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hat is a powerful public union <br />to do when it looks like a <br />city's busted balance sheet is <br />finally forcing some fiscal reform? <br />Naturally, buy a house next door to <br />the city manager's and launch an in- <br />timidation campaign aimed at getting <br />him to avoid any real fixes. At least <br />that's what the police union of Stock- <br />ton, Calif., did in 2011—with great <br />success. <br />The police union claimed that the <br />home purchase was <br />meant to diversify its <br />"investments." But at <br />,+ %; 4°•,� the time, Stockton <br />City Manager Bob Deis <br />t was asking the union <br />CROSS to come to the table <br />COUNTRY and renegotiate bene - <br />By Allysia fits that were contrib- <br />Finley uting to exploding <br />labor costs and budget <br />gaps exceeding $40 million as far as <br />the eye could see. Already, Mr. Deis <br />had tried to stave off municipal bank- <br />ruptcy by cutting the city's staff 25%, <br />furloughing employees and trimming <br />fringe benefits. <br />He warned in March 2011 that the <br />city might have to lay off another 16% <br />of municipal workers. Three months <br />later the police union moved in next <br />door. Officers then embarked on a <br />noisy renovation. Not long after that, <br />Mr. Deis discovered a bumper sticker <br />affixed to his car of a boy urinating <br />on a pair of dice (as it happens, Mr. <br />Deis's surname is pronounced "dice"). <br />The union also invested in bill- <br />boards welcoming visitors to "the 2nd <br />most dangerous city in California" and <br />warning that "due to cuts in the bud- <br />get, we can no longer guarantee your <br />safety." Mr. Deis's phone number was <br />plastered at the bottom of the signs. <br />The union's investments have paid <br />off. <br />Although unsustainable retirement <br />To Serve and Protect—Police Pensions <br />costs forced the city to declare bank- <br />ruptcy last summer, Mr. Deis has <br />ruled out modifying workers' pen- <br />sions. As he wrote in these pages in <br />September, "If Stockton didn't offer an <br />industry -standard pension plan"—that <br />is, one that allows officers to retire at <br />age 50 with an annuity equal to 90% <br />of their salary—"we simply would not <br />be able to staff an already challenged <br />police department.. .. The city is <br />fiercely competing for qualified indi- <br />viduals." <br />Message from the unions: <br />Don't try cutting a <br />cop's retirement pay. <br />Despite furloughs and scaled-back <br />retirement benefits for new workers, <br />Stockton had a record number of <br />police recruits this year -1,300 for 17 <br />slots. <br />In lieu of reducing pensions, Mr. <br />Deis has proposed slashing $200 mil- <br />lion in bond debt that the city issued <br />in 2007, most of which went to pay <br />for workers' pensions. The bond insur- <br />ers are challenging the city's attempt <br />to scalp them while leaving pensions <br />unshaven. <br />The police union, by contrast, has <br />repaid Mr. Deis by agreeing in its new <br />labor contract last month to sell its <br />house by November 2015 and to "exer- <br />cise its best efforts to ensure that its <br />tenants not interfere with the City <br />Manager's quiet enjoyment of his <br />home." Gee, how many other public <br />officials receive contractual noise - <br />guards? <br />Mr. Deis had once called the union <br />"thugs," but after it approved the new <br />contract he proclaimed that he was <br />"extremely proud of them coming to- <br />gether and giving personally," and <br />that he was looking "forward to lock- <br />ing arms with all of our employees <br />groups." Perhaps he's suffering from <br />Stockton syndrome, the condition in <br />which public officials who are taken <br />hostage by government unions begin <br />to sympathize with their captors. <br />But strong-arming police unions <br />aren't unique to Stockton. Last sum- <br />mer, a private investigator used by <br />Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir—the <br />law firm representing the public - <br />safety union of Costa Mesa, Calif.— <br />followed Mayor Jim Righeimer (who <br />was serving at the time as mayor pro <br />tem) home from a pub and called the <br />cops on him for drunken driving. Mr. <br />Righeimer, who had merely imbibed <br />two Diet Cokes, passed the sobriety <br />test. Costa Mesa's police union fired <br />the firm after Mr. Righeimer went <br />public about the incident. <br />The private eye Chris Lanzillo—a <br />43 -year-old retired Riverside police <br />officer—later told the Daily Pilot <br />newspaper that the real reason he was <br />at the sports bar was to entrap Costa <br />Mesa Councilmen Gary Monahan and <br />Steve Mensinger with a woman. Mr. <br />Righeimer says the councilmen facing <br />re-election were targeted because they <br />supported pension reforms. <br />"There's this attitude that don't <br />you dare touch our pensions or <br />money," the mayor tells me. Mr. <br />Righeimer adds that the harassment <br />"comes right out of their playbook"— <br />referring to a primer that Lackie, <br />Dammeier, McGill & Ethir posted on <br />its website encouraging unions to in- <br />timidate and extort public officials. <br />The playbook instructs unions to <br />storm council meetings, create work <br />slowdowns, and buy billboards adver- <br />tising city crime rates. Oh, and never <br />let a crime go to waste: "Every high <br />profile crime that takes place should <br />result in the association's uproar at <br />the governing body for not having <br />The police union in Stockton, Calif., posted this billboard during a 2011 labor dispute. <br />enough officers on the street, which <br />could have avoided the incident." <br />The playbook also instructs officers <br />to make clear that they "do not want <br />wage increases" for themselves, "but <br />simply to attract better qualified indi- <br />viduals and to keep more experienced <br />officers from leaving." And they <br />should focus their energy "on a city <br />manager, councilperson, mayor or po- <br />lice chief and keep the pressure up <br />until that person assures you his loy- <br />alty and then move on to the next vic- <br />tim." (The law firm, which removed <br />the playbook from its website last <br />summer, didn't respond to a call ask- <br />ing for comment. The Journal has in- <br />cluded a link to the playbook online.) <br />Detroit's police union appears to <br />have swiped a page from the play - <br />book. After Mayor Dave Bing last year <br />proposed cutting police pay by 10% <br />and modifying retirement benefits, <br />400 officers blanketed Comerica Park <br />(home of the Detroit Tigers) with fli- <br />ers warning spectators to "enter De- <br />troit at your own risk." <br />Meanwhile, police officers' rich <br />benefits may actually be endangering <br />the public. With unions claiming that <br />pensions are inviolable, many <br />insolvent cities have slashed their <br />police forces—and crime rates have <br />soared. <br />Homicides have tripled in Stockton <br />in the past four years and risen by <br />60% in Flint, Mich., which has halved <br />its police force since 2008 to pay for <br />retirement benefits. Murders are up <br />by about a third in Oakland since the <br />city laid off 100 officers in 2010 to <br />close a $30 million deficit. The police <br />union had rejected concessions made <br />by other unions. <br />Stockton, Flint, Detroit and Oakland <br />are among the 10 most violent cities <br />in America—and may stay that way if <br />police unions insist on protecting <br />their pensions at all costs. <br />Ms. Finley is an editorial writer for <br />the Journal. <br />D MADE A PART OF THF ECORD AT <br />1lNCIL MEETING OF��( {3 <br />OFFICE OF THE CITY CLERK <br />CARLA MORREALE, CITY CLERK <br />rnme4l5 <br />