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When no one blinks everyone suffers Tom Basinski | Sat, Jan 08 2011 12:00 PM

Barring a last minute miracle, akin to a desperation pass into the end zone with no time left on the clock, 23 Chula Vista police officers will be out of jobs Jan. 7.

When they close their empty lockers, instead of putting padlocks on the locker door handles, they will place the locks in their pockets and leave police headquarters for the last time.

This makes me angry. I had spoken with representatives of the Police Officers' Association who convincingly told me the city would not even sit down for informal discussions.

The city threatened them with layoffs unless the POA gave up money, retirement contributions, and other benefits.

The police reps said the city's refusal to chat made no sense because the two sides held informal discussions in the past when the cops agreed to postpone receiving scheduled raises. What was the problem with having informal talks now?

The police said if they agreed to negotiate formally now, and failed to reach an agreement, their present benefits would be fair game for removal because of collective bargaining rules.

After several attempts, I sat down with Assistant City Manager Scott Tulloch who told me the exact opposite; that the city was willing to sit down with the police and have informal discussions in order to head off this financial blood letting.

He said the cops wouldn't go for it. The police had six conditions that had to be agreed upon by the city before informal discussions could be held.

The city would not agree to part, or all, of the conditions. Therefore, no informal discussions ever took place. Each side blames the other for not agreeing to informal discussions. Meanwhile, Jan. 7 gets closer by the minute.

Who is telling the truth? I don't know. Both sides are convincing in their sincerity. I wish someone would appoint me Arbitrator-For-a-Day. I would get both sides in a room, kick their lawyers out the door, and find out what is going on. The truth is there, somewhere.

All of the other bargaining units have reached a grudging accord with the city. If the police don't, and it doesn't look like they will, the police will be perceived as the greedy bad guys who hung their brother and sister officers out to dry.

This political "they said, they said" cat fighting sells newspapers and attracts television cameras but does nothing for the poor police officers who will be out of jobs.

The city representative said the sheriff's department and/or other local police departments will hire the dismissed Chula Vista gendarmes.

Not good enough.

These men and women are Chula Vista cops. If they want to go somewhere else it should be their choice, and for their own reasons.

Even though they are veteran officers, logging a found bicycle into property for the sheriff's department is done differently than at CVPD. Many new things must be learned. The streets they will patrol are different. Some may even get assigned to the jail.

The command is different. Many of the rules are different. Sure, they can catch up, but they shouldn't have to.

The standoff is so senseless and unnecessary. The sad question is what will happen to the pawns who happen to be young, for the most part, men and women who are trying to make a career for themselves? They never asked for this rubbish.

Listening to both sides does not provide enough evidence to make a decision as to who is the bad guy. Both of them say the right things, but there is no way for an outsider to prove who is hedging on the truth. Let me have them alone, for 30 minutes not for violence, mind you, but for reason.

Maybe I'm over simplifying the issue. It's just a shame and will be a black mark on the city forever.

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