Town Square

Post a New Topic

Employee entitlements putting Pleasanton in financial jeopardy

Original post made on Dec 4, 2010

The financial strain of escalating public employee entitlement costs is a growing public concern. Ten entitlement reform initiatives were on the November ballot in the Bay Area alone. Nine passed. The city of Pleasanton faces the same issue, but has done little to date to address it.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, December 3, 2010, 12:00 AM

Comments (68)

Posted by Jennifer Hosterman, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Dec 4, 2010 at 8:32 am

No one knows better about the state of the City's finances than the City Manager, the Director of Finance and her department, and the Mayor and Council. No one will disagree with Mr. Hughes' general assessment that the current system, much like every other City in California, is unsustainable. However, I do not believe Mr. Hughes citations are entirely accurate. While we have taken great steps, along with our union employees, to effect change which is more sustainable over the last two years, we can and will do more. I proposed last week during the televised Mayors Report, and will raise the issue again with the Council, that we as a community become educated about the facts. The Council can appoint members to head up a public discussion, leading up to our budget review later this spring, at which time we can entertain policy to address this issue. Without agreed upon assumptions, based on fact, these accusations are just that. I trust Mr. Hughes will participate in this public discussion. And, I invite anyone and everyone who has an interest to participate, as well!


Posted by Bart Hughes, a resident of Foothill High School
on Dec 4, 2010 at 8:53 am

Ms. Hosterman - I respectfully ask that you be specific about where I have not been accurate. I have tried to be very diligent to use City provided information to draw my conclusions. General statements of suggesting that I am not being "entirely accurate" are not helpful. We as a community will do a much better job of making effective decisions when all undisputed facts are on the table. So again, I would ask that you outline where I have not been accurate.

Also, it would be interesting to get your take on why the general employee union has been presented a draft contract and voted on it before the City of Pleasanton received updated CalPERs information (they just received this information just this week)? Yes, I am aware that the Council will vote on this in January, but it is my understanding that the union as already agreed to something. Where is the fiduciary responsibility in management presenting a contract before it knows the extent of the upcoming cost increases? All this does is ensure the status quo where Pleasanton taxpayers continue to pick up the majority of cost overruns while employees begin to pick up a very, very modest amount.


Posted by resident taxpayer, a resident of Downtown
on Dec 4, 2010 at 8:55 am

Mayor Hosterman states:

"I do not believe Mr. Hughes citations are entirely accurate"
Which citations? How are they incorrect? It is so easy for you to make generalizations without supporting facts. From what I have read, Mr. Hughes states the facts, cites the evidence and is probably the best thing to happen to this city in years.
It is your responsibility to stop this blood letting. City employees should make ALL of the contributions to the pensions, not a mere 2%. Spiking of wages for pension calculations MUST stop. You are effectively trying to plug the dike with your finger. You will also help to form taxpayers into a cohesive group that will DEMAND a stop to these entitlements if you fail to act to do it now. I have already volunteered to help with an initiative and will anxiously await your actions -- not mere words -- to resolve this.


Posted by Pleasantonian, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 4, 2010 at 2:16 pm

I do not believe the Mayor's statement,
" We (council) have take GREAT steps, along with our union employees, to effect change "! Oh pleezzz, Did I miss something ??? GREAT change would be when employees fund their own
retirements like we do....by making our own contributions to our
own retirements.
Read Dan Borenstein series of public union articles. Not only do we need to make changes to NEW employees, which members will happily do to keep the responsibility off themselves, ............but we most certainly can make changes to current employees, as well. I think we need to 'help' the council do just that.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 4, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

resident taxpayer wrote: "City employees should make ALL of the contributions to the pensions"

My only concern with who is doing the contributing is, minus other reforms, it doesn't address the underfunding. It moves the underfunding and the risk of underfunding from employer to employee. We don't have much control over how CALPERS manages its fund and I'm not sure how much control individual employees have over that either. All we can seem to do locally is design total employee compensation packages that lessen the burden on CALPERS.


Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Dec 4, 2010 at 10:34 pm

Ms/Mrs. Hosterman,

Please give us your facts. Why wait for a commission to gather before being able to disseminate the stats when you can clearly communicate them in this forum?

Your message, though appreciated, is vague. Tell us what "...will do more" means? If this is indeed true then again, why the need to get together a commission to discuss ideas?

Just tell us what you, the city Government and the unions are discussing.

Respectfully,

Dan


Posted by Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2010 at 9:02 am

The Mayor's statement is part of the same old whitewash that has been going on for years. Read the plan for Pension reform from Milpitas that is in the San Jose Mercury News business section. It is time we stopped being Nero. Quit playing the fiddle while the state of Pleasanton's finances is burning.


Posted by resident taxpayer, a resident of Downtown
on Dec 5, 2010 at 9:33 am

Madam Mayor we are waiting. But those of us who know you understand that we will be waiting for a real answer until the proverbial underworld freezes over.
This is your method for everything that has happened since you took office. Jump in for the publicity, throw around some platitudes and downright falsehoods, then sit back and refuse to address the issues.
You accused Mr. Hughes of making false statements -- I, and several others, have asked you to be specific. I will take your non-response to be your admission that there are NOT any false statements in Mr. Hughes communications.
If your tenure in office is characteristic of taking "great steps" I would really hate to see a council that did nothing. Oh, wait, that IS what I have been seeing.
Don't post your drivel here and then refuse to answer the questions of your constituents.


Posted by two cents, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2010 at 9:48 am

quote: "I proposed last week during the televised Mayors Report, and will raise the issue again with the Council, that we as a community become educated about the facts"

Most people who have done their homework know the facts. Action is what is needed, not delay. We hopefully elected people who are financially responsible, they said they were when campaigning. This is their job to deal with.


Posted by Bart Hughes, a resident of Foothill High School
on Dec 5, 2010 at 11:29 am

For everyone who is concerned about this issue, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE get the word out ASAP and contact the City Council with your concerns. Better yet, show up at the City Council meeting this Tuesday the 7th and express your views.

If you want to remain anonymous, please continue to post your comments here or send them to ptownreform@gmail.com and I will forward them to the city without your name. The Mayor, City Council, and City Management are reading this blog and need to here from you.

There is a new employment contract being voted on by the Council in January that while I can't confirm yet (public can't view it until 12/31) will likely not cover the upcoming CalPERs increases let alone deal with the taxpayer/employee inequity these past eight years.

The City is hoping they can sneak through this new contract and then start to deal with the issue in earnest later in the spring. The problem is we will likely be locked into another multi-year contract that will severely limit what we can do to fix the problem.

Please help do your part so that we can take back control of our government to do what is right for all citizens of Pleasanton not just select special interest groups.

Mayor/City Council email addresses:

jhosterman@ci.pleasanton.ca.us

jthorne@ci.pleasanton.ca.us

msullivan@ci.pleasanton.ca.us

cmcgovern@ci.pleasanton.ca.us

ccook-kallio@ci.pleasanton.ca.us


Posted by Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2010 at 11:54 am

I have discussed my concerns with Jerry Thorne and have been doing so for years. I came to the Council meeting over two years ago to express my concerns and will do so again. Maybe things are desperate enough now that something will get done. Milpitas' plan is one that can be studied. We keep pretending we are very rich. If you do a true balance sheet of the city we are almost broke.


Posted by Pleasantonian, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Please buy and read the SF Chron, or go online to www.sfchronicle.com, click on Insight, the Sunday paper section of opinion and editorials....a 2 page feature of "Reassess benefits for public employees", plus varied charts and graphs comparing " The Haves and the Have-Not Enoughs ".....the public worker with a $39.83 hr package compared to $27.49 hr private sector worker.
Another chart comparing CA state and local governments contributions range 20% -33%, to private employer contributions at 3%.
CalPERS savings at age 60, $685,185,.. SAFETY at age 55 $893,650. ! .. compared to 30 yrs service private $179,573. (public 4 x greater).
Safety at age 55 income from retirement fund $6,750. , compared to 30 yrs private income from retirement $1,437, plus $2,105, from Soc Sec ($3,542 total). ...
Do check out the SF Chronicle's article in today's Sunday paper, or on their SFgate website....and read their well-researched article.



And the income for retirement, exactly DOUBLE for PUBLIC @ $6,750., and $3,542. for 30 year private (


Posted by Pleasantonian, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2010 at 4:03 pm

The bottom line above should not be there...floated up from the blogsphere ! . . . That SF CHRONICLE Sunday, pension reform feature was written by a former Sacramento DEMocratic lawmaker, and now public policy professor.
The bold lead to his article is . . . " Public employee unions have owned Sacramento (and many local governments) for at least a decade or two.. And finances have never been a focus for Sacramento. The question is: WHO will stand up and resore the EQUITY that once existed between private and public-sector compensation?? Given the leadership void on the political front, it may BE UP TO VOTERS VIA THE BALLOT BOX. " . . . .(thanks to the former DEM legislator for sharing his knowledge)


Posted by John, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2010 at 4:33 pm

EQUITY that once existed between private and public-sector compensation??

I remember years of frustration as I watched private sector employees enjoy inflated wages, perks, trips, bonuses, stocks, and rewards. The waste that I saw in the private sector was infuriating. Now, to see the tables turn, the reaction of simply blame firefighters, police, teachers, and local governments goes right along with the greed and self serving nature of the private sector.

Web Link
The Inside Job certainly explains the role of the private sector in the decline of our economy. Many of us are irate at the private sectors deliberate decay of our economy. Now you want those who have serviced you to pay for it. Didn't see that equity happen in the past twenty years.


Posted by two cents, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2010 at 7:22 pm

"I remember years of frustration as I watched private sector employees enjoy inflated wages, perks, trips, bonuses, stocks, and rewards"

This keeps getting brought up.

But, you are comparing yourself to the richest bankers and tech professionals if this is who you are comparing yourself to. Why does the public sector compare themselves to the top 2%?

The regular private sector middle class has done very badly the past ten years.


Posted by Pleasantonian, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Right 2 cents. They think they're all CEOs...shows how out of touch with middle-class reality they are. None of my friends are in finance. BTW, John, many of my friends (& a family member) in their 50s are out of jobs....are YOU ? ? You're paycheck just Keeps coming, as other cuts are made, right ? Do you grasp that ? Most of us and most of America is not part of "Wall Street". If we're not part of financial world, and you're not part of financial world, WHY would you compare us or yourself to Wall Street? Maybe you've had too much free time to spend on "movies"..so you get you're information from your "movies". SAD, you are so out of touch ! And any neighbors you have who accidently were lucky enough to have one of those early jobs in our own unique reagional 'silicon valley', and those who got lucky with early, profitable start-ups....are NOT the NORM around here, in CA, or in the country. So stop lying to yourself, & face reality. Most are middle-class, mid-level employees, of middle size companies, with car and college loans. Their employers are probably small manufacturing, with sales force. If you think yourself more educated and more special than the masses, so be it, but do yourself a favor, at least be honest with yourself.,,but don't 'spin' us.


Posted by Pleasantonian, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2010 at 8:39 pm

John, please don't talk about 'EQUITY' between private & public in days of old. Right ! Me too ! But, no, public union greed went FAR beyond...Time off, paycheck QUARANTEE, and BASIC retirement GUARANTEE, wasn't enough...even tho most in private sector did not have any quarantees of job or retirement. But, you all want MORE than just the guarantees that we did not have. Didn't you know you had already PASSED us, your employers. But NO, no simple quarantee of basics for you.. Your greed wanted BIG EXCESS money guarantees in both paychecks AND retirements...and you were just too special to need to 'contribute' to your own retirement ! Your fist got too big for the cookie jar...you wanted it all...and were quite willing to push it and kill you golden goose. Big mistake ! Hardly anybody in the real world has any job security, much less any retirement. The ONLY retirement out here in the real world, is what ever we 'contribute' to our OWN 401Ks. Welcome to our world. Fantasy at the MOVIES is over !


Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Dec 5, 2010 at 9:15 pm

John,

So do you want a raise? Just ask.

I mean, between my property tax, state and federal income tax, clothes and food for my family, mortgage, gas...[name your revenue stream], I'm sure I have a little more to give you and/or other public employees.

\sarcasm

No topic infuriates me more than someone who uses an instance of failure such as the banking crisis as justification for ANY government entity to feed more at the public trough.

Hey John, who do you think was in cahoots with those same bankers and financiers so dramatically depicted in your documentary? That's right, elected officials of both party's who shielded these businesses and fed them more of OUR OWN MONEY to keep them afloat.

The same goes for the Unions!

I, the taxpayer, am tired of paying for someones pension that is x-times better than what I can afford for myself. Sorry (I'm not really sorry) that isn't greed, it's just common sense.

So rather than bash a single entity like private companies, the root ALWAYS goes back to the governing class who's feathering their beds with OUR MONEY (how DID Charles Rangel amass such a large fortune, hmmm?) by pushing legislation that favors their special partners.

Dan


Posted by lifeinthefastlane, a resident of Birdland
on Dec 5, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Just a few facts about teachers since they are being thrown into the mix in some of these posts. A couple things that I believe separate teachers from other public union employees.
Teachers do pay into their retirement pension - 8% of their salary (the district also contributes about the same amount)
Teachers do no pay into social security and can not receive social security. It makes sense, but teachers who have payed into social security in the private sector and then become teachers quickly lose any and all social security benefits and also can not receive social security benefits from a spouse.

This wasn't meant to change the thread to a teacher bashing thread, just to note that is is somewhat of a difference as many city workers do not pay anything into their pension funds.


Posted by John, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2010 at 9:52 pm

Sticking to your own personal world makes for great generalizations. Because you don't know people who did well in the last twenty years,makes it false? My family, friends and neighbors are not in finance- and they live in all over this town, drive beautiful cars, vacation regularly and share openly about the waste their small companies practice.

Didn't like the generalizations when it was directed to you? Yet you sure are comfortable making sweeping generalizations about public sector workers. Find it makes you feel better to blame, accuse, even when its not true? You really need to reread your own advice. And such hateful spewing. Wow, a little guilty?


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 5, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Without any sort of corrective actions to address the fundamental issues, the only option left is layoffs and cuts in services. Then the issue of who made out like a bandit will be moot.


Posted by two cents, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2010 at 10:12 pm

"they live in all over this town"

This town is not typical, many people are in the top 2%, which is why you may feel the way you do. It is not representative of the population though. And the pensions etc are still unsustainable.


Posted by two cents, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2010 at 10:19 pm

"Without any sort of corrective actions to address the fundamental issues, the only option left is layoffs and cuts in services"

Totally agree. And if we have to go through the pain of more layoffs and cutting, it still doesn't change the end result - restructuring the system, but everyone loses while we wait to do this. See lots of other towns in CA to see how the layoff and cutting without restructuring works for communities.

We need have a system that works, say like it did before 2002, when everyone was still doing fine. We need leaders with the courage to make these changes now.


Posted by resident taxpayer, a resident of Downtown
on Dec 6, 2010 at 7:40 am

John,
The fundamental difference between my outrage at public sector employees and my lack of same for private industry is what you seem not to understand.
AS A TAXPAYER I *** PAY FOR *** YOUR BENEFITS. As the one who pays, I have a right to note your greed and do something about it. As the one who pays, I have a right to make sure that you actually earn your pay and that when you (figuratively speaking) retire on a tax free disability that it is not the usual scam perpetrated on those of us who pay for it. As the one who pays for your salary and benefits -- for your entire lifetime -- I have every right to be outraged at your excess, all of which is coming out of our pockets.
Public employees need to make the entire contribution to their pensions. 2% does not cut it now or ever. Anything less than the full contribution will be grounds for the initiative process to begin.


Posted by resident of Pleasanton, a resident of Mohr Park
on Dec 6, 2010 at 9:44 am

I find this so amazing. We can't pander to the unions any longer. Our country, state and city are all being torn apart because all of the politicans taking contributions from unions and then taking care of the unions... We need to take care of all the people now..not just unions. Watch all videos by Governor Chris Christie. He is right on with what he is doing. Pleasanton, can't and shouldn't commit to this new contract. Go with a private company for any services we need. Get rid of the unions.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Valley View Elementary School
on Dec 6, 2010 at 9:47 am

I have worked in both public and private sectors so have experienced both sides of the coin. Like many current public employees I pay the employee portion of both CALPers (7%) and Social Security (7.2%)while our employer pays the employer portion of both.

Although in some public agencies employess pay less or none of the employee portion, you would have to know the history of why that is the case (i.e. in the past, some agencies may have decided to pay a percentage of the employee portion in lieu of wage increases since it is less expensive for the employer.)

I know that in the case of our agency, the cap on the employer paid medical was raised in lieu of several cost of living increases, since it cost far less to allocate less than $100 per year towards the medical premium per employee regardless of their salary than to give a percentage of salary cost of living increase. In addition, public employees often go without increases for more than 3 years at a time. When I was in the private sector, this stragegy was never used; any increase was always wage dependent.

Without knowing all of the facts regarding how the city developed its employee compensation packages, it seems unfair to make judgements.


Posted by two cents, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2010 at 10:20 am

"Without knowing all of the facts regarding how the city developed its employee compensation packages, it seems unfair to make judgements."

But we still can't afford whatever has been agreed, we're not even close. Sounds like gov't agencies made bad assumptions / did tricky accounting in the past - CA needs to stop doing this! But nothing seems to be changing.

To me it feels like the people in charge are asleep at the wheel and we're about to go over a cliff. This is not fair to our children or us, we can't live this way - we're being very irresponsible.


Posted by Bart Hughes, a resident of Foothill High School
on Dec 6, 2010 at 10:28 am

Resident - I think you will find Pleasanton's union contracts interesting. They are posted online.

You will see that for every year (I don't know about 2010), employees received raises that were well above the inflation rate. Please note that they were receiving raises during the entire financial crisis when the private sector was experiencing pay cuts and layoffs.

Once you look at the numbers, I will be very interested if you can come up with a defense for the current status quo.


Posted by Minimum wage taxpayer, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2010 at 11:26 am

It doesn't matter what is fair with regards to the public employees, the facts are the city, county, state, and federal governments cannot sustain the payments going out. Any business and organization, from the family household to Google, cannot sustain paying out money when they can't bring enough in to cover the costs. Everything is being impacted, cuts have already been deep into many public service areas, and more will be coming. Does someone who is unemployeed keep putting thousands of dollars into a retirement fund by charging it to a credit card? That is what the governments are doing.


Posted by hoffa, a resident of Val Vista
on Dec 6, 2010 at 12:54 pm

How many more of you are going to jump on the sky is falling bandwagon. Most of you could never do the job of a firefighter police officer or school teacher. These are careers essential to the core of a community. All you haters had big 401ks, places in the mountains, nice cars, then when your world came back to reality you attack the people who provide for your safety and education. How dare firefighters cops and teachers be able to raise there family in a nice community like Pleasanton. Enough of your nonsense. Put in an application folkes, miss the birthday's and holiday's see if your family will understand. They won't there used to the suit coming home everynight. Jealousy is bad.


Posted by two cents, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2010 at 1:04 pm

"All you haters had big 401ks, places in the mountains, nice cars, then when your world came back to reality you attack the people who provide for your safety and education"

Nope, we're not haters we have every respect for the jobs being done, we don't have big 401ks, no place in the mountain or anywhere else, used cars. You're attacking the wrong people.

Many of us are just ordinary middle class. Oh, and the birthdays, holidays are missed when business demands. Anniversaries too. Just no big pension or healthcare at 50, 55 or 60.


Posted by Pleasantonian, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2010 at 1:36 pm

It's always easy to spot the PUBLIC UNION member/or family comments with their misguided attempts at judging and evaluating all the assorted middle private folks, who spent years in college, have college loans to pay back, making ALL contributions to their 401Kx plus more personal retirement, their own rainy day fund to get thru the layoff periods, (my mechanical engineer son had a 7 mo layoff during the tech bubble, and is now at 52 is terminated from a company CLOSURE...after struggling with a 15 mo. 10% furloug pay reduction...USING UP retirement savings to make house payments, and 2 high schoolers realizing they won't be going to college). ..plus the daily commutes, every day AT commute time.... Tell me again how rough you have it ! !
Folks please email Pleasantonians to attend tomorrow COUNCIL and speak ! ! speak and email. Tell them to go to www.PleasantonWeekly.com, and on the LEFT side in blue, scroll & click on Town Square Forums, and this EMPLOYEE thread...have them read all these thoughts , and go to SFChronicle.com to read the facts on PUBLIC UNION vs our private world.
BTW, I think as a public union member, Cook-Callio should be required to recuse herself from participating in this issue.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 6, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Hoffa, like a few other posters, seems to miss the bigger picture. It isn't about who gets paid what or even the fact that there exists a public employee pension fund. It's about the abuses of the system that have lead to its current underfunding. A cop can't afford to raise a family in Pleasanton if he's been laid off because services have been cut.

Hoffa makes the point that the private sector's world has come back to reality yet so far has not acknowledged that the public sector's world also has to come back to reality. For it is a mistake to assume that the public sector's world has not also been distorted. It just happens to be far easier for the private sector to "come back to reality" than the public sector.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 6, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

This will be enjoyable reading for some here.

SB400 pension boost: uncanny forecast unheeded Web Link

"The big swings in the forecast of state costs, from zero in boom times to nearly $4 billion if the economy slowed, shows how dependent public pensions have become on unpredictable investment earnings...

Another chart in the agenda given the committee in 1999 shows how employer-employee contributions, not investments, once provided most of the revenue for the giant CalPERS state and local government Public Employees Retirement Fund.

...By 1999 earnings had provided 78.6 percent of the revenue in the previous decade, giving CalPERS a surplus and fueling the push for a benefit increase."


Posted by WheresTheMayor, a resident of Las Positas
on Dec 6, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Madam Mayor,

It's been two days since you stated: "I do not believe Mr. Hughes citations are entirely accurate".

Mr. Hughes has asked you to specifically defend this statement.

As my elected official, I expect you to be forthright and specific.

I'll be at the city council meeting tomorrow night with my own questions. Specifically, who does out Mayor/council represent? Why does someone like Mr. Hughes have to watchdog this stuff? THAT'S YOUR JOBS!!!!


Posted by Very Concerned Resident, a resident of Mohr Park
on Dec 6, 2010 at 7:09 pm

This isn't about being a hater. This is about Reality. In my house.. we have a budget. When we spend over the budget, we cut spending. Right now, My PGE bill is up about 50%, my water bill is skyrocketing, my taxes are up, my food bill is up.. and our state is going bankrupt. our city, state and country can't afford the expenses. We as a family are stretched to our limits. I am not a hater, but reality has to be for everyone.... Unfortunately, we lost the real meaning of being a politician. Politics wasn't supposed to be a career..you were supposed to serve and go back to your prior job...now that politics is a career..the politicians have sold out to those funding them..and they are no longer watching our for the good of everyone.


Posted by Me Too, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2010 at 8:20 pm

@WheresThe Mayor - Please make sure that you or someone posts the mayors response to her claiming that Mr. Hughes is a liar. (I will be unable to make the meeting)

While I may differ in opinions from others, for our mayor to come on these posts and clearly state that someone has written an article that has false statements is a bold move that MUST be defended. If she has proof that the statements are false/inaccurate that is fine and that information should be brought forward for all of us to evaluate. That is all we are waiting for. Ideally, she would have posted it here (assuming it is her which she may now deny) when the comments were initially made.


Posted by Pleasantonian, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2010 at 10:02 pm

Bart, I was quite impressed when I saw your article and photo in Friday's PW;...hope to meet you sometime...maybe when we push for the iniative to get our changes !! OR when we run you for council.


Posted by Arnold, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2010 at 10:05 pm

I don't think the Mayor actually understands the severity of the pension issue. Just proclaiming something is unsustainable sounds good coming from the average Joe, but when it comes from the Mayor it doesn't really say anything. Other than that comment she hasn't said anything. I think it will be hard for Jennifer to lead on this issue because of who endorsed/funded her campaign. She seems more interested in ensuring the labor groups have a voice at the bargaining table than listening to the voices of citizens that speak at the podium. Maybe she will surprise at tomorrows council meeting?


Posted by Pleasantonian, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2010 at 11:53 pm

It seems to me Alameda county public school teacher Cook-Kallio, should recuse herself from all discussions and votes on our public union issues......I don't know how she could be unbiased. She's always there with something in their defense.


Posted by Pleasantonian, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 7, 2010 at 4:07 pm

I predict, this council will hedge and dodge and generalize tonight....never actually quoting facts and figures...just that we are wrong. The best way to control the information, is if they were honest enough to SHARE facts, figures, dates, and AMOUNTS with us....the taxpayers and employers ! Keep your ears open, note anything of importance that they actually say tonight.
But, do, let them hear your thoughts and concerns.....can't complain, unless you do your part to fix the abuses.


Posted by Not So Sure, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 7, 2010 at 6:51 pm

To Hoffa:

You must be kidding. Do you know how many young people are out there trying to become firefighters and teachers? You seriously must be kidding that people in this community can't or don't want to do these jobs. Openings for these jobs DON'T EXIST. There is no way that all these young men (young men, mostly but some young women too) who are currently in community college firefighting programs will EVER HAVE A CHANCE IN H-ll OF GETTING A JOB AS A FIREFIGHER. It's a job with few openings compared to the huge volume of students (being taught by firefighters as an extra part-time job). Why do so many young people want this job? Well, the benefits are supurb, the salary is way above what most 4 year college graduates earn and the retirement benefit is nothing less than AMAZING.

Teachers are required to have a BA + MA/graduate requirements. There are still sooooo many kids (and adults) trying to get a teaching job. Heck, even laid-off teachers can't find a replacement job.

Sooo NO. There are PLENTY of people in your own community who would take your job in a nano-second if it were available.


Posted by hoffa, a resident of Val Vista
on Dec 7, 2010 at 9:02 pm

To not so sure. Openings for public safety careers are available. What do you think happens when people retire or get injured and can't continue there career. It's not an easy career path to take, It takes persistence, dedication and most of all a passion to want to serve the public. Those who truly want to serve make it, those who gave up or made excuses as to why they never got a job stopped working at it. By the way who should be training future cops and firefighters??. What kind of silly statement is that, do you want the mailman to teach cops and firefighters or the insurance salesman. People specialize in certain fields have you lost sight of this fact.


Posted by Arnold, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 7, 2010 at 9:55 pm

Hoffa

The openings for public safety careers are being flooded with applicants. The FD gets about 1000 aplicants per opening. Both positions start with a compensation package worth well over 100K. That is for people that have a high school diploma. If you have an AA or BA the pay is extra. The job market has changed for the PD, and the FD has always had more applicants than they can handle. Quit with the nonsense.


Posted by Anthony, a resident of Carriage Gardens
on Dec 8, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Perhaps these public employee unions should talk to some of my friends that used to work at NUMMI. Get greedy and the job goes away forever.

If I understand this correctly, the Mayor said the financial review committee would meet in the spring, but the contracts for the PERS employees are coming up in January. Isn't that backwards?

Also, who was supported by the Unions in their bid for office? I heard Jerry Thorne thank Scott Walsh from the fire dept. for placing signs for him around town. I saw postcards with Jerry, Cheryl and Jennifer on them paid for by the Fire Dept. Anyone want to bet $100 that none of these folks will take on the problem.

The real shame is that the mayor has 2 more years and she is out. What is she going to be passing along to future councils? Even bigger problems than we have now.

Looks like this council and mayor use buzz words like fiscal health and financial conservative, but don't have a clue what it any of it means.


Posted by Not So Sure, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Does anyone remember President Reagan vs. the Air Traffic controllers.

Anything is possible.


Posted by hoffa, a resident of Val Vista
on Dec 8, 2010 at 9:40 pm

To not so sure. So now you want people to lose there jobs.Exactly what is it you want. 401k's for public safety, do you want 65 year old cops and firefighters. Why are you so bitter towards people who chose a profession to help people. Do you want volunteers to provide services for you, Heck maybe you could even volunteer. I'll bet you know a cop or a firefighter, share your thoughts with them. Have a meaningful conversation, You will come away with some better understanding of how things work. Right now sounds as if your just buying into the anti movement without facts.


Posted by Bart Hughes, a resident of Foothill High School
on Dec 9, 2010 at 6:52 am

Hoffa - As I've stated over and over again, I value the services that public employees provide to this great community. And I believe public servants deserve pensions. However, the current program is based on extremely faulty assumptions (even Grey Davis admits SB400 was a mistake) and has created unsustainable pensions that are putting financial stress on governments.

The current program needs to be adjusted to create more fairness between public employees and taxpayers. This adjustment is starting to happen in many cities across the bay area and elsewhere - and yes many include raising the retirement ages even for policemen and firemen. I agree that it is not prudent to have a 65 year old policeman on the street but moving the retirement age back up to 55 (as it was in the 90's) will not put undo hardship on our safety personnel.


Posted by Pleasantonian, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2010 at 9:23 am

Bart, Former Assembly Speaker, DEM, Willie Brown also said it was a mistake. The UNsustainability was evident in a few short years later.


Posted by two cents, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2010 at 9:30 am

What happened at the meeting on Tuesday?


Posted by Bart Hughes, a resident of Foothill High School
on Dec 9, 2010 at 9:51 am

At the City Council meeting on Tuesday, multiple people from the community spoke about the issue and urged the Council to deal with it. Mayor Hosterman committed to hold public forums on the topic in the spring.

Here is the issue right now. Prior to the public discussions, the Council will be approving a new employee contract that will take a very small baby step to deal with the issue. Yes, employees will likely be asked to contribute a portion of the employee contribution amount. They won't even cover the increases coming from CalPERs this coming year.

This means taxpayers will wall further behind even after picking up 100% of the cost overuns these past eight years. So yes our elected officials can technically say they are doing something, but not nearly enough to fix the situation.

Unless you are OK with more money being shifted from the general fund to pay for this and are OK with the necessary reductions in services, you need to contact our representatives now.


Posted by Pete, a resident of Downtown
on Dec 9, 2010 at 10:07 am

Bart,

We need to put a referendum on the ballot otherwise we are going to see absolutely not action of substance out of our elected officials. I think they are beholding to special interests who endorsed them. They will not bite the hand which has fed them. We need a referendum or issue a drop dead date for their action, after which a referendum will go on the ballot. We cannot afford this.


Posted by Bart Hughes, a resident of Foothill High School
on Dec 9, 2010 at 10:31 am

Pete - I'm waiting to see whether/not the Mayor/Council gets the message we are sending and turn their concerns into actions with the upcoming contract in January.

While I will participate in the spring-time community forums on this issue, I am growing increasingly uncomfortable that this will stall further the necessary tough decisions. The decision to pursue the initiative approach (similar to Menlo Park's success) will be based on the concrete actions the city takes in January/February.

In the meantime, everyone who is concerned about this issue needs to reach out to the Mayor/City Council now. Let them know that you will be watching the new contract terms to determine whether/not they are dealing with this issue in an effective manner.

Please note that the situation is getting worse as expected. I just reviewed Pleasanton's CalPERs actuarial report. Pleasanton is becoming more unfunded and CalPERs contribution rates are going up significantly. This means increased costs for Pleasanton citizens.


Posted by Pete, a resident of Downtown
on Dec 9, 2010 at 10:40 am

Bart,

I am ok with waiting until January/February but there needs to be a drop dead date for action otherwise like most elected officials they will put it on the never never plan.

One point of clarification though, how would costs to Pleasanton citizens increase? Wouldn't the increase need to come in the form of some approved new tax?


Posted by Bart Hughes, a resident of Foothill High School
on Dec 9, 2010 at 11:12 am

Pete - Total Pleasanton budget costs won't increase. But as the entitlement costs (pension and medical) continue to increase, the city will spend less on other services and increase fees where it can on its own (e.g business license fees, etc.) to cover the cost overuns.

The coming CalPERs cost increases are significant. For example, the city contribution rates for general employees is going up from 17.3% to 21.1% next year. This 380 basis point increase represents a 22% cost increase for the city. It is a worse situation for safety personnel.

So in this context, a 1-2% employee contribution rate makes no sense at all. But this is what will happen if more people don't speak up now.


Posted by two cents, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2010 at 11:44 am

Having heard the comments from the community, did the board say anything on Tuesday about why they are waiting until spring to have public hearing about this when they are approving contracts in Jan/Feb? Surely they know what the public have to say about this anyhow - it's pretty darn clear people are fed up with them spending our tax money in this way.

What realistically can we / they do about the contracts coming up? What should we be asking them to do to be fiscally responsible right now? Can anyone help out with a simple clear message we can send.


Posted by Bart Hughes, a resident of Foothill High School
on Dec 9, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Message:

Make the entitlements program cost neutral going forward for Pleasanton taxpayers by:
- Increase employee contribution rates
- Adopt two-tiered pension program
- Cap medical expense contributions and make employees/retirees pick up increases


Posted by Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Getting back in circulation after a bout of flu. I am Emailing all the council. Thorne is our best bet as he is a retired businessman unlike the others who have never worked in their lives. I see that even Gov-elect Brown is taking action. It takes the enemy to know the enemy. Maybe he can get something done.


Posted by two cents, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Thanks Bart, I will be contacting them too. You're right, we want this to be cost neutral to taxpayers as it was designed to be.

Concerned - I got the impression Brown was setting things up to look dire (which it is) so he can sell a tax increase. I hope he knows that there is a lot to fix and a lot of cost savings to be made before asking for more taxes in this already high tax state. It worries me that dems are saying we've already cut all we can when we're paying prison guards 100k and they've barely had a crack at the salary and benefits situation.


Posted by Bart Hughes, a resident of Foothill High School
on Dec 9, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Two Cents - Contact me via ptownreform@gmail.com if you are interested in seeing an analysis I put together with government data that proves definitively that even after all the cuts CA government revenue has grown faster than the baseline of inflation/population growth.

We have a spending problem, not a revenue problem in this state and the governments own data proves it.


Posted by Pleasantonian, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Bart, I agree with your 3 solutions....with a bit of expanding.

Yes, Increase employee retirement contribution. However, Cook-Kallio
thinks the new 2 % contribution would be a contribution...I said it's a joke, a reallyk sick joke. a real contribution would be something between 50 & 100 %. Anything below 50 % is an meaningless insult. Also, when calculating retirements on the last years and salary level, that last top position needs a minimum length time in that position. Stop the ""California rolling stop"" through the chief level, for example. To USE that top in calculating, they should occupy that position for at LEAST a 4 year MINIMUM.

Yes Adopt 2 tiers, one for current (with some adjustments)
the other for new-hires.

Yes to reducing or capping employer's medical costs, adding CO-pays and increasing CO-pays.


Posted by Holly, a resident of Ironwood
on Dec 10, 2010 at 10:41 pm

Bart, this town needs you! Stand up and run. We have the same choice of people that rarely get things done. You have the experience and education to do something to shift this problem. In the midst of seeing our State fall apart, we've all clung to our hopes that our cute little town will remain. With the school cuts and the need for more and more taxes to keep up with the spending, how about we look at ways to live within our city budget and get rid of excess spending. You've put the time into it - get involved, we'll support you!


Posted by Shoot_The_Messengers, a resident of Del Prado
on Dec 11, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Shoot_The_Messengers is a registered user.

Great suggestions Mr. Hughs. Totally rational.

@Pleasantonian, if the new contract only calls for a 2% contribution it will demonstrate that the city has not taken this issue seriously. That sounds like a "token" gesture so the unions can say "see, we're sacrificing" and the city can say "see, we're doing something".

Employees portion of pension contributions as defined by CalPERS is something like 7-9% isn't it? The city picked up 100% of this employee contribution for 8 years. One would assume the fair solution would be for employees to now pick up 100% of this for the next 8 years.

So maybe somewhere in between is a "compromise" area...but 2%!!!!!

If 2% is the number I will be extremely disappointed in our government.


Posted by When ?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 16, 2010 at 10:55 pm

WHEN will the new contract be voted on ?? They are great at playing at the calendar to keep locals from defending ourselves.


Posted by Bart Hughes, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 18, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Contract schedule:

Available to public on city website - 12/31/10

Presented at council meeting - 1/4/11

Council vote - 1/18/11

Unfortunately, the new contract (which will likely require taxpayers to pick up the majority of costs) is a done deal unless there is a huge public outcry.

If you care, you need to speak up now.


Posted by Pleasantonian, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2010 at 7:38 pm

Just now, Sun eve 60 Minutes, had a bit on the public unions that are crushing municipalities and......municipal bonds, that will be facing a collapse ! Gee thanks ! Where did I read, city of Pleasanton used our staggering federal "stimulus " funds to pay Pleasanton public union retirement contributions. You know the 'contributions' the members are suppose to pay themselves for their own retirement funds, BUT hear ye, hear ye... our politicians choose to we pay it FOR THEM. AND, what really angers me......that stimulus never got to Main St America, where it could have saved my adult son's job ! That's why across Main St America never got the stimulus money...public union, GM, and inner cities got it ! The BIG LIE was that the pretense was it would help Main street..... WRONG, CA is STILL 12.5% UNemployed, and the NATIONAL news think 9.5% sounds bad. Too bad, stimulus was never for MAIN Street !

What's the $ number that Pleasanton contributed to SIT and grow in the union members fat retirements.....INSTEAD of stimulate america ?? We have to discuss this further during farsical 'negotiations'.


Posted by Arnold, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 20, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Pleasantonian

I would be interested in hearing your comments regarding some quotes that I read in last weeks "The Independent" weekly. Personnaly, I find these comments very troubling on several different levels. Let me know what you think. The quotes and comments:

PLEASANTON SCHOOLS ACT ON FUNDING

"In the Pleasanton school district, assistant superintendent Luz Cazares noted that accounting standards changes made five years ago now "strongly suggest" that school districts list unfunded liability on their books, even though the payments are not due yet.
It is not a requirement. However, failure to list unfunded liability could result in having to pay a higher interest rate, if the district goes to borrow money, said Cazares.

The district listed nothing on the books in the first year it was aware of the policy. However, last year and this year, the district has set aside one-half of the amount. Next year it hopes to set aside the full 100 percent, which would be $640,000.

The money next year would come from the general fund. This year and last year, the district used federal stimulus money.

Although some residents might be concerned that those dollars don't go directly to the classroom, the offsetting consideration is that the district needs to maintain its fiscal health. Districts that have not done that sometimes have had to declare a default, and have been taken over by the county schools.""


In Livermore, I find these comments, which come from a person with the title of "chief business official", downright frightening:

"In the Livermore school district, chief business official Susan Kinder said that the district has no liability issues with STRS, which covers pensions.

On medical liability, the district pays a maximum of $7500 annually for a retiree. Kinder said that the medical plan was once a front burner issue. However, now it's on the back burner, with so many other things more important, in the light of the state budget crisis.""

(CalSTRS has some serious issues of their own and will be asking the state to raise their rates significantly (they don't have the same ability as CalPERS in that regard)).

- is it just me, or does anyone else find these comments troubling?


Posted by John, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 20, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Arnold, PUSD is fortunate to have a professional like Luz in the district. This is not the first time this issue has been brought to the publics attention, it has been spoken openly for the past two years. Understanding the funding that was guaranteed through Prop 98 that never came to the district can help with seeing where the issue stems from. The state stopped their share of guaranteed funding public education, yet the schools still have to run. I suggest you direct your questions to Luz, she is very informative about the subject and has been nothing but transparent about it.

BTW, the teachers do pay monthly for their retirement, and they pay all of their health benefits in this town.


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: *

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

DSRSD's Kohnen Scholarship on Hold
By Roz Rogoff | 0 comments | 731 views

Fifty Ways to Craze Your Donors
By Tom Cushing | 0 comments | 621 views

Be a sport: Send us your youth sports news, scores and photos
By Gina Channell-Allen | 0 comments | 387 views

When Adult Children Go Off to College: Keeping Your Eye on The Law
By Elizabeth LaScala | 0 comments | 204 views