Home Board of Supervisors CoCo Tax Exposed as Hypocrites by Board of Supervisors

CoCo Tax Exposed as Hypocrites by Board of Supervisors

by ECT

This is part-two of my two-part series from last Tuesdays Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Board of Directors meeting.  This piece focuses on the exchange between the County Board of Supervisors and Kris Hunt of the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association (CoCo Tax) which was entertaining to say the least.

This exchange which begins at the 57:00 minute mark lasts about 20-minutes where it clearly shows that CoCo Tax is not interested in finding a solution nor working with CCCFPD, but rather they have become the organization of “no” to a parcel tax at any cost.

Listening (in this case reading) to the transcript, CoCo Tax is actually advocating for an entirely new service model which ironically would be a lot more expensive to the taxpayer which shows how illogical they really are—and Ms. Hunt calls herself an a trained cost analyst?

This was the same tone the “gang of six” as I call them in East County behaved. This group includes Kris Hunt, Dave Roberts, Dan Borenstein (Times Editorial), John Gonzales, Walter MacVittie and Jeff Barber who fought hardest against East County’s parcel tax using silly rhetoric.

This would be like spending a dollar to save a penny, it’s not very bright.

I give major kudos to Supervisor Piepho, Supervisor Gioia, and Supervisor Glover for putting Ms. Hunt in her place and making her out to be a hypocrite and trying to have her argument both ways. They proved this woman is a disaster for not only firefighters, but to residents of Contra Costa County as she is jeopardizing public safety with her nonsense.

I also give Federal Glover kudos for bringing up the fact he gave her “homework” at the last meeting and she failed to follow up. That portion of the dialogue is priceless.  The woman is full of excuses and complains she needs the entire package—which she has!

In fact, while I typed out the exchange below, it really doesn’t do Ms. Hunt much justice because I removed her many “ums” and starting of sentences which she cuts off and starts over like a blabbering fool—I made her sound better than she really did. I think I should get a thank you!

It’s a shame no one in the media reported how contradictory the CoCo Tax Association sounds when comparing East County’s parcel tax to this one. Or the fact Ms. Hunt for a minute there was actually making the argument for a higher parcel tax.

Here is the transcript I’ve typed out. It may be long, but it really does provide details of just how the CoCo Tax is delaying, making excuses, and complaining about arguments that do not apply to this parcel tax as they did in East County. Don’t take my word for it, it’s all on tape!

D.1 Receiving report, tiered tax rate structure for a proposed special tax measure

Kris Hunt, Executive Director of the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association: After the presentation by Chief Louder, the CoCo Tax met with several members of the union as well as their rep and we ask what were we looking for in a tax in terms of CoCo Tax and we said something that made sense. Something that makes this entity sustainable because that is where you need to go in the long run and as it stands now based on the numbers we saw previously this simply doesn’t work. Even using the numbers from the fire chief presentation, if you take them at face value, by year 17 or 18, you are $2 million in the hole.  You don’t have a reserve and you are $2 million in the hole.

Secondly, we even disagree as I printed out last time with the numbers these pension numbers are to low and are going to go high and I believe Supervisor Gioia pointed that out that it was realistic.  And it was mentioned before there is a real concern inadequate monies in place for those million dollar rolling stock, those trucks that wear out after 15-years and for buildings which 12 of them are 50 years old. In one of them just had to close because of mold and rodent. There is obviously a maintenance problem is how I would introduce it.

A third issue was brought to my attention as I believe it was to the board and I haven’t had a chance to look at the legalities, but apparently when the pension obligation bonds were established there is a component in there that said they had to have a reserve policy provision that had 10% of the General Fund for budgeted expenditures. That has not been maintained so the question is what is going to happen with that? And it’s certainly there is no provision for that if these numbers hold. So that’s another concern.

When we met with Vince Wells and several of the others, a subset of the board of who was available yesterday and their consultant. What they admitted was, because when they pointed this out, what they admitted was, that when I pointed this out they admitted this wasn’t enough. The $75 rate which would now be $72. But this is what the people are willing to vote for, that does not make something sustainable. That does not create a credible argument for going forward with this. So it’s time to be realistic. I can’t count something that isn’t realistic. So we need to take a good look with what’s going on here and we need to have a realistic budget and realistic numbers or be realistic about what services can be provided.  Thank you.

Supervisor Piepho: Kris, I have a couple of questions for you.  The Contra Costa Taxpayers Association opposed the East County Fire Protection Measure. Can you define what your reasoning’s were for opposing that were?

Kris Hunt: (laughing) There were many. One of the largest concerns was they were expanding services and doubling the amount the poll showed people would vote for.  That was a real concern. They had not dealt with their pension problem and in fact they put off the negotiations until after the election. And that was a real concern in terms of viability. I was personally shocked and I have mentioned to others when I went out to Trilogy and Summerset and I assumed it was going to be people that really want this tax cause of you know, the adding, the emergency techs and all that. They did not.

Supervisor Piepho: Well Kris, I am asking what the Taxpayers opposed.

They both proceeded to talk over one another before Piepho shut her off.

Supervisor PIepho: Expanded Services (Kris Hunt cuts off Piepho)

Kris Hunt:  (expanded services) that couldn’t be paid for and within 5-years they were going to be in the negative situation. Again, this meant this did not solve the financial problem. So those are the basic arguments against this tax and they are in fact on our website and all the backup material.

Supervisor Piepho: okay that’s fine, but I am talking about here so the public can hear and understand. Now with this measure you are saying the same thing. The number we are looking at doesn’t provide sustainability. You are saying it’s an inadequate amount but that it meets the needs of the polling that has been done that the public has expressed their tolerance of.

So I am asking you not a rhetorical question, a question to help dig deeper so that we can have a constructive effort that between these two recent proposals. The one before us today and the one that just failed in East County, as I said to you at the last meeting two weeks ago, I am having a hard time seeing as what I would call a conflict.

As the tolerance in East County, let me try and state my case here, the tolerance in East County in the poll was much lower than the ultimate measure was put out to be because the measure the polling amount was not enough to sustain the district or provide the levels of service needed to just maintain current operations. The public said they wanted a paramedic service so that was built into the Measure and it did not create sustainability. So everybody knew that, maybe property values would increase over the couple of years, the economy may improve, redevelopment dollars may come back to the District, that future is uncertain.

But in the meantime today, to keep doors open and people safe that is what they determined was needed and necessary and yet the taxpayer association opposed it because it doubled what the public poll would suggest. But your suggestion here today that this is an inadequate amount measure that we are only going for because it’s what the poll suggest they would tolerate. So I am confused.

Kris Hunt: Alright, I’d be happy to clarify. The problem was that they increased staffing which is what drove up the cost. They didn’t listen to the public. If people were told you could have all these things free and then the cost came out it was very different. But we can’t count what was being told to the people.  So they could have stayed were they were. Originally I went out to meet with the Chief, Chief Henderson to look at supporting a measure that they were gonna have. We knew they had problems. You and I have talked about this in the past they have a weird little financing glitch because of what they were. But they decided to go their own way and to increase staff by 30% and in a few years and they were going to be out of money.

Supervisor Piepho: Oaky, but that is what the public had asked for so I am not hear to defend that measure that is what the public had asked for and that is what the governing board listened to. But what you are saying hear today on this measure is that it’s not sustainable. It’s an inadequate amount of money and it’s not enough short term and long term.

So are you suggesting Kris, or that the taxpayer association, suggesting that we go out for a higher amount? Is that what would get the taxpayer association on board? That is what I am asking, how do we get you on board?

Kris Hunt:  I can’t tell you without looking at the whole package

Supervisor Piepho: You have it; you just looked at the numbers.

Kris Hunt: We would suggest that maybe you look at a different delivery model because there are other ways to deal with this. You have an ongoing pension problem that is in mends. You apparently haven’t met the requirement that’s in the pension obligation model. You can’t tell without looking at the whole package. What I am raising are the concerns we see here to tell, maybe your numbers will change when we get the report from what you are charging at different levels. I was going on what was in the presentation, the previous presentation. But if you look at it, it doesn’t meet, it doesn’t balance and sending that out to the public seems inordinately unfair

Supervisor Gioia:  In a way I see this tax, not unlike the measure the taxpayer association was neutral on the Contra Costa Healthcare District tax which got 74% of the vote and passed.  That there was a lot of work done to identify what the gap was today and then there was a measure put on the ballot that didn’t close the whole gap, but this was, how do I say this, to lessen the gap knowing that we were going to close the gap the rest of the way through internal steps taken which would take time to implement and in that case there was a sunset  that the tax would go away if the hospital closes. Here we have a sunset by number of years so that the idea was there was a shared responsibility. We were going to take responsibility as an agency, in that case the healthcare district, here would be the fire district and then the public would chip in to close the gap part of the way. So I see this very similar to that. It’s a two-step process. Internal work which is being done and will continue to get done and then shared responsibility by working with the taxpayers because I think under your comment your just saying it’s not enough.

It’s only not enough If we don’t go the rest of the way and close the gap which is what we are fully intended to do so we would close the gap again through our internal work as well as through the additional tax measure. Interestingly that was the same philosophy the taxpayers association used to be neutral on the healthcare tax.

Kris Hunt: I believe this is different and we are looking at long term systemic failures to replace trucks and things like that and waiting to the last minute then trying to do negotiations and seeing what can be fixed. There are a lot more problems here that we would liked fixed.

Supervisor Gioia: Uh Kris, actually that’s the same situation we were at with the hospital. Let me finish. There was a lot of internal, systemic, structural issues that are being addressed. I am headed to a meeting actually about that in an hour from now regarding the hospital. It’s exactly the same situation. How do we look at the structure? How do we look at the system? How do we close the gap? How do we have shared responsibility with residents ? It’s exactly the same.

Supervisor Anderson spoke for a few minutes about how voters want to vote for something that won’t fail in a few years and when it sunsets we are back in the same problem.

Supervisor Piepho (69:14): Director Anderson brings up some valid questions and I think having lived through the experience in East County, the reality is the public is not paying attention to the short term impacts. Long term sustainability is a very important question but come December 1st, if this measure  fails , a number neighborhood fire stations will be closed and the public will be put more at risk. That is sustainability. It’s sustainability in the short term. I am happy to acknowledge that. It’s not sustainable in the long term. In the short term, it keeps people safer, the properties protected and it is an economic savings to the residents and business owners of this district because it mitigates the financial impact from not having the stations.

The Brentwood Press has  a front page article from last week, business owner from Bethel Island who lost a fire station from a week ago, says I should have gotten more involved in the effort to pass Measure S  said Donna Simon, owner of Island Joes Restaurant on Bethel Island after she was informed her policy was jumping from $200 to $489 per month. I don’t know what I am going to do next now.

That is the reality that the taxpayers in this District are going to have to face. Sustainability is very important, but it also relates to short term solutions and long term and has John (Gioia) said, this board, these employees, this chief and his staff, we all have a responsibility to that.

But this is emergency, this is triage, this is how we get over this hump and hopefully the economy does improve. And pension and wages and all those other important components of the cost of the District do improve, but this is a level of insurance that we pay for everyday in public safety.

It is an integrated system and if you investigate it thoroughly you will understand it’s a very efficient and cost effective system. Firefighters need to be there no matter what.  If they are out making medical calls it’s because they are there first. That saves lives. That is an important component to what they do. It improves maintenance on engines because they are running an operating an engine, they are not parked in a firehouse and firefighters sitting around twiddling their thumbs. They are out doing something. The public likes to see their public servants working.    Making medical calls they are out working, not just waiting for that fire because they are going to be there no matter what. Sorry!

Supervisor Glover:  You know, on two occasions at our last hearing I requested that the Taxpayers Association would come back with what would it take for you to support this and I am hearing nothing.  I am hearing nothing,

Supervisor Piepho: Kris, not from the audience.

Supervisor Glover: She can come back up, but I would like a response.

Supervisor Piepho: You are invited back up Kris to make a brief response to Director Glover’s question.

Kris Hunt: We would have to see a whole workable package. You can’t just have one thing. That is part of it. You have to see what is long-term, you have to see a budget with what you are going to do in terms of replacing those vehicles. I am a trained cost analyst. We want to see the whole picture. It can’t be just one tiny thing because they are moving parts. But it needs to be sustainable.

Supervisor Glover:  And my request was that you do that analysis. That if you are going to say its something that you can’t support , then do the analysis and tells us what you can support, and that is not what you have done and you have had the time to do it. It’s not enough to say that we are being responsible and telling the taxpayers not to support an item that is so very important, but to say that we cannot support it and will not support it and put people’s lives at risk.

Kris Hunt: But first of all, we haven’t had time. We didn’t even know what the ultimate proposal was going to be because they were going to come back and answer questions.

Supervisor Glover: You understood what was before you at the last meeting. You understood what the issues were that you were concerned about and you had plenty of time to do the analysis in terms of coming back and saying these are the things that we can and cannot support.

Kris Hunt: We told you we couldn’t support a senior exemption, we are glad that’s gone, but we are working on it. I am putting it together white paper now. This is a complicated issue and we will have some suggestions on other things. We have talked with Vince and the other group on the things we are concerned about and we will come back with something.

Supervisor Glover: You know, you said that the fact that they did not listen to the voters and the poll results for East County and hear clearly shows we are listening to what the poll results are and yet you are saying we can’t support it.

Kris Hunt: The problem is you are staying with the same model and that may not be serviceable with this as it stands. If you are talking about fixing things, they haven’t fixed the pension problem. Even if you do another tier that’s years away from solving that. We haven’t seen a long term plan for fixing buildings, there is a lot of stuff that isn’t there and if people say they can’t support it, maybe you guys need to look at alternative delivery systems

Note: Rollie Katz, public employees local 1, made some very nice comments following this exchange at the 74:30 minute mark . If you have time I urge you to go watch his comments as he started off by stating , “First, I have to say I am utterly confused a few minutes ago. I thought for a moment that the Executive Director of the So Called Taxpayer Association was actually going to endorse a higher parcel tax than what you are suggesting and I think we could have had a first where labor and the taxpayer association could have agreed on that.”

You can watch the video by going to the Board of Supervisors page on the County Website http://www.pbtech.org/clients/CCBOS/agenda/cccfpd07102012.html

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robert ruddick Jul 17, 2012 - 4:29 pm

Nice work Mike.

Bob Jul 18, 2012 - 9:16 am

One of the biggest piles of double speak on record. CCTPA is not about solutions. They have none. They are about complaining and little more.

Even when multiple people tried to make sense of their position, they came up empty. Because CCTPA is not about preserving services as their top priority. They are about promoting their “no tax” ideology and little more. Consequences be damned.

The CCTPA cannot comprehend the basic concept that costs, generally speaking, rise over time. That within a system that does not have revenue streams that properly track those costs eventually you are going to have the situation we have today. The rise in property values and resulting revenues to our fire districts will not keep up with district costs over the next decade, if ever again. With or without pension reforms. For all the naysayers to sit there and suggest fixing pensions fixes this larger issue is simply ignorance.

Until people address that fact this debate will solve nothing.

Arne Simonsen Jul 18, 2012 - 9:57 am

Bob, you are just flat wrong. And it should be noted that why CoCoTax voted to oppose Measure S and authorize Kris Hunt to sign the Argument Against which was vetted by the CoCoTax Executive Board, it did not raise funds and campaign against it.

Secondly, CoCoTax is concerned about the long-term, not the short-term. We do not support knee-jerk reactions without any study of the long-term implications.

Chief Louder stresses that he has 40 years in the fire service, but he wants to stick with the old model and not a more efficient and less expensive models. Therein lies the problem.

With 3.3% of CCCFD calls for actual fires, the model needs to be changed. And that change needs to start with the Board of Supervisors amending their Emergency Plan which limits when AMR can dispatch an ambulance for a medical call.

burkforoakley Jul 18, 2012 - 10:02 am

That is a very dangerous statement you just made in terms of not being concerned with the short-term ramifications. It is the responsibility of fire chiefs, fire boards, and in CONFIRES situation, the responsibility of the Board of Supervisors to protect both the short-term and long-term health of not only the district, but the people they are supposed to serve.

Bob Jul 18, 2012 - 1:48 pm

Arne, what background do you have, as in higher eduction or work experience, to qualify YOU to dictate to the populace how emergency services are delivered?

Can you point me to any examples of your idea in action in a comparable suburban/rural territory mix where it’s successful? Absent that, it would appear you are promoting a social engineering exercise with the residents of East County as your guinea pigs.

Also, why do you ignore people such as Pat Frost and Leslie Meuller who have clearly stated the system is not configured for this leaving engines in station idea or having AMR shoulder the lion’s share that your organization has promoted?

What fiscal studies or research has your org done to show that private sector delivery of these services is in fact cheaper than public sector delivery?

It would appear your short vs long term gamble is simply an unspoken wager of how much property and how many lives you are willing to sacrifice in pursuit of a political agenda. There is ample evidence to support this fact and next to no defense on your part.

Tell me, Arne, do you exercise your health insurance at anything less than 3.3% of the time you are alive? With the fiscal logic you put on display here, wouldn’t it make sense for you to cut back on that? To settle for less coverage and gamble with your well being?

Do you not understand that adequate staffing and deployment of fire suppression resources works much the same as insurance? That is, you staff and deploy for worst case and count your blessing for all the time(which is the majority) that you don’t need it?

These are basic logic exercises. Perhaps you could address some of them rather than what I have seen you do in previous exchanges. That is, roll a headline grenade comment and then run away from any defense of your position.

You, Joe average citizen, second guessing a fire professional with 40 years of service? The absurdity and outright arrogance of that alone is amazing.

Arne Simonsen Jul 18, 2012 - 1:58 pm

Bob, I have just as much right to express my educated opinions as you do.

And to answer your question, I have a Bachelor in Science Degree, eight years on the Antioch City Council, Chaired the Delta Protection Commission, Chaired the League of California Cities Revenue & Taxation Policy Committee and served 24 years in the U.S. Navy aboard ships, submarines, aircraft and overseas.

Yes, I did go through Navy Firefighting school and stood duty at an overseas Naval base fire station.

Bob Jul 18, 2012 - 2:41 pm

Arne, I’m not looking for a resume. I’m asking for experience SPECIFIC to the topic at hand. Seat warming at the Antioch City Council doesn’t count, IMO. Nor does a Delta commission have anything to do with EMS service delivery.

Not sure how many ambulances you rolled on subs in the Navy, but again, experience not applicable to the topic at hand. Your TI Navy training also does not apply to a suburban delivery model. Saying the way the Navy delivers service is the same as civilian services is dumb on about 50 different levels. We have a mutual friend who’s been through that same Navy training school, so BSing the readers won’t get it done on this one.

I would be more impressed if you could cite at least one example of this alternative delivery model your group is promoting in action in the USA, to include the cost savings you insist are there for the taking. You stated in an earlier post your org likes to do their homework.

So prove you’ve done it.

Arne Simonsen Jul 18, 2012 - 2:47 pm

Bob, do you own homework. I am not going to do it for you.

Apparently you just don’t have a good message that the voters will accept. That’s your problem, not mine.

And I can assure you that I did not do any “seat warming” (your words) during my 8 years on the city council. You are so misinformed and ignorant.

Bob Jul 18, 2012 - 4:00 pm

Arne, are you serious?

How would you propose that I am supposed to learn about this claimed research you have conducted on alternate service delivery models short of asking you as I have done here?

You talk yourself in circles more times than not.

Arne Simonsen Jul 18, 2012 - 4:39 pm

No dodging of any question on my part. Do your own research of fire department models being used in other communities all over the United States. That’s what I did.

And did you know that about 75% of fire districts in the U.S. are volunteer fire departments or a mixture of full-time and volunteer firefighters?

Bob Jul 18, 2012 - 8:45 pm

Really Arne, the lame volunteer fire department argument is the best you’ve got while still not answering the original question?

Would 75% volunteer have to do with the fact that 80% of the geographic area of the USA is rural?

Ya think?

That’s why I specifically outlined it earlier as the only applicable examples would be similar suburban/rural mixes as we have in East County. How they do it in the middle of nowhere Nebraska doesn’t really matter, now does it?

But what’s even more lame is you and the CCTPA selling this alternate delivery model and expecting the voting public to play guessing games about a)whether it really exists and b)whether you really did your homework before pitching it.

Right now it’s looking like a negative on both counts which gives you a credibility score of zero on this one.

To the Supes credit they obviously weren’t buying your “trust me on this” line at the meeting either.

You’ll just get hammered with this during the runup to November so we’ll see how that message sells for you this go around.

Barbara DuMont Jul 18, 2012 - 11:11 am

what new model? I keep reading comments from Mr. Simonsen, Ms. Hunt, Mr. Roberts and others about that the fire depts needing to move away from the same old expensive model and to a more efficent and less expensive model. No where have I seen a written plan or even a half way thought out plan. Well, describe your plan? Tell us how it works and how it will save money and lives. Time to put up or shut up!

burkforoakley Jul 18, 2012 - 11:23 am

Ms. Hunt hints the only new model that CoCo Tax would favor is one that has engines stuck in stations and not responding to medicals.

Barbara DuMont Jul 18, 2012 - 4:05 pm

Yet again Mr. Simonsen dodged the question. What service model are you talking about? We can’t do any homework if we don’t have the information. Quit dodging the question. I want to know about this new service model you are talking about. Please explain in detail.

Kris Hunt Jul 22, 2012 - 5:56 am

One does not have to be an expert in firefighting to read ConFire’s Chief’s own words and numbers (read the county budget message and watch the video of the FIre Board) that the money generated by this tax at the $75 level will leave the district broke in a few years. He has also admitted both verbally and in writing that the district has not been replacing its vehicles or setting aside money for other capital needs(given the mold and rats in the Lafayette station that caused its closure one wonders about maintenance.) There is a serious pension and retiree health care problem that is draining the district’s dollars that will likely get a lot of attention in the parcel tax dicussion. These financial issues have to be addressed. Yes, we will continue to raise those questions because failing to address them is what helped bring this district to the point where it is today,

Falling for the diversionary tactics of the Board members is one thing, but you still have to look realistically at the long term fiscal health of the district. Read the numbers presented by the chief where it shows even without investing in vehicles or buildings OR showing realistic pension increases this new tax STILL does not fix the problem,

THAT is not a good operational model. Determining how to operate efficiently, effectively, and fiscally realistically is up to the district. But it is our job to point out that what they are doing now and what they are currently proposing is not going to work either in the short term and certainly not in the long term.

burkforoakley Jul 26, 2012 - 10:13 pm

What diversionary tactics? The BOS asked you direct questions and you bombed hard! You were proven to be a hypocrite and still have never provided a plan or solution. Federal Glover gave you homework and you didn’t turn it in.

Bob Jul 24, 2012 - 9:47 am

Kris, how about instead of constantly complaining that the proposals brought forward are not be all, end all solutions, that you present some of your own?

At the moment, you and your organization are simply part of the problem. You are asking people to vote against their own best interest and sacrifice public safety.

A “No” vote does not “fix the pensions”, which is the extent of detail you have offered to this point. An “alternative service delivery” model has never been explained in any level of detail by your group and AMR representatives have made it clear, on multiple occasions, that they are not equipped to take on that load. They are part of a TEAM effort here with fire providing the setup and them providing the transport. Key word is TEAM. It’s been used quite often by multiple people. A little surprised you’re not hearing that.

As a private sector company, AMR is in the business of making a profit. It’s what they do. The way you present this stuff it’s as if you are expecting there to be pure cost savings only by them taking on new workload. That is so far removed from reality it’s embarrassing to read.

Somebody will have to pay for that. It’s really that simple. So you pay for medical response through property taxes or you pay through fees paid to AMR via another channel. There is no third option.

I’m looking for some sort of coherent message from CCTPA and you seem unable to offer it. In this latest post you rattle off a laundry list of needs, all which cost money. But your solution is to then starve the fire department of that money? Can you not see the contradiction in your own message?

If your “plan” does not fill a $14.3M budget hole, which can and will grow in subsequent years, then you cannot be taken seriously in this dialog. Regardless of your background in finance.

“Fix the pensions” does not fill that budget hole because savings there are not realized for decades. Neither does leaving engines in station for medicals. It’s like you’re rifling around in the couch cushions trying to come up with loose change to pay your mortgage. Your message simply doesn’t show any credibility or sincere effort to solve a major and critical funding problem.

All government agencies will experience cost pressures on the upside. It’s a fact. Health care costs probably being the largest. If health care is rising at high single digit rates every year, but revenues are basically flat for a decade, that is untenable.

I would like the CCTPA to grow a backbone here and come right out and say what they are expecting of this agency. If your intent is to have the rank and file absorb all cost increases going forward through wage and benefit concessions, then come right out and say it. This campaign you are waging at the moment is cowardly by seeking concessions that are unrealistic without actually coming out and saying so in as many words.

You can start your response by explaining what “diversionary tactics” you claim the Board is engaging in. They have told you that stations will have to close absent passage of the measure. Are we right back to you claiming this is only a scare tactic? Did you not learn anything from the ECCFPD example?

jeff b Jul 24, 2012 - 2:16 pm

the magnitude of the failure of the CCC politicos and their lap dogs to truly address this issue is staggering. You can accept reality now and do something about or piss and moan some more and let the the union degrade services even further.

This county needs a complete reinvention of how it delivers emergency services. There must be a NEW unified approach that takes in at least the geographic areas served by con fire and eccfpd. There must be one entity that delivers/manages both fire service and ems service. In this scenario (to fix the failure) the delivery would have to come from either a mix of public & private or all private.

You all can dance around the issues all you want and let the union do their influence thing but understand this…..the system you have is failed and can not be fixed. It must be rebuilt from the ground up. The union will fight this like hell because that is what they do. Times have changed and in the history of fire departments, since the first fire brigades, many many changes have occurred…..now it is time again.

Can you say Falck?

The fire boards in this county need to right now establish a joint commission to study (on a fast track) new delivery/entity model(s) and come up with a definitive plan & time line. They need to be all encompassing and most likely have one or two proposals that compete against the union to determine the best way forward. They need to bring in private operators and (in a professional way) seek structured bids. Falck is huge global fire/ems provider and they just established a presence in N CA. Get them in and talk about a combined fire/ems bid…seems like a lot of synergistic savings potential could be realized with one operator doing both aspects.

Why do cities continue to pay big bucks for reports like this one? Because it is smart… and yes it is hard to believe but there are folks in this world who are not union influenced and who know more than bob m.

Ok bobby fire up all your rhetoric on how private fire departments are no good and can never be any good. Then give NASA a call and tell them to stop using the private sector for critical missions into space. Comrade….just because a private business must strive for profit does not make them evil. What it does is make them efficient and those of us from Detroit know ‘efficient’ is a dirty word in the union hall.

I don’t know if the answer is to use a private firm(s) or to simply stay public/private with a brand new bigger entity that pays based on reality. But I do know that the present scenario has failed and will not be fixed by simply throwing more tax money or temporary grant money at it. For those who can’t see that change is good and necessary I can get you a good deal on a load of buggy whips.



Bob Jul 27, 2012 - 9:16 am

Jeff, I can see that chip on your shoulder all the way from Utah.

I’m sorry that you do not get the fact that there were only two choices on the June ballot. To either augment the funding of the fire department to maintain service levels or to deny that funding and accept station closures. If you thought that was a bluff, as CCTPA all along insisted, then you along with them were wrong. Now we’re all suffering the consequences.

Reinventing the fire department was not one of the choices on your ballot. Neither was making East County some social engineering experiment for new ideas in delivery of EMS services. Such as the bizarre idea of leaving engines in station to save money. But as silly as it sounds these people are actually pitching the same nonsense with ConFire. Trying to get those unable to use basic logic to believe you fill a $14.3M deficit hole with bean counting buffoonery. You needlessly kill people and lose property with that sort of dumb thinking.

As for Falck, it’s a Danish company. So a couple of problems with your plan. 1)While having a presence in the states for years to include some of the life flight helicopter operations, they don’t do fire suppression anywhere in the USA. Fire suppression, generally speaking, is not a profit making venture. 2) Contracting with Falck, a foreign entity, means that any profit from the venture is now expatriated dollars. That policy is part of what’s been draining the wealth from this country for the last 2 generations. Short term mentality to the detriment of the long term health of our country.

Thanks, but no thanks Jeff.

If you want to try these little social engineering exercises, try them out on yourself and your new Utah neighbors first. If you don’t kill yourself with your poorly planned and executed gov’t service delivery ideas, then maybe the rest of us can take a look at them when there is some track record. But your “trust me” approach doesn’t play here.

NASA has specialized needs for fire suppression to include training that would never come into play in a typical suburban/rural area mix as we have here. So again you try to apples and oranges an example. You should at least talk compensation figures when you cite these, so we can see how silly the ideas are. Even if we’re talking AMR, a local known entity, the compensation for paramedics is higher for the private sector example than it would have been for a ECCFPD equivalent.

As for this flawed insistence of yours that private vs public is always a money saver by privatizing, that’s nonsense. In this day and age we pay contractors 6 figure salaries to do laundry or peel potatoes for our military in far away places . It was only a generation ago that the soldiers themselves handled those chores and we didn’t “waste” those billions of dollars. For a better local example, representatives of AMR itself have said in public commentary they are not a cheap option or alternative for an expanded EMS role.

But cherry picking facts and making flawed assumptions is what you do. So some of us are not surprised.

Good luck with your new digs. I hope someone was kind enough to remind you that the Great Salt Lake is a DRY lake bed before you drug your boat back there. A little abrasive for water skiing, perhaps.

EastCountyReader Jul 26, 2012 - 12:16 am

@ jeff

What is possibly going on in that angry little mind of yours? Do you actually think with your bad attitude and lack of tact anyone would qualify your opinion as relevant? You are a real case study in personal perception and denial. You don’t respect others because you have no self-respect. It must be hell to be you.

It is comical to see you reduced to (blog) posting the same rhetoric over and over because no one really listens or pays attention to your little speeches. Obviously you have grown tired of the eye rolling and snickering while you are spewing your trifling perspectives. There is certain irony in the fact that you have such a small sense of self-worth that you cannot even capitalize your own name.

You opened here with your usual intertwined insults, chanting about pissing and moaning, while you yourself pissed and moaned like a sorry little child. This does nothing to bolster your twist.
It must be quite a burden for you to believe you have the solutions and every other person in the county is just plain stupid. That must weigh heavy on you and serve as the motivation for which you feel so compelled to correct everyone. I’m sure you have the market cornered on buggy whips.

I actually considered picking apart your diminutive opinions (it would be so easy), but it is not worth my time. You see jeff, you are trying to promote an option that isn’t being considered because it is not on the table. This entire matter is about funding and revenue; not reinventing the emergency services. I guess you, Kris Hunt, Dave Roberts and John Gonzales missed that memo and now the reality of your actions is finally setting in. Normally, I wouldn’t use such offenses, but since throwing around insults is how you operate, then it must be the only thing you understand.

I am sorry to break it to you “comrade” but you have made yourself irrelevant.

Jeff B Jul 26, 2012 - 11:08 am

So I opened my last comment with these words… “the magnitude of the failure of the CCC politicos and their lap dogs to truly address this issue is staggering”.

Then a person who is either afraid or embarrassed to say who they are goes way after me personally and in no way address the issues that I commented about.

This is about a failed system and moving forward now that the voters have spoken and said no tax hike for a failed system.

This is not just a revenue problem…it is a multifaceted problem that goes to organization, special interest influence, efficiency and moving past the status quo to embrace potential new forms of service delivery that fit today’s world.

Those that skip the issues and simply attack me prove my point every time….the local politicos and their cronies have failed and are desperate. Small mindedness and union influence prevents true solutions from being studied and acted upon.

Suggestion….take a look at the real world around you. I know I am living rent free in your heads but you all should really try to get over your animosity toward me and focus on solutions…..the voters have spoken so now it is time to move forward and embrace reality.


EastCountyReader Jul 26, 2012 - 7:16 pm

Sorry “comrade” but I doubt anyone is afraid of you. (unless the maybe midget wrestling team is in town). So you assumed wrong again.

Seriously, is that your ‘A’ game? It is hypocritical for you to “whine” about the personal nature of my post, when it is simply what you do in each and every one of your appearances. You give me too much credit; after all you deserve all of the credit for your irrelevancy. You need to put on your big boy pants (provided you don’t fall through them) and come to grips with the reality that we all deal with-not just your introverted perspectives. Similar to Measure S there are only two choices here; Either you don’t get it or you are in deep denial. There is no third choice.

Your history of posting, blogging and letter writing is without a doubt a fine example of your offensive nature. It is no wonder you are so easily brushed aside. Every time you open your mouth you lead off with insults and never look back. How’s that working for you?

As far as the fire/emergency service issue is concerned it is pretty simple stupid. It is a revenue problem. This is what happens when any agency’s only funding source is reduced or eliminated. In this case it is no mystery that the fire departments only funding comes through property taxes, which have been reduced for the past several years. That means the taxpayer is paying less, which also means the department is receiving less. It is simple math. The measure asked for a portion of it back. You lobbied against it and the voters fell for your ploy. Now they regret it. Need proof small fry?

“Measure S, a parcel tax meant to offset the plunging property tax revenue…”

Read more: thepress.net – Residents respond to station closures
Meanwhile, the owner of a Bethel Island restaurant said her insurance has already more than doubled in the wake of this week’s ECCFPD cuts.

“I should have gotten more involved” in the effort to pass Measure S, said Donna Simon, owner of Island Joe’s restaurant on Bethel Island after she was informed that her policy was jumping from $200 to $489 per month. “I don’t know what I’m going to do now.”

Karma is a bitch and it looks like you are now reaping your fair share. Welcome to the real world.

Reader Jul 26, 2012 - 8:27 pm

Rude, anti-social personal attack posts should either be removed or this forum shoul require source attribution. And before anyone attacks this post as hypocritically anonymous, please take note that it is not rude, anti-social, or a personal attack.

Plenty of time to disagree on issues. Attempts to bully others do not support dialogue.

What do others think? Are the personal attacks good? What does Mr Burke think?

EastCountyReader Jul 26, 2012 - 9:55 pm


If Mr. Burk has met Mr. barber (and I’ll bet he has) then he already knows that Mr. barber is simply getting a taste what he has been dishing out for years. Mr. barberbreally can’t help it-it is who he is. Glad you see it as nasty, because with Mr. Barber everything he spews is nasty. Apparently you have never experienced Mr. barber’s “unique” method of communication.

While I am not personally in favor of personal attacks, there are a few here in East County that are long overdue in being called out. If you haven’t figured it out you will.

If you want sugar coated fluff, then read the Brentwood Press.

Didn’t mean to offend you, just my two cents and likely worth every penny.

burkforoakley Jul 26, 2012 - 10:12 pm

Never met him, but he and I have had our battles elsewhere. I am sure he is a real hoot in person.

Jeff B Jul 31, 2012 - 12:54 pm

“I hope someone was kind enough to remind you that the Great Salt Lake is a DRY lake bed before you drug your boat back there. A little abrasive for water skiing, perhaps.”

I hope the person who posted the above quote was just messing with us as they try so hard to come off as being an expert on all topics. Although the Great Salt Lake is indeed a bit salty for my taste it is anything but ‘dry’. And no worries on my w-ski time…I can get in just as many days outside of CA as inside.

To the status quo folks who want us to believe that there is no better way to provide fire/em services than how it is done right now in CCC…..all I have to say is that you all are seriously wrong. You can suck up to the union and bos all you want but once again you are side of a loosing cause.


Dawn Phlynt Aug 1, 2012 - 9:31 am

Adios my vertically challenged amigo! While many know that Contra Costa will be a much better place due to your relocation, please know our little group of misfits will miss you.

You made a great mascot!

Jeff B Aug 1, 2012 - 10:14 am

I find it very disappointing that my height, or lack there of and other personal insults has become your go-to diversion from facing the reality of an important topic. It is both disappointing and sad not because I care about the insults but because it shows you don’t really care about the issue.

Make no mistake….my decision to move my family out of CA absolutely relates to overall quality of life and being in daily contact with folks who understand reality and are not opposed to making decisions based on that reality.

As for the CCC fire/ems issue (if you really even care just a little bit) the fix is not simply pumping more tax money into a tweaked status quo failed situation. The fix will be multifaceted and include doing things some new ways and changing the overall cost structure. You can run and hide from my words but they will continue to haunt you as reality continues to set in.

Since I won’t be around so much to make fun of maybe you can use your time to tutor my pal bob on geography which is no doubt the only topic he is not a self-professed expert on.

cheers from somewhere sunny and pleasant with a most excellent fire/ems situation.


Bob Aug 1, 2012 - 10:40 am

Jeff, you can sugar coat it all day long. What you are really advocating for but too cowardly to admit it, is a subservient class of public employees. A class who are compensated at less than equivalent skill sets in the private sector(which is already the case in EMS), who are exposed to all manner of environmental risks and health dangers and who generally speaking cannot work their careers to the traditional retirement age of 65.

A class of employees who would never be able, with the compensation you are intending to pay them, of being home owners in the district in which they work.

There are only so many desk jobs in the FD. In fact, you and your buddies have attacked administrative positions as “fluff” or fat in the department in previous arguments. The simple fact is “fire fighter” is a young man’s occupation. It’s compensation and retirement plans are structured accordingly. Forcing higher retirement ages on these people only adds to the workman’s comp cases and permanent disability examples. You can’t just insist they stay longer as front line firemen. An engine full of 60 year olds responding to fires and EMS day in and day out is not in anyone’s best interest.

You lose these claimed cost savings of yours over the long haul.

It’s time to stop cherry picking facts. If you are unwilling or unable to look at the full picture and ALL the impacts to these proposals of yours, then you cannot and will not ever be taken seriously. The latest example is in your previous post. You claim your local Utah fire/ems system works just fine. Let’s omit the cost of living difference and not talk about all the other factors for why that might be.

Numero uno being the crash in housing values here. If home prices had only remained flat since 2008 instead of this crater job, we’re not having this conversation and the district is still sitting on $7-$8M of reserves.

You preach comprehensive planning and service delivery strategy. You just don’t practice it.

Dawn Phlynt Aug 1, 2012 - 10:43 am


Sorry to disappoint. I’ll bet you get that a lot. In fact, I know you get that a lot.

For someone who spent a lot of your time here in CA, slinging insults, I find it extremely disingenuous that you are now cryin’ foul. You meet the exact definition of a hypocrite.

You don’t begin to measure up to Bob Mankin (no pun intended). Not even close.

For a self-professed “know it all”, you have a lot to learn.

Jeff B Aug 1, 2012 - 10:32 pm

“Reality is often contrasted with what is imaginary, delusional, (only) in the mind, dreams, what is abstract, what is false, or what is fictional.”

The housing values in CCC were imaginary, delusional, fictional, not real. Now they have reset to reality. You can only have what you can pay for ….nothing more. If voters won’t pay then guess what? You have to make do and to make do you have to make changes. The eccfpd voters said no and across the country voters are saying no to taxes that go into union driven compensation programs.

I have never once been shy about saying that con fire is, in my opinion, over paid considering the financial affairs of CCC and in a new CCC FD the primary tiered wage should be in the range of the eccfpd wage plan. I also agree with the notion that people who work in Antioch should not receive NY NY wages. And no, I absolutely do not believe those public employees who work in pricy neighborhoods should be compensated enough to pay the going rate for local high-priced housing/lifestyles. But guess what….there are many affordable places to live in CCC and only a few that are not so affordable.

I will bet anyone that FD jobs will not go unfilled no matter what the wage/benefit package is re-set at. Those seeking a higher wage may have to go to a different job most likely in the public sector but that is simply a choice that individuals are free to make.

Interesting comment made about FD work being for young people. I know some that might disagree but for the sake of argument lets say that what you say is accepted as the norm. If it is the norm then those going into the job know what they are getting into and should not have an expectation of a lifetime of almost full compensation for working only part of a career. Sure the job has risks but we all know it is way down on the risk scale while all the top risk jobs are generally lower paid with few benefits and no golden pensions.

So now we can have the benevolence disagreement. As I have previously stated, those that do FD jobs as volunteers receive my upmost highest regard, right up there with the military. Those that get full time FD pay, benefits, pension still have my regard but in a far different way from those that take the same risks as a volunteer.

Dawn Phlynt Aug 2, 2012 - 11:53 am

Jeff, Thanks for making my point (For a self-professed “know it all”, you have a lot to learn) better than I ever could. They are gonna love you in Utah…


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