220 City employees make over $100k?

Someone needs to say it, that’s a lot of money compared to many hard working folks! The top three earners made $188-195k and all of them were police. I took the time to look through the database and it looks like 79 police officers made over $100k. This is why I actually encourage folks to apply to be a police officer here, because what other job can a person without a college degree make over $100k? Statistically speaking, you’re more likely to die on the job as a garbage collector. I said it, look it up if you don’t believe me. Actually I’ll just put a graph here that shows it.

Looking at this graph I’ve done about 7 deadlier jobs than being a police officer for a third the pay or less. I even considered joining myself, which many of my friends scoffed at considering the national divisiveness on the issue. How can someone scoff at a working class person making a wage that can actually purchase a home? We need folks who care about being a humanitarian on the police force. Most OPD officers that I’ve come across are ardent professionals. Making $100k per year one should be. So it’s ridiculous that we don’t have more people looking to join the police force. If this article can convince one young person to join, learn the skills and work for changes from the inside then terrific. It might sound strange, but the type of passion that gets folks to volunteer for homeless, or to march for causes, would be the makings of a great police officer. I know I said “change from the inside” but I’m running for city council and frankly we need to try everything to effect change.

I’ll take the physically less difficult, less dangerous, with less requirements and much higher paying job where I get to help people in emergencies, thanks! People chanting “defund the police” and acting like the police are the decision makers to target are over simplifying and the best folks saying that will admit it. However, from a fiscally conservative position, how much fat is in that department that could be trimmed? I’d say plenty. In fact I’ve said plenty for years.

I take a fairly different approach to looking at the police budget. One is that there is simply way too much overtime. The police thank the anarchists for that. The untrained activist youth, fighting for changes we desperately need, for lack of better tactical ideas, often turn their activism into long actions that don’t get to the point. Our town is plagued with what I call the endless anarchist march, where a march starts at one point with a nice crowd and rather than finish an hour later with a nice crowd and a great impact it continues until late into the night. Dwindling numbers, no spectators to see them, no journalists, decision makers asleep, they march. Eventually they get the courage to break a window and they get arrested. Meanwhile, there are about 10-20 cops sitting in their cop cars or on bikes just out of sight making overtime for 4-6 hours. Maybe the city council can ask the OPD to put up banners that say “thanks for the overtime, <3 OPD” every time there is a protest that goes past 2 hours. I mean the top two highest paid police officers got about $50k extra each last year in overtime. That’s unhealthy, I’m sure they would have liked more time with their families anyway.

Let’s not stop at the police department on trimming the fat though. The city has about 770 employees and I bet that many of them have a fancy title and sit behind a desk. We certainly need folks who do that hard work but we need much more right now the sort of people who are working with their hands. With 770 employees how come our city isn’t building low income housing projects directly? Our city has an excess in talent but I want to know if employees feel like they are getting things done in a satisfying way to deal with the massive problems our society is facing? How much of their talent is spent reporting to bosses and endless zoom meetings? Do people have the agency to take a project they’re passionate about from inception to completion without endless internal barriers?

People might think I’m being too provocative, but when we’re a city with 1,000 homeless, with 220 employees making $100k+, with sweltering 100 degree plus days becoming standard in the years to come, don’t we need to shake it up? I’m always looking for low hanging fruit to gather first. I’m also someone who is very aware of the seeds we are planting and when those will fruit. That’s why I am fearful of the giveaways to developers with the long tax abatements.

A type of categorization that I find useful is that most people fall strongly into one of three types. Ones that blame government and unions, ones that blame the rich and corporations and ones that blame religion and culture. Most of us see the bad and the good in all three areas to a certain degree. I’ve found that each checks and balances the others. I’ll admit I’m mostly someone who blames the rich and corporations for the woes of our society today and sees the problems of government and unions in checking them is due in part to government being captured by the wealth of the rich and corporations rather than democracy. I also see our society not teaching folks to work hard together and be civically and democratically minded. I respect those with other arguments, even one’s profoundly counter to my own, because the balance is important.

We need to have much more living wage positions while we examine closer the highest waged positions. Young folks need to be given jobs in the city and the big wage folks, already nearing retirement, need to take these younger folks under their wing to seriously train them. I’d like to see if some higher waged workers would consider much shorter work weeks, more vacation days, more flexibility in choosing what they work on and an apprentice carved out of the savings of reduced hours. This might be the perfect change for a few people, certainly not everyone, but let’s shake the tree and see!

Someone was asking me what the city can do about these issues. Well the city council approves the budget. It seems like there is encouragement for the city councilors to let the city manager run the show. I’d like to be a conduit for city workers, especially one’s less paid attention to by management, to inform the budget and what areas need more or less budget. Much of the best ideas come from worker’s self organizing. I also believe in participatory budgeting through residents, that is something I’d like to expand into step by step. I think that as a city council we can do some budget work that takes a deeper line item look at what we are doing before the final draft that gets approved.

I realize that a lot of folks are going to find that I didn’t write this to appease them. I didn’t appease anyone by this article. I immediately lost law and order supporters by even questioning the budget of the OPD and I lost the “defund the police” crowd for being critical of that and encouraging some young activists to consider these jobs. Hopefully though you did hear that I’m someone who doesn’t try and come up with policy by checking opinion polls or the latest headlines. I’m for seeing what’s possible that’s small and relatively easy, while we walk down the road of anything that is harder together.


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.