“Taking care of their own” – Callahan claim filed

October 29, 2010


San Luis Obispo city officials have confirmed that a workers compensation claim based on presumptive causes was filed on behalf of former Fire Chief John Callahan that is slated to cost the taxpayers about $7,000 per month.

Callahan, 61, died suddenly of a heart attack on Aug. 18 while playing softball at Santa Rosa Park. Within weeks, a workers’ compensation claim was filed.

“It is a brother or sisterhood and they are taking care of their own,” said one former San Luis Obispo council member, who asked not to be identified.

City councilwoman, and mayoral candidate, Jan Marx told CalCoastNews that the issue has not been brought in front of the city council at this time, but noted the sensitive nature of the subject because Callahan was “beloved.”

Presumptive injuries, which include heart attacks, are injuries that have developed while working on the job. State laws allow for public safety workers to file claims of work related injuries not afforded to the general public.

Even so, according to California Labor Code section 3212, “The hernia, heart trouble, or pneumonia so developing or manifesting itself in those cases shall in no case be attributed to any disease existing prior to that development or manifestation.”

Callahan had a previous heart attack about a year ago, sources said.

In order to be fully vested in CalPERS, a person has to have worked for a department for five years. Callahan was about 10 weeks short of five years when he died and was not eligible for a city retirement.

However, if it is determined Callahan was on the job when he suffered a heart attack or that the heart attack was caused from his work as a fire fighter, his widow could be eligible for a tax free workers compensation benefit.

After 32 years with the Los Angeles Fire Department Callahan retired and began drawing a pension of approximately $170,000 a year. Callahan was appointed San Luis Obispo fire chief in Nov. 2005 and planned on retiring as soon as he was fully vested in CalPERS, Nov. 2010.

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170K/yr in retirement! I’m lucky to earn just over 20K. Seriously, does Callahan’s wife really want more? Is the City Manager just throwing the money at her?

I understand the need to support our firefighters and policemen. I also understand the need to decide for the people paying the taxes. Represent me, for a change. In this case Chief Callahan was short of 5 yr’s. His wife is more than sufficiently taken care of. So why go through the extra trouble to give her more?

I think everyone is missing the point on this. Mr. Callahan was a Fire Chief not a firefighter, an administrative position. I know that he was a real nice guy, very well liked and a good member of our community. There are a lot of citizens in this City that fit that bill. How many times as the Fire Chief did he put that Firefighter gear on and fight a big fire in SLO (when was the last big fire in SLO?)? This position was not any more stressful than that of the City Manager or the Finance Director during these pass couple of years. Mr. Callahan only worked for this City for over 4.5 years. He did a good job that he was more than compensated for. There are a lot of employees that work for our City that don’t carry a gun or fight fires that have stressful jobs. Talk to the folks are the Sewer Treatment plant that have gotten hipatitis (sp) for the job they do, or a dispatcher, or has anyone been in the Finance Department when the staff do water shut offs and have to deal with those situations. In today’s work enviroment (government or private) there is lots of stress. The facts or the facts: Mr. Callahan was an administrator who passed after 4.5 years with the City, was not vested, did not get his heart condition for the position he held, and it not entitled to file a Workers Comp claim. This is absolutely greed and ridiculous and even suggest so. Those are the real facts!

By the way. although they are not saying so, the City of SLO provides a hefty life insurance for their management staff. So, let me see, the widow is getting $170.000 retirement from LA, a life insurance policy from the City of SLO, a should be $1,700 retirement from the City of SLO and she wants more… When is enough enough???

To the person who say’s that Fire Fighters can’t collect social security but pay 9 – 15% of every paycheck into their retirement plans. HOW NICE. The rest of us are forced to pay 7.65% of our paychecks into social security and then we invest in 401K’s or whatever we can afford to invest in so that when we are 65 we won’t go hungry. The majority of us would love to tell the gov and their SS program to go jump in a lake and invest on our own. Unlike the FD, we are not guaranteed that our investments will guarantee us a comfortable retirement either. What a SCAM…..

In case you don’t get it I would sugest that you go to any city in question and do some research. Check on the Human Resource page and go to the MOU (memo of understanding) for the fire departments and after reading about their benefits then come back with a comment.

Well, ya know what? your personal retirement benefit is all about what YOU CHOSE to sign up for

when you applied for your job. Public servants do not always earn the most coveted wages, but they did their homework before they hired on … found out what they would get in retirement in exchange for a 30 year career in one agency (or in this case, what a 5 year commitment would reap). The public servants don’t make the rules – the local agencies, city,

county, state and federal administrations make the rules – then they dangle the “retirement package” carrot to attract willing employees. If you don’t like your local agencies (city/county) “benefit packages”, you need to start going to City Council meetings, County Supervisor meetings, etc, etc.

or better yet, run for office and then you can make the rules.

If you want to be outraged about something, take a look at your State and Federal Government “employees” and elected “officials” Talk about “not fair” – Congress doesn’t pay into or participate in Social Security either. They have their own “special” retirement plans after only four years of service, including a hefty retirement check and healthcare – and it ain’t Obamacare.

So, once again, it’s all a matter of what YOU CHOSE for yourself.

Many state workers apparently also have to contribute into 401k’s too in order to get enough saved for retirement, so please don’t pretend like private employees are the only ones that have to do this because all they have is social security.

It took me very little effort to go and search for this information on the net…to figure out if all this were really true, and I found that a lot of people were jumping to conclusions that appear to be largely based on the outrage of phantom facts and lies. But, instead of wanting to know the truth, it seems like too many people just want someone to blame and someone to hate. And personally, I can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of picking firefighters of all people. These service oriented, hard working, self sacrificing people are hardly to blame for the current state of everyone’s personal unhappiness or financial distress.

Gosh, we have real examples of greed in sallstreet, congress and heading up nearly every major corporation in America and instead we are picking on the firefighters down the street that we rely on to rush to our aid – be the first one’s on scene if we have a fall, a heart attack, or God forbid one of the neighbor’s kids sets the house on fire, or a set of metalizer junkies sets up shop down the street and blows up half the garage causing cars to explode and dangerous material to leach. People that keep posting that firefighters don’t have a difficult job have absolutely no CLUE what they are talking about. Further, no one gets to be a Fire Chief without spending much of their career fighting fires and responding to emergencies. The expertise that this man brought to SLO is what he was paid for, expertise afforded from many years of being a firefighter on the job.

More than 75% of all state workers will make less than 30k in retirement with an average of 26k – and again, a significant portion of this is their own saved money – and another siginfican portion of this is INTEREST. By the time retirement comes around and payouts begin, only a small proportion of it was actually paid by taxpayers.

and $26k is hardly a “comfortable retirement.” This continued jealousy is funny in light of the real truth. I fail to see how less than a $20k (after tax) annual income is something to be particularly jealous of. But if you want to work at the DMV, you too can go and sign up. Or if you want to fight fires or pull people out of rolled over cars with the jaws of life, be woken up at all hours of the night -3-4 nights a week for 32 years to be of kindness and service to other’s needs, be my guest (though you don’t particularly sound like the customer service sort). You go do that for 46k a year (average firefighter salary – of course remember you need to deduct 9-15% annually for your retirement on top of taxes), while the rest of the skilled workers get paid far better in the real world.

As for your comments about SS. It is a defined benefit program too. Money gets taken out of your check and you have no control over investment decisions. You’ll get what you get when you retire in much the same way as firefighters except that they put in significantly more of their own money into their plans than we are putting into our SS plans, which is part of the reason why their payout is higher. Your company that you work for also pays into your SS retirement- this is an employee beneft to you, in much the same way that cities and states pay into retirement plans for their employees but they do not pay SS on their firefighters, so this is a savings to them.

One other thing to keep in mind, many private companies offer matching 401k programs, which is far more lucrative than the State’s program. This again contributes to the statewide scientific comparasions that have been made of public and private sector jobs which show that in overall compensation – they are dead even.

In my humble opinion, all employers should offer solid retirement plans. For some reason, we are arguing for this to be negotiable, and negotiated down, when it shouldn’t be. Neither hareholders, rich corporate CEO’s, or government politicians, should be expecting employees to work hard all their lives and retire into poverty. Such a thought should be outrageous in a free world. Workers aren’t slaves. But these petty fights over the pennies of a less than $20k a year retirement salaries are doing nothing to improve people’s situations.

“said one former San Luis Obispo council member, who asked not to be identified.” Please, shut up Paul Brown.

If you people only knew what your city fire department does for this city. Wouldn’t it be nice if you did know? Do you ever wonder why you don’t know? Could it be because the City Manager doesn’t want you to know? If you just think the firefighters sit around all day waiting for a fire, of course you will think they are overpaid and thier pensions are too high. And that is what the City officials want you to think. It’s like fu*kin’ North Korea in this town, the goverment only allows you to see what they want you to see. It’s a DAMN shame.

Actually, it wasn’t Paul Brown, but thanks for trying to guess. I know Paul, and unlike you,. he’s always been willing to put his name to his opinion.

Oh Dave, get over it. People don’t have to put thier real names if they don’t want to. Or, if I want, I can tell you my name is Pamela Anderson, would that make you feel better? Anyone can put down any random name, you never know who you are talking to on a blog.

Nice attempt at being evasive, SLOJO< but come to my point, please. You automatically make a kneejerk reaction that our source was Paul Brown. I'm telling you it wasn't.

Larger issue: Paul Brown is that kind of guy who would make anonymous comments, though clearly you are. By hiding your name, we have no way to assess the merits of your argument. E can't tell if you're married to a firefighter or have some other dog in this hunt.

It is a legitimate point. But unless you can indicate otherwise, you strike me as merely someone to gain from the present system..

Ok, you win, my name is Jenna Jameson. Go ahead and Google me and let me know if my opionion is worthy enough for your friends blog.

Also, you may want to proof read your comments before clicking “submit”.

Dave, how do you know it wasn’t Paul Brown?

Bravo to slojo, but many people feel it’s not safe or wise to use a real name if you express opinions or live a ‘lifestyle’ that other people might decide to harass or even kill you for.

In this area, I always thought that someone who was unwilling to put thier name to thier opinion was called “The Shredder.”

At some point in time we are all going to have get beyond that firemen walk on water and save the world and that their job is the most dangerous in the world.

I don’t know of many firement that will walk into a dangerous situation as they will always “stage” away from the incident until the police clear the area.

Guys please just go to work everyday and do the job that you do well. Quit looking in the mirror and stop thinking the world can’t do without you.

As far the “benefit” for the Chief. It’s a fix, he was playing softball and didn’t get injured on the job, plain and simple. How much stress can their be sitting behind a desk. Everybody has a job that at times has stress. The SLO City Fire Department does have a record of giving these tax free benefits away and it really needs to stop or we all are going to suffer stress.

Mr. Holly…..”I don’t know of many firement that will walk into a dangerous situation as they will always “stage” away from the incident until the police clear the area”….they stage because there is a gun involved…..if the government would issue guns to fireman then they could go in and not wait for the cops. Ughhhh!

As for your other comments, I won’t even bother.

slojo-You must be on duty today. Are you watching the car race, football games or just browsing the web. You probably need to hurry to the grocery store so that you will be back in time to watch the world series. Please do not get stressed out today.

Mr. Holly…..I’m not a firefighter but thank you for the compliment. I’m sure the city firefighters have already saved at least one life today though……what have you done?

Seriously SloJO.. here’s what you’re NOT getting. I don’t care what they’re doing with their time, they’re not worth that kind of money. Let me stress this, so that we’re perfectly clear. I don’t care if they fight fires for 20 hours straight and build homes for the homeless for the other 20 hours, they aren’t WORTH that kind of money.

I mean, at what dollar amount would you actually stop using the argument about how incredibly worthy these people are and say, “that’s too much.” Do you have any freaking idea what real salaries are like in the private world? Clearly not… They are worth good money, this is WAY WAY over what most people consider to be “good money.”

mkaney……you tell me then, what do you think is an appropriate salary and explain to me how you come up with that number. I’ll be waiting…..

slojo-If they saved a life today that’s great. I had my life saved by paramedics and they get paid $50k to $60, I would say that’s appropriate unless another $50k to $60k is justified for squirting water.

Did a quick google search:

Average firefighter salary in Cali: $46,000

IAFF reports that they cannot collect Social Security as everyone is assuming.

They pay more into their own retirement than other public jobs – 9-15% of every paycheck – not an employer contribution – far more than most of us put into our own IRA’s or 401k’s!

I found a very fascinating link dispelling a lot of the angry mob myths floating around here. Wow, was it ever surprising to read!


Great link. Everyone here needs to read this…it will literally shut everyone up. PS when I retire I’m gonna take my firefighter retirement and loooove every minute of it…and you know what? I WILL deserve it cuz I earned it. I chose my career because I dreamed of being a firefighter all my life…proud to serve my community, even the ones that think I am probably a greedy monster that works the system. Do I feel bad because I have a union that worked its butt off to get me great benefits and a retirement? NOPE. I am extremely grateful, because I only make about $36,000 a year to sleep away from my lady 3 nights a week and sometimes for an entire month. Is this job stressful? Hell yes it is. Just because I went to college, got a degree, have been taking classes every semester in fire science, EMT, command, etc since I was 22, give up every holiday to work, still young and body is killin me, broke, no second job AS MOST OF YOU THINK WE ALL HAVE, don’t expect me to hand over my pension. I love my job….sucks you don’t. PS Callahan was a good man…everyone should be ashamed for the things being said about him. His wife deserves the money because her dead husband worked his tail off to serve ungrateful people for over 30 years.

mr. holly…..what about all the other lives they save besides yours? What about all the deadly deseases they are exposed to on a daily basis that they could easily catch? What about all the toxic fumes they breathe when they are “squirting” water on a fire? What about the crazy guy with AIDS who put his arm through the window and is flinging blood everywhere and spits on the firefighters when they try to help him? What about taking care of the old guy who has been laying in his own feces for 2 days becuause his caregiver is useless? What is all of that worth? Shall I go on?

You got it slojo. Your describing the same duties as a paramedic.

Actually the firemen respond with the paramedics and sometimes they arrive firat and at times they arrive after the paramedics. Once on scene the paramedics usually take charge as they are the transporters to the hospital.

Policemen are also exposed to the same things. In fact if you are a good samaritan you can be exposed to the same things.

Mr. Holly….yes, I am describing a paramedic. If you knew about your city fire department then you would know that probably half of them are paramedics. There is always at least one paramedic firefighter on each engine everyday. MOST all the time the fire dept. shows up before the ambulance, sometimes by as much 10 minutes. AND, it is not true that once the ambulance arrives that the ambulance medic takes over. The fire medic continues his patient care until he loads the patient in the ambulance AND alot of times the fire medic rides in the back of the ambulnace with his patient to the hospital to continue care in the back of the ambulance.

See, this is what I am talking about Mr. Holly, you don’t understand the services your department provides yet you feel you have an educated opinion on the wages these people earn and how dangerous thier job is.

Let me ask you this, what do you think the firefighters do when they are not on a call? No sarcastic comments on this one, I want to know what your answer is.

slojo-I hate to burst your bubble but I was actively involved in this type of business for many many years and I really do know what I’m talking about.

Are you still on duty today?

Mr. Holly…..I told you but obviously you don’t listen…..I am not a firefighter.

Why don’t you answer my question?????

slojo, What you describe is worth the same salary that an average nurse earns. Actually it’s worth less because a nurse has at least a 4 year college degree and can offer far more services. As far as breathing toxic fumes, that is why we buy them all that expensive breathing apparatus. All they have to do is occasionally jump in the big red truck and squirt some water or show up at an accident and stop profuse bleeding or do some CPR and pull out a defibrillator. BFD, now go blow your smoke someplace else. Want to see a dangerous job, try putting some crab on my table.

moderator sez: you misspelled ridiculous

Cindy, I agree with you, I wish I had what it took to be a crab fisher. And thank you for explaining what firefighters do compared to nurses. And don’t get me wrong, nurses are a blessing to our society and I honestly don’t understand how so many of them can work long careers without getting burnt out on it. So yeah, don’t take this as an attack on nurses, but you talk about showing up on the accident and stop some bleeding do whatever… yeah thats what nurses do too (the bandaging, not so much showing up on an accident)… but do nurses extricate those patients from out of the cars? Do they know how to quickly and safely remove a vehicle from around or on a person? Do the nurses repel down the side of the hospital to put band-aides on people, then hoist them back up like firefighters do on mountainsides? Just wondering because I think that those are a few striking differences. That and the whole working in a controlled environment with plenty of supplies vs. on-scene care thing…

They signed up for the job, just like the people who join the armed forces.

Wow the firefighter with a base salary of $100k needs to let me know he or she is working because that is completely unheard of. I find fault with your simplification of extra money for “squirting water”. Fire Departments are full-service departments. Furthermore, most paramedics that work on ambulances are working for private companies. Yes, they are the underpaid for the job that they do, but it is what they have chosen and my hat is off to them. However, being the fire departments are not a part of the private sector, they must become “full-risk” and full-service agencies, meaning: the paramedics on the ambulance are often sheltered from extremely dangerous situations because of the rules that their companies have placed on them. So when the car goes over the cliff and rescuers need to repel down to get to the patients, it is the firefighters who are going over the side in the middle of the night. When a person falls into a rushing river and needs to be rescued, it is the firefighters who go into the water and pull them out. When the surfers need to be rescued, the firefighters go out into the ocean. When people call 911 because their sink is flooding the kitchen, the firefighters turn into plumbers. When a baby is stuck in a locked car, they get the door open. see where I’m going with this?? how about when downtown Paso Robles was in ruins after the earthquake?- firefighters shored up the buildings to keep them from falling over. Remember La Conchita? Firefighters were the ones digging people out. Do you get my point? its more than just squirting water for extra money over those in the private sector. The training associated with the job, and the scope of duties is far more than just “go give medical attention… and ‘squirt water;” It may not be what every firefighter does every day, but it is what one is willing to do and is trained to do. They go and take on high risks to help others. Unfortunately, many suffer the consequences, but ask almost any of them and they will tell you that the reward in it isn’t the money, it is the fact that hopefully they had a positive effect on a negative situation in someone’s day.

olegaucho……thank God! Someone with some sense!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

mkaney- I know this reply comes late, but I found this site while I sit in quarters (yes at a fire house) and I actually signed up just because I keep laughing about how you’re twisted, uninformed argument is based on the idea that firefighters for a 40 hour work week like you may or may not. As of right now I have worked 91 hours in the past week with just 7 more to go until I am lucky enough to spend three days with my family then the segment starts all over again. So that is 98 hours in a seven day period 24 on,24off, 24 on, 24off, 24 on, 24 off, 24 on. 98 hours in a week- simple math right? and no, there is absolutely no overtime in that. So I am at work for 98 hours in a week and it is a waste of money for me to be paid more than the person who works 40 hours a week- 160 hours a month vs. my 240+ hours a month? The funny thing is that my best friend who is an average salaried employee in a typical business actually makes 15% more per hour than i do. I mean you have every right to go on and complain and try to prove your point, I’m pretty sure that that is what these forums are for, but all that I ask is that you don’t draw other people to your assumption by using horrible, inaccurate examples and figures. thank you.

before you throw a fit, I’m sorry i hit the 8 instead of 6. 96 hours per week.

Outside looking in…

Dave, you are a good friend to Paul.

slojo, I agree with Dave when it comes to just blurting statements, while hiding behind a bogus profile.

If you are ashamed or afraid to say something, maybe you should not say it at all.

Don’t be a coward… Be proud of your ideas and opinions. This is what makes us human. Different views and lifestyles are important… respect for others…. PRICELESS.

Michael McKinney


My name is Kevin Rice.

Well…. there are a lot of problems with what has happened here.

First, there is the lack of disclosure typical of local governmental administrations and secondly, where do these folks think this additional money is going to come from? On any level, this is just wrong.

If you haven’t seen where this sort of thinking has taken us… check this out:


There is some hope as a ballot initiative should be put forward in San Luis Obispo in 2010… I have a link to the original petition as a pdf file:


Hopefully things will get corrected before the entire thing implodes.

Roger Freberg

Geeze, I initially joined this site to read local news. How disappointed I am now. This site is nothing more than a place for people to bitch and gripe about everything wrong in this County. Blah blah blah…”what about me?” wah wah wah…this is all I hear. Don’t be pissed cuz you are not a firefighter and you hate your job. Everyone is just hating on everyone, especially public service. Get a life…Im done with this site.

Outstandingly put Jay, thanks.

This website suffers from a serious identity crisis. It claims to be an unbiased independent local news source, yet it’s really just emerging as a central, insidious place for witch hunting of public sector employees.

There is so much disrespect and unkindness being fostered on here that I’m truly humbled by the cruelty of some of these comments and replies.

Worse still is all the fiction and ignorance that gets perpetuated about the pension system, for example, it appears that most people that post are completely unaware that the state mandates that employees pay significant amounts into their own retirement – which CalPers then controls. This would be akin to private companies requiring that employees contribute to a 401k account so that they don’t get to the age of retirement empty handed.

So fact is, a lot of this retirement money for this firefighter was self-funded -NOT tax funded. Additionally, the pension system works that funds are taken out across his career and invested. This grows interest and funds the later payouts. For example, CalPers has been returning about 11.4% to its massive funds lately.

How about that the average Calpers Retirement is only 26k – before taxes. This data was super easy to get, did my own search for it, because I’d like to know the truth of both sides before jumping on the bandwagon. 26k a year hardly funds a lucrative retirement! Gosh, these retirees must be touring the world in the lap of luxury!

These are truths and facts, and there are many more that could be given to illuminate the masses, but these are just the kinds of truths that this website doesn’t want to print as balances for their countless pieces on public service hatred.

In my humble opinion, ALL of the hard workers in this state – Public and Private, deserve a decent pension and a financially secure retirement. It is the right thing to do, we all deserve it. So why don’t we all stop asking less of each other and start asking more for each other.

love and peace

I love this paragragh…..

“So fact is, a lot of this retirement money for this firefighter was self-funded -NOT tax funded. Additionally, the pension system works that funds are taken out across his career and invested. This grows interest and funds the later payouts. For example, CalPers has been returning about 11.4% to its massive funds lately.”

You claim you have all the facts? Well this is WRONG. 11.4? CalPers has been funded for it’s shortfall by the state of Califonia, only because the state was DUMB enough to promise a certain return back when the stock market was high in the early 2000’s. They aren’t getting this rate because it is a great fund. It has been reported in the news for quite some time.

As for your arguement that people deserve a secure retirement. Yes they do. So if they start saving and stop wasting on new cars, big screen t.v.s, etc and invest they would!! I have been investing since my late 20’s. We scrimp and save, go out to dinner about once every six months and a new movie about the same. At the rate we are at we will have a retirement with or without social security or some other Gov. or business handout. This is not complaining. I provide for myself and don’t WHINE that the Gov. or others need to provide for me. Stop wasting your money and blaming big business etc. and waiting for the Gov. to provide and do it yourself? It can be done.

The data I provided is fact and was easily turned out from simple searches. If anyone wants to know more, they can do the same, and I’m sure they will. My only reason for that post was to show that there is more than one side to this story.

As for your post, this is exactly the kind of thing I was talking about. You have no idea about me or my personal situation, values or purchasing behavior, and yet you made condescending presumptions and what anyone who knows me would call ludicrous conclusions about my personal circumstances in order to make a platform for holding my opinion, that we could all do more instead of less for each other, in contempt. I don’t mind you disagreeing with me, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but making up stories and lies about my personal circumstances is not cool.

I’m a taxpayer. A very hard worker. A saver. Not much of a consumptionist, not that I’m going to point the finger at everyone else who has a new car and villanize them for their unholy excesses.

I don’t WHINE that the gov. needs to do for others. What I believe is that the mark of a great society is that we try to help each other. I doubt it very much sir that you were born, grew up and succeeded in this world all on your own with no support from friends, family, community or public services.

Or maybe you built those roads yourself that you drive on every day, or filed all those books away at the public library, or never had to count on the help of public safety officers or firefighters, or were never taught a single thing in a public school, or never had a good night’s sleep due to prison guards keeping watch on dangerous criminals.

Once upon a time, the middle class was just the poor class, worrking 16+ hours a day with no retirement, benefits or any way to save for old age. No matter how many had the admirable, hard-working and saving attitude you present above, it simply couldnt be done. So, they unionized. Hence was born the middle class. And things got a whole lot better.

Today the middle class is under attack from rich corporations and banksters (this commonly happens in economic downturns so says my google search). More in wages, benefits and public services for the employees means less $ to line their pockets. Corporations & banksters don’t want their own face on the attack, and they own the big media, so they’ve made public service sector employees the enemy. As if your neighborhood librarian or your kindergarten teacher is among the privilaged class. Some people really are buying this nonsense that the traffic cop and the DMV workers are to blame for their uncomfortable state of joblessness or lack of comparable future retirement security.

There are just a few ways the Exxons, BOFA’s and the Haliburtons of America can make more money when it comes to employees:

Cut your wages (pay cuts or ship jobs to other lower wage nations)

Cut your benefits (health care and retirement)

Cut your public services (either by tax loopholes so they don’t have to pay for any services, yet use them, or by attack campaigns aimed at limiting services)

The data shows that Public and Private sector employees in California are dead even when it comes to combining wages and benefits for comparison. Also a google search which brought up the original study. It was illuminating to me.

So I guess neither is particularly privilaged. In reality, this grieving widow is being villified for a pension that was at least partly self funded and whose retirement will be spent without her greatest companion by her side, and on the presumption that she will get 100% of it, which according to other posts may not be accurate at all – that it may be something closer to 55%.

Did anybody hear that Goldman Sachs is paying out $16.2 billion in bonuses this year? This means every GS employee could purchase three “Kill Bank Reform” tv ads, since now, thanks to the recent Supreme Court decision, there is no limit to how much money corporations can spend on advocacy campaigns.

By the way, that bonus would average to $500,000 per GS employee this year alone, on top of salary and other benefits. But of course, it doesn’t work that way, since just a few at the top will make nearly all of it and those at the middle and bottom will get nearly none of it.

How can we compete with all of this when we’ve turned our librarians into enemies of the state at the subversive will of powerful corporations and rich policy makers? and no amount of reason or common sense can seem to stop the masses from trying to make enemies of each other.

The elite keep power and control by encouraging the rest of us to fight each other. It’s working. The gap between rich and poor, just got even bigger since you started reading this post.

peace my friends

In your angst to get to the hysteria that I was attacking you, you forgot how to read. I stated in my response PEOPLE who buy t.v.s, cars etc. I never said you. Go back and reread post. Also used the word THEY. This was a generalization of society and how we are living. And before you comment about the stop wasting your time etc statement, that was ment to be a general statement. Sorry if that wasn’t clear from the way that the rest of the post was. I just figured that most people were smart enough to understand the point.

Thanks for the clarification. I went back and re-read your post with the “general” filter you say was meant, and fair enough, I see you didn’t mean this personally.

I understand the point that you are making, which if I hear you correctly is that there has been rampant over-consumption and debt accumulation.

It seems logical to me. Today, many people find themselves in difficult circumstances with underwater homes, large mortgages and oppressive credit card debt all contributing to fear about their current and future life quality prospects.

Agreed that there must be some personal responsibility for these circumstances, if indeed they were due to over-purchasing. However, deregulation of the banking, financial industry and wallstreet is what lead us into this mess by providing a safe haven for their greed to run amuck completely unchecked. Similar environments have been allowed for big corporations.

In order to make their money back after the crash, these industries borrowed from tax payers and then spun their web once again, gambling in the financial markets. Now they are all paying out multi-million dollar bonuses to those at the top once again to fuel the same system of greed – WHILE laying off regular employees at the same time they are making money.

We will pay for this again if we can’t work together to control them. And how can we when there are average people turning on school teachers and firefighters because financial moguls are fooling us into thinking that public services are what bankrupted the system? How can the middle class get ahead when people are fighting to lower the bar of acceptable treatment in wages and benefits for everyone but the uber-rich and their powerful policy & lobbying machines.

As for corporations, a grim fact of the recession is that it pays to lay people off and we just excuse it away as, oh they had to do it.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, a recent IPS study found the following disturbing trend: “.. 36 of the 50 layoff leaders “announced their mass layoffs at a time of positive earnings reports, suggesting a trend of ‘squeezing workers to boost profits and maintain high CEO pay.'”

Layoff KINGS Annual Salary Friends laid off

Verizon’s Ian Seideberg $17 million; 39,000

United technologie’s Louis Chenevert – $17 million ; 13,290

Ford’s Alan Mullaly – $17 million; 4,700

WalMart’s Michael Duke – $19 million; 13, 350

AT’s Randal Stephenson- $20 million; 12,300

IBM’s Samuel Palmisano – $21 million; 7,800

Walt Disney’s Robert Iger – $21 million; 3,400

HP’s Mike Hurd – $24 million; 47, 000

Johnson & Johnson’s William Weldon – $25 million, 8,900

Shering-Plough pharma’s Fred Hassan – $49 million, 16,000

Companies that have laid off the MOST people since recession began:

General Motors: 107, 357

Citigroup: 73,056

Hewlett-Packard: 47,540

Circuit City: 41,495

Merrill Lynch: 40,650

Verizon: 39,000

Pfizer: 31,771

Merck & Co: 24,400

Lehman Bros: 23,340

Caterpillar: 23, 024

JPMorgan Chase: 22.852

Starbucks: 21,316

…..the list goes on and on. reference DailyFinance AOL

This system and problem was not created by the public sector. But it was promoted by the government through deregulation and total and complete lack of oversight at their greedy practices aimed at making an ultra-elite class of citizenry, including the industry & organizations that fuel them, who operate outside the boundaries of decency and the human spirit of cooperation and public good. This doesn’t’ mean that everything needs to be totally equally fair across the board, but the system sure needs to be a whole lot fairer if one man paid $21 million dollars a year can wipe out the lives of 47,000 Americans in order to boost profits for the already rich and maintain his own position of excessive comparative pay.

I do see some common ground here. I agree that banks got lazy in their oversight of loans. I have to admit that I do defend business but one I do agree with you on is the laying off of people to make it look like profits are up. I just saw a month or two ago that investors are starting to finally punish (through investing) companies that cook the books to make the picture look better. They want to see REAL profits and not profits through attrition.

Also a reality to captilism is finding balance. We (the people) want big business to pay their fair share. Which they should but if you start gouging to much like the state of California has a tendancy to do, then they flee the state to other states or overseas.

We have to find balance of having them pay but not going crazy either or then we all lose. We have lost (U.S.) cruise lines to overseas. I don’t think there is one left (except offices) in this country, for tax reasons.

Or if a person wants a real shocker, read the article last week that while many a U.S. corp is paying an average of 36% tax, Google through off shore moves through Ireland and the Netherlands to Bermuda, payed only 2% last year. Hell that even makes me made when I have paid between 28%-35% as a small business. It is called the Double Irish.

What was amazing is that this past in the news with hardly an outcry. Why?

Anyway I think you get what I am saying. I think that this excess in the private sector along with that of Gov. is a combination of problems that will continue to dog this country, till more people see what is going on.

It would be nice when investors see the sum of a company is the C.E.O. as well as all the people under them that makes for a successful business. It use to be that way till about 30 years ago.

Outstanding. I completely agree with everything you’ve said here.

Small and medium sized business pay more than their fare share of taxes -as do many citizens.

As you noted above Google taxes 2.4%

GE taxes in 2008 – 5.3%

Chevron taxes in the US 2009 .11% (yes one-tenth of a percent)

Exxon: no income taxes paid in the US

Bank of America : NO income taxes paid on $4.4 billion in income!

Ford Motor – 2.2% 2009

HP – 18.4% – higher than those above, but far lower than the rate of the average person

Verizon – 10.5%

IBM – only 12.5% in the US

Citigroup – TAX FREE for now and many years into the future

Boeing – 23%

Valero gas – No taxes

It’s estimated that fully 1/3 of big corporations pay zero tax on an average earnings of over $100 billion in profits. Many generate so many rebates credits and loopholes (which are actually rampant in California for big businesses) that they receive tax rebate CHECKS. Please can I pay less than zero tax? Where do I sign up to get that check.

Funny, many of these big multi-nationals claim that high 35% tax rates are the reason they aren’t doing more business and bringing jobs back to the US. They say if they are given a tax holiday, than they would do so. How can we give them more of a tax holiday than money back?

I say good riddance. You want to move all of your manufacturing and production overseas, do most of your operations overseas, pay cheaper taxes in over seas – fine. Sell your products to people in those countries. One way to clean up this mess would be to shift our purchasing power toward companies that are truly hiring American workers and paying American taxes.


Trekin, I have truly enjoyed reading your every post and your rhetorical skills are quite sharp. Thank you for taking part in this discussion

Olegoucho- thanks for the kind words of support!

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but the city of normally SLO pays both the employee’s share of the pension as well as the city’s. So for the time Chief Callahan was working for the city of SLO, he wasn’t contributing to his pension.

You are correct, none of the employees pay their portion of PERS (retirement contribution). The City has paid the employee’s share for years. In addition, the City pays insurance in a amount equal to the family plan coverage amount. I think the general unit employees get about $1000 a month toward insurance for themselves and family members. If they don’t use it they get this money paid back to them OUTSIDE the term salary. City Manager, Finance Director and other department heads also retire with full paid medical insurance for life – not the other employees which is odd since they are the ones least able to pay it…

Well I can’t speak for others but I happen to love my job. As a person who is self employed and pays these peoples taxes, I have every right to bitch, gripe or whatever you want to call it, when it is MY taxes. If you don’t like mine or someone elses post, read the main story and skip the responces. Who is making you read them???? Probably you. So why are you complaining???

Jay —

Unless you click the “DONATE NOW” button once in awhile, I am not sure there’s any reason that we’re going to miss you.

LOL! Don’t worry. I only donate money to worthy causes…like firefighter associations and police associations….and oh yeah, cancer.

I realize it is difficult for non-service oriented (eg:fire & police) professions to grasp and appreciate what the life of a police officer or firefighter is like. . .the sacrifices not only made by the police or firefighter, but by their families, day in and day out, are tremendous. Every tiime they walk out the door, may be the last time you ever see them alive, while they go out to do their job protecting YOU. and to serve in that capacity for over 30+ years? it will definitely take a toll on your health.

How many people now a days stay with one agency/job for over 30 years? not many.

Why do retirees from larger agencies (LA) take a chief position in smaller communities (SLO) ? I will tell you why…they are not quite ready to “hang it up” – and they have way too much job experience and information to pass along to the younger officers/firefighters of a smaller agency who would probably never be exposed to some of the things the “retiree” could teach them.

$170,000 pension? and you think Chief Callahan didn’t earn that? Yes, he did. Here’s something you probably DON’t know…upon his demise, his wife does NOT receive 100% of that pension. It’s more like 55% (City of LA) of that figure, taxable. The biggest loss, heartache and disappointment is that Chief Callahan and his wife will not get to enjoy the lifetime fruits of his labor and the family’s lifetime sacrifice.

So, here’s the deal. Any one of you critics have the same opportunity to earn a pension as “sweet” as Chief Callahan’s . All it takes is a 30 year commitment to one agency like the City of Los Aneles; put your life on the line everytime the alarm sounds; spend days and sometimes weeks away from your family whilst you are out fighting fires; miss your kids’ important sports games, school activities;

work Christmas and Thanksgiving and all other holidays; when you do have a day off, you get called into work anyway. etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, ad infinitum. Then you decide you could enhance the department of a small community like SLO and take on another commitment. Then you die. Not so sweet anymore, is it?

So if you don’t have a clue about what your are talking about : SHUT UP !

Yet like SLO police captain Parkinson says, “You must follow the letter of the law.”

I completely understand the reason for the department pursuing the additional benefit, and I would never presume to understand fully the health effects both short and long-term of rank and file firefighters or their leadership, the fact remains that this benefit appears to have been pursued in a clandestine manner.

If the public safety department felt that Chief Callahan’s heirs deserved the benefit despite the restrictions in the code, it would be a simple manner to persuade the council and public that this is a proper action, and to place a resolution up for a vote. I suspect that such a resolution would have much support.

That the department (and city administration) did not pursue a public course reinforces the impression of an us-vs-them mentality. That’s not good for anybody.

I hear what you are saying, and I respect your position.

I see the sacrifices slightly differently, however, based on a family member who is a fire captain.

He works two 24-hour shifts, and that is his workweek. Then he has five full days of time for kids’ athletics, etc. He works in a major city and rarely dashes into burning buildings — that is simply not what the bulk of the calls are.

Yes, he has to BE PREPARED TO MAKE life-and–death decisions everyday, but the fact of the matter is, he does not actually have to MAKE those types of decisions very often.

I’m just sayin’ …

You make important points. Being a firefighter in Downtown Chicago **IS** different than being one in Downtown SLO and the pay should reflect that.

Cut the SLO City firefighters’ salaries by 30% and there would still be a line of qualified individuals waiting to vie for their jobs. They’re getting overpaid due to crummy unions and local politics were ALL public servants are getting FAT from gorging at the taxpayer’s trough…

“So if you don’t have a clue about what your are talking about : SHUT UP !”

Well let me help you with your clue about what you are talking about. Here is a link for you.


It is the 20 most dangerous jobs in America. While firefighting and police are on the list they don’t even crack the top 10. They come in at 12 and 13. The top is fishermen who puts food on your table. Second is loggers who put a roof over your head.

My point is that I, as I think others, appreciate what firefighting and police due, just as much as any other profession. Why should these two be held up so high? Yes they save our lives and they are paid for doing a job. Just like the others on this list.

The heros to me are the guy who comes upon a car wreck and pulls a person out of a burning car. The guy that tackles a person robbing someone. These are not professionals and yet put there life on the line for no compensation what so ever.

Back to the list. Out of all the dangerous jobs WHY are Police and Firefighters compensated the most? And save the doing God’s work. I have know many a person waiting to be firefigters, who love doing it so much that they volunteered for nothing. Not that they shouldn’t be compensated but save me that there is no one else willing to do this work for less. This is the bill of B.S. that has been sold to people to believe and if you say anything against your a bad person. Well guess what? That doesn’t wash with the people that get it.

While I understand firefighters indeed put their life on the line, they are also well compensated and the risk is known going in. Everybody has to make sacrifices in their later years of life to accomadate the rigors their profession has wrought on them. For somebody with a heart condition and a previous heart attack, the choice of playing softball might not be the wisest. Knowing that the profession has inherent lasting physical problems, why retire and then get another job in the same position? Why not live out your life leisurely with the substantial pension? That he planned on retiring as soon as his 5 year commitment was served tells me he was simply going for more pension and not simply imparting his wisdom on younger firemen.

So no one is complaining about the pension from LA (thou they should) The issue is paying out $84,000 a year for X years for 4 years of service in SLO on a bogus claim. Part of the reason our systems (workers comp, pensions, Social security) are failing is that people cheat on them. This is just another case of someone trying to cheat the system. And don’t give me the great sacrifice bit, not in SLO county, the bigger cities maybe, but not in SLO.

What is a day of your life worth? A year of your life? One good night’s sleep? Or twenty years worth of dream filled, slumbering nights?

Have you ever followed a group of firefighters making calls? Watched them jump into flames of burning homes to save human lives? Have you ever watched them come off the line of a wild fire having not slept sometimes for days, beaten, exhausted, vacant stared, burned, bruised, scraped, some with lungs coated with the excruciating burn of fire-stoked poison oak? Ever seen how their children and spouses suffer when they are gone from home for sometimes months at a time battling dangerous wildland fires?

What about all the nights, at least three a week, that their children and families must do without them because their duty is full-time, 24-hour service to the community? “Taking care of their own?” Really what an absurd quote to use for this ridiculously slanted piece; this one of dozens of unveiled attempts to foster widespread public service hatred with truly biased reporting. Firefighters take care of their own every single day. This includes the public before their very own families, and yes, they must take care and protect each other, because their brothers and sisters on the force are the ones who keep them alive everyday.

Studies indicate that firefighters live 10 fewer years on average across the lifecourse as a result of their high stress, high risk public service jobs.

They experience cumulative health risks for every day in their jobs that they are awakened several times a night to rush out and take care of others, people who desperately need someone’s help.

And the fact that this series of articles tries to make it seem as if his heart attack could be completely unrelated to his job, shows that the author knows nothing about heart disease and the cumulative affects that their jobs have on contributing higher mortality and illness, or maybe the author knows this, but presumes we the readers don’t so we could be easily fooled by the excessive slant of the piece. CalCoast, I thought you started this paper to give balanced reporting in response to the Tribune’s unbalanced reporting. What gives here?

Before you make the wrong assumption, dear reader, I’m neither a firefighter nor related or mated to one. I didn’t know this man or any of his family. I’m just an average citizen who is glad they are around. I’m a taxpayer too, no really a taxpayer, I don’t claim a thousand deductions, unemployment or welfare, so please believe me when I say, I don’t like waste either. Tax waste gets my ire up just like everyone else. We should get rid of such waste. But this man died too early in his life as a result of the high stress and danger of his job. His family is entitled. And we should keep in mind that this man and his salary are far from representative of what firefighters earn. Making these kinds of overgeneralizations dishonest and frankly mean to the hardworking people who don’t deserve such witch hunt mentality and slanted reporting.

His grieving widow would probably pay all that money and more just to have him back for a single day. I thank her for the service that her husband gave with his life and that her family gave every day to the citizens of this county and this state.


My god trekin. You must be another welfare state employee on the dole. What a crock. your eyes must be brown.

Firefighters have become downright greedy i their sense of entitlement. Not just in compensation. How is the public served by someone on a 72 hour shift? Just so they can have enough time off to maintain a second career (such as contractor, former SLO Fire Chief Nuemann was a contractor all the while of beng chief.) Then of course they go out on “disability” making their retirements tax exempt.