Government Spending

Matt Welch on WBAL at 3:35 EDT to Talk California Politics


I'll be on Ron Smith's great show on Bal-more's 1090 AM, luxuriating in the glorious mess that is my native state. You can listen live (all day, if you want!) at this link.

In the meantime, another fun story of Golden State political dysfunction:

Scraping by on $37,000 a month in taxpayer money

Los Angeles Councilman Bernard Parks, City Hall's budget committee chief who is warning that soaring payroll and pension costs threaten the city's financial stability, receives $22,000 a month in city retirement benefits, in addition to his $178,789 a year salary, records and interviews show.

A former Los Angeles Police Department chief who served 38 years on the force, Parks operates in a sensitive political role, heading the key council panel that has grappled with a recession-driven $530-million budget shortfall.

While collecting one of the city's biggest pensions—about $265,000 per year—plus a hefty city salary, he has overseen a contentious debate about which services and jobs to cut.

"I don't discuss my salary or my pension and I earn both of them," Parks said in a brief phone conversation.

Jon Entine scared us all about the impending pension nightmare back in February.

NEXT: The real winner in California : You!

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  1. Wow! I had no idea Matt Welch was a black suit.

  2. Yo, fuck Bernard Parks.

  3. I have a soft spot for Bernard Parks.

    He’s honest, and we can’t have enough of that.

    He has rare moments of understanding of the principles of fiscal conservatism.

    When he says “I earn both of them” he is being letter-true in the sense that he is entitled to them under contractual terms.

    He was a credit to the LAPD whose difficult reforms helped set the stage for the more effective force we see today. (And while his absurd sniping at Bratton is not excusable, it is understandable given his own treatment at the city’s hands.)

    And if you’ve ever met Bernie Jr. you’ll know that every penny the father earns will be the last income the family will ever see. So I’m not begrudging him his perks.

  4. Sorry, Tim, it’s a reflex.

  5. I earned my social security benefits too.

    I wonder who’s going to get means-tested out of their earned money first – a middle class wage slave like myself or a public servant getting paid 3x as much like Mr. Parks.

    And since pensions and social security are pyramid plans, the word “earned” is highly suspicious in both instances.

  6. Why in the figgity fuck does that pencil-pusher make so much money? He makes more money than the cardiologists at my hospitals.

  7. In theory, if he so wished, he could personally save the jobs of a half-dozen teachers by foregoing his pension, and living on the income from his day job.

    I wonder of that has ever occurred to him.

  8. That is just amazing. To put this in perspective, the federal pension system if very generous. Even under it, a retired four star general, of which there are like 20 in all of DOD, gets less than 100K a year in retirement. You can be General Patreus and win fucking war in Iraq and you still will get half the retirement that some police chief gets.

  9. “You can be General Patreus and win fucking war in Iraq and you still will get half the retirement that some police chief gets.”

    Forget it, Jack, it’s Chinatown

  10. Please elaborate, Tim. I’m not sure if we’ve ever met.


  11. “every penny the father earns will be the last income the family will ever see.”

    What? Are they all on fucking welfare?

  12. What a disgusting excuse of a human being.

  13. A pension of $265,000 a year?? Sorry, I don’t care if he’s a combination of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, that’s just obscene for any government employee.

  14. You can be General Patreus and win fucking war in Iraq and you still will get half the retirement that some police chief gets.

    If General Patreus was too stupid to get a Union Job, then that’s his fucking problem.

  15. Bernard Jr., if that is really you, we have met in person at least twice and spoken on the phone at least thrice. I was working as an editorial writer, op-ed editor and web guy at the L.A. Times and you were doing whatever it is you do in your father’s office. That you don’t remember me is not surprising, as I always found you to be unresponsive and unhelpful.

  16. he’s a thief

  17. Oh yeah, you’re the guy who rode with us during the bus tour of our district. After you noticed how many stores had security bars on the windows, you asked if the store owners put the bars on the windows for “cultural reasons”.

    You’re right. From that comment alone, I should have remembered you. It might also explain why I may have been unresponsive and unhelpful.

    Apparently, I’ve been on your mind a lot. But, it’s funny how during our few conversations, you never quite found enough courage to mention your criticisms to my face. But, I suppose it is easier to find bravery when you don’t think anyone is looking.

    For future reference, when taking a cheap shot at somebody, you should be understandable and at least funny. Good luck adding both of those items(and possibly some guts) to your repertoire.


  18. A pension of $265,000 a year??

    It probably works like this.

    After 35 years on the force, his base wage was already pretty good, possibly justifiably so. Then, for the last three years he is offered all of the overtime he can handle. Even though he is a senior officer, he’ll do OT work, like writing traffic tickets, that any rookie office could be doing. (Whether traffic tickets should be written on OT is another question all together.) Besides having one hell of a good last three years salary, when Parks retired his retirement income is based on a percentage of his last three years income and is indexed to some cost-of-living index. The young officers are ok with the older officers pinching all of the overtime because they know when it is their turn, it will be their turn.

  19. I could not come up with the correct search terms to find a link as a reference, but a number of years ago (less than 10) an Anne Arundel County, MD fire chief/captain was caught pumping the OT pay up of his fire fighters, especially his near retirement fire fighters, for the reasons I noted in my previous post.

    The fire chief/captain got into hot water, the depth I can’t remember, not because he was pumping the last three year wages up on the near retirement fire fighters, but because he crossed operational funds with maintenance funds. He had his fire fighters doing firehouse maintenance chores that should have been done by lower paid maintenance workers with maintenance funds using county funds that had been allocated to an operational fund.

    The fire chief/captain’s sin was not pilfering the retirment fund and taxpayers, but mixing the “color” of the money and upsetting the county’s budgeting process.

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