The San Bernardino City Professional Firefighters Local 891 Political Action Committee #744525 began running advertisements stating: “San Bernardino needs less politics-not more.” I could not agree more, we do need less politics and that is exactly what the voters decided in the last election when they elected a new mayor and put three new councilmembers on the council and elected a new city attorney.
In my opinion the city is moving in the right direction.
One of the city’s weakest links now is in the city manager’s position of leadership. However I think the mayor and council can and will correct that in due time.
I have met with Helen Tran of the city’s Human Resources Department and I’m confident that if the council listens to her and follows her suggestions and recommendations, they will be greatly served by her expertise and knowledge of the city and its needs.
I am impressed with the legal team in the city attorney’s office and the way they work together after so many years of political jockeying by the recalled city attorney. Like I have stated before, Jolena Grider, Senior Deputy City Attorney, is demonstrating how a loyal city employee should act even when a new boss is selected or elected. I admire her demeanor at the council meetings and how she interacts with the city attorney and the council — a true professional.
Back to the ad by the firefighters. They state: “Beware of a false reform on the ballot this fall. It would throw out Section 186 – the objective formula to set wages for police and fighters – and replace it with more power for politicians and more access for big donors.” Nothing could be more further from the truth than this statement.
Section 186 is not an objective formula but is a tool used by the firefighters when it comes to setting their wages. It is the only such provision used by any city charter in the state of California. The so-called formula is compared to other high-income cities that do not have a built in wage increase even if the city cannot afford it.
Section 186 forces the city council to treat other city employees in a discriminatory manner when it comes to negotiating wages. It also puts the voters in the middle of those they elect to govern the city. By removing Section 186 from the charter will put wage agreements back where it should be at the collective bargaining/negotiation table at the end of their contracts. If the city and firefighters association agree to use the formula it will be there for them to negotiate on.
The ad also speaks to “big donors” and “power to politicians”. By removing Section 186 from the charter, it will put those we elected on a “level playing field” with the firefighters of whom is hired by the council and work for the voters. Currently the firefighters can and have filed lawsuits against the city by using section 186 against elected officials as a guaranteed salary increase even though the city did not have the money.
Now when it comes to donors to elected officials campaign, no group or individuals have contributed more to elect council members or the past city attorney than this local firefighter association.
I do not want to list the names or the amount of money given to those councilmembers because they are no longer on the council due to being recalled or admitting criminal activities that caused them to resign from office. Only one is left on the council who receives most of his political contributions from this association. So they must be speaking of themselves when speaking about big donors.
To the voters, let us keep the city going in the right direction by leveling the political playing field and removing Section 186 from the charter and bringing it to our collective bargaining table so fairness can be given to all city employees.