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.

16 Comments

    • Actually Wayne it very secintly sumarizes the atticle and the state of this community’s leadership both at TPD and the Cuty Clowncily.

      • To each his own but besides my own opinion I look at it this way: You can leave out scatological references / profanity from a media publication and those who don’t mind will still enjoy the article. Out of those who find it distasteful, some will simply drift away from reading the publication. I won’t unless it becomes a regular practice.

        One side: lose some. Other side, lose none.

        I see bad business decisions every day and do what I can to help and express my own opinion, but nobody is obligated to not drive away business.

        • Wayne,

          We appreciate the input. We happen to agree and will work to keep the scatological references to a minimum. It was too easy to do it on this story, and we – quite frankly – need to have a little fun now and then with all the wonderful news we publish every day.

          ED

  1. Pension promises and benefits have bankrupted this community. “What’s left in your wallet?”

    The left.

  2. The Union comment about switching to better PD salaries in Mesa and Scottsdale is a hokey. A $45K salary in Tucson has the same buying power as a $54,600 salary (~$55K) in Scottsdale according to the cost-of-living comparison calculator I checked. Therefore, no difference in equivalent standard of living.

    This buyback should be eliminated. They aren’t using it for the purpose it was intended…paid leave when you or your immediate family member is sick. Use or lose this time like the Private industry and then you’ll be on the same footing as the rest of us.

  3. What could have been beneficially done in this town if the $265,506 taken by these 10 individuals in sick leave for days not sick would have been used to further other needs this town clearly has? Pothole fixing, public health/free vaccinations, literacy and drug rehab services, job training, road median tree trimming and cleanup….

    • If nothing else it could have been used to add 5 more officers to the streets. The problem is like eveything else once they have theirs all they care about is increasing their share. They are not unterested in being community service providers. Like all othe unions its all about the money. Government unions are the curse of this country. It used to be government jobs were attractive because of security now it is because they earn more than the private sector.

  4. Kozachik is an idiot, no doubt about that, but selling back unused sick leave is just as moronic. I never had a job where this was a benefit. Yes, selling back unused vacation is usually a possibility in a benefits package but not sick time. That’s just ridiculous so why not put a stop to it? Grandfather those who hold positions now and all new recruits follow the new policy of use it or lose it sick time. Seems simple to me but then again I’m not a politician.

  5. Just a symptom of the problem here in this dusty little cow town where the politicians have sold their souls to the “unions” for their support. And silly me, here I thought AZ was a right to work state. Guess not. Lets see what we got now. Unfunded pension mandates that will only get worse that no one wants to address. Anyone look at what’s happening in Detroit and how it got that way? The trolley and its cost and maintenance as well as a very limited ridership. No raise in public transportation fees cause the poor wouldn’t be able to afford it and the list goes on. Just more of the same from the dying town of Tucson, AZ. soon to be bankrupt and unable to pay bonds, pensions, etc. But what the hell, lets just kick the can down the road here in Baja, AZ, its always been done that way. You must be so proud.

  6. … what concerns you more, the actions of the criminals – or the actions of the police and government? The clear and present danger with greater impact seems to be the growing menace of the police state… effecting all – TPD now on duty ‘to serve and collect’

  7. What’s wrong with the TPD union requesting public information (off duty)? NOTHING! Why are they asking for it? To show the people the disparity of pay between the councilman and the TPD officers who haven’t received a pay increase for some time now. Furthermore, COT clowncil members seem to find money for idiotic adventures rather than paying Tucson’s police officers and firefighters competitive wages, or giving them raises. $500,000/year for a Cesar Chavez holiday to celebrate his support for immigration. The problem is we all know that the clowncil means ILLEGAL immigration. Ironic, Chavez detested illegal aliens.

    The only thing that is wrong here is clowncilman Kozachik

  8. “When cops start “investigating” our elected representatives the welfare of the residents is at risk”

    Yeah, not so sure I agree with that conclusion… There’s nothing wrong with a union investigating the compensation of a public official who has put a target symbol the compensation of our public safety officers.

    It is especially appropriate to call his own compensation into question once it was disclosed that Kozachik’s employer offers a similar sick leave buyback program.

  9. Before you blame everyone for the bad few take a look around. City employees on average make less then their no city counterparts. Our benefits package (excluding the retirement) is on par with the private sector even worse when compared to Raytheon, Costco and other large companies that take care of their employees. Some of the Unions in this city agree that the police and fire packages are expensive. Our retirement package pays just slightly better than Social Security and costs us between 5%-7%, it changes year to year. To change over to a 401k style package would require either breaking a contract with all current employees or going broke when their are no longer any employees paying into it.

    Ignorance klls

  10. Give me a break! The COT has overspent it’s underpaid citizens income, NOT helped bring good jobs to Tucson, and then taxed the bujeebers out of them. The truth hurts.

    Fix the **** potholes.

    • Not arguing about the councils pet projects. Just saying quite blaming all the unions and the employees. Union employees are part of the tax base as well. We get very upset with the bureaucracy, too many overpaid management, scratch my back contracts. I was born and raised in Tucson. I remember when we had nice parks, when the improvements would actually help the citizens of Tucson. I want it back.

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