Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Why Fire and Police Pensions Are the Third Rail of Municipal Politics

“SPRINGFIELD, Ill.–Hundreds of firefighters marched in their starched uniforms.
A phalanx of hook and ladder trucks from across the state lined Monroe Street next to the Illinois Statehouse. 
A band of bagpipers played. 
Somber politicians spoke.
And a wreath was laid at the foot of the Illinois Firefighters Memorial.
Bourbonnais, Ill., firefighter Bruce Spaulding’s name was then enshrined in perpetuity on the grounds of the Illinois Capitol Building.
Nothing was said about how Spaulding died, only that he had sacrificed himself for the people of Illinois.
The cash-strapped state of Illinois cut his family a check for $268,703 to honor the fallen ‘hero.’ 
There were no flames, or ladders or heroism marking Spaulding’s death. He died while mowing the front lawn of a fire station when his riding lawnmower tipped over
Any worker’s death is tragic, but public safety employee unions have elevated the death of some to be more tragic than others.
Cops and firefighters can face dangerous situations, but the reality is those occupations are much safer than many others….”
Public safety employees have their rhetoric down to a science but the time has come for tapped out taxpayers and near bankrupt municipalities to draw a line in the sand.
We acknowledge the service of public safety employees but let us not get it twisted; no one forced them to take these jobs.
The positions were applied for voluntarily and primarily because of the salary and benefits attached.
Public safety employees with tenure and without quickly develop the mindset that there is no bottom in the pockets of taxpayers.
Enough already, the well has run dry.  Stop bleeding the taxpayers, your family members, neighbors and friends.
Since we are on the subject of salaries, benefits and risk, then how about the men and women who serve in our military?
It is public knowledge that the salaries and benefits of those in the military are lousy yet these heroes serve valiantly without complaining or holding the nation hostage.
Public safety employees, on the other hand, are never satisfied.  In addition to the never-ending complaints, taxpayers and municipalities are constantly held hostage to their demands.
The mentality is that we (civilians) should be grateful to public safety employees for their service so pay up and shut up. Enough already.
Many politicians in the halls of Congress and the Senate will move to cut the salaries and benefits of our men and women in the military while at the same time making grandiose promises that will break the bank to public safety employees and their unions.
While acknowledging the service of public safety employees and I do, I strongly object to the disparity in pay between public safety employees and the men and women who serve in our military.
The men and women who serve in our military receive a mere pittance compared to the salary and benefits of public safety employees.
Unfortunately, the message delivered is that the lives of public safety employees are far more valuable than the lives of the men and women who serve in the U. S. military.  Such rationale is flawed.

All posts cross-posted on PUMABydesign001's Blog