Kozachik, TPD union get in pissing match

kozThe members of the City of Tucson Police Department union released a statement this week saying, “Enough is Enough” in response to recent criticism from City Councilman Steve Kozachik about the sick leave sell back practice.

Kozachik is well known for pissing… people off. His brusque style and superior attitude has earned him little respect. His refusal to take responsibility for his own actions, and penchant for attacking anyone who questions him is now legendary.

So when the police union made the claim in their statement that “Councilman Steve Kozachik’s office called the Tucson Police Officers Association, yelling and screaming profanity laced threats of retribution over the loss of our endorsement of him,” few doubted it.

However, Kozachik is gaining some sympathy from the public for the tactics employed by members of the TPD employees’ union to inform the public “about the state of Public Safety employment in our community.”
Union members filed a Request for Information with the University of Arizona regarding Kozachik’s 26 year employment record as Associate Director of Athletics.

The police request was not made as part of a legitimate investigation, nor are there any known allegations of corruption or criminality made against Kozachik at this time. The request was made solely for political purposes.

The idea of law enforcement investigating an elected representative of the people for no other purpose other than political gamesmanship is chilling for many in the Tucson metropolitan area. The police are public servants not political operatives, and Kozachik is a representative of the people, doing what his constituents just recently elected him to do.

Rather than making their case to the public, for why they should receive, what some would say are exorbitant or at a least unaffordable benefits; the cops are attacking the peoples’ representative personally.

According to the union, records from the University of Arizona show, “Councilman Kozachik makes just shy of $80,000.00. Of course, that’s after the healthy raise he received in 2013. The same year he voted against City Employees receiving one. And let’s not forget his City of Tucson salary, coming in at $24,000.00. That makes a combined base salary of a staggering $104,000.00 of taxpayer funded salary, or more than double the starting pay of a Police Officer he seems so fixated on. Talk about “double dipping” and “spiking.”

According to the union’s statement, “The starting salary of a Tucson Police Officer is $45,900. That same Officer could switch to the Mesa Police Department and make $54,000, or the Scottsdale Police Department and earn nearly $55,000 and locally, Marana Police Department starts their Officers at $46,300.”

Both Kozachik and union members make more than the average school teacher and teachers. Unlike the police, teachers must be college graduates, are not paid overtime, and when they do complain about their pay, they are generally told something like “if you don’t like what you make find another job.’

According to Kozachik, the City of Tucson is going broke and one of the broken parts in the City system is the police and firefighters’ sick leave sell back practice.

According to sources, the City of Tucson spent nearly $5 million buying back unused sick days from the upper echelons of both departments over the past two years. The practice, devised by firefighter wife and former Assistant City Manager Liz Miller, provides for the opportunity to sell back sick and vacation days for cash. Miller’s husband alone sold his back for over $300,000 from accumulated sick and vacations days.

Sick leave sell back for the past two years:

NameDepartmentPositionSick Leave SoldSalary
Roberto VillasenorPolice DepartmentPolice Chief$31,914$160,974
James CritchleyFire DepartmentFire Chief$29,984$154,167
Sharon AllenConvention CenterDirector$28,669$144,390
John LeavittPolice DepartmentPolice Lt Asgn: Asst Pol Chief$27,305$136,463
Brett KleinPolice DepartmentPolice Lt Asgn: Asst Pol Chief$25,666$129,958
Kathleen RobinsonPolice DepartmentPolice Lt Asgn: Asst Pol Chief$25,394$138,125
Clayton KiddPolice DepartmentPolice Lt Asgn: Asst Pol Chief$24,442$123,284
Robert ShounPolice DepartmentPolice Lt Asgn: Police Captain$24,442$123,284
Michael GilloolyPolice DepartmentPolice Lt Asgn: Police Captain$24,196$122,512
David RidingsFire DepartmentFire Bat chief: Asst Fire Chief$23,484$118,456

The City expects to spend another $2.6 million buying back sick days this year and more for the other premium benefits totaling more than $5 million.

Of course, the union members, and their bosses like Kozachik enjoy all the perks of public employment rarely enjoyed by the owners and employees of the small private businesses that fund public employees’ salaries.

In Phoenix, the same battle is being waged against public sector employee unions by Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio. Unlike, Kozachik, DiCiccio has kept a civil tongue and has stayed above the fray, while actively informing the residents of the pension system that will lead their prospering city to financial ruin.

As a result, DiCiccio has earned wide-spread bipartisan support.

Kozachik, who should have the support of fiscal conservatives, has been so verbally abusive to them it is unlikely they will fell welcome to join his fight. So, he battles alone, while his fellow City Council members honor the promises they made to the unions in order to get re-elected.

Residents are bypassing Kozachik in their call for an end to pension spiking, and other financial tricks. They don’t want to play the sort of games Kozachik seems to enjoy, and are concerned about the tactics of the union.

Instead, they are demanding that officers be paid a wage that will allow the City to attract and retain good employees, while eliminating financial tricks. Some financial experts in the community are suggesting a 401(k) style retirement plan for all city employees.

The City of Tucson has a pension liability of well over $1 billion, and two of the largest economic drivers, Davis Monthan Air Force Base and Raytheon Missiles Systems are at grave risk.

The property and homicide crime rates seem high and morale seems to be at an all-time low.

Both Kozachik and the cops claim to be looking out for the welfare of the residents. When cops start “investigating” our elected representatives the welfare of the residents is at risk. Right now, residents say they are the only ones getting wet in this pissing match.

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