DiCiccio’s DistortionsMay 21st, 2013 | By Julie Erfle | Category: Featured Articles, Main Article, Phoenix budget, public safety, Sal DiCiccio
Sal DiCiccio is a masterful politician. In the time he has been in office, he has managed to convince many middle class workers and retirees that other middle class workers and retirees are the reason our city’s economy has tanked, our budget has been squeezed, and our groceries are now taxed.
It’s genius, really. When times are tough, instead of searching for the actual reason we ended up in a crisis, find a scapegoat and pin the tail on him. And who could have imagined that DiCiccio could successfully scapegoat the very individuals most residents used to trust and respect – our public safety workers.
DiCiccio has a history of distorting the truth, and since this is an election year, he’s working harder than ever to ensure that his “stories” are the prominent fables getting attention.
He recently posted on his Facebook page that Phoenix could hire more than 350 police officers if they hadn’t given out $52 million in pay raises. Wow! Who wouldn’t be outraged if this was true? Of course, it isn’t true, but Sal never lets the facts get in the way of sensationalism.
Phoenix did not hand out $52 million in pay raises and bonuses. Almost half of that money went to pay restoration, which is quite different from a pay raise.
Three years ago the unions agreed to a 3.2% pay cut as well as furlough days and hiring freezes. The unions made this historical bargain because they understood the city was in a financial bind and needed to cut wages in order to save officers’ jobs while still protecting the public safety needs of its citizens.
As part of the agreement, the city was asked to restore these wage cuts when financial stability (as measured by revenues) was back on track. Based on this year’s financial projections, the city is set to restore HALF of the pay cuts taken three years ago.
Sal DiCiccio would like the city to break its promise and violate the terms of its contract. Apparently, keeping one’s word means nothing to Mr. DiCiccio.
He would also like the voters to believe that our officers are not deserving of pay restoration — that they have not sacrificed or suffered as much as private employees have.
DiCiccio speaks about the private sector having lost more in wages and in retirement income through losses in 401(k)’s. I know I saw my retirement savings plummet during the Great Recession, though lately that same 401(k) is growing exponentially. Unlike officers, however, even if my 401(k) takes a hit, I still have the ability to draw Social Security when I retire. That’s my safety net.
Officers do not pay in to Social Security and therefore have no safety net should their pensions suddenly go away. Sal DiCiccio understands this but disregards it. He also disregards the fact that the state legislature recently enacted changes to public safety pensions that require officers to contribute more to their pensions and will keep upping those contributions for the next several years.
And when it comes to comparing private sector work to public sector work, let’s be realistic about what we’re comparing. I don’t spend my days with a gun strapped to my belt or 60 pounds of fire equipment on my body running into dangerous situations. There is a difference between what I do in the private sector and what public safety workers do in the public sector, and once upon a time, we used to respect that difference.
DiCiccio knows that our current economic crisis has hit the middle class especially hard. Police officers and firefighters are a part of that middle class, too. They are suffering just as you are. They have taken pay cuts, lost benefits, seen the values in their homes collapse, been asked to do more with less… just as you have.
But unlike all of our other middle class workers, they have also been set up by certain politicians as the subject of resentment and blame. Politicians like Sal DiCiccio who would like you to believe that they have not suffered but rather have benefited from your suffering.
DiCiccio wants you to believe that public safety workers take your hard-working tax dollars without giving in return. He’d like you to forget that these workers are also taxpayers. Forget that they are neither overpaid nor overstaffed in comparison to other cities of similar size. Forget that these workers serve us, and our city, exceptionally well. And forget that as they do their jobs, some end up paying with their lives.
The anger we feel toward our current financial situation is understandable. When our livelihoods are threatened, we want someone to pay. But don’t let the distortions of a crafty politician fool you into believing that “someone” is a group of middle class Arizonans. Don’t let Sal DiCiccio continue his war on the men and women who serve and protect our city.