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Monday, March 07, 2011

PROFILES IN COURAGE

We submit to you Broward ASA Anita White.

(Hat tip to Broward Beat- the title of the post links to the Sun Sentinel Article.)

Faced with a Governor who wants to balance the budget on the backs of poor state employees, Ms. White took a day off from work, drove to Tallahassee (at $3.60 a gallon for gas) and testified before the Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee. She received a standing ovation for this:

I drove eight hours. This is very important to me and all of my colleagues.

My name is Anita White and I am a prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office of Broward County.

I’m here representing myself, but I’m also here because I have paralegals, secretaries and people who work with me who cannot afford even one percent being taken out of their pay to go to
their retirement.

We were made promises when we signed on with the state.

I was promised that I would have my Bar dues paid. This is now gone.

I was promised that I would get health insurance. Now I’m being forced togive money to that.

I was promised that I would have life insurance at twice my pay. And then I was told last year that my life is only worth $25,000 and I had to purchase additional life insurance.

So in one year, I have already received three pay cuts. Three!

And you’re asking me to take another. And you’re asking
people who make less than I do to take another.

I do what I do — I’m a Career Criminal prosecutor, I spent three years as a sex-crimes prosecutor — I do it for love. I use my personal resources because I love what I do.

I do it day and night, on the weekends. I come in. I meet with victims after hours so that they don’t have to be inconvenienced.

But nobody cares about inconveniencing us. Nobody cares that we
have to take second jobs. Nobody knows about that because we are being portrayed as villains.

We have no union, we have no one to speak up for us. And that is why I am here, to speak up for us.

It is wrong…the way you frame things, the words you use are important.

People call it fairness…and they call it a contribution. I call it what it is, it is a tax.

Thank you.


Rumpole says: BRAVO ASA White! Take a bow.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is, times are hard for most people. The retirement package that state lawyers receive is amazing. If you work for 30 years as a pd or a da you retire with an average pension of 100 per year. The lawyers should be made to pay in not the support staff.

Anonymous said...

nice

Anonymous said...

She has a point. However, there is a major flip side to this story. I file my own papers with the clerk and usually do it on Friday afternoons. Every month I take what I call a stroll through the courthouse at around 3 pm on Friday. I have done this numerous times at the criminal courthouse and at 73 West Flagler, where I spend most of my time. I did it about five times in Broward. I would say about half of the judges are not in. If you find one courtroom with activity you are lucky. Imagine if the court system were run like, say, Apple Computer. Rest assured, five times the trials would take place and 90% of the BS cases would never make it past a screening prosecutor. And we would do it all with half the staff. But the State Attorney's office is not symbolic of the problem. ASA's retiring on full pensions are relatively rare. For every ASA like her, I can find 100 government employees who sit on their asses every day and do nothing. If you are really interested in this issue, take a look at the school board in Broward. It is a joke. They have more people making over $100,000.00 who do "administrative work" than there are ASA's. There is no way the government can keep funding these benefits. Every day taxpayers are being asked to subsidize a privileged elite who do little work and reap great rewards. it is just not right. The real solution is to fire people who do nothing and take the money and give ASA's who work hard a raise. But that will never happen. Never.

Anonymous said...

10pm
the Max is 2% a year so 30 years is 60% of our Salary which is 1/2 to 1/3 a private Attys salary. We take less and gat a little in benis so we still are behind those in the private sector in overall compensation
DS

Anonymous said...

WAKE UP!

http://www.awakethestate.com/

Marty Kohn said...

It's her fault for working at the SAO, she should have become a firefighter like City of Miami's Veldora Arthur who makes $300k/year and still has her job despite being federally indicted in an $11mm fraud.

Silly Asa!!

Anonymous said...

Bravo! Government Attorneys make far less than private practice. One of the attractive things about the job is the benefits. Now that they have cut back on everything except retirement, the benefit package doesn't look so pretty. If and when they make me start paying into the retirement plan, I will start looking for job in private practice.

Kissimmee Kid said...

For a baby lawyer right out of school, clerking as a APD or ASA is great work with pay far higher then they are worth. After about three or four years, the ability of the lawyer exceeds what they get paid.

State work pays shit. Good lawyers work for decades at half to a quarter their real worth. Their retirement stinks too. Sure they get paid 100% of what they used to make; but, what they used to make is peanuts.

I would stave to death on 100 per year and my kids could kiss college goodbye.

Anonymous said...

Clearly 10:01 knows what they're talking about....we're State Attorney's (ASAs), not District Attorneys (DAs). No way in hell people are make a 100K+ pension after they leave the State. According to the FRS website, multiple years of service (30) times percentage value of the class (1.6%). That number (.48) is multipled with the average final compensation (100K) to equal the annual payment of 48,000K. Say the person has an average final compensation of 120K. It would take them 52 years on the job to make an annual payment over 100K. Not a lot of 80 year olds working at the SAO.

Anonymous said...

I love it. More people should do what she did. I also love the fact that when people are crapped on, they mention that they have no unions yet many of those same people paint unions as evil, greedy, and promote laziness. (I find the laziness argument particularly amusing since when I was a state employee back in the day, the laziness I saw was mind-boggling. (Obviously I am not speaking about Ms. White, I don't even know her)

I come from a long line of union family members. The majority of unions look out for their members, make sure they are paid a fair wage, make sure they are not abused, and make sure they are not made to work in deplorable conditions.

The firefighters and yes, the police, unions are a little different. They incorporate greed. Their pensions and benefits are outrageous. Yet people donate to them constantly because they are police and firemen. Private union members are everyday blue collar men and women who are trying to make an honest living in fair conditions. It's not easy.

Maybe the SAO and the PDO should form a union. Maybe the judiciary should think of doing something similar. Their benefits have been cut too. I'm not sure what the legalities of that are but you should all do something to stop the legislature and that governor from crapping all over you.

Anonymous said...

Former ASA here.

We're in a recession the likes of which I have never seen. I have a government employee spouse and am thankful that she still has employment and a check coming in every two weeks. Alot of others have it MUCH worse, so I'm not going to complain that she didnt get a raise this year or that we have to pay an extra amount every month for insurance.

I feel for the ASA, and I went through it myself, but her problems are minute compared to those suffered by others around the country. Imagine if she read that speech to a person sleeping in thier car or someone being evicted from their home.

Anonymous said...

10:01 you are a moron. If you dedicate 30 years of your career making a fraction of what you could make in the private sector then you deserve whatever retirement YOU HAVE EARNED regardless of whether you are an attorney or a support staff member. Also, since you are obviously ignorant about the criminal justice system, there is no such thing as a DA in Florida.

Anonymous said...

Is this the same prosecutor who filed a bullshit bar complaint against Alex Michaels after getting whupped in court.

Anonymous said...

3:08----sorry, but that's a ridiculous comparison. The ASA's are law school grads making FAR less than competent (let alone good or great) attorneys in the private sector. And, while there are far too many slackers at the SAO, there are MANY prosecutors who work their assess off and deserve far better than they're getting. THAT is the point.

BTDT

Anonymous said...

For the first 10 year of public service, ASAs and APDs should not have to pay into their own pensions, since many of them will never collect them.

If somebody decides to make a career in public service, dedicating a small percentage of their pay to the guaranteed pension they will receive upon retirement is not asking too much. We all pay into our own 401Ks in the private sector.

Europe has collapsed due to entitlement spending. We are getting very close. Measures must be taken. Some public sector employees may be paid a lower salary (although not all, most public employees in Miami-Dade, it seems, make over 100K per annum) but the benefits far exceed those we get in private practice. We all pay hundreds of dollars a month for decent insurance, whereas the State takes a couple of bucks out of your check per month and you are covered for just about anything.

Ask any of the SAO or PD employees who have fallen seriously ill during their years of service and they will tell you that they could have never afforded the costs of the treatment if not for the SAO/PD.

Anonymous said...

You go girl....

Anonymous said...

If u could make more then go make more. Or else, don't complain. See David weed btw. That dude has the system figured out. Too many lazy government lawyers are killing it after retirement and we are paying for it. Gov work is no more noble then private sector work.

Anonymous said...

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Anonymous said...

State employees do not get a pension of 100% of their salary. And most state employees are not paid $100k per year. 70% of state employees make $40k or less. If working as a lawyer for the state is so great, why aren't all you privates knocking on the doors of the PD or SAO? Most of you started there and left because of the crappy pay. How quickly you forget. I've worked for the State for 27 years and still don't make $100k per year. So on the eve of my retirement, which I was promised when I started, you want to screw me out of it? Someone please tell me how that is the right thing to do at the same time we are cutting taxes for corporations who send all the jobs overseas. And while we continue to refuse to collect taxes on internet sales like most other states. All you privates know that what you show as your income on your tax returns is a BS number because you run everything through your practice as a business expense: meals out, cars, home offices, sporting events, concerts, etc., etc., etc. all become business expenses. All of those for me come out of my crappy salary, therefor I can't afford to do them. The lawyers I have worked with for the last 27 years years work on average 60 hours a week, so don't call us lazy. It's just a bunch of bull and more tea party lies. And if you are at all honest, you know this is the truth.

Anonymous said...

8:14........sorry, but government work can be far more noble than private work (and I'm saying this as a private lawyer). While we all work to support ourselves and families, most of us take higher paying jobs so we can afford to do things we want to (not need to). The government lawyers forego the things we pursue. Some do it for the wrong reasons (they aren't competent and can't make it elsewhere, they don't want to work harder, etc.), but many do it for the right reasons, work long hours and do a fabulous job (ie. Abe Laeser, David Gilbert, Gail Levine, Laura Adams to name a few ASAs). There IS nobility in that.

It amazes me how many people have to take away from their sacrifice to make themselves feel good about what they do.

BTDT

Anonymous said...

100 per year? Hardly. I'll retire on about $28k per year. Whoever told you that is lying to you in an effort to raise support for screwing ASAs and PDs. You want a brand new 25 year old with a year of experience prosecuting your capital murder cases or defending serious crme? Anita's called it straight.

Anonymous said...

-Without a COLA in years, my salary has been dropping for years.
-In real terms, it dropped when the state decided to stop paying for my bar dues.
-In real terms, it dropped when the state decided to increase my insurance contributions.

Still the state demands more flesh.

Let me tell you how I feel about that from an "inside the system POV."

The judicial system is falling apart. For the top tier lawyer, public sector pay is a pittance. First year associates at Greenburg out-pull Circuit Court Judges. Let’s not start with pay for ASAs and PDs. Clearly pay is just one part of the equation- prestige and the ability to positively affect change matter as well. Even so, pay is a measuring stick for prestige and societal value. Its relative decline indicates where judicial officers stand in the eyes of taxpayers. Among those who stick around, even these threads malign our shiftlessness. Looking back on Justice Cantero's bailout from the Florida Supreme Court we are tested to justify own meager salary. The honor and ability to positively effect lives has been so compromised (by legislative straight-jackets, political mis-information and low pay) that public work has become more quixotic than reality based. Did I mention some of us are pretty damn bitter?

To paraphrase, Mencken, the people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard. The private bar too. Defense attorneys upset about judicial decisions, court house conditions, parking and continuances that stretch beyond interminable? Tough shit. You want that over-worked, underpaid ASA to cut you a break? Tough shit. You’d like your foreclosure cases to get a full hearing. Tough shit.

You smirk: ‘if he doesn’t like it, funny how he sticks around.’ Not to worry, I’m leaving. Truthfully, I left awhile ago.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone read the SAO report regarding the Miami Beach cop cleared in the shooting of a tourist?

Anonymous said...

Since when has Europe "collapsed"? It seems to be doing just fine every time I go there. I'll bet all of these people who blame public sector employees for not being willing to sacrafice to balance the budget are the same people objecting to making the top bracket earners pay taxes at the pre-2000 rates because "$250,000 a year really isn't that much money."

Anonymous said...

I am happy to applaud this ASA for her commitment, her eloquence and her effort.

The question I am left with is...

WHERE IS KFR?!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Slick Rick in the governor's mansion has it figured out: cheat the system, leave before the sh*t hits the fan, parlay your ill-gotten gain into a political campaign (while taking the 5th) to become chief of the state so you can write the rules to benefit yourself and your friends more. Plus you can demonize the worker bees to extract more from them while paying less.
What a great country!

Anonymous said...

What is missing from this is where the money is going. Scott wants to take money from state workers (the middle class) and give it to corporations (Wal-Mart, Big Sugar, BCBS, State Farm). The "contribution" from state workers is 2.8 billion and the corporate tax cut is 2.8 billion. The money isn't going back to the people, it is going to the corporations, and eventually most will leave the state. Get it?

Anonymous said...

So much for freedom of expression. I guess gaga means you are free to express yourself so long as you agree with her views.

Anonymous said...

question: why do the asa and the pd not unionize? I say strike for a week and then let the people of the state know how important you are.

Anonymous said...

uh, there was nothing courageous?!

"Ew, I'm mad about someone taking $10-15/mo. from me to pay for my health insurance"

c'mon, call something 'courage' when, in fact, it is - like maybe if Anita was making a stand against a judge who was doing something improper, or if she spoke out in defense of other people's rights (NOT when it is her beatching about 10-15 bucks for her own health insurance)

Kimf. said...

While I believe everyone, every American, needs to be willing to make sacrifices to get our budget in balance, she states her case VERY well.

Anonymous said...

Btdt

U did not mention a single apd. But the bottom line is this. If u are in the drop and u are a state paid lawyer, chances are, your pent ion will be about 80k plus health care per year.that's a big nest egg btw,

Anonymous said...

12:10............I'd say the same thing about the APD's that I said about the ASAs. The original post was about an ASA, which is why I mentioned the ASAs.

And, most would not get close to 80k. It would be a lot less. And, that's after DECADES of making far less than they would have in the private sector. There are first year associates making what top prosecutors are making (hell, I made more as a law clerk for a top firm during law school than I did as a prosecutor until about my 6th year! And that was before the law firm salaries went through the roof).

BTDT