In 2013, the Goldwater Institute sued the City of Phoenix to stop the practice of inflating an employee’s pension. Toward the end of the employee’s career, the city allows the employee to substantially boost retirement benefits. Employees would cash in benefits such as sick leave, unused vacation time, bonuses, uniform and vehicle allowances, and any other fringe benefit, in order to inflate their salary for pension calculation.
The Goldwater Institute argued that this pension spiking was in clear violation of Arizona law. Before this pension case was formerly decided by the Court, the City of Phoenix decided to throw in the towel and curb this illegal practice. A city report concluded that over the next 25 years, Phoenix could save an estimated $233 million.
My question for the City of Phoenix past council members and past mayors, is why wasn’t this issue publicly exposed before?
Pension spiking had apparently been taking place for several decades until the Arizona Republic raised the issue when the former City Manager, David Cavazos cashed in sick and vacation leaves and other benefits to boost his future annual pension check by $88,000 to $234,536.
This obvious gross unethical behavior by government employees is part of the ethical meltdown that has been taking place in our cities, state and federal government for much too long.
P.J. Dean, representing the United Phoenix Firefighters Associates said, he “was glad the changes came through city negotiations (!!) rather than a court decision through the hands of someone like the Goldwater Institute,” which he called a political assassin. He went on to complain bitterly about the decision.
What we need in Arizona and our Federal government is more “political assassins” like the Goldwater Institute, and fewer union leaders like P.J. Dean, who are happy to milk taxpayers of their money, contrary to state law.