City Hall

Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio: Persecuted For His Political Beliefs?

Is Councilman Sal DiCiccio playing the victim card?

The councilman claims he has been the target of attacks over his political beliefs that city services should be privatized and city employees are overcompensated.

DiCiccio was in a city meeting and unavailable for comment.

In an e-mail blast asking for support (read money), DiCiccio says the "bullying really kicked into high gear" when he took to the Legislature Senate Bill 1322, which would require Phoenix and Tucson to get bids from private companies for city services other than public safety.

DiCiccio filed a police report on March 19 over faxes he has been receiving from a Phoenix labor union fax machine. He said some of the messages contain mean names and one has "what appears to be a silhouette" of DiCiccio at the center of a target.

James Tierney, president of AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) Local 2384, is named in DiCiccio's police report as an investigative lead even though the fax machine wasn't linked to Tierney's union.

Luis Schmidt, the union's vice president, takes exception to the implication that Tierney was in any way involved.

"It is disappointing to have an elected official for the City of Phoenix making false allegations about a city employee and the AFSCME president," Schmidt tells New Times. "Mr. Tierney has never made any type of threat, nor would he condone anyone else doing so."

Schmitdt calls for a public apology from DiCiccio, and says employees "have always been in favor of looking for savings and doing more with less."

But he says certain groups that offered political backing to DiCiccio should not be exempt from budget cuts.

It's no secret that the firefighters union rallied for DiCiccio's appointment to the City Council when Councilman Greg Stanton left in 2009 to take a job at the Attorney General's Office. And, given that DiCiccio's anti-Public Safety Manager Jack Harris stance meshes perfectly with the police union's stance, it's no surprise that cop shop lends him its support as well.

DiCiccio takes credit for "exposing a system where exmployees can walk away with hundreds of thousands of dollars of your money at retirement."

But what DiCiccio fails to mention is that it isn't the average employee who is walking away with hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is the highly paid administrators and police officers and firefighters eligible for a special-retirement plan.

Yet when DiCiccio decries the heavy burden that employees create for the average taxpayer, he always excludes police officers and firefighters from the equation.

It is disingenuous to say the average employee compensation is $100,000 when the only way to reach that "average" is by including public-safety salaries.

Their salaries alone make up more than 70 percent of the city's budget.

DiCiccio uses their salaries to create a perceived problem, but then shields them when budget discussions roll around.

"If you removed the civilian employees from the equation, the overall compensation cost would be astronomically high," Tierney says. "It's our salaries that drag the average down."

New Times called Pete Gorraiz, president of the Phoenix Firefighters Union, to get his take on DiCiccio blasting a fellow union. He was said to be unavailable.

DiCiccio's e-mail also includes a police report he filed on June 3, 2010 after noticing an 18-inch scratch on his car.

While his e-mail states his "car was vandalized in a secure parking garage that only city employees can enter," that isn't what the 2010 police report says.

DiCiccio told police he made "two stops earlier in the day and believes that the damage was not there at the time" [italics ours].

A parking garage camera wasn't trained on DiCiccio's car so it is impossible to say where the damage actually occurred.

Without reading the police report -- and only going by DiCiccio's e-mail -- you would be left with the distinct impression that a city employee was responsible for the damage.

It's the type of truth-twisting in which DiCiccio excels.

Schmidt says he once asked DiCiccio why he didn't go after the police and fire unions with the same cost-saving vigor that he has for the civilian unions.

Schmidt recalls DiCiccio's answer: "Political suicide."