Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Alaska GOP Chairman Peter Goldberg Under Fire For Implying That Police And Firefighters' Jobs "Not Dangerous", Later Clarifies His Remarks

Alaska Republican Party Chairman Peter Goldberg is not very popular among Republican insurgents who still harbor a flickering mancrush for dethroned ex-chairman Russ Millette, and on October 22nd, 2013, he gave them and the Democratic Party grist for their propaganda mills when he sent an email to Anchorage Assemblyman Bill Starr in which he implied that the jobs of local police and firefighters were "not dangerous". Goldberg was attempting to influence the Assembly not to repeal AO-37, the controversial labor law which has aroused ire among the public sector unions, and KFQD conservative radio host Casey Reynolds obtained a copy. He posted the text of the email on his show's Facebook page, and here's a screenshot of the pertinent portion:

Obviously, Goldberg was speaking comparatively. Local police, both active and retired, are paid far more than their military counterparts. The Alaska Policy Forum maintains a database on the salaries of all Municipality of Anchorage employees, to include police and firefighters, and the number of cops with six-figure earnings (not counting benefits) is in the dozens. Furthermore, local police do not have to deploy to combat zones and don't have to worry about driving over an IED without notice; I can't remember the last time an IED was found buried in one of Anchorage's streets. Being that Goldberg is a retired Army colonel, I would think he possesses more than passing expertise on the subject. And Goldberg wasn't some "REMF", either; one of his billets involved overseeing an international force trying to bring peace to Kosovo in 2005.

As usual, Alaska Dispatch adds much more to the story. According to them, while the average national salary for a police officer is $55,010, the starting salary in Anchorage is $64,251. The top-paid patrol officer earns $126,442 -- not counting overtime, which Goldberg said is about equal that of a brigadier general in the U.S. Army. This is merely a direct comparison of respective salaries and does not include "benefits".

Nevertheless, this did not deter the Alaska Democratic Party and organized labor figures from criticizing Goldberg. In a press release, Democrats predictably called upon the Alaska GOP leadership, including Sean Parnell, Mead Treadwell, Joe Miller, and Dan Sullivan, to denounce Goldberg’s comments and call on him to apologize to Alaska’s police and firefighters. But Reynolds, albeit a conservative, also jumped on Goldberg, accusing him of going off the deep end. Consequently, Goldberg clarified his remarks on October 23rd, admitting that there is certainly an element of danger to serving as a police officer or firefighter. Goldberg also made it clear he was not speaking for the GOP on this issue. But he stands by his basic premise that municipal salaries are too high and he insists that not only do average military police officers earn less than municipal police officers, but are still more likely to get hurt. And many military police are actually assigned to security rather than traditional law enforcement; when I was in the Air Force, we told prospective enlistees interested in becoming security police that they should specifically enlist for the law enforcement career field if they wanted to do traditional cop work, otherwise they'd be routed into the security specialist field and be assigned to guard missile silos in Wyoming.

Reaction: Alaska AFL-CIO President Vince Beltrami lit into Goldberg on Facebook. Indulging his penchant for class warfare, Beltrami wrote "Will Alaska republicans tolerate this type of 'leadership' ?? The 'Colonel' says police and fire are overpaid and their jobs aren't dangerous? Does he think the salaries of Sullivan's supporters are absurd? Do you think any of these co-hosts (bankers, oil & gas executives, and a telecomm CEO) make less than the highest paid cop or firefighter? Doubtful. At least one of them made $1.25 million last year, and the greatest physical threat any one of them faced was the potential of a paper cut".

One lady defended Goldberg on Facebook. Kathy Fish Sleen wrote, "The culture of over-respect of police and fire is real and can be dangerous. They should not be set above the average in the community or they become as overlords and then attract people who are hungry for power. There is science behind the position of police in a community. I don't think someone should be afraid to or intimidated out of discussing it. Police have become powerful gangs in some community's history and possibly currently in some areas". While this may not apply so much to Anchorage police, the abuse of police power continues to grow in other parts of the country, with an upsurge in erroneous SWAT raids and outright theft disguised as "asset forfeiture".

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