Cortez responds to questions about his health

October 1, 2010

Former Pismo Beach police chief and candidate for county Sheriff, Joe Cortez, issued a statement Friday morning, responding to questions being raised about his health.

“I was contacted today by a local reporter asking about a medical matter during my term as Chief of Police for the City of Pismo Beach. The purpose of this release is to set the record straight on this important issue.

“In 2004, I developed a short-term irregular heartbeat. Under the law, cardio-vascular conditions are presumed to be workplace related for public safety personnel and I was obligated to report it to my employer. They in turn were obligated to ensure I received proper treatment.

“I was without symptoms but went through a series of tests and received a clean bill of health. I missed no days of work, and the temporary condition did not alter my lifestyle in any way.

“With regard to questions about the conditions of my retirement, I retired as Pismo Beach Chief in 2008. My retirement is based fully upon my years of service, and not associated with a Worker’s Compensation disability as has been alleged to the media. My retirement pension is subject to full taxation.

“Suggestions by my opponent that I am somehow physically unfit to serve as Sheriff are completely false. “


One only needs to look at Joe’s record. The Pismo PD under Joe’s tenure transformed into one of the best PDs in Ca. as demonstrated by Pismo’s accreditation. Law enforcement in SLO has come under scrutiny by the Grand Jury, there has been one scandal after another. Do we want to seat someone that is currently serving with the good ole boys that are involved with the SLO law enforcement drama (drug selling cops, affairs, bugging, drunk driving, etc.) or do we want someone that not only has a clean background but an outstanding background. While running the Pismo dept. Joe saved the city money. He can run businesses plus run the PD which shows that he can multi task and that he’s organized. I’ve always been impressed by the huge improvements of our PD because of Joe Cortez.


Curious…how many sick days has Mr. Parkinson taken over the past few years?


This is really sad. You can’t run on your merits: character, education, experience, and reputation so let me attack the other guy and bring him down to look as bad as me. If you are qualified and really think you would be the best person for this job, I call you out to do a DEBATE with Joes Cortez as soon as possibles and then win or loss this election like a man by the vote of the people. Please, do the right thing and DEBATE Corterz. It would be the honorable thing to do for the voters! We all want the best honest and qualified person for the mess that lies ahead for the elected Sheriff.


I to hope Gordo does not pack. Does he think we are all stupid. If he had his facts straight he would know that of the 30 years of civilean Law enforcment experience, all but 7 were in California, what idiot would not return to that system in which he had paid into for 30 years and claim his retirement, after finishing out the required number of years.

If he read the WC file, he would also know that he was seen withing a few days of his wife noticing the “irregular heart beats” No where does it say there was a pre existing heart condition.

If he read the file, he would know that Cortez DOES NOT have a heart condition.

This is so lame, can’t believe that Parkinson is allowing this slander, especially with the record being present. This is proving that Parkinson and people in his campaign can not stick to the facts and the truth. They must bend it to try and discredit Cortez.

It is so hard for me to stomach that so many of these “untruths” are coming from our Law Enforcement. Wonder if they bend the truth while on the stand in court.

These are the same individuals that kept saying “stick to the issues, not the past” when the dirt started flying on Parkinson. At least that dirt had truth to it…we all know that. So they had to twist something that was true around to try and discredit Cortez. And in reality they are making Cortez’s

integrity even stronger and making the Parkinson team look really bad.

Hope all you Deputies and union guys that are behind Parkinson are listening, can’t believe you guys would go along with such a thing. You are an embarrassment.


Oh my word, did Gordo really say this about Joe Cortex, “This from the guy who hasn’t even gone on a ride along, visited a patrol station, or taken a jail tour.”

Why would a police Chief need to go on a ride along? After 30 years he has seen more than the deputies that he might take a ride along with. Visit a patrol station, I think he knows what a patrol station is and a jail tour, well he has sent plenty of criminals to jail and no doubt had visited the SLOCO jail many times although Gordo might not have been on duty at the time. Good Lord, I hope Gordo doesn’t legally carry a gun. Frankly I could go on about his statement but I have to agree with Paul, we need drug testing and I will add that we need annual psychological evaluations.


Mr. Cortez said in an interview when he left Aspen PD that one reason he was taking the job in Pismo Beach was because of the lucrative pension increases that had recently been enacted in the Cal PERS system.

Mr. Cortez then became chief of Pismo PD for approximately three years and then filed a worker’s compensation claim for his heart condition and his hearing impairment. Essentially trying to hang the responsibility for these conditions on the City of Pismo Beach, when in fact these Pre-Existing conditions developed while he was the employee of two other cities, that were in Colorado AND which did not have the same rich worker’s compensation benefits system that California had prior to the system’s reform.

All of this was done as the preliminary steps to filing a disability retirement claim for what has been called within the law enforcement industry as the “chiefs disease” ie. heart trouble.

The administrative law judge found while the injuries were real, based on doctor’s reports, they were pre-existing and not the responsibility of the City of Pismo Beach to pay for.

Mr. Cortez then continued working, despite the claim of “total disability” that was on his worker’s comp form, and retired with a regular service pension.

At the time of his retirement he told many of us in Pismo that he was selling his businesses in town, which he did, and returning “home” to Colorado. Then Mr. Cortez dropped the bomb that she didn’t want go back and leave her friends and life here. So suddenly there was Joe looking for something to do.

Now he wants to be our sheriff, this guy who has never thought of San Luis Obispo County as “home.”

The guy who tried to pull a fast one and get a medical retirement after only three years employment.

The guy who thinks the sheriff’s department is filled with incompetent people and only HE can clean house and right the ship.

This from the guy who hasn’t even gone on a ride along, visited a patrol station, or taken a jail tour.

You may yet win this election, and if so you will begin collecting your SECOND pension and I am sure when the time is right, retire with a bad heart from all the stress of leading the sheriff’s department.

Give me a break, you’re just another carpet bagger come to town and trying to take over………


Wow. Someone has a big axe to grind. What’s the matter? Can’t stand it when the REAL truth is told?


And if you had actually done your research, you would know that Chief Cortez actually owned 2 businesses in PB. You would also know that one business was sold one the year before he retired and his wife has operated the second business since then. ”

Home is not Colorado, as he is a native to California and the majority of his working years has been in California, except for his Air Force experience. If you had done your research you would know that he had never intended to move back to California, there was no “bomb” to drop as Mrs. Cortezs family is here in California and they had never intended on moving back.

AND since when does one start collecting on a pension the day they start to work, funny, I thought you had to be vested and then retire. And who in the world wouldn’t retire where they had the better pension, get real! It is also one thing to state facts, and another to just throw out lies….do you really think that those of us that really know Chief Cortez are not going to call you on your lies.


Whether Cortez or Parkinson wins, both will have a second pension – this is a moot point. What I am curious about is that you seem to have no regard for the violation of another person’s medical confidentiality without cause or due process. To me, this is a blatant violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) which protects all of our medical privacy.

Mr. Holly

Mr. Cortez could have also gone to the doctor in an attempt to get a medical retirement which has great tax advantages to it. These medical: retirements are very common in police work especially to the higher ranking positions who are getting ready to retire who control the process. Recently there was a story on how most of the higher CHP brass all retired on medical retirements. Many of them fell out of chairs, no really that is true.

So there is the other side of the story.


This is true and statistics show that over 85% of fire fighters retire with disability which enhances their retirement benefits as well. The fact that Cortez never missed a day of work and claimed that he felt fine working proves that he had no hidden agenda. Joe Cortez “obviously” enjoys working.

I might add this little item that I noticed in the NT Shredder. “To be fair, I think fellow sheriff’s candidate Ian Parkinson filed a claim once after he got into a bit of a physical exchange with some street toughs”


Street toughs? Apparently Ian is a wimp. He claimed at the debate (and in his literature) that the 2004 Mardi Gras riots were a public health nuisance and claimed responsibility for wrecking that event, while coordinating 200 cops. What a piss ant. I’ve been to every MG parade; our keystone Kops and limp wristed City Council ruined the best thing going in this town, all because a few people got out of hand. This is political and policing at their worst-punishing the whole community because of a few recalcitrants. I thought our glorious boys in blue were supposed to enforce the peace, not wreck our lives.

Our cops make a bundle, doing little. For them to whine about that event is typical of a force that needs a good spanking. I wonder if other cops agree with Ian’s backward thinking.


Mr. Holly: The most important words in your first sentence; COULD HAVE . Mr. Cortez “chose” not to, but apparently did what the rules required, to the letter. I wonder if Mr. Parkinson would have had to have “help” filling out the paperwork if he ever had to fill out insurance forms.

Andy Sipowitz

In baseball there is a play called the hit & run. In Parkinson’s Political Play Book thee is also a play called the hit & run, but in this case it is hit his opponent with a lie, and then go and run away.

As a police officer Ian must know that Joe Cortez did EXACTLY what was required of a police officer who suspected that a health problem might exist and as a police officer Ian must know that some conditions (heart, high blood pressure etc) are considered to be, by regulation, work related if you are a peace officer.

Ian, you do know that don’t you?

So Joe Cortez did EXACTLY what he needed to do and Ian points to it as something suspicious.

Ian, why not go live on KVEC and accuse or debate Joe? Ask him, in front of a live radio audience what the deal is. I’m sure Dave Congalton would relinquish his seat and let someone else moderate that show, just to keep it fair.

Come on Ian, show us what you’re really made of. Or maybe we already know.


You are assuming alot, me think! Where’s Gloria Allred, she would love this… Another dirty politicial trick, right up her alley.


This all makes perfect sense to me. What the Shredder doesn’t understand is that insurance companies always attempt to determine if another carrier can be obligated for all or any portion of a claim. Because the medical insurance companies know that when LE develop these types of heart conditions it is considered work related they absolutely would not have covered Cortez’s medical expenses. The only way to cover these medical expenses would have been through filing a Workman’s Compensation claim and checking the box that say’s it is permanent which simply means that they will be responsible for any future heart related medical expenses. The judge agreed that it was a work related injury and Cortez was awarded his medical expenses. The judge also determined that it was not a “permanent disability” as Cortez stated that he did not miss any work and stated that he was able to work but had cut down on exercise during workouts (info taken from the NT).

As for the ringing in his ears at the time, no doubt the medical insurance company tried to question if that was also job related (probably claiming it might be caused from firing guns). Cortez would have had to get a court decision, that determined it was not work related before his medical insurance carrier would cover the expenses for the ear problem.

Between medical insurance, auto insurance, workman’s comp insurance and disability insurance it can get very tricky. I have seen employees go through nightmares over a medical insurance carrier insisting that an injury was job related. One employee had to wait 8 months for needed knee surgery. He ended up on State Disability Insurance while WC and Kaiser fought about it. He ended up having to file a WC claim and having a judge determine that it was not work related, based on the employee telling the judge it wasn’t work related before Kaiser agreed to perform the surgery! It’s ridiculous.


another great argument for single-payer health coverage

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