The Star-News


Turning on public employees

Sat, Jan 22 2011 12:00 PM Posted By: Tom Basinski

I read several newspapers, both print and on-line editions. The letters to the editor are fairly well sanitized by the time the paper lands in your driveway.

Not so with the on-line posts. They are a no-holds-barred free-for-all. People post things that are cruel, distasteful, hurtful and vicious. A few are funny.

Lately, many of the posts and letters to the editor have to do with police and public employees' salaries and pensions. My unscientific guess is that approximately 80 percent are highly critical of the cops. A few are downright nasty.

One writer to The Star-News mocked police officers.

"'When I leave for work in the morning I don't know if I'm coming back in the evening'" is the weariest of their [the cops'] clichŽs," he wrote. Is it really a clichŽ?

I should forward his letter to San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders and San Diego Police Chief William Landsdowne. They had the task of notifying the family of officer Chris Wilson to get dressed quickly and get to Mercy Hospital.

Medical staff was keeping Wilson alive until the family could arrive to say a final goodbye before he died of gunshot wounds from a parolee.

While I am glad the writer who mocked a police officer's biggest fear reads The Star-News and takes the time to write in, his attitude sickens me.

One of my buddies responded to a liquor store robbery alarm at Broadway and F Street in the 1970s. A man my friend thought to be the clerk emerged from the walk-in cooler. He wasn't the clerk though. The man had just tied up the clerk in the cooler.

When the man pulled a pistol from his waistband a violent hand-to-hand fight ensued, with the robber cranking off six shots.

My friend was able to grab the man's arm, sending the shots into the ceiling and wall. My friend got out his own revolver and sent the robber to eternity.

My friend wasn't supposed to go home until his shift ended at 8 a.m. He was allowed to leave as soon as he finished his reports.

No one in his family heard him silently enter the residence around 3:30 that morning. He went into his toddler daughter's bedroom, sat next to her crib and stared into the darkness until he could finally stop shaking.

When he left for work he didn't know if he was coming home or not, as none of us did. But he did come home. I don't think this is a "weary clichŽ," except to someone who doesn't wear a bulletproof vest to work.

The writer also wrote that there are more dangerous professions than police work. He's correct. Roofers and tree trimmers get hurt more often. But, the distinction is that when a cop gets hurt, it's usually at the hands of another, and the injury is intentional.

I don't know if the disgruntled writer is someone who received a ticket he believed he didn't deserve, or ran into a rude cop (they do exist). Or maybe he applied to the police department and didn't make the cut and harbors a grudge. Or maybe the writer has some kind of vendetta against public employees in general.

I previously wrote that many years ago people took government jobs for the security, foregoing larger salaries in the private sector. It was a trade off. No matter what, you would have that paycheck every two weeks and a modest pension for as long as you lasted after retirement.

A few years ago that started to change. Public employees began to get better pay along with the security. The government employees obtained those benefits through collective bargaining, not through strikes.

Government entities gave the money and benefits because they could afford it.

Now, as leaner times are with us, the agencies no longer have that money. Does that entitle people to vilify public employees?

I guess it does for any bitter, angry person with a computer and e-mail.


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