AN OFFICER WRITES: After casting his vote approving pension and health care increases for public servants and retirees, state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. declared that “the taxpayers are victors.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
The taxpayers — many of them public servants themselves — are now left with men and women who feel betrayed by both their leaders and those who helped them destroy our rights to negotiate the terms of our employment.P.O. Thomas Smith
Somehow, we are being treated like the criminals we work hard to protect you from every day. We’ve been painted as greedy thieves of your tax dollars because we asked to be fairly compensated for a career that, statistics show, leads to an extremely shorter life span than your average hard-working taxpayer.
We are also being told where we can seek affordable treatment for illnesses that often come as a result of our jobs but do not fall under workman’s compensation. In many cases, that means being forced to ignore out-of-state healthcare facilities where we often need to take our children for specialized treatment.
Seriously, Sen. Kean, why don’t you ask the “winning taxpayers” how they would feel if someone told them that their government is intentionally putting treatment for their children out of reach? They would consider it a blatant slap in the face, just like we do.
We were told: “No one respects what you do more than I do. And no one will stand up for you more than I will. Do not believe the lies that have been spread about my proposals.”
We have it in writing, “An Open Letter to Members of our Law Enforcement Community,” signed by the man who is now our governor when he was running for office.
If nothing else, the taxpayers of New Jersey can obviously see that you cannot trust this man. He has dared to call cops and firefighters selfish when we fulfill tasks every day that, by their nature, are selfless.
To me, selfish is abusing taxpayer money to fly in and catch a few innings of your kid’s baseball game and then say you were “being a father first,” before acting like you were doing us all a favor by reluctantly writing a check later on so people would stop bugging you about it.
You know what? We routinely have to miss family events, let alone get helicopter rides to them.
In the end, I am sure that Gov. Christie would respond to this with the same arrogant line he gives any public employee who dares to challenge his agenda: “Go do something else.”
Do we really want people who voluntarily pursue this kind of work to “go do something else”? Who will be left for us to choose from to protect people?
Think about it: Why are big cities that offer poor compensation practically begging for applicants?
Anyone who takes this job because he or she wants to help others will quickly feel as we do now — that maybe we should have decided to “go do something else” before we asked to keep our rights to sit across the table and negotiate a contract.
Fortunately for our successors, they will have little time invested before they realize that the risks far outweigh the rewards and that, chances are, someone else in the household will have to work or they will have to take a second job to make ends meet.
New Jersey taxpayers: It gives me no pleasure to tell you that you have lost. I would suggest that you could make up for that loss in November by getting rid of the politicians who are destroying public safety and gutting the benefits packages that have encouraged educated men and women to pursue careers in public safety.
I can think of several hundred thousand hard-working people who would show you their gratitude.
And that’s a promise you can be sure we’d keep.
P.O. Thomas Smith is president of Hackettstown P.B.A. Local 369
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.