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As this column documents, the federal government is an engine of waste, fraud and abuse lately exemplified by Obamacare and the stimulus package. For their part, state governments are fond of boondoggles such as California’s so-called “bullet train.” But when calculating the cost of government, taxpayers would be wise to factor in local waste such as the case outlined in this Sacramento Bee report.
During his 23 years as a sheriff’s deputy, Donald Black cost Sacramento County, California, more than $2 million in awards and settlements. The 10 payouts included $1.5 million to a woman whose ability to walk is impaired as the result of an attack by Black’s police dog. The county also paid three settlements in “excessive force” cases when Black was a K-9 officer. Sacramento county paid $90,000 to a man Black had terrified during a traffic stop by pointing an unloaded pellet gun at his head and pulling the trigger.
Through all this, and much more, Black not only kept his job but was promoted, spending time on a SWAT team and as a weapons instructor. The county suspended Black in one incident involving abuse of prisoners but he appealed and was reinstated.
California law shields such malfeasance as a confidential “personnel matter” but court records from 2006-7 cite several cases of Black’s “inappropriate sexual behavior” with a teenage boy. Those cases did not affect his job and the county was paying him $95,000 a year when he was arrested in September.
Donald Black is only 43 years old but he conveniently retired on October 1 and is already drawing a pension of $5,400 a month, a very comfortable $64,800 a year, beyond the income of many California workers. On November 4 Black was arraigned on five felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child. Even if convicted on any charges, as the Bee report notes, “he is likely to remain eligible for that money, according to guidelines in the California Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2014.”
It’s all part of the waste and fraud inherent in a system geared to protect government employees and abuse taxpayers. Don’t forget Lt. John Pike, the $110,000-a year cop who pepper-sprayed the UC Davis students. Pike claimed damage to his “psyche,” applied for Workers Compensation, and got a settlement of $38,055. So add that to the cost of government.