Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
Published: Monday, Aug. 27, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

The police officers and firefighters we taxpayers employ to protect us are, sad to say, bullies in the political realm.

Their unions trade on their status as “first responders,” their power to grant campaign endorsements and their ability to raise and disburse campaign contributions to demand extraordinary political favors.

A case in point was the incredibly generous retirement benefits that legislators and then-Gov. Gray Davis gave so-called “safety members” in 1999 – 90 percent of their salaries after 30 years, plus lifetime health care.

Local governments felt compelled to match the state’s benefits, and soaring retiree costs now figure prominently in their fiscal woes, including three city bankruptcy filings.

The current legislative session demonstrates anew the fire and police unions’ clout in an election year.

Take, for example, what happened when Speaker John A. Pérez proposed union-backed legislation to sweeten the pension pot for police and firefighters even more.

Assembly Bill 2451 doubles a 4 1/2-year statute of limitations on death benefits from some diseases presumed in law – another giveaway – to be job-related, such as cancer.

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