JUST THE FACTS-I began my employment with the City of Los Angeles in December 1967. While attending college, I became as a student worker with the Los Angeles Police Department. Following that, I moved onto the Police Academy in August 1968 and continued working with the LAPD for 33 years. That’s thirty-three years on the streets of L A, working a variety of assignments including Patrol, Detectives, Traffic under cover assignments, being a Protective League Director and beyond. How do my experiences compare to the current employment situation within the City?
First of all, both salary and hard to find pension and health benefits have significantly improved over the years. Replacing comp time is cash paid for overtime. The rotary phone and typewriter were replaced by the push button phone, cellphones and computers. Instead of Liquid Whiteout, we have the backspace bar on the computer keyboard. Replacing carbon paper is a printer that will print multiple copies of a document in a variety of colors. Cars that used to lack air conditioning are now adequately equipped with dependable air conditioning.
As society has changed and advanced, so has the role of local government and the jobs and benefits that local government provides. But when is it too much? It appears that the limits have not yet been reached for LA City employees. The most recent benefit being tossed around City Hall by two councilmembers (one under an inquiry by the FBI and the other an anti-gun advocate,) is the four weeks of paid time off for maternity leave. Employees can currently use their vacation and other accumulated time to bond with their child – one month off with full pay.
As the father of two grown sons, I know the challenges of parenthood and the financial impact on the family. While it’s a nice benefit to have four weeks of full pay for those bringing that bundle of joy into the world, should the taxpayers be saddled with this added cost … a whole month of full salary? It’s something to think about when the City that just raised your water and power rates and is working on increasing the local sales tax to help provide the basic services we’ve all been paying for over the years.
I have been writing about the homeless population in Los Angeles for a number of months. Calling attention to this situation and the negative impact it has on our neighborhoods is a matter that has not seen significant improvement at City Hall. We hear about millions of dollars being directed to remedy the situation, but little, if anything, has been done. The same homeless population while empty promises to improve the situation continue to be made. In order to get a first-hand view of the matter, I will be participating in the Homeless Count on January 27 and will report my findings in a future article.
(Dennis P. Zine is a 33 year member of the Los Angeles Police Department and former Vice-Chairman of the Elected Los Angeles City Charter Reform Commission, 12 year member of the Los Angeles City Council and current LAPD Reserve Officer. He writes Just the Facts for CityWatch. You can contact him at [email protected]) Photo: Huffington Post. Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.