Friday, February 29, 2008

City avoids bankruptcy, union releases strangle hold

This small Calif city had 10 firefighters making in excess of $200,000. The public employee unions used their money to basically take over the council and take the taxpayers on a ride. But they were smart enough to pull back from the brink when their gravy train was threatened.


The financial meltdown has intensified debate over whether Vallejo's firefighters are overpaid and exert too much power at City Hall. The starting salary for a Vallejo firefighter is about $70,000 a year, among the highest in the state. Ten firefighters earned more than $200,000 each last year, including overtime, city officials said.

Last fall, the union representing Vallejo's firefighters gave $31,000 to a political action committee that supported a slate of council candidates on the November ballot. In addition, individual firefighters gave several thousand dollars directly to candidates, city records show.

The police union gave $33,000 to the same political action committee, the United Workers for Local Government; the California Teachers Association gave $21,000. Other labor unions chipped in smaller amounts.

The committee spent $53,000 to promote the winning City Council campaigns of Erin Hannigan and Michael Wilson. They also received money from individual firefighters. The other five members of the council have received little to no money from firefighters in their most recent campaigns.