How to Buy a Sweet Public Pension

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You can’t blame the Full-Time Lifeguards for their $154K-a-year average compensation package.

Nor can you blame that retired 51-year-old Lifeguard for getting his $108K a year pension pay, for the rest of his life.

I mean, you can’t fault them for asking for it right?  It’s up to the City Council to give, or not to give.

Just like if my 4½-year-old daughter asks me to borrow my Harley.  It’s up to me to say no – right?

Well, many the previous City Councils, when asked if the Lifeguards could have the same pensions that  Police and Fire receive, would just laugh and give them Sunglasses or Suntan lotion. And the Lifeguards would go away happy, as if they had just received bars of gold.

A few years ago, there was a solid majority against such a pension move, including councilmembers Steve Bromberg, Tod Ridgeway and Dick Nichols.

But when the Lifeguards’ contract was up in the summer of 2006, they knew what they possibly had on their hands.  Bromberg has been appointed to the bench and his seat was open for election. Tod Ridgeway was termed out, and Dick Nichols’ re-election bid was … troubled.

So the lifeguards stepped back and waitedfor a Union/Pension-friendly City Council.

Lifeguard Management Union, along with the Firefighter Union, spent $31,807.65 on their slate of candidates.  The Lifeguards even walked precincts, knocked on doors trying to pitch their candidates…and guess what?

Every one of the Lifeguard/Fire Union-endorsed candidates won (the Barbara Venezia/Leslie Daigle race was different, because they endorsed BOTH).

So after the November 2006 City Council race was over, and the negotiations restarted in earnest – surprise! Surprise! (in your best Gomer Pyle voice) – on March 13, 2007, the new Newport Beach City Council, the new Union-loving City Council, voted 5-2 in favor of giving the full-time Lifeguards the Retirement benefit.

And they made it retroactive to July 2006.

Talk about a gift of public funds. If that 51 year old recently retired lifeguard lives until the age of 80 years old, his thank you present will be around $3,132,000. Not bad for walking precincts.

So here is where I apologize for some (not all) of the … um … not-nice things I have written about Councilmembers Steve Rosansky and Leslie Daigle in the past, because they were the two no votes, back in 2007, who knew that this type of gift of public funds would be unsustainable.  Now keep in mind that in the 2006 election, Steve Rosansky had not been up for re-election and Leslie Daigle had been the victim of that unenthusiastic “Dual Endorsement” in her re-election bid.

So according to the March 13, 2007 City Council minutes, Leslie Daigle “expressed concern that the pension benefits will have a fiscal impact beyond this budget year…that she does not support the policy change.”

Then-Mayor Rosansky followed, saying “he will vote against the contract because of the [pension plan] … and that it was given to safety personnel at a time when the stock market was rising and the cost of funding these plans was very low, but conditions have changed.  The tide is turning in the State as far as providing enhanced pension benefits, and this is not the appropriate time to move against that trend.”

Of course, completely ignoring the common sense and fiscal prudence coming from Daigle and Rosansky, permanent City Employee Don Webb, of “all the City Employees deserve their pensions” fame, moved to approve…and the rest is history, viral, and whatever else you want to call the Local/State/National/International news that the Newport Beach Full Time Lifeguards have…um…”enjoyed.”

So…let that be a lesson for all you amateur Politicos.  If you want to get $3 million dollars for not working (assuming you live to 80 years old), wait for that perfect storm and do what the full time Lifeguards did.

Walk some precincts, knock on some doors, spend a little dough, and – WHAMMO! – you’ll get that friendly City Council who will vote for your gift of public funds…just because they owe it to ya.



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