There has never been a more critical moment in CLEAT’s fight to save your retirement than the upcoming runoff elections. Your vote really could be the difference as various factions attempt to take over the state legislature. As a street cop I am well aware of the philosophy that many of you have that could best be described as a loathing against getting involved in politics in any way. I used to subscribe to that same theory that was passed down to me. This is just another sophisticated form of apathy that we have to fight against. Frankly it’s just another way of giving others permission to make the decisions regarding your future.
Even though CLEAT-backed candidates won some extraordinary primary battles and we have more legislative friends in place than we could have imagined a year ago, the fight for your retirement is real. I receive a daily update from staff regarding pension related incidents from all over the country. I am in constant communication with our lobbyist about political issues that connect back to the battle for your retirement. I have convened meetings with leaders and members all over the state so that we remain focused and on top of the issue.
I’ve said from the early days of this retirement battle that Texas law enforcement officers would wind up being the tip of the spear, offensively speaking. While others have run around the state claiming the paradigm has changed to the point that we need to surrender, I’ve said, “Load your weapon.” While others have tried to get us to join with other groups who are politically weaker, I’ve always believed that we must fight this battle for ourselves instead of marrying ourselves to outside political interests that may not survive.
Now, at this late date in the war, there are some late comers who have finally awakened and began calling for statewide meetings. We called the first statewide meeting regarding pension and retirement issues years ago. The latest round of meetings began when Chris McGill was president in 2008. We have been consistent in sounding the alarm, preparing for battle and keeping our members informed all of this time. Some other unions have now decided they need to get as close to CLEAT and our successful reputation as possible. My advice to them is that they should have been as smart as you and joined CLEAT. We are now mid-battle with this campaign cycle. We have done our homework, endorsed winners and now it’s too late to let the losers claim they are part of the winning team.
For those who weren’t able to attend our leadership conference in Austin, I can tell you that officers of all ages, rank and tenure have thanked us for continuing to provide this kind of training for our leaders across the state. Make plans to attend next year if possible. Many officers told me that it was very heartening to listen to the Pension Panel discuss strategy and politics for the upcoming legislative session that will kick off in the Capitol next January. Mark Clark, the Executive Director of the Houston Police Officers Union, CLEAT E-Board director Matt Novosad and Charley Wilkison, our Public Affairs director, all spoke to an overflow crowd of leaders about this important issue. This particular presentation was an eye opener for many of our members. Everyone seemed to already know the CLEAT retirement/pension war strategy of containment inside the legislative process. I was very pleased to see that our message is resonating to every corner of the state. Officers were openly grateful to CLEAT for engaging early and developing a strategy that other unions are now openly supporting. I heard from officers from various locations that teacher organizations and other trade associations are openly citing the CLEAT strategy as the only common sense plan for fighting this battle.
Some were surprised to hear so many nice things said regarding CLEAT’s retirement/pension strategy coming from Clark since he is from HPOU and they aren’t currently affiliated with us. Officers told me they were impressed that CLEAT’s strategy for dealing with the retirement/pension crisis is receiving support from outside groups. Both Clark and Wilkison have spent most of their professional lives working as legislative advocates. Their message was clear: gear up your PAC’s, don’t align yourselves with anyone outside of your union and prepare for the legislative fight of your life.
You cannot abdicate any of your responsibilities or rights to anyone else. We cannot trust anyone except the people who have a clear record of being with us when it counts. You cannot believe the institutional myths that have been told by some of the other guys. They have said there is no real pension crisis, when they realized they were wrong they ventured onto the political playing field and endorsed all the wrong people. Now, they are openly hoping for a reversal of fortunes in the Fall elections. Believe me folks, the die is cast, after this runoff election the majority of the seats in the Texas legislature will remain where they are.
It’s commonly said that the Lord helps those who help themselves. This runoff election will be so close that CLEAT members like you will be able to change the outcome and help protect your retirement or pension. Your future, your family and your state need your help so please plan to vote. Please encourage your fellow officers, fellow CLEAT members to vote as well. Be sure and ask friends, neighbors and family members to also join you in voting. Make sure they vote the right way and support the candidates who are pledging to help our issues. Please go here to read our pension war page and stay informed for the fight ahead.