-By James Geissinger, President of the Berkeley Fire Fighters Association
Time is short now to clear up some misinformation that’s crept into Berkeley’s political scene since the Berkeley Fire Fighters’ and Police Officers’ Associations both enthusiastically endorsed Sophie Hahn for District 5 councilmember.
Word’s going around that we’re backing Sophie in return for specific promises that she’s made us (but won’t, in fact, be able to keep).
There’s simply no hidden agenda. Sophie has undertaken—and pledged to continue—to devote time and effort to understanding firsthand the roles that public safety officers play in our community. That’s all: no promises sought or given.
Another dubious claim: that firefighters and police officers shifted their allegiance to Sophie because her opponent champions compensation reform—including raising employee pension contribution rates and cutting salaries.
- Police Officers have already signed a contract shouldering a greater share (12% of salary) of their own pension costs, and establishing a new, less generous second-tier retirement plan (3% @ 55).
- Two years ago now, recognizing that no-one gains from sinking the City further in fiscal quicksand, Berkeley firefighters signed a contract freezing salaries & benefits throughout its 2-year term.
- And in any case, recent California state legislation mandates a two-tier retirement system providing even lower benefits than the police contract (2.7% @ 57). The new plan automatically takes effect for public employees—including firefighters and police officers— hired on or after January 1, 2013.
Please try to sift the fact from fiction when you cast your vote. Unfounded rumors such as these offend not only the candidate but all of us public servants who support her, too.
The truth is that no one in District 5 understands the fiscal challenges Berkeley faces in meeting our community’s needs, better than Sophie Hahn. Her track record in the community and our school system proves her ability to bring together all stakeholders in a shared decision-making process, establishing clear priorities firmly based on strong common values.
We urge you to consider getting to know and voting for Sophie Hahn, District 5 City Councilmember.