interacted with the situations, did you verbalize your thoughts to suspects and others, did you take cover. Often the decision to Shoot or Not Shoot was correct but sometimes it wasn’t, for instance “shooting” someone you thought was a deadly threat but really an innocent caught up in a deadly situation. Worse yet was the decision not to shoot leading to the responding officer, his cover partner or another innocent person being shot instead.

The most significant change in shaping the mentality of street cops in Oregon came into early and mid part of the eighties decade.  Street Survival seminars for police officers were all the rage. Larger agencies across the state sponsored seminars presented by out of state “experts”, often from California, aimed at keeping police officers alive by creating an always ready for the worst, ultra prepared, street mentality. I remember one of the first the Oregon State Police became involved with was titled “Stay Alert, Stay Alive”. Portland Police were a major sponsor of these seminars on a number of occasions over a number of years.

The basic message of these two or three day seminars was every traffic stop, every person contact needed to be treated as it could be the last if the cops were not super vigilant. Horror stories of officer deaths or near death experiences were on full display. The training came complete with with a clear message that it was the cops against the rest of them. There were criminals waiting in trunks to spring a trunk on the unprepared officer. If my contemporaries were honest there was no redeeming message about police community relationship anywhere to be found.  In other words, trust no one. While there was nothing particularly sinister about the intent of the training, this take-no-hostages approach left its mark on the street  in a number of ways.

Training: Us versus Them
You could feel the change in policing attitudes although at the time it seemed only prudent. Perhaps the most important outcome was how police agencies and top police officials reacted to what officers brought back with them.  Training disciplines and lesson plans started to reflect the prepared-to-act-at-all-costs mentality. Officer began to arm themselves differently. The most problematic was the change this policing philosophy promoted in our relationship with the communities we served.

Back up weapons, second guns, became the norm. Officer began carrying these second weapons secreted on their person just in case their duty weapon was lost to the bad guys. You did not have to carry one but if you didn’t you were thought of as being at great risk. Hidden knives were not unheard of even if not authorized. The tone of how we approached our citizen contacts were undeniably affected negatively in the transition.

Individual police agencies began to modify there training disciplines and training protocols.  However, it was the under current of change to policing policy and supervisory tolerance that went unnoticed in many agencies.  The acceptance of a harder edge policing by top cops in some agencies gave street supervisors the impression that if an officer was tough on citizen without being totally outside of policy don’t worry about it.  After all they are just staying ready. As a result citizen concerns were often treated as baseless and just the cost of doing business.

These types of changes in policing cannot be dismissed as a passing fad. They became embossed in the attitudes of 25 year police careers. They are passed on through generations of young police officers although they may be tempered under community pressure. However in their wake they can leave a rift of consequential proportion between community and police. Remember that many recent top Oregon police administrators were those young officers, then street supervisors, sitting in those seminars twenty five years ago. The survival seminars went away but their effect has not.

None of this to say that policing is not a dangerous profession. Neither is it to imply to imply that police policy and weapons deployment should not evolve to be serve police and citizens in a constantly changing social environment. Nor should anyone believe that I am being soft on being tough when the police need to be. 

Distance is Danger
There will always be a critical and unresolved tension between the use of deadly force and the values of the community. Not all of that tension is negative even though the loss of human life under such circumstances may well always be but be for different reasons. But artificially pushing our community away to serve the interest of over developed police egos is dangerous. Being closer to our community is safer, distance is danger.

Along the way police were continually assessing the equipment including the type of firearms officers take on patrol.  In 1974 when I was a young recruit with the Oregon State Police the .357/six shot revolver was the assigned sidearm.  State police vehicles were equipped with twelve gauge shotguns placed in cases that ran across the front side of the front seat and were the weapon meant for heavy lifting situations such as felony car stops. From time to time you would find a 30/30 rifle instead in the same location.

Jumping forward now, most Oregon police officers are now armed with high capacity semi–automatic sidearms usually 9MM or .40 as their primary firearm. Some are issued by the employing agencies some are approved for individual officer purchase. For many police agencies like the Portland Police shotguns housed in electra-locks have been replaced by the much greater fire power of weapons like the AR-15.  The wooden batons we used then first evolved through generations of other types of close up striking devices, we added spray, and then those were either supplemented or were replaced by bean bag rounds fired from shotgun like weapons and the deployment of the Taser.

All of these changes in equipping officers with this less lethal equipment, (that below the use of a firearm), are meant to do three things. First better protect the officer from not only death but injury which happen in to hand to hand fighting. However they are also meant to minimize the injury to those who the weapons are used against.  Most importantly these state of the art tools are meant to greatly reduce the need to use deadly force.
Mentally Ill, Leadership Fail
Armed with this background, Portland Police Command have reason to be concerned about the number of type of recent situations in which officers have chosen or if you like been forced to use deadly force. Yes, Portland Police do make more contacts than do other police agencies due to more officers on the street and more calls for police service. Certainly the Portland urban environment gives rise to more close up encounters in pure numbers if not per capita. It would be difficult to argue that the mental health debacle, created by the failure of leadership of the Oregon legislature and Multnomah County, finds its epicenter on the streets of Portland.

Given all of those mitigating factors, something is not working. This burst of police shootings isn’t just a run of bad luck or wrong place at the wrong time. Neither it is reasonable to take the position that those who present a very real danger and/or won’t comply will or should suffer the ultimate consequences. Taking a life or for that matter using deadly force at all has lasting consequences for that person, their family, the officer(s) involved and the community as a whole.

I will not pretend to have all the facts surrounding these recent shootings. I also acknowledge the individual police shootings often turn on small facts on which those shootings are later judged. No two police shootings are the same.  However after 34 years working as a sworn Oregon police officer, twenty two years with the Oregon State Police, six years as Chief of Gresham Police, and six as Multnomah County Sheriff, I can tell you something is not working. I worry for our citizens, their confidence in police generally and you’ll excuse me if I worry the most about the careers of individual Portland Police Officers.
AR 15 Weapons of Choice?
That something that is not working has little to do with the number of shootings although that is the catalyst for my concerns.

Let’s be specific:

  • In three of these situations both the use of the bean bag or taser or both have failed. Why?  The lack of effect of these tools because of intoxicated state or state of mental distress of the person involved is too simple in this many incidents.
  • In two of the situations AR-15 were the weapons of first choice. One in which a person who was being addressed or commanded by police turned to flee.  My guess is had the AR-15 not been deployed as the officers arrived there would not have been a fatal result.
  • In the other the AR-15 was used as the first firearm of choice when reportedly bean bag and tazers failed to work.
  • I assume in both cases the AR-15 were used a a distance from the target. Meaning that since sidearms were not used first, it was predetermined that the first shot would come from the AR-15.
  • If that is not the case why was the AR-15 the first weapon fired?  What specific policy control is their regarding the deployment and use of the AR-15?


Then there is the entire question of the training protocols regarding the use of force that officers go through as part of their in-service training.  The mindset those protocols create are extremely important from the time the officer receives the call, to his or her mental preparation enroute to the call, to arrival and officer engagement at the call. In other words as the officer will again be required to face the unknown.
Bring on ‘The Couch’
Finally, the Police Bureau needs to review the psychological profile it is using to develop the screen for hiring police officers.  This element of the examination is not about trying to determine what evil lurks, but to be doubly sure the profile developed reflects the reality of streets. Especially important is how this screen is evaluated. It’s important that the profile scoring tool does not value ‘kinder gentler’ traits above those that display a strong decision-making ability– a trait which measures ability to function correctly under great stress. This doesn’t mean strong decision makers don’t have a kinder side but there must be a balance. Because out of balance and under great stress, the ‘kinder gentler’ side of the psyche may well cease to function correctly or at all when the decision is as simple as……… “SHOOT…..DON’T SHOOT”.

Bernie Giusto is the former Multnomah County Sheriff, former Gresham Police Chief, and OSP Officer.

Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com

Vancouver Unions Ready to Gouge City & Taxpayers

A year and a half ago I was applauding the Vancouver Firefighters Union over their declining a wage increase, seeing the economy slipping further into recession. Comments left on my blog back then informed me the “sacrifice” wasn’t as altruistic as I assumed.

If there was need of any further proof of that we see it today as we are informed that Vancouver and two unions stalled on contracts. The “two unions” are the Police Command and Firefighter unions who will not agree to the city’s offer and instead, are demanding hefty wage increases, even though our economy has not improved and in fact, has worsened since the firefighters made their “concession” to a wage freeze in July 2009.

At issue today is the Fire Suppression Unit, IAFF Local 452 holding out for an “8.2% wage increase for contract year 2010 with another 2% COLA in contract year 2011. In addition, they want a 10% longevity pay for over 25 years service, payoffs of unused sick leaves and a reduction in number of hours worked in a week.”

We also see the Police Command Unit, OPEIU Local 11 holding out for “Commanders pay 10% above a Lieutenants Pay, and a Lieutenant’s pay 22.4% above a Sergeants’ pay” in both contract years.

In the case of the Firefighters Union, the city offers no wage increase and a 10% increase in their contribution towards dependents health insurance premiums for contract year 2010 and no wage increase and a 15% contribution toward dependents health insurance premiums in contract year 2011.

For the Police Union the city offers no wage increase in each contract year and the same contribution towards dependents health insurance premium as for Firefighters, 10% and 15%.

Currently, the average wage for a Vancouver Firefighter with 19 years of service is just over $75,000 a year base, not including overtime, differential or specialty pay. They receive 288 hours a year sick leave accrual, with a maximum of 1,911 hours accrual. They receive 336 hours vacation accrual with a maximum of 824 hours accrual. The work a 49 hour week of 24 hours on duty and 48 hours off duty with every 8th day being a day off to ‘true up’ the hours accordingly.

For the average Police Commander with 10-years service, they receive $112,908 a year in base salary, not including overtime or differential pay. They receive 302 hours average Paid Days off accrual a year with a maximum of 604 hours. They receive 120 hours a year sick leave accrual with a maximum of 1024 hours.

Were these better times, I might be inclined to lean more towards the two unions, although I think 8.2% is a bit steep, but they aren’t better times. Many feel today that once historians look back, this so called ‘Great Recession’ will actually be seen more like another ‘Great Depression.’

Clark County has had double digit unemployment ongoing for some 2 years and there is no end in sight. Private sector jobs continue drying up along with revenues paid into state & city coffers, where these increases would come from.

While I hold both Firefighters and Police in the highest of regard, Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard is bare. We taxpayers just don’t have it. It is unreasonable that while we blast overspending at all levels of government, public unions step in and demand even more spending on them.

We already see the loss of one fire station in Vancouver. The city of Kelso’s Police Union demands recently saw the loss of 3 Police Officer’s and one Police clerk. Public outrage caused county commissioners to decline accepting their scheduled pay increase and car allowance.

Even though much of the blame can be placed on poor choices by elected officials in deficit spending, that doesn’t change the fact that there just is no money left for citizens to give.

We’d like to feed our families too.

The matter is now slated for arbitration with both sides being held to whatever is decided. Disturbing is reading of the arbitration process,

“The arbitrator is limited in factors to be considered in reaching a final decision. Such factors include the cost of living as well as a comparison of wages hours and working conditions of like employers of similar size on the West Coast. The public entity’s ability to pay is not a factor for consideration in the arbitration process.”

I am truly left wondering just who we elect and who chooses a career to “protect and to serve” really gives a damn about the taxpayers!

Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com