Those overpaid city employees? Mostly cops

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The big banner headline on the front page of today's Chronicle exposes the fact that one out of every three city employees makes more than $100,000 -- great fodder for the no-new-taxes-we-pay-the-workers-too-much bunch. But it's worth taking a second to run the full database (which sfgate has made easy for you); ask for the top 20 earners.

Here's what you find:

Four of the top five are cops (Deputy Chief Charles Keohane, $516,000; Deputy Chief Morris Tabak, $425,000, Cpatain Greg Suhr, $345,000 and Captain Sylvia Harper, $345,000. The only civilian in the bunch is the head of Muni, Nat Ford, who has a contract paying him $354,000. What puts the top cops over the top is overtime, hundreds of thousands of dollars of overtime. Nat Ford -- who also works hard, probably as many hours as a deputy chief -- doesn't get overtime. The chief of police doesn't get overtime. Why do top-level police managers?

Okay, that's the top five. Of the top 20, 11 are either cops or firefighters. The only civilians? The head of the Public Utilties Commission, Ed Harrington, the guy who manages investments for the city, Kavid Kushner, and three doctors who work in the Medical Examiner's Office. Investment managers get paid pretty well in the private sector; so do pathologists, and you have to pay a fair amount to get people with those specialized skills.

And the docs put in for a combined $4,300 in OT; the retirement guy got none.

So if you want to complain about overpaid city employees, let's be honest about where the problem starts. We're paying far too much overtime to management-level cops and firefighters, who already make very comfortable salaries. And while it's tough to be a cop or a firefighter, most of these senior managers are not putting their lives on the line every day busting bad guys and walking into burning buildings; they're supervisors.

I hope all the cut-the-fat folks will keep that in mind.