Townsend Uncovers Fullerton’s Overtime Racket

Register reporter Adam Townsend dropped a bomb early this morning with an in-depth report on Fullerton’s astounding overtime costs.

The report summarizes the $3,000,000 spent on overtime last year, listing the top 102 overtime earners (view the Register’s list). Among them, a paramedic named Timothy Hartinger worked the most overtime in 2009 with 1,160 hours at time and a half pay, bringing his total earnings to a glorious $138,117.

Notably, these wage figures do not include an additional 33% in pension contributions or thousands of dollars in health insurance premiums for public safety union members.

Naturally, the overcompensated fire and police union members came up at the top of the list and made their best efforts to deflect criticism with emotional falsities. One fireman played the classic union card, repeating the claim that he would die 10 years earlier because his job is so dangerous. Nice try pal, but CalPERS actuarials have proven that public safety employees live just as long as everybody else.

FFFF favorite Jack Dean made his way into the report, saying “Considering the unemployment situation, it doesn’t appear to be right that there’s so much overtime when so many people are unemployed,” concluding “there appears to be something wrong with this structure.” Something wrong, indeed.

Even the city manager got in on the fun when asked about minimum staffing for firefighters, which significantly boosts their expensive overtime pay. “The provision is there because of the union. If I had my preference, I’d do away with it, but it’s sacred to the firefighters,” said Chris Meyer.

We’ve been hard on Register reporter Adam Townsend in the past, but it’s great to see that there’s still some life left in the Register’s local coverage. It takes a little bit of courage to rock the boat of public safety employees, and hopefully we’ll see more of this in the future.

29 Replies to “Townsend Uncovers Fullerton’s Overtime Racket”

  1. “Hartinger said police and paramedics are frustrated over public anger about their high wages. He said members of the public have approached firefighters directly and complained, and the chief fields angry calls about it.

    It’s gotten to the point, he said, that when stopping at the grocery store to stock the fire station, he’ll park the fire engine all the way at the back end of the parking lot to avoid attention.”


    1. As opposed to obnoxiously parking his engine in the fire lane right in front of the store. Gee, what a nice guy.

  2. Poor heroes have to walk all that way. But it gives them a good appetite to go back and eat a good juicy steak before they take their afternoon nap. I wish I could do that. Well, I guess that’s why they make the big bucks while we have to watch our squad cars thru the donut shop window.

  3. Adam is going to have a hard time getting scoops from inside city hall from now on.

    That’s probably why Giasone would never have touched a story like this. When you’ve made a career out of reprinting whatever the city PR hack says, there is too much at stake to risk pissing them off.

    Well done, Adam.

  4. A case could be made for the notion that the ONLY TIME that a fireman (Oh gosh, I mean fireperson) was actually “working” is when they are actually specifically engaged in fighting a FIRE (paramedic biz should be 100% privatized).

    Under such a definition of “working” if applied to firemen, these guys would NEVER work one minute of “overtime” in their entire careers.

    Rather than spend more time on this notion, I’ll merely offer that such a system could actually easily be put into effect.

    Government employees will be seeing a lot of changes coming their way soon.

    Will there be a large demand for grief counsellors in order to console the distressed taxpayer-citizenry? Maybe not, we might just tough it out.

  5. It is mismanagement like this that makes the citizenry to demand that the organizations that mismanage and benefit from this, be legally declared bankrupt to start from scratch with a minimum level of necessary pensions, and with more firefighters hired to avoid overtime.

  6. Headline could just as well read “Fullerton’s retirement costs inflated by $3 million in overtime”. When overtime spikes retirement, then there is an incentive to work overtime. The antidote for this incentive is a no -brainer, but until some political guts are shown it is not likely to happen in any city or county. What person wants to run for City Council or other public office with the police and/or fire fighters publicly opposed to their election? Not many, most still covet those endorsements.

  7. I know of at least two, maybe three, candidates who won’t get police/fire support. That said, they need your support (and money) to win. Watch for the wolf in retirees clothes…

  8. $3 million is still cheaper than adding more bodies to make up for the coverage gaps. So, you can either whine about an overtime bill that has consistently been reduced over the past three years, or you can add more bodies and pay considerably more than $3 million. So, which will it be, geniuses?

    Oh, and I do believe they make far too much in base pay to begin with but the gist of the article was the cost of last year’s overtime is somehow a scandal.

    1. Beef, here’s the solution to your quandary: Hire firefighters at a more reasonable rate and without the obscene pensions. More jobs, more coverage and no overtime games.

  9. Shawn Nelson met with the union leaders all the time. He knew what was going on. He did nothing about it. He only kept the municipal employees from getting their enhanced retirement because of his “whistle blowing” skills. Well that is the same retirement package he recently took as a BOS. He’s a hypocrite.

    Travis you know who Big Brother was in 2009. He watches you and you watch him.

  10. Nelson never voted himself a retroactive pension – or any other kind of pension for that matter. Nor did he ever swear to take the pathetic excuse for pension reform that the County offers up as an “Option.”

    You did okay by OT, didn’t you?

  11. Hey Sheep,

    I never voted for any pension plans either. Whatever was given to the fire and police was approved by the City Council. They could have easily said “No” and sent them to impasse. Why didn’t they? Because your boy Norby wanted the fire and police to be his buddy. He didn’t want to piss them off. Why? I don’t know. So go talk to that maniac in Sacamento and ask him what went on behind closed doors. In the mean time Nelson is taking the same benefit as “Bullhorn Nick” and his people. Of course the 401 K plan sucks and no one in their right mind would take it. If Nelson doesn’t have to take it because its so flawed then why should OCEA. I guess the BOS who approved it was as fucked up as the City Council who was sitting when Norby and his crew approved the 3%@50.

    I’m sure Norby doesn’t mind collecting his teacher pension and the one from the state and county for his time served there. So what is Norby going to be…. a triple dipper?

  12. Wow, the more time goes by, the more the F’ers just keep bleating over and over.

    Overtime does NOT count toward retirement. That false argument doesn’t hold water.

    Your hero Nelson, the “principled” man you so admire, repeatedly sought union support, and continuously claimed to support police (and fire) until 2010 when it wasn’t politically expedient.

    Nelson is a whore, plain and simple. There is NO debating that. The only thing I guess up for argument is that he’s YOUR whore. If you want him, you can have him.

  13. We could try the 3 shift some back east fire departments have. They have 3 8 hour shifts so that no one sleeps on duty? Of course you would have to have more firepersons to collect the big overinfalted salary’s. After going to “Hot Fire School” in LA County I never wanted to switch from law enforcement to fire service.

  14. My cousin who after years of college preparation and medical school earns just slightly more than these hose jockeys. She is a general practitioner and like these glorified hose jockeys is on the front line rendering medical care. Because she is employed by a health care system that renders a flat rate for her services , her overtime is never compensated by her employer. she doesn’t complain about this lack of respect for her efforts because she sincerely cares about the welfare of others. These paramedics are uneducated, greedy slobs.

  15. One must wonder how much overtime is attributed to the infamous waste known as Fullerton Fire Station No. 6.

    Those guys sit on their asses almost all day long in a nice, new fire station, occasionally responding to a traffic accident, a rare fire, or non-life threatening medical calls. Since they aren’t a paramedic unit, that means Station 4 (on Harbor Blvd. near Hermosa) busts their asses all day long covering the aging population in Sunny Hills.

    And which clowns decided on the location for Station 6? It’s closer to the city limits of Buena Park than it is to the nearest major intersection (Gilbert/Rosecrans) in Fullerton?

  16. Uneducated, van? You don’t know what education I have or any other firefighter. If you want to denigrate the profession, go ahead, but to put on an elitist attitude because you think you’re better than someone else because of a degree you think someone else doesn’t have?

  17. That kind of over time hours in unheard of in my town. Gosh, fire fighting would be the best job in the world if the income was more like what you have listed in the graph up there. They say we don’t get paid enough. Well, i guess its not true if you never quit working!

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