Local firefighters union representative Mark DeWeese sends an e-mail response to my post Tuesday on the subject of Moraga-Orinda fire Chief Pete Nowicki’s pension and contract extension:
Chief Nowicki and the Board continue to tell the media that no rules were broken, and what the Chief and Board did was legal. They fail to understand something that 99% of all firefighters know. Just because something doesn’t break a rule, or isn’t illegal, doesn’t make it right.
Each employee, including the Chief, contributes between 20%-25% of their salary to fund benefits. Chief Nowicki simply got greedy and wanted to take more than his fair share of the pension pot. He convinced the Board to approve an amendment to his contract on Dec. 10th that gave him a substantial amount of extra vacation to add to his last year’s compensation and hence pension as well. None of this extra vacation was ever funded for and the Chief announced his retirement three days later on Dec. 13th to start drawing from his now inflated pension. No other employees get amendments made to their contracts right before they decide to retire.The Board and Chief have cut this deal for Nowicki and put an even greater burden on the pension system. They then turn around and tell employees and the media that the pension system is broken and unsustainable. This is all happening when the Local 1230 employees are trying to negotiate 0% raises for the next couple of years to help out the financial situation.