Those overpaid, underworked public employees


Before you start griping about ovepaid Muni drivers and public employee unions, you might want to take a look at this neat-o map that shows who the highest-paid public employees are in every one of the 50 states. Hint: It's not a bus driver. Or even a cop or firefighter:

You may have heard that the highest-paid employee in each state is usually the football coach at the largest state school. This is actually a gross mischaracterization: Sometimes it is the basketball coach.

In fact in 40 of the 50 states, the highest-paid person runs a collegiate sports operation. The other ten are doctors running medical centers or, in a couple of places, college presidents.

Oh, but aren't those people earning their money by bringing in the big bucks? Maybe; maybe not:

In 2011-2012, Mack Brown was paid $5 million to lead a mediocre 8-5 Texas team to the Holiday Bowl. The team still generated $103.8 million in revenue, the most in college football. You don't have to pay someone $5 million to make college football profitable in Texas.

Just sayin.

(Oh, and what's up with New Hampshire, where the guy making the most money coaches hockey?)


That's just your envy issue coming up (again).

No, it's the rank and file getting overpaid that's the problem. Why does a Muni driver get 65K annually when private sector drivers get maybe half of that? Plus of course insanely generous pay and healthcare benefits.

I'm not even talking cops and fire guys who take huge risks and deserve compensation for that. I'm talking about the average sallow-face pen-pusher in a nasty suit who pulls 100K plus insane benefits.

We could secure substantial savings to taxpayers if we outsourced many of these bureaucrats.

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2013 @ 1:14 pm

Everyone knows that what this country needs is more concentration of wealth. The guys at the bottom are being paid way too much, while the those at the top are being paid way too little.

If we outsourced the rank and file to Chinese slaves, we could have enough to pay the administrator of the program millions.

Posted by Newt Gecko on May. 10, 2013 @ 8:19 am

Fewer rich people does not mean fewer poor people.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 8:56 am

The concentration of wealth over the past 40 years has clearly had NO EFFECT on the working classes. Not that I care, but middle America is clearly better off now, after decades of cuts and austerity so that the upper echelons of society can have more. And once we get done shredding social security and medicare so that the rich can have EVEN more, the poor will be even better off. A rising tide lifts all boats, as they say.

Posted by Newt Gecko on May. 10, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

of wealth is fixed and constant, such that if one person has more, the other must have less.

It's a myth. A rich person emigrating does not make you richer.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 5:04 pm

Increasing wealth concentration has indeed made people more poor.

Posted by Greg on May. 10, 2013 @ 10:06 pm

finite commodities have their prices inflated by the richies' undisciplined buying power.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 10, 2013 @ 10:44 pm

"The rich getting richer does not make the poor poorer."

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 10, 2013 @ 10:50 pm

Cops and firefighters have lower on the job injury and mortality rates than many private sector jobs.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2013 @ 9:09 am

I personally believe many college basketball coaches are overpaid, and I would have zero problem seeing their salaries cut to just a fraction of what they get paid now.

BUT, Mr. Redmond is engaging in a classic logical fallacy with this little example. To support the idea that Muni drivers are not overpaid, he provides some examples of basketball coaches who he insinuates may be overpaid. But, there is ZERO correlation between the two categories of public employees. The fact that a basketball coach may be overpaid does not prove or disprove that a Muni driver is either overpaid, underpaid, or paid the appropriate amount. A basketball coach and a Muni driver may both be overpaid for their job functions. He also ignores the fact that the aggregate burden on public finances of multiple Muni drivers being overpaid would be much larger than a handful of college coaches being overpaid.

If there is an argument to be made that Muni driver's are paid appropriately or even underpaid, then make it. Don't engage in false comparisons to distract from the issue.

Posted by Chris on May. 09, 2013 @ 1:35 pm

This is still a pack of lies. It fails to mention that almost all of the collegiate coaching salaries at public universities are picked up by Alumni - not government. But this article wasn't really about that - it was a cheap shot at anyone who questions city salaries and benefits.

Posted by Richmondman on May. 09, 2013 @ 2:28 pm

Predicated as much on envy as distraction, they defend overpaying the masses of city workers by pointing out some dude somewhere who is making 300K a year for doing very little.

It's the same way they think that a few rich people are the cause of there being many poor people, rather than the truth that the poor would be even poorer but for the rich.

It's beyond lame, but class warfare will do that to you every time.

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

All these huge coaching contracts are typically paid by private corporations (typically called "talent fees") or alumni groups. You need to do more research. (e.g. UC Berkeley paid $150k of Jeff Tedford's $2.3 million salary.)

So this actually doesn't rationalize SF public safety workers (and other City employees) ransacking our city to the point where we can't even get decent streets.

The reason Muni will always suck is most all of its funds are absorbed into the inflated wages and benefits of its bloated workforce which has little if any incentive to provide good services to the public.

Muni will always suck regardless of funding - this has already been proven correct but progressives love to maintain their little fairy tale that someday...Muni's gonna be great.

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2013 @ 2:23 pm

Hey, you heard Tim -- stop griping about overpaid bus drivers because college football coaches get more!

Meanwhile...if you took 100 random healthy adults in their productive years you could quickly train 80 of them to be good bus drivers. But you would be incredibly lucky if you could get 1 good college football coach from the same pool. Might be why they get paid more.

Just sayin.

Posted by Troll on May. 09, 2013 @ 2:41 pm

It's not that easy safely navigating a several-ton behemoth down narrow hilly streets, as proven by that recent picture in the SFBG of a *private* Google bus driver who attempted to do it and got his rig stuck. OTOH, any dad with a 6 year old knows how to coach a sports team. Coaching little league is probably a tougher gig, too.

The other thing that should be noted -people actually need public transportation, and hence the drivers who operate it. But if all the coaches disappeared tomorrow, I think society would go on just fine.

Posted by Greg on May. 10, 2013 @ 8:08 am

because that is purely a matter for whomever is paying the bill.

But for public sector workers, we are all paying, and so we get a say. If a private bus driver, say tour bus or commuter bus, is getting 35K a year, why are we paying Muni drivers twice that?

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 8:55 am

Because the private bus driver is underpaid? Because public bus drivers are generally more competent? Because we as a community have decided that we don't want to take everything down to the lowest common denominator, but pay people a living wage? All of the above and more?

I'm a taxpayer too, and I'm comfortable with MUNI driver compensation as it is now. Maybe if Google paid their drivers more, they could have found someone who wouldn't get their rig stuck on the city streets.

I do want to correct one minor but crucial erronious assumption you made. I don't know about a "free market," whatever that is (haven't seen one yet in real life). But I do know that in a *democracy*, it is the *voters*, tax paying or not, who decide what to pay people. The taxpayers provide the money to pay, true, but each citizen's opinion about what to do with that income is just as valuable as the next, regardless of whether they pay taxes or not. And as both a taxpayer, and more importantly a voter, I say that's exactly the way it should be.

Posted by Greg on May. 10, 2013 @ 4:52 pm

magically twice as competent as a private-sector driver?

You know this how?

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 5:05 pm

It's called training, which the $15 dollar/hr dude driving the google bus didn't receive. Same reason credentialled public school teachers are more competent than some of the people private schools hire off the street. Or even cops. For all the problems with cops -and cops are probably the most overpaid of rank-and-file public employees because they can extort more than they're worth through emotional appeals and casually throwing out words like "heroes" -for all their problems, the training that publicly trained cops receive sets them apart from private security guards, and makes them more competent and deserving of better pay.

Posted by Greg on May. 10, 2013 @ 10:13 pm

Muni drivers have to deal with the general public and work at all hours; split shifts. They have to drive all sorts of vehicles too.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 10, 2013 @ 11:00 pm

except of course cops, who he hates.

Where is your evidence that city bus drivers are better? They certainly have more accidents.

Posted by Guest on May. 11, 2013 @ 5:56 am

All I'm saying is that trained, competent people shouldn't be paid crap wages. You wouldn't pay a MUNI driver the same as the Google bus driver, any more than you'd pay a cop the same as a private security guard. Or maybe *you* would, but I wouldn't. I guess I just value cops more than you do.

As for accidents... I'm not sure that MUNI drivers have more accidents, though it wouldn't surprise me since MUNI overall logs in many, many more miles than the Google bus. And they're tougher miles, on average -all on city streets instead of mostly on the freeway.

Posted by Greg on May. 11, 2013 @ 8:42 am

and verify, even, that the claim regarding the wage of Google's driver is *accurate*?

My BS detector says... no.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 11, 2013 @ 8:55 am

I do know that many private drivers make at or around 30K per annum.

Posted by Guest on May. 11, 2013 @ 9:08 am

I recalled $15/hr based on the piece Rebecca Solnit wrote. I just went back and checked it, and my recollection was wrong. The drivers of the Google bus actually make $17 -$30 per hour. For a full time job -if they actually get to work full time -that would work out to $35,000 to $62,000 per year. Still less than MUNI, in accordance with the added professionalism of a MUNI driver, but not that much less.

Posted by Greg on May. 11, 2013 @ 9:41 am

above average for bus drivers locally.

Posted by Guest on May. 11, 2013 @ 10:08 am

not what they would like or think they want, need or deserve.

Posted by Guest on May. 11, 2013 @ 9:07 am

That's my opinion. Yours may differ. But that's what has been negotiated by the drivers with the representatives of the people.

I know what comes next, of course. Please save me the tripe that pay should be based on whatever employers are willing to pay (under the most onerous conditions for workers of course -where workers aren't organized and large employers "negotiate" -read: dictate -their terms to each individual job seeker). That's just the law of the jungle. That's not the way it's done in a civilized society.

Posted by Greg on May. 11, 2013 @ 9:55 am

It matters what the employer, shareholder or customer thinks, unless of course the game is rigged, which it is for city workers.

Posted by Guest on May. 11, 2013 @ 10:10 am

Rigged is what you want. Rigged, is a system where neither the community, through their elected goverenment, nor the workers through an organized union, have a say in wages. Rigged, is a system where human logic and compassion has no place in determining wages -only the whim of the overlord doing the hiring, whose only interest is to squeeze as much work out of his employees for as little compensation as possible.

Posted by Greg on May. 11, 2013 @ 11:58 am

So if an employer does the logical thing and pays employees more than comes it, that business will logically stay in business?

I know how you progressives like to use language towards others as if they are children or paid attendees at a EST. meeting, but try and think about the words you use beyond their emotional content.

Posted by Matlock on May. 11, 2013 @ 12:29 pm

expect him to justify his bill based on time, materials, effort and risk involved?

Or do you prefer it when he says that he needs $300 because he needs a new this or his wife wants a new that?

Do you offer to pay more than the asking price in a store because you know the shopowners has just had twins?

You're talking blatent nonsense, and would quickly go out of broke in the unlikely event that you ever ran your own business.

Posted by Guest on May. 11, 2013 @ 12:32 pm

Non-tax paying voters will never vote to hold gov't salaries in check, because they don't have to pay for it - FOOL!

Posted by Richmondman on May. 11, 2013 @ 5:46 am

tax, which is why I support the broadest taxes, e.g. sales taxes and payroll taxes. Everyone should have some skin in the game.

Posted by Guest on May. 11, 2013 @ 6:06 am

That comment about "skin in the game" is insulting. You belong in the 18th century. If someone is old, sick, disabled, or just plain dirt poor, they shouldn't be forced to pay taxes when they're barely scraping by, just because you feel you have to stick it to them. If you are better able to afford taxes then they are, good for you. Consider yourself lucky and hope that you never have to trade places with them. But don't you dare try and say that you're somehow a better person, or that your opinion is somehow more valuable, just because you have more money. *Everyone* has skin in the game, in the sense that everyone living in a society has an interest in making that society as good as it can be.

Posted by Greg on May. 11, 2013 @ 10:04 am

on a tax that they won't have to pay for, or a service or benefit that is effectively "free" to them, then will always vote for it. Who woudn't?

And by the way, that's exactly why rent control does well at the polls, even though most people no it's not a good long-term strategy. There are only a few landlords and some of them don't live in Sf, so their votes don't count.

Meanwhile tenants just vote for free stuff, as they would, and regular homeowners don't really care either way.

Contrast that with, say, a proposal to subsidize rents to the same extent, but paid for by a new tax on everyone. It would lose at the ballot.

So broad taxes that everyone pays are good for democracy.

Posted by Guest on May. 11, 2013 @ 10:16 am

At this point many Americans get more than they pay in taxes.

The goal of taking all the pain out of bad choices by the government has created an entitlement mentality among vast swaths of the nation.

So what if a person pays 1000 in taxes, they get back much more than that because they have five kids.

Posted by Matlock on May. 11, 2013 @ 1:17 pm

Different people have different opinions. Just as someone like myself, who pays more taxes than many people receive in total income, consistently votes for policies that increase workers' pay, simply because I believe it's the right thing to do... there will be some people who pay no income taxes at all, but vote the opposite.

The essence of a democracy is that everyone's opinion counts the same -rich or poor. Not that we have that... but that's a different story.

Posted by Greg on May. 11, 2013 @ 9:48 am

After all, GOP voting States are the poorer ones, mostly.

But people will vote themselves free stuff more often than not.

Posted by Guest on May. 11, 2013 @ 10:18 am

Y'all realize that typically the content of value is in the article, and the trolls are in the comments, right? Why is this page reversed? Is it backwards day?

Posted by UpsideDown on May. 09, 2013 @ 3:15 pm

Sports don't mean much to me one way or another, but hockey is important in the Northeast. Why risk coming off as petty and provincial?

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 10, 2013 @ 11:07 pm

"City family" salaries/pensions now consume over 42% of San Francisco's General Fund. Hence, ongoing cuts to park & rec, schools, etc.

Harvey Rose projects this to rise to over 60% as ever-growing pension/healthcare obligations to retired city workers keep climbing. The city family pension pot is about $4 billion underfunded.

Until 2009, you got full healthcare benefits for life on the city's dime if you worked for the city for as little as 5 years.

"City family" workers and the 1%-ers are the only people left in the world that still have defined-benefit pension plans (the rest of us muddle ever onward with "defined-contribution" 401-K plans).

These "City Family" pension plans are guaranteed 8% annually returns, compounded. The stock market (DJIA) rose 0% in 2000-2010. But our beloved "city family" got its 8% annual return anyway.

Is any of this seeping through to Tim Redmond yet?

Posted by Troll The XIV on May. 12, 2013 @ 11:05 am

But if he ever admitted it, he would be out of a job, and so it's just easier for him to lie to us and himself, and wait for his pension, just like a city worker does.

Posted by Guest on May. 12, 2013 @ 12:16 pm

City assumes inflates investment returns to mask unfunded liability.

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2013 @ 7:20 am

bankruptcy, the judge is seriously considering cutting back on the city workers pension "entitlements" rather than stiffing the bondholders. The law is a gray area on this and so, if a precendent is set that a BK judge can do this, many cities may be tempted to file Chapter 9 to get out of their pension and healthcare obligations. That would be a game-changer for contract negotiations i.e. "take a pension cut or we'll file C9".

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2013 @ 9:36 am

gee wiz, is the Guardian unionized yet?

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2013 @ 10:11 am

^SEE SFUSD where of course - it's all about the kids.

AND please spare me the "few bad apples."

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

See SFUSD where it's all about the kids.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2013 @ 5:06 pm

Union money lost in LA.

Could this possibly mean CA's low information voters are beginning to understand the destruction caused to our cities by the exhorbitant cost of public employee benefits....Stay tuned.

Who knows - crazier things have happened.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 5:26 pm

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