TAMPA — Police and fire union leaders on Friday called a recent television ad from mayoral candidate David Straz outrageous and divisive, but Straz stood by his claim that it would be “double-dipping” for former police chief Jane Castor to accept her police pension and a mayoral salary if elected.
The ad implies a pension benefits for police officers who put their lives at risk are some sort of perk, said Abe Carmack, president of the Tampa Police Benevolent Association.
“For the Staz campaign to make accusations as they did yesterday could not be more outrageous,” Carmack said. “The men and women of the Tampa Police Department aren’t given anything. They earn the pension they receive through the contributions they make and the hard work they do every day protecting the citizens of Tampa.”
Both the police and fire unions have endorsed Castor in the April 23 runoff election.
Straz appears unfamiliar with the work of firefighters and other first-responders, said Joe Greco, president of IAFF Local 754. Firefighters and police officer have shorter life expectancies than the general population, Greco said.
“It’s an extremely dangerous way to make a living,” he said.
The Straz campaign released a video message from the candidate moments before the news conference began. In it, Straz said he applauds the service of police officers and firefighters, but didn’t back down on his charge that Castor would be “double-dipping” if she accepted the $160,742 mayoral salary while collecting her monthly pension of $10,044.22.
“I get it. The unions are defending one of their own,” Straz said.
His message can be viewed in its entirety below.
The city’s police and fire pension board confirmed Castor’s current monthly pension benefit Friday. Police and fire union employees pay 9.72 percent each month toward their pensions.