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Monthly Archives: May 2011
Rich Fireman Named in Shoplifting
In El Segundo, where firefighters make $210,000 a year, anger spills over
By Paul Teetor
published: Thursday, May 26 2011
Firefighter Michael Archambault is presumed innocent until proven guilty. But the bizarre shoplifting arrest of the El Segundo firefighter, wealthy enough to own a home in exclusive Rolling Hills Estates, has sparked a furious battle.
The hero-turns-heel allegations have made Archambault a metaphor for the El Segundo firefighters’ union, its members’ staggering $210,000 average compensation in a town so sleepy that fires are rare, and the union’s push to merge with the Los Angeles County Fire Department in order to preserve its outsized pay scale.
“Everything about this shoplifting case illustrates what we’ve been saying for years: These public safety unions have invaded our little town and taken over the political system to enrich themselves,” says Michael Robbins, a former El Segundo councilman turned civic watchdog.
“The police and fire unions have developed an incredible sense of entitlement, a feeling that they are royalty and we are just here to fund their grossly inflated salaries and lavish lifestyles. Look at the facts.”
PHOTO BY TED SOQUI
Michael Robbins, former El Segundo councilman turned civic watchdog, is fighting City Hall.
Archambault, 52, was arrested on April 12 by Torrance police after he allegedly stole $375 in electronics from a Costco in Torrance. He owns a $1 million ranch-style rambler in Rolling Hills Estates, one of the priciest suburbs in the United States.
El Segundo City Councilwoman Suzanne Fuentes says Archambault typifies the strange problem that residents of this small, middle-class L.A. suburb are confronting: “Only one of 50 members of the El Segundo firefighters’ union actually lives in this city. Yet they’re trying to control our little Mayberry-by-the-sea.”
Archambault earned $208,000 in total compensation last year. According to his arrest report, he was spotted by loss-prevention officers at the Costco at 2751 Skypark Drive in Torrance as he surreptitiously opened a box containing a trash can and stuffed it with a Belkin router, a Motorola modem, earbuds, ink cartridges and a Waterpik Water Flosser.
The fireman then allegedly purchased the trash can for $47.99 — with the electronics hidden inside. He was detained outside the store and handed over to Torrance police. A few hours later he posted $1,000 bail.
No longer blue-collar, El Segundo firefighters — who require only a GED to enter the 10-week firefighter academy program — are among L.A. County’s richest citizens.
Their total annual compensation averages $210,000 in a low-crime town of 16,000 residents, which averages fewer than two structure fires a year. Essentially, they are very well paid paramedics. More than 90 percent of their calls are for medical transports. … Continue reading
El Segundo firefighter Michael Archambault arrested at Costco for allegedly shoplifting five products worth $354.95 (Booking Photo)
by Michael D. Robbins
Director, Public Safety Project, PublicSafetyProject.org
May 25, 2011
El Segundo firefighter Michael Joseph Archambault was arrested on April 12, 2011, for allegedly shoplifting $354.95 worth of merchandise ($389.56 counting tax) from Costco. He allegedly concealed five products in a trash can that was inside a box, paid only for the trash can, and then exited the store where he was detained and arrested.
Michael Archambault is entitled to a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. However, the information against him appears quite damning. As a sworn employee, will he be given a “professional courtesy” that is not available to every other citizen in similar circumstances? Shoplifting is a crime of moral turpitude, a disqualification for many government jobs and positions of authority and public trust. … Continue reading
CULTURE OF ENTITLEMENT
El Segundo firefighters and police officers have developed a culture of entitlement that has been fomented by their unions since at least the early 1990′s, if not earlier. This sense of entitlement appears even stronger among the firefighters than the police officers, although both the firefighters and police officers feel entitled to wildly excessive and unsustainable salaries, benefits, and pensions unheard of in the real world of the private sector, all on the backs of the overburdened taxpayers.
The firefighter and police unions aggressively campaign for the City Council candidates who will give them the largest salary, benefits, and pension increases in their union contracts, no matter how excessive and unsustainable, and they aggressively campaign against the candidates who support fiscal responsibility.
The El Segundo Firefighters Association (the firefighter union) has even used fear and intimidation to pressure voters into supporting their endorsed candidates. They sent out a Senior Scare Letter to elderly voters, threatening them with “the possibility of our paramedics not being available when you need them” if the three candidates they endorsed were not elected! Continue reading