Editor’s Notes

Pub date April 27, 2010
WriterTim Redmond
SectionEditors Notes


The San Francisco Chronicle reports that there are now almost 10,000 employees with paychecks that totaled more than $100,000 last year. I can already hear the screaming: that’s close to a billion dollars! City workers are all overpaid, fat, and lazy! That’s why we have a budget crisis!

And yeah, I think it would be a lot more fair if the highest earners took the bulk of the pay cuts (5 percent for everyone in that $100K club would be $50 million a year). But Mayor Newsom wants to be sure the lowest-paid folks get their share of the hurt, so the biggest impact of his budget reductions will fall on those least able to handle it.

But I also think it’s worth looking at who these high earners really are.

Now, some of the ones at the top of the scale are political appointees. Do we really need to pay $354,000 to get someone qualified to run Muni? Is the head of the city’s Public Utilities Commission really worth $291,000? Some are getting market rate for their skills — three of the top 20 earners are doctors who work as pathologists in the Medical Examiner’s office.

But the most telling fact is that 11 of the top 20 are either cops or firefighters — and they’re collecting huge amounts of overtime. Four cops alone, all with the rank of captain or deputy chief, accounted for overtime pay totaling $588,000.

I know city employees who work at the senior management level — just like those cops — but they don’t get overtime. Neither do senior managers in most private-sector jobs. And it’s not as if these top cops are working for minimum wage; they all make around $200,000 or more as base salary. Plus they get excellent benefits and get to retire on sweet pensions.

Think of all the money and services you could save with one minor contract change: once you get to the level of captain in the SFPD, you aren’t eligible for overtime anymore.