News


San Jose's fire chief moving to top fire department post here

Ruben Torres, with 29 years of experience, to head Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department

Ruben Torres, currently the fire chief in San Jose, has been hired as chief of the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department, succeeding Jim Miguel, who retired.

Torres will be sworn in Feb. 17 at a ceremony in the department's headquarters in Pleasanton.

The announcement was made by Nelson Fialho, city manager of Pleasanton, and Livermore's City Manager Marc Roberts, who are the executive directors of the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department, which is operated under a joint powers agreement between the two cities.

Torres brings 29 years of fire service experience to the position, including nine years at his most recent post, as Fire Chief and senior command for the city of San Jose Fire Department.

As fire chief here, Torres will oversee a fire department with a staff of 120 sworn and non-sworn employees who are dedicated to providing services to the residents of Livermore and Pleasanton including emergency medical response, fire suppression, rescue emergencies, hazardous materials incidents, and more.

The department also provides public education in fire prevention and emergency preparedness for local residents and businesses.

"Ruben Torres brings a vast background in firefighting and public safety to our two cities," Fialho said. "We were impressed with his ability to tackle the complexities and challenges of the 10th largest city in the nation, particularly in the areas of building relationships within the community, strategic planning and budget management."

Roberts agreed.

"I am very pleased that Chief Torres will be joining the management team," Roberts said. "His extensive background in firefighting and public safety coupled with his ability to plan strategically and build community relationships will continue the high quality of service in Livermore and Pleasanton."

Torres began his career as a firefighter in San Jose and worked through the ranks of fire engineer, captain, assistant fire marshal, battalion chief and deputy fire chief. He is also recognized as a leader for the advocacy and facilitation of cultural appreciation and diversity within the fire department.

Torres and his wife Venus have three children: Ruben Torres Jr., 25; Vanessa, 13, and Angelita, 12. They also are guardians of a 5-year old, Jacob, who lives with them.

Chief Torres joined that San Jose Fire Department when he was 20 years old and celebrated his 29th year with the force Jan. 6. Although serving as the city's fire chief, it was unclear how long he could keep the post after his son joined the department as an entry-level fireman. San Jose has an anti-nepotism policy that prohibits administrators from managing anyone in the immediate family.

Torres said he was attracted to the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department because of its smaller size.

"San Jose has 760 in the fire department, including 670 sworn officers," he said. "With 32 fire stations spread throughout the city and three shifts at all times, it's difficult to stay connected.

"Here, with 10 stations in two cities, I'll have a better opportunity to get to know and stay in touch with firefighters and staff, and I'm looking forward to that part."

Comments

2 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 13, 2015 at 1:46 pm

Anyone know how old he is? salary? What happened to the previous guy? How many fire and police chiefs has Pleasanton had in the last 10-15 years. I may be wrong but it seems like a revolving door. Does anyone know the above?


1 person likes this
Posted by Stacee Bloome
a resident of Avila
on Jan 13, 2015 at 3:53 pm

Does it really matter how old her is? It's not like he will be out there getting all dirty fighting a fire.


1 person likes this
Posted by lll
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 13, 2015 at 5:47 pm

As per the age, since he has worked for 29 years, one could assume he is around 50 years old meaning we should not expect to see him in this job for very long as he has just about maxed out his retirement years. After this new job with a salary bump, and probably 50 now, do not be surprised if he is our fire chief for a VERY short amount of time. As previous fire chief Stewart Gary said, the current retirement system pretty much forces you to retire around ago 50 whether you want to or not as you will be making more in retirement than while working.

It used to be that the police and fire chiefs had longevity, which was a good thing. Now they work for 2-3 years as chief at their higher salary and then retire. You want somebody with experience for the job but the current system puts them up for retirement just about the time they have the experience you want.


5 people like this
Posted by stop the abuse
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 14, 2015 at 6:38 am

He is 49 years old. That means that in one year he can collect 87% of his final spiked earnings from the San Jose pension system. San Jose has a self-funded retirement system and now he will be in PERS. He will also collect his full Pleasanton salary. And begin his service under PERS which, I think, requires 5 years of service before allowing retirement. However, keep in mind that he has executive pay and compensation status so the city manager can negotiate all sorts of extra things in addition to the short earning years in PERS. I know of one high ranking employee who had their years of service with PERS added on via a city contribution so that even though he only had a few years of actual work under PERS, that system paid him as if he had been there for his entire career. And he also gets the full retirement from the previous non-PERS job. Wonder why he would leave a much larger city with higher pay to come to Pleasanton while still residing in San Jose? Wonder no more, it's called triple dipping.

So this guy won the pay lottery. Full pay from Pleasanton, full retirement pay from San Jose and future full retirement pay from PERS. And guess who is paying for that Mr and Ms taxpayer. Do all of you begin to see the need for the reform of public pensions?


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Birdland

on Jan 14, 2015 at 12:55 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


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Posted by factchecker
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 14, 2015 at 1:05 pm

He comes to Pleasanton under the employee retirement reform act meaning retirement at 57 and 2% I believe. In any case not 3% at 50.


4 people like this
Posted by stop the abuse
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 14, 2015 at 5:32 pm

Yes, FC, he comes under the new laws for THIS job but that does not apply to his years in San Jose. He is under 3% at 50 for that retirement and since he worked 29 years that will be 87% of the final spiked year when he turns 50 in the next year. He will get that IN ADDITION TO his full salary in Pleasanton. No matter what the restrictions will be on his Pleasanton retirement, he is double dipping a full salary and a full pension from day one on this job. He could not have done it that way if San Jose had been under PERS. One very good reason for him to have been looking for a non-PERS job.

It is decades beyond the time for full reform and this is only one case proving that. No public pension should be paid without being offset in full for every dollar that the retiree gets in salary from any other job.


1 person likes this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 14, 2015 at 7:15 pm

Ok so the magic question.....who makes these hiring decisions?


1 person likes this
Posted by lll
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 14, 2015 at 8:16 pm

I don't know if 2% @ 57 applies to him as he has already been in the pension system. Maybe I am wrong but I thought the new retirement formula only applies to new hires that were not previously in a 3% retirement system.

Would be great if our local paper could research this to confirm.


1 person likes this
Posted by Do Your Homework
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 14, 2015 at 11:45 pm

Ok, "stop the abuse", now that you have everyone all riled up, I will be the sound mind to put them at ease. Yes, the new chief will be receiving his benefits from San Jose. However, with the pension reform that San Jose put in place, he will not receive nearly the amount to which you elude in your diatribe. As a matter of fact, the city of San Jose is no longer reciprocal with 3 @ 50, their formula is much lower than that, even for tenured employees. And, since he is not currently in CALPERS, he will not be "grandfathered" into the 3 @ 50 formula in CALPERS. The best case scenario is that he will likely be 2.7 @ 57. So, would you rather have someone with less competence and track record leading the fire department? Or, maybe, you would like to not pay the firefighters and police and instead rely on an all volunteer force? Wait, I have a better idea! Maybe you can throw on the uniform and rush towards fire or gunshots, but make sure you do it for less than the industry standard so you don't generate too many complaints from people who want to "stop the abuse".


1 person likes this
Posted by Anti-Public unions
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2015 at 11:52 pm

lll, I think you are right about the 'new' rules. Jerry didn't change anything for current union members, unless possibly 'vacation' bumping up annual retirement calculations (for all the press fuss, you'd have thought he had 'done' something more). Reminder, new 'kid' employees won't be retiring for 29-30 years!!!! so we will not see changes in debts & underfunding fixes in our lifetimes!!!!
Valley Times, Dan Borenstein, researches and runs these public union situations regularly.


Like this comment
Posted by fackchecker
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 15, 2015 at 6:57 am

Correct, the legislation didn't do anything for current employees with their current employer. Switch public agencies and reforms kick in.


5 people like this
Posted by stop the abuse
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 15, 2015 at 2:58 pm

@ DYH -- you clearly did not read much of what I said.

Our new chief will collect 89% of his last year of earnings from San Jose right now, and that will go up every year with COLAs. His last publicly posted wages were $195,000 (with another $127,000 paid by the city toward his pension). He gets that in addition to his full salary from Pleasanton. In 2014, his year of retirement from San Jose, he might well have spiked those earnings with unused sick leave that can amount to an entire year of pay. 89% of that for life, with COLAs is completely insane.

I never said or implied that the 3% at 50 would apply at PERS. In fact, unless our city manager negotiated a PERS pickup of years of service for him, his actual time worked under PERS will be so relatively short that any retirement earnings from those years would be less than a drop in the bucket.

What he will get is as much as $330,000 per year from his pension (if he spiked it with his full year of sick leave pay) as well as whatever he is paid from Pleasanton. Sorry, a fire chief in this town is not and never will be worth that. Once again, our city manager has stuck us with the highest paid person for the job and that person will likely be here for no more than a couple of years.

Pensions paid from public funds need to be reduced dollar for dollar by current earnings. They need to be lowered to a calculation of not more than 2% at 60. The employees need to make the bulk of the contributions to the pensions. It is time to stop making millionaires out of public workers who claim to have taken these jobs because they "just want to help people". You can argue that doctors, techies and many others exceed those wages and benefits. I will remind you that their companies and/or shareholders pay for them, not the taxpayers. When the taxpayers pay the entire bill we are entitled to some fiscal responsibility. Wake up City Manager Fialho, you stuck it to us again and we are not happy about it.


Like this comment
Posted by curious
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2015 at 3:02 pm

Ah, doesn't the fire chief serve both Livermore and Pleasanton so his hiring would be approved by both city managers. This would also mean that Pleasanton only pays half his salary, benies, etc with Livermore picking up the other half.


4 people like this
Posted by stop the abuse
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 15, 2015 at 4:17 pm

@ curious, you are probably correct although I was informed that Fialho was the one who made the actual decision. Either way, that kind of money is obscene and unreasonable when the taxpayers are footing the bill.


6 people like this
Posted by Ugh
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 15, 2015 at 4:30 pm

It is so sad that all that is ever posted on these forums is bitching and moaning. I bet you would not be complaining about salary rates and compensation packages if you had decided to take the path of public service at some point in your life.

All I know is that, to me, it is worth EVERY penny that I pay in taxes to make sure that when I call 911 and sh** has hit the fan I have people that will come to my rescue or to the rescue of my loved ones.

Thank you to our police and firefighters for all they do. Congratulations and welcome Chief Torres to Livermore/Pleasanton.


6 people like this
Posted by Do Your Homework
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 15, 2015 at 7:46 pm

Ah, stop the abuse, man I wish you would educate yourself instead of typing "facts" which are actually your interpretations. So, first of all, the retirement contributions from the City of San Jose do not increase the take-home retirement from city employees. I am guessing that you researched it from a website that showed "total compensation" packages which are drastically more than actual take-home pay. Further, once an employee retires, the city no longer contributes to that fund, nor do they historically have to maintain several other liabilities that are required when employed. So, no, Chief Torres is not receiving $330,000/yr from San Jose and the vacation/sick time buyout/salary spiking was discontinued with the city of San Jose pension reform, Proposition B. As much as you would like to enflame the other readers here, hopefully they will realize that the "information" you have provided is factually incorrect.

Finally, like Ugh, I recommend you try the path of public service. Try missing Christmas, birthdays, school, and sporting events. I know, I know, your argument will be "they chose that career". However, even though they chose that career, I appreciate those that make the sacrifice. And, I am willing to pay my taxes to afford us the security we enjoy in this great city. Please, "stop the abuse", next time you need the police, fire department, or emergency medical services, and they drive as fast as they can to get to you, the complainer, remind them while they are helping you that they get paid too much. Remind them that they chose the career and should not expect to get compensated for their risks. And most of all, refuse their assistance in protest of their high wages. That might make you feel better.....


7 people like this
Posted by Arroyo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2015 at 8:15 pm

We have a group of qualified people in the upper ranks of the Fire Dept. Why do we always feel we have to go outside the city to hire a chief?


2 people like this
Posted by How
a resident of Danbury Park
on Jan 15, 2015 at 9:18 pm

This is a joke right? How many fires did we actually have last year? Might cheaper to let stuff burn. These guys are a joke and the. They wonder why they do not get any respect.....because not deserved


4 people like this
Posted by stop the abuse
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 16, 2015 at 8:54 am

@ DYH -- I guess I need to break it down a lot more so that you can stop misunderstanding my numbers.

Final salary at San Jose in 2013 $195,000
One year of sick leave at base rate $175,000
Add those together and you get $370,000
87% of that (3% per year times 29 years) equals $321,900

Note that I never said that the money the city paid into his pension actually was paid directly to him, you said that.

plus COLAs every year

If he was prevented from spiking then his retirement is "only" $170,000 per year and he got the full sick leave buyout in cash when he left. On top of that we will be paying him his full salary. My point is that no public employee living on taxpayer dollars is entitled to a full pension AND a full salary without a dollar for dollar offset.

Now before you tell me again that I don't understand this let me point out that I was intimately involved in the details of the negotiations of the compensation package for San Jose as well as other cities in this area. You are the one who is not so well informed.

I'll say it again, no public employee, living on the wallets of the taxpayers, ever deserves full pension AND full salary without an offset. Is he now working twice as hard running into those burning buildings? Right, sitting behind a desk and checking his bank accounts is more like it.


3 people like this
Posted by Ugh
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 16, 2015 at 3:53 pm

@How - Firefighters don't just respond to fires. They respond to car accidents, hazardous material incidents and medical emergencies. Most cities around the country have a high incident of non-fire related emergency calls than fire calls.

If your house were burning down or you needed them for that heart attack or stroke, you would welcome them to your home with open arms and thank them for helping you out.

Maybe you should be placed on their "do not call list".


3 people like this
Posted by How
a resident of Danbury Park
on Jan 17, 2015 at 4:13 pm

Ugh,

If you are correct then we need far less firemen and need to increase the number of people in medical response. Much quicker to respond in a smaller vehicle then a big fire truck. Seems like a huge waste of money and beside why is the fire chief making total comp of over $500K? What a joke. Promote an up and comer who is in his or her 30's and have them in the job for a few years like 15-20.


4 people like this
Posted by Boomer
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 17, 2015 at 4:34 pm

Welcome Chief,
The vast majority of us are glad to have a person of your experience and skill set serve our little city.
As for you malcontents…
Pleasanton hires and new fire chief and the bulk of responses are about what he gets paid from his last department with your faulty calculations, rounded numbers, and “facts”. Do you have no concept of how you appear to anyone reading your post? One thing is very clear, not one of you would have the spine to say to persons face what you've typed on this post and you would be right not to. There was a time in this country where people were morally/ethically responsible for the things they said. My comments are not a challenge they are an indictment.
It’s true that you can gauge the size of a person by the things they fret over. Shame on all of you.


5 people like this
Posted by stop the abuse
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 18, 2015 at 2:55 am

The simple truth of his move to Pleasanton is that he is within one year of the maximum pension calculation that he could ever get from San Jose. In order to collect that full pension, and a full salary, and make contributions to another pension, he needed to go to work for a city that is in a different retirement system. Why should the taxpayers be on the hook for this kind of money? We should not. Any public employee pension needs to be offset by new dollars earned. End of story. The taxpayers are being bled out with this kind of abuse. As for his level of experience -- yes, he has 29 years of service at San Jose, most of which was spent behind a desk. Would we not be better served to take someone from the ranks, who remembers being on the end of a hose, and have them spend more than a year or two as our new chief?

Regarding firefighters making medical calls -- that is the new truth of being a firefighter. And it is a good thing in many respects for the public. I think most all departments now require new hires to be not only EMTs but many require full paramedics. There are far more medics in fire houses than in the few ambulances stationed throughout the city. Generally fire personnel don't transport but only respond and stabilize the victims. Any medical call is far more likely to have one or more fire trucks as first on the scene than ambulances. Having the firefighters trained for medical response is a good thing. Few cities "own" their ambulance companies, they only contract for service. Most cities do own the fire departments and thereby have far more control over how the departments are run.

@ Boomer -- "It's true that you can gauge the size of a person by the things they fret over". I guess that since I am protesting about half a million of our tax dollars flowing out annually, without justification, I must be a pretty big person. And yes, given the opportunity I would be happy to tell the new chief that he is being over compensated by collecting a full pension and a full salary. Talented and experienced or not, he should not be able to be paid a pension AND a salary at the same time when it comes from the pockets of the taxpayers. That is fiscal irresponsibility at the very worst.


2 people like this
Posted by Anti-Public unions
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2015 at 4:05 pm

In the 70s and maybe the 80s, Pleasanton still had 'volunteer' firemen...no fat, retirements and lifetime healthcare for more years than today's years waiting in the firehouse. We wouldn't need to collect as many taxes, if we still had that program. We COULD get along with many fewer golden parachutes. All we need are some politicians with some spine.


1 person likes this
Posted by More than one pension?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2015 at 9:00 am

There's something wrong with the thinking that one than one pension is some sort of theft. It is NOT.

What if you invest some of your own money in two different banks,
with the idea that each will pay you interest, and perhaps you will retire on that interest from two different investments. Not all your eggs in one bucket is safer in case the bank has problems (like absconding with your money - or failing unless bailed out).

The pensions are about the same. Each city or government agency was supposed to contribute, to invest into their own retirement fund every year of service, the money also earned interest, and the funds paid the retirees.

If a worker stays in one Program he accumulates years of service as he goes.
It is essentially a straight line. PERS serves many different agencies, cities, fire, police, water, etc. This allows a person to take a promotion in another agency- he's not trapped waiting for a promotion until someone above him or her dies or retires. (Used to be firefighters would "buy out" a chief, so everyone below could get promoted!)
This is a good thing, cities can hire a person with skills and abilities from other cities, like baseball teams vie for the best players.

IF a person goes into another system, then basically he starts over.
Often there's a 5 year period until he "vests," so he is taking a chance.

A big multiplier is the laws that allow such pension funds to grow tax free.
You too may invest in more than one IRA, or Keough, or 401(k), or other, or just an Annuity, which is basically a private personal retirement fund.

Just because a high paid public service gets a big retirement doesn't mean something's wrong.
The main reason this is a government funding issue now
is that the investments did so well in years when interest rates were very high, that public agencies were given a payment "holiday" for years.
They paid less or even nothing. Then interest rates went down, and now the agencies have to invest, even make up for some of the holiday.
and now they ha


1 person likes this
Posted by Having Employees Pay is just a shell game
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2015 at 9:10 am

IF you have employees pay or pay more into their retirement, it sounds good, but it really is worse for everyone.
The employee never sees the money, it is taken out of their check.
But the taxman does. He takes a big cut, and it may put the person in a higher tax bracket, so the taxes are even higher. On every payment.
This money comes from the employer.
Most people work for a government agency for less, because the benefits are better, and it used to be more stable.
If you deduct more, tax the person more, you will have to pay more to be competitive.
The only one who wins is the Taxman.
And even he may loose, if fewer people are employed.


4 people like this
Posted by stop the abuse
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 20, 2015 at 9:13 am

@ Mtop -- your premise starts out entirely wrong:

"What if you invest some of your own money in two different banks,"

The whole point is that THIS IS NOT HIS OWN MONEY. This is, nearly all, taxpayer money. In San Jose the employees contributed a small amount to this taxpayer funded pension. Nowhere near the actual amount that will be paid out.

If this was HIS money in HIS bank, or even his money in his own 401(k) (457 plan for firefighters) then it would not even be an issue. The fact is that he is receiving a pension paid almost entirely from taxpayer funds and he is getting another full salary paid for entirely by taxpayer funds.

This has nothing to do with his competency, it has everything to do with the fact that he is being paid a full salary by the taxpayers and he is receiving, at the same time, a full pension that is being paid by the taxpayers. This is just wrong.


Like this comment
Posted by stop the abuse
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 20, 2015 at 9:16 am

@shell game:

Wrong, wrong wrong.

"But the taxman does. He takes a big cut, and it may put the person in a higher tax bracket, so the taxes are even higher. On every payment."

Pension contributions are pre-tax. Pre-tax money by definition can never increase a tax bracket as it is just that "pre-tax".


1 person likes this
Posted by NOT Abuse
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2015 at 9:36 am

Whether an agency can pay their employees less, and make the contribution to the pension on their behalf,
or has it deducted from the employee's check, there is still a cost to fund the pension.
The taxpayers fund the agencies, or it is funded thru other taxes, so it all comes out of the same pot.
Just because it may better to pay it directly, doesn't mean somehow the taxpayers own the pension, and they shouldn't be so jealous.
After you are paid, your employer doesn't own your salary- you do.
You don't "own" the public workers salary, even tho it comes from the public funds.
The public too can choose to work for less for an agency that has a good pension,
or a private company, or they can invest on their own.
Social Security is the only fund that is not funded, or rather is funded on future workers.
And most PERS service is NOT covered by social security.


1 person likes this
Posted by Shooting yourself in the foot
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2015 at 9:58 am

@Abuse:
1st, I do NOT believe you are right about the taxes.
Do you have any supporting info?

Then, IF the "employee" contribution comes from a higher employee salary,
then the pension amount that you are so jealous of will be based on that higher salary too.
So it will cost more.


5 people like this
Posted by Setting the Record Straight
a resident of Livermore
on Jan 20, 2015 at 12:24 pm

I live in Livermore and I work for the San Jose Fire Department. I just wanted to give you some facts.

1. Chief Ruben Torres has worked in the busiest fire companies his entire career. To say he has been behind a desk is incorrect. In fact, I would venture to say, that he has been to more fires as an individual than the total number of fires Livermore and Pleasanton cities combined have had during the last 29 years. Chief Torres has over 25 years of working and riding on fire engines, going to fires in downtown and on the east side of San Jose's less privileged neighborhoods. He has also responded to numerous significant fires as a commanding officer and Fire Chief. His experience as the most senior member in San Jose FD is second to none! We here in the SJ fire stations know that we are losing a real firefighter. Our loss is truly your gain. Let's celebrate and welcome him into our community.

2. Chief Torres is 50 years old, not 49. He is the permanent SJFD Fire Chief, being a Firefighter is all he has known since he was 20 years old. He has chosen to leave San Jose for reason(s) not due to a new Mayor. His job is very secure here in San Jose. He is well liked and popular with both City Management, the Community and Labor. San Jose knows that they can't find a Chief from the outside because no one wants to work in San Jose due to the politics of the Mayor's Office running the Fire Department, San Jose wishes he would stay in San Jose and not leave. The last recruitment by the City of San Jose for a fire chief held in February/March 2014, resulted in no worthy candidate being chosen. Why is Chief Ruben Torres leaving San Jose? I do not know. I have not asked him. I can guess it is because of the politics in San Jose, as in fact the entire San Jose fire command leadership has left and continues to do so. In the last 3 years, a fire chief left (not counting now Chief Torres), all three deputies left, and countless Battalion Chiefs have left because of what Mayor Reed has done to the Department and the City. Chiefs from San Jose are now serving as Fire Chiefs in Gilroy, Las Vegas, South San Francisco, Monterey, Oakland and Pinole (and soon for us lucky people in the LPFD). Firefighters of all ranks from San Jose have left for San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Rosa, Ventura, Aptos, Mountain View, and Sacramento Fire Departments and the list goes on. Chief Ruben Torres is probably no different than others. You should be happy you are getting a well trained and experienced leader in Chief Torres, who has experience in dealing with adversity, who has managed budget cuts (8 fire companies eliminated) and low morale in the department successfully. Did you know that San Jose averages just over three structures fires a day? More fires than SFFD and Oakland. Not If but when we get a fire in LPFD area, you will have a very competent chief at our scenes.

3. San Jose's Police and Fire Retirement Plan, unlike PERS, does not allow and never allowed for any type of sick leave to buy years of service or spiking for a final salary or use sick leave as final compensation towards retirement. So, Chief Torres will receive 87% of his salary. That is correct based on what he earned as DEPUTY CHIEF which is a lot less (over $200K less) than what is being written here by some and not as San Jose Fire Chief's salary. He has only served as a permanent Fire Chief since just last summer. He was an acting-interim Fire Chief for two years making Deputy Chief wages (two ranks below Fire Chief). In San Jose, he would have needed to work for a full three years as Fire Chief to receive his final highest salary as Fire Chief (assuming he would have gotten top step as Fire Chief in three years from merit pay raises -- which san jose eliminated -- Typically it takes five years - 1 step for each year to the total of 5 steps in 5 years). He is leaving San Jose and not collecting all of what he would have earned had he stayed longer as some have said here. So NO, you are 100% incorrect. He is not leaving within one year of what he would have collected maximum from San Jose. Wrong!!! Please do not compare the little you may know about PERS to for sure the little you know about the San Jose Police and Fire Retirement Plan; which obviously several have made uninformed comments about. There are some very significant differences between both plans. San Jose being a less of a benefit plan for final compensation than PERS.

Chief Torres worked and earned what he will receive from San Jose's retirement plan. Don't you think he contributed as part of his salary from day one in San Jose towards his retirement plan? Whoever gets hire as LPFD Fire Chief will draw a salary and start and eventually one day be eligible for retirement in accordance with California law. Who cares what he earned after 29 years a retirement in San Jose? That will not affect the cost to Livermore and Pleasanton would have to pay to hire an executive to run their fire departments. In fact, both agencies are getting a heck of a deal by having one Chief cover both cities.

In closing, as a Livermore resident, I am appreciative of the caliber of Chief Officer we are getting who is willing to continue to serve in the fire service and I am not going to be critical of the retirement he has earned. In the San Jose system, Chief Torres as the rest of San Jose Firefighters was required to pay over 20% of every dollar he earned towards retirement contribution. Trust me in the San Jose system, he earned every penny he will get.


4 people like this
Posted by Arnold
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2015 at 12:12 am

Posted by factchecker: He comes to Pleasanton under the employee retirement reform act meaning retirement at 57 and 2% I believe. In any case not 3% at 50.

Not true fact Checker. He, Torres, will receive the 3@50 pension formula and a very substantial pension of at least 175K (and also lifetime medical benefits for he and his spouse),while also receiving a very substantial salary from Pleasanton of WAY TOO MUCH. He will also accrue a new pension under the calPers plan, which is different than the San Jose pension plan which is considered an "ACT 37" pension plan.


Also, because the SJ FD pays an industry outlier 3% annual COLA his pension will grow extremely fast. The 3% COLA can add 60K in pension benefits in just 10 short years, increasing the pension payout from 175K per year to 235K per year when he reaches age 60 (10 years - by this time he will also be receiving a CalPERS pension). By the time he reaches 70 his San Jose Pension will grow to 315K per year. The calPERs pension will be in addition to that number. Should Chief Torres live to 80 his pension will exceed 400K per year from San Jose alone, plus medical benefits fully paid by SJ taxpayers.



2 people like this
Posted by stop the abuse
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 21, 2015 at 6:06 am

Great post Arnold.

And for "setting the record straight" -- shouldn't you identify yourself as Ruben Torres, Jr? When you post such outrageous things in support of your Dad you should at least stand up for what you think by posting your real name.

Asking around to my friends and family who work for SJFD, as well as several other bay area departments, I came up with a far different set of opinions about Torres, Sr. While this forum has not been about his competence, you brought it up. Most posters here have simply said that getting the full pension AND the full salary is not right at the expense of the taxpayers.


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Posted by Why
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2015 at 7:56 pm

..is this topic not open to all(?): Pleasanton Council gives thumbs up to new $2.45 million firefighters contract

Why not allow everyone to comment and, if you don't value the comments, just delete them with explanation? That seems to be working, so why quit now? Please PW, open up the comments to everyone. It's the right thing to do!


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Posted by Arnold
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 23, 2015 at 5:45 pm

Posted by Do Your Homework: "once an employee retires, the city no longer contributes to that fund..."

Wrong! Do your homework: I'll repeat your statement, "Further, once an employee retires, the city no longer contributes to that fund..."

That is absolutely wrong. San Jose taxpayers, just like Pleasanton taxpayers, will be contributing TENS of millions of dollars toward employee retirement benefits for work that has already been performed, or hours that have already been worked and paid for, or retirement benefits that just keep Growing...and Growing...and Growing - with no end in sight, for decades.

How bad is the problem - Taxpayers actually owe about 200 million dollars to employees that have already been paid in full. Pleasanton doesn't have 200 million dollars sitting around.


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Posted by Workin' Man
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 24, 2015 at 2:27 pm

As a union member working in construction, I have seen my retirement benefits slashed and i'll be swinging a hammer well into my 60's. If I'm lucky I'll get 25 k per year (after 35 years of service no COLA). I have also been informed that my pension might go belly up. That would result in a 60% cut in pension benefits.

The public pension firefighters get is obscene. It is underfunded too but the taxpayers or on the hook for the shortfall. So I can look forward to dwindling pension benefits and higher taxes to supplement the incomes millionaire firefighters.

IHE2qB




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