Police Endorse Huber/Mashburn

FURTHER READING: What’s behind the Police Officers Association Political Ads?

I just arrived home from a lunch meeting and, no offense to my meeting partner, I’ve never wanted to come home faster to publish an announcement. The Simi Valley Police Officers Association plans to announce their endorsement for Bob Huber as Simi Valley Mayor and Keith Mashburn for Simi Valley City Council. Several weeks ago, I included the following commentary in a blog post regarding the endorsement of the Firefighters Association:

Representatives of the Simi Valley Police Officers Association recently had a meeting with Congressman Gallegly.  Would anyone be surprised if a press release comes out soon with another big Bob Huber endorsement?  Honestly, probably not.

Keith Mashburn, Candidate for Simi Valley City Council

Going back to those thoughts, I’m certainly not surprised by Bob Huber’s endorsement. But I’m very surprised by their support of Keith Mashburn. I’ve spoken to Keith very casually on a number of occasions and I think he’s a good man with sincere goals regarding his hopeful Council career. As a retired Firefighter, he’s had a career that involved service to his community, so I can see why he would be worthy of the nod. But I’m surprised because I fully expected Candidate Mike Judge to get the endorsement. As an LAPD police officer and outspoken supporter of Simi Valley’s finest, it seemed like a sure thing. Though I didn’t expect it, I’m definitely pleased for Keith Mashburn and send him my sincerest congratulations.

One of the first things Keith Mashburn said to me when we first spoke on the phone was in response to my remark about this race being an up-hill battle.  He said, “I’m up to the task.” He definitely seems to be, and so far so good! His signs are popping up, and this endorsement is huge! Find out more about him on his Facebook page, linked below.

So what does an announcement like this mean for the incumbents and how does the support of the POA shift? According to this recent press release on the City website, communication between the City and Police Union has been successful. Do the police not feel the recent negotiations were a step in the right direction? Weeks ago, I speculated that Elton Gallegly’s influence might shift support towards Candidate Bob Huber after a meeting took place at the Congressman’s home. Are we seeing the result of influence, or a response to events behind the scenes? Remember the highly publicized vote of no confidence in the Chief of Police? And why Mashburn and not Judge? There is a lot to discuss and I’d love your feedback.

UPDATE: Please note, this information was shared with me outside standard communication channels. Press releases from all parties are most likely forthcoming.

Big Simi Valley News

The high profile negotiations between the City of Simi Valley and Simi Valley Police Officers Association have reached a new milestone. Here’s the latest according to the city website:

The City of Simi Valley announced today that it has reached agreement with the Simi Valley Police Officers’ Association (SVPOA) to revise and extend the current labor contract for a three-year term. The term of the contract, originally set to expire on December 31, 2010, will run from August 2, 2010 through June 30, 2013. The revised contract is a reflection of the tough economy and need to cut labor costs while achieving the City Council’s goal of maintaining the maximum possible level of public law enforcement services.

This effectively extends the 3.43% salary decrease that was effective in July of 2009 for another three years. Additionally, the new terms include modifications to various medical benefits, specialty assignments and opens the door for discussions regarding PERS retirement contributions by new officers.

CITY OF BELL SCANDAL

Mayor Paul Miller expressed his sincere concern on Saturday night at Steve Sojka’s campaign fundraiser regarding the safe keeping of our city’s finances in the wake of the City of Bell Scandal. Mayor Miller indicated his desire to do whatever was needed to keep from having to pay for another city’s mistake.

According to the City website:

Bell’s Police Chief, Randy Adams, is reported to have drawn an annual salary of $457,000, many times in excess of a normal salary for a Police Chief in California and, if permitted to receive a pension based on that salary, there have been insufficient contributions made into the CalPERS system to provide for the unanticipated, inflated pension. Under CalPERS’ actuarial practices, the additional funding needed to cover those pension costs would be apportioned among the cities where Adams spent some of his career, including the cities of Simi Valley, Ventura, and Glendale.

To protect its taxpayers against the irresponsible actions of another jurisdiction, the Simi Valley City Council is taking a proactive stance in pursuing all avenues to prevent Simi Valley from bearing any costs attributable to Adams’ employment by the City of Bell.

I’m pleased by Paul Miller’s immediate and proactive response. This is an important issue to me and I intend to follow it closely as it continues to develop.

Pension Reform Settled, POA Still Pending

You’ve probably already heard the news. The City of Simi Valley has settled negotiations on pension reform for City employees after several weeks of talks with the Service Employees International Union that represents all city employees (not including police officers).

City Councilmembers acknowledged that the city employees are making sacrafices and are grateful for that in these rough economical times. Councilman Steve Sojka was quoted in the Simi Valley Acorn acknowledging that city employees are effectively taking a cut in an effort to help the city keep its head above water during hard times.  The Acorn article elaborates on the deal:

That help included the SEIU’s making significant concessions concerning employee retirement plans. Under the terms of the new agreement, current employees will contribute 3.97 percent and all new employees—hired on or after July 1, 2010—will contribute 7 percent of salary to the California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS).

The change is expected to save the city $1.65 million.

It’s probably a sure bet that the city employees aren’t necessarily happy with the deal or walking away from negotiations with a warm fuzzy feeling. Nobody wants to make sacrifices in either the form of reduced pay, reduced benefits, or suddenly having to contribute more to a benefits program when not having to worry about that in the past. Speaking personally, I can say with sincerity that I am VERY grateful for the sacrifices made by our city employees. Thank you!

But the negotiations aren’t over yet. Simi Valley Police were asked to make pay cuts last year and did so after a lengthy and dramatic negotiation process, where the Police Officers Association (POA) considered hiring a Public Relations firm to spread the word about the issue. Once the terms were settled, the POA was clearly unhappy with the resulting cut in salaries and shortly after announced the formation of their Political Action Committee (PAC). The PAC is funded by an increase in POA union dues.

Despite the fact that other city employees were asked to take cuts in pay, a strong belief remains that the pay cut applied to Police Officers in Simi Valley was unfair. With more contract negotiations looming, anticipation is certainly beginning to build. City Council Candidate Mike Judge has something to say about it to his supporters, suggesting that “pro law enforcement” sentiments by our current City Council are disingenuous (see his remarks below on his campaign page on Facebook).

Our City Leadership scored some points with the negotiations with city employees, but it’s obvious there’s more challenging work ahead.

City Council Candidate Mike Judge on Facebook

Simi Valley PD Contract Negotiations

I read an excellent editorial in the Acorn this morning. I’m a strong believer in the Simi Valley police force, but it’s sincerely unfortunate that the city employees and Police management (non union members) have agreed to small pay cuts while the Police Officers Association refuse to make a sacrifice.  I’m not privileged enough to know the details of what’s holding up the negotiations, but I do know in the past that the police officers’ union has managed to negotiate healthy pay increases for their members.  In these economic times, I can’t see how realistic continued negotiations of that type actually are.

Below is the editorial from The Acorn.

Are the Simi Valley police negotiations turning into a war of words?

The fact that the Simi Valley Police Officers Association (POA) might be hiring a public relations firm in its battle with the city over a new union contract doesn’t bode well for either side in the dispute.

The city and its police force need to maintain a cooperative, healthy working relationship, and the union’s plan to engage in a bit of spin doctoring only figures to create more ill will.

The call for a public relations firm to get involved in the contract negotiations is a signal that the talks, which have been going on since June, are not faring well.

Worse than the fight with city hall, the ongoing debate threatens to cause a rift between the 110 Simi police force members who belong to the union and those at the management level—lieutenants, captains and the chief—who are non-union.

As always, salaries are a key issue.

In an effort to help balance the city’s general fund budget for fiscal year 2009-2010, two employee groups—the local chapter of the Service Employees International Union and a separate management group—agreed to take a 2 percent reduction in compensation.

It’s time for the police men and women, who already enjoy an excellent public employee benefits package, to make sacrifices of their own. Police management earlier agreed to a reduction in benefits, but the union rank and file has not.

The POA is completely within its rights to hire a PR firm; union dues will pay the cost. Even so, the move figures to hamper the negotiations, not help them. And the fear is the battle could turn personal.

It’s time for both sides to turn down the rhetoric and come to terms on a new contract for the brave men and women who keep Simi a safe place to live.

Simi Valley Headlines – December 5, 2008

Simi Valley Police Get a Pay Raise

Simi residents Al and Nan Kay believe that Simi police work hard for their money and the couple has no problem with the community’s cops getting a raise.

“I think it’s great,” Al Kay, 42, said. “They deserve all the money. They do a good job.”

Denise Rusiecki, 62, had mixed feelings though.

“I realize we need them but these are tight times,” said Rusiecki, who has lived in Simi for 35 years. “It’s tough justifying them getting raises when there are people that can’t afford to buy food and are losing their homes. It’s a tough call.”

Read more here…

School District Employees Lose Their Jobs

Simi Valley Unified School District, which has already shed $187,577 from this year’s budget, notified 16 classified employees this week they will be fired.

The 16 employees—including 11 custodians, four clerical workers and one information technology staff member—were given 45-day notices that their jobs have been terminated.

And more cuts may be on the way soon.

This is awful. While this opinion may not be well received, I think it’s hard to justify pay increases for (already well-paid) police officers while school employees get terminated.

Read more here…

City Council says ‘Wait a minute’ to Simi Couple’s farm animals

Miller explained that the Bridle Path HOA has covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) that prohibit homeowners from keeping certain animals and that just because the planning commission approved a conditional-use permit does not make it OK.

“The CUP doesn’t trump the CC&Rs,” he said.

Williamson, who serves as treasurer for her own HOA, agreed.

If I can possibly get away with it, I will never again live in a community that is governed by an HOA. Then again, I wouldn’t have 8 cows and 2 pigs living in my backyard either.

Read more here…

Barbra Williamson Campaign Finances Challenged by The Star

Glen Gerson donated $3,000 under the names of three separate corporations, including The Vineyards, in this year’s council race. He said he gave money to Williamson after she asked him for support in her bid for a fifth term.

“When a local politician comes up and says ‘Donate to my campaign,’ I’m going to do it,” Gerson said. “We make donations to have people leave us alone.”

I’m fascinated that the Simi Valley Acorn doesn’t touch this story. It makes me wonder if they think it’s a wild goose chase.

Read more here…

If you have some SImi Valley government news that you’d like to share with my or publish for my readers, please contact me.