City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

June 20, 2011
Police union open to pension changes - just not now

In a sharply-worded letter to his members last week, city police union president Brent Meyer wrote that any changes to police pension contributions will have to wait until 2013, when the union's contract expires.

Some members of the City Council have targeted public safety pensions as a long-term budget fix and have said they aren't interested in one-year salary concessions. Police officers and firefighters do not contribute to their pensions. If they did, it would save the city roughly $4 million a year, an audit reported earlier this year.

Meyer told his members that the union "absolutely recognizes and will be prepared to discuss and implement pension reform in 2013."

He made similar comments to me in April, when he said "pension reform is going to happen, whether you like it or not. We have to be part of the solution, but we need to do it over the (negotiating) table and not just as a reaction to one year's budget."

In a budget that is slated for final approval Tuesday night, roughly 45 police officers will be laid off - the first time as far as anyone can remember that cops in this city have lost their jobs.

As for the political ramifications of the police cuts, it's pretty clear where the police union is leaning.

Meyer wrote that "being a hypocrite seems to be woven deep into the fabric of some of our city's political blanket" and called out the six council members who voted earlier this month for police cuts.

In voting for police cuts, Council members Sandy Sheedy, Rob Fong, Jay Schenirer, Kevin McCarty, Darrell Fong and Bonnie Pannell "broke (an olive) branch over their collective knee and flung it at us."

It will be interesting to see how involved the police union will be in next year's council campaigns, when Sheedy, Rob Fong, McCarty and Pannell are all up for re-election.

Meyer's letter took particular aim at Darrell Fong, a former police officer. Fong had originally voted against police cuts, but when no salary concessions materialized, voted for the cutbacks.

"Darrell, as you read this, know that we are deeply and completely disappointed in you," Meyer wrote. "Your scolding and condescending comments down at us will not be easily forgotten, if ever."

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About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at rlillis@sacbee.com

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