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Veteran Cop Challenges Labor Unions to Own Responsibility

Veteran Cop Challenges Labor Unions to Own Responsibility

Mt. Olive Police Sgt. Michael F. Pocquat [Cliffview Pilot]

By Jerry DeMarco | Publisher/Editor CLIFFVIEWPILOT.com

December 15, 2010

Ever since he stood up to Chris Christie, demanding that he restore money the governor’s predecessors “raided” from the state police and firefighters pension fund, Mount Olive Police Sgt. Mike Pocquat has received emails, letters, calls and texts from just about everyone connected with law enforcement and firefighting in New Jersey — except the labor unions. Now he’s calling them out.

By itself, his jaw-dropping letter, published by the weekly Mount Olive Chronicle, “does little to remedy the current situation we find ourselves in,” Poquat wrote to the state FOP, PBA, FMBA, and PFANJ, with copies to their presidents and representatives. “Although [it] explains how we got to where we are, I am at a loss to answer what is being done without a response from you.”

The mission of these organizations is to improve the standard of living and working conditions for its members, Poquat noted.

And “although we may be in different organizations,” he wrote, “we have common ground….Can we truly afford to just sit back and hope for the best? Hope that somehow the Governor will have an enlightened moment where he reverses course and begins re-funding the money stolen from us?"

Simply put: What steps are the State FOP, PBA, FMBA, and PFANJ taking to “protect those who protect others”? he asks.

“Why have the state [organizations] not mounted an aggressive, yet balanced, campaign to defend us in the face of the Governor’s concerted effort to malign us, distort the truth and paint us as greedy villains bankrupting the state?”

In his first letter, Pocquat carefully laid out how a pension fund that had topped out at $100 billion when Christine Todd Whitman became governor ended up underfunded.

Long before Pocquat joined Mount Olive’s finest, the state began requiring police officers and firefighters to contribute 8.5 percent of their salaries into a ‘secure’ pension fund, “with the promise that the money would be there when [we] retired, the 22-year veteran said.

Municipalities originally were mandated to match. But Whitman, finding a fund large enough to provide security for the families of public servants “who risked their lives every day serving and protecting the citizens of New Jersey,” began drawing down from it “indiscriminately” to pay for tax cuts and to balance the state budget, which gave “the false appearance that all was fiscally sound under her watch,” Pocquat wrote in his open letter to Christie.

Whitman then signed a law that allowed municipalities to duck the match. Before long, they owed $2 billion.

“The state gambled for years, relying heavily on the returns from the stock market to cover the missing funds,” wrote Pocquat, who holds a B.A. in Criminal Justice from Lycoming College in Pennsylvania. In the process, he said, “the public was lulled into a sense of false financial security.”

When the bill finally came due, he wrote, police and firefighters were handy scapegoats. And now Christie, after inheriting a fiscal crisis, “has again found the same victim: Your public employees.”

“As of 2009, the pension fund should have assets of $112 billion to meet its obligations, yet it is currently sitting at $66 billion,” Pocquat wrote. “It is the largest unfunded liability in the country.”

In his letter to the union reps, Pocqaut says that Christie “has indicated he has no intention of re-funding that money stolen from us by his predecessors.”

Although lawsuits have been filed to preserve benefits at their current levels, Pocquat demands to know “what is being done to see that the pension fund itself is brought back to health?

“We can block every proposed reduction in our benefits, but if the money is not paid back into the fund, financial collapse is foreseeable,” he added. “Winning on the proposed benefit reductions will have meant nothing when there no longer is a viable fund to pay basic retirement costs.”

Pocquat’s demands about what his representatives are doing to protect him and his public safety brothers and sisters are concise, pointed, direct:

“Have we sought legal council on the current state of our pension fund? If not, why? If consulted, what is legal council’s opinion?

“Have we filed litigation to recoup the funds stolen from us based on the unconstitutional or unlawful raiding of our pension fund? If not, why?”

Pocquat also asks, point blank, whether the state of New Jersey is required to “pay back the 40 billion dollars stolen from us, and if so, are they now in violation” of that mandate?

He also want to know whether an independent auditing firm will be brought in to examine the state‘s police and firefighters‘ pension fund records.

“Wouldn‘t this be a prudent step to take in providing an absolute assessment of the fund and its status?” he asks.

He also wants requests for public information filed of all pension funds records dating back to the Florio Administration “to begin tracking where this stolen money went? Who specifically withdrew it, and where was it subsequently deposited?”

Most important, Pocquat said, the executive boards of the various labor organizations should meet, to “come up with an agreed-upon game plan on how best to proceed. Wouldn’t it make sense to build an alliance to tackle such a serious issue?”

The assertive sergeant is writing follow-up letters to local union chapters to help unite everyone with a direct stake in the outcome.

However, he said, it’s going to take leadership from the state unions to put an end to the madness.

“Thousands of officers and fireman are faced with an uncertain future as to the solvency of the entire fund, and they are looking for answers and guidance, Pocquat wrote. “Having entrusted you with the positions you now hold, we are looking to you for leadership, information, and responsiveness.

“We are looking to you to set the record straight, so that those who have entrusted you with your office can feel confident that their voices and concerns are being heard, and that the State FOP, PBA, FMBA, and PFANJ continue to have all of our best interests at heart.”

Read the Original Article HERE


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  • Derrick_max50

    gradyg

    about 3 years ago

    1118 Comments

    Unions are a joke when I was part of the Union and CHA disbanded the Security/Police force they didn't do anything to help Officers maintain a job in law enforcement with the state, city or government sector. They are out for nothing but money they do not have the union members back. Hopefully they can get everything restored, they are going to have to court and fight that one.

  • Aarmystar223_1__max50

    majorgeneralmontym

    about 3 years ago

    54 Comments

    Who says the water is funny up there in Mt Olive.The Sargent has truly stated the reason why the pension fund is underfunded. Former Gov Whitman raided the fund and gambled just like the banks gambled with real estate backed securities. We all know what happens when you gamble. In this case we all lost. Well the money is gone and it is now necessary to backfill the coffers so that we who are retired and you who will someday retire, will have the funds to do so. I think that the Governor going right to the sacred cow, teachers union is the right first step to achieveing the goal of fiscal responsibility. He has also led the charge for pension reform and that has affected allot of people coming into the government system. Unions, whehter they be LEO, FD's or others need to understand that demanding more is not going to resolve the problem. Wanting to fix the problem while taking a positon of "dont touch me" is not the answer. We all know there are benefits from a unified command and now is the time for all public service unions to get together and have a unified voice to solve the problem AND make sure it doesnt happen again. LEO's deserve a secure pension when they retire.

  • In_remembrance_of_oakland_pd_max50_max50_max50_max50_max50

    rhood

    over 3 years ago

    23592 Comments

    This is a huge mess and the Sgt should be commended for his efforts of behalf of all of the officers affected.

  • Globe_eagle_anchor_max50

    gammyland

    over 3 years ago

    438 Comments

    I don't even know why we have a union.. All they seem to do it take 38 bucks from me a month.

    As far as retirements.... Ours is run though an outside company, a private company. I put 7% and the city puts in a bunch. When I retire, if I stay 26.6666 years, I'll get 80% of my final average. To be honest, I do think many retirements are too big, I think in NY you only have to work 20 years.. Problem with state funded and alot of these retirement programs are that we(employees) aren't putting enough money into them.. It's almost a ponzy scheme.

    I'm sure we all are away of Detroit, and the auto makers.. how the 1st 5k or so from every new car sale goes towards retiements for those who have retired. I think over the next several years, we are going to see more gov'ts reducing our retirements.. which is why we all need to start investing our selves..

  • Img_1050_max50

    Irishcop1961

    over 3 years ago

    46104 Comments

    Bump BigNTS. Big thumbs up to Sgt. Pocquat. BIG THUMBS DOWN to Gov. Christie and his political cronies waving his wand and making changes to the pension system. Shame on all the other Governors for robbing the system to pay Peter from Paul. Shame on the cities, counties, and the state for fooling the people of New Jersey saying they can't afford the cost of the pension system going up when they aren't even paying there fair share. Them they tell you they have to raise taxes to fund the system. So they raise taxes and still don't fund the system. The Cops and Firemen have keep there end of the bargin and made there contributions. It's time to make the politicians accountable for there actions. Soon the State of New Jersey will have no Cops, Firemen, and Teacher because the pension system will be broke.

  • Cpvnext1_max50

    CLIFFVIEWPILOT

    over 3 years ago

    12 Comments

    Since Sgt. P has graciously selected CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM as his vehicle, I have sent requests for response to all of the listed unions. We'll see how they respond. Meantime, please don't hesitate to give the site a look-see. Many LEOs have told me they read it every day -- just like POLICE LINK. I'm fortunate: I'm one of the rare newsmen around who has good relationships with LEOs everywhere. I say it's cause I pay attention, I get the facts straight, and I'm not out to screw anyone. I'm still amazed when anyone does. What you men and women do can't be measured. 'Till my last breath: You've got a friend.

  • Johnf_max50

    cheetah_speed1

    over 3 years ago

    464 Comments

    $40 BILLION DOLLARS!!!

  • Scan_max50

    bleu1240

    over 3 years ago

    312 Comments

    Wow, who was looking out for the officers while the union retirement went unfunded by over 40%. Sgt. Pocquat has an uphill battle to fight to make things right. He is on the right track to start.

  • Blade_runner_4_max50

    BR_260354

    over 3 years ago

    338 Comments

    AFL-CIO affiliated unions or any Police/Fire Union not run by the employees themselves is useless. It's Police Associations run by people like Chris Christie who get things done.

  • Img_0010__2__max50

    BigNTS

    over 3 years ago

    6750 Comments

    Way to go, Sarge! Your original letter to Gov. Christie was awesome. This one to the "unions" is also spot on. You have asked the right questions and your suggestions of a coalition is excellent. Hopefully, the leaders will read this and take your suggestion to heart.

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