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City Council Eyeing Surplus to Shore Up Pension Shortfall

Original post made by Rick, Vintage Hills Elementary School, on Feb 10, 2011

In a contentious work shop at city hall, the city council was given recommendations by its financil staff to shore up its pension shortfall. Among them, was to tap into the city's rainy day fund to pay down the pension shortfall, estimated to be between $110 and $183 million dollars.

The public was invited to comment on the proposals and thats when things began to get a bit raucous. On one side, those that wanted public employees to contribute more to their pensions. On the other side were public employees and their supporters.

Each side was cheering and booing speakers as they took the michrophone and Mayor Jennifer Hosterman tried in vain to maintain order.

The council appears to be favoring approving the new contract which would raise employees contributions by 2%. Mayor Hosterman, Matt Sulivan and Cheryl Cooke-Kuleo signaled they will move forward and approve the contract. Cincy Mcgovern and Jerry Thorne appeared to be willing to reopen negotiations with the union.

Near the end of the meeting, Bart Hughes, who is leading the charge to reform pension benefits was sparing with Mayor Hosterman. The Mayor scolded him for asking questions he already knew the answers to. Among them were, "Under this contract, will the pension liability go up or down"? The city manager, Nelson Fiahlo answered "it will go up". Mayor Hosterman was fuming.

The Mayor said she was upset by the tone of the meeting and appeared to scold those trying to rein in pensions. In the end she proclaimed that she promised in negotiations with the union that she would get a 5-0 vote to approve the contract. That appears to be in question

Comments (21)

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Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown
on Feb 10, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Can our arrogant mayor spell initiative?
Maybe she's too busy gearing up to run for Haggerty's in the next election. Talk about fiscal stupidity, this contract is the epitome of it.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 10, 2011 at 6:38 pm

I was in attendance, the tone was respectful. There was a small amount of spontaneous applause. I found myself responding to speakers who I thought did a great job without intending to do so, as did others. I did not hear anyone boo, I did not see anyone being intentionally disrespectful.

That is until the Mayor was disrespectful to Mr. Hughes. Hosterman seemed to be looking at someone in the back of the room, I looked back to see the woman that had represented the Union giving a signal with her hand slashing her neck. The Union rep was signaling to cut off Mr. Hughes.......and our Mayor did! Hosterman went on to show extreme bias in favor of the Union, finishing with her statement that she hoped to get a five to 0 vote. I felt very disrespected as a citizen knowing she was not there to to represent us.



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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 10, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Just to be clear, the union rep that was making the beheading signal in the back of the room was from APT, not PCEA. She also tried to frame it as a class issue when she spoke, which was rather insulting to those middle and working class private citizens in Pleasanton.


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Posted by two cents
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 8:02 pm

If this is true maybe we should add a recall to the citizen's initiative. I've heard the unions were pulling the puppet strings, but this is ridiculous!


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Posted by s
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 8:06 pm

"In the end she proclaimed that she promised in negotiations with the union that she would get a 5-0 vote to approve the contract. "

So the mayor is obviously working with the unions. She made that promise before even coming to the workshop to hear the public's opinions and questions.

I also agree with a previous poster that the meeting was quite civil. The only part that was not was when the mayor blew her top with Bart speaking while she said that she wanted to go home. She was so rude and an embarrassment as the mayor of Pleasanton. Obviously the public input is just a waste of time to her. The beginning of the meeting she did say that she would allow as much time that is needed to get all questions and opinions heard. Then was it got towards the end, the mayor reneged on that statement saying that she wanted to go home.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 10, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that the mayor was cutting Mr. Hughes off because of the APT lady's hand gestures. The beheading motion was done after the confrontation had started.


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Posted by Rick
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 10, 2011 at 8:36 pm

If they choose to raid the city's surplus, personel costs, as a percentage of the budget will exceed 80%. That should have been factored in as a projection if that is what they plan to do.

They claim to be addressing the problem but the trend is going in the opposite direction.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Carriage Gardens
on Feb 11, 2011 at 1:07 pm

I think it is time to put the Mayor and the 2 tier/8% employee contributions/initiative on the ballot. Recall. This city would do better without her.


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 11, 2011 at 1:09 pm

There use to be a favorite phase by the baby boomer generation, "stick it to the man". Which meant for us teenagers and young adults to resist arthority, typically the "man" being the government.

Now the shoe is on the other foot and it is the government, via our mayor and the city government, who wants to stick to the taxpaying baby boomers.


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Posted by George
a resident of Danbury Park
on Feb 11, 2011 at 1:27 pm

She has been called a bleeding heart liberal before and I doubt this will be the last time.


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Posted by Pablo
a resident of Downtown
on Feb 11, 2011 at 3:59 pm

None of our elected officials are immune from lawsuits personally and she is aware that she has legal responsibilities to represent us correctedly. I think she should be recalled and all future union contracts be required to be ratified by public vote. Hostermann is in bed with union interests and we are paying her debt with our money.


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Posted by unbelievable
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Mr. Hughes wasn't asking question but attempting to interrogate the staff. He clearly believes that he holds the answer when clearly he has mixed up the figures and ignore other things the city has down to limit the liability.

The conversation was MOSTLY civil, however some very insulting comments were made about city employees.




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Posted by anon
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2011 at 7:40 pm

Unbelievable

I actually appreciate the comments and questions from Mr. Hughes. And if he was interrogating the staff then good for him for attempting to shed some light on the continuation of an overly burdensome contract. If you want to be critical did you see the mayor's episode from the Dias/table? If anyone embarrassed themselves it wasn't Mr. Hughes


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Posted by Jennifer is stupid
a resident of Danbury Park
on Feb 11, 2011 at 7:54 pm

Our Mayor is just frustrated by her lack of intelligence in communicating when confronted by facts from Mr. Hughes who seems to be trying to communicate with a child when talking with our mayor and council. I personally think that they are incompetent and completely clueless so to expect them to work through this issue beyond hope. Afterall, what are their backgrounds? I guess the real fools are us for voting them into office and also our moron level school board members.


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Posted by unbelievable
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2011 at 8:34 pm

The real issue is why Mr. Hughes thinks he knows better than a finance director with decades of experience in both the private and public sector. What is Mr. Hughes' background??? Where did he come from and why is he so engaged at this point in time?

The council has a staff of experts at their disposal who actually have degrees and experience in this arena.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 11, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

No, the real issue is the financial problem facing our city.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 11, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Ah, here's a little bit of entertainment, a forum for actuaries! Web Link Be sure to check out "Public Plan Watch III: The Reckoning"


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Posted by Arnold
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2011 at 11:07 pm



The real issue is why Mr. Hughes thinks he knows better than a finance director with decades of experience in both the private and public sector. What is Mr. Hughes' background??? Where did he come from and why is he so engaged at this point in time?

- Don't know where he came from but I'm guessing he is engaged in this topic for many of the same reasons that the entire country is engaged in this topic, especially states like California that are being overrun by unfunded pension liabilities.

"The council has a staff of experts at their disposal who actually have degrees and experience in this arena."

- they had a staff of "experts" back in 2002 that approved the contracts that included substantially increased compensation, pension formula increases, reduced retirement ages ('98 I think), and retroactive pension benefits. This was a tremendous windfall for the employee unions. Now that we have tremendous unfunded liabilities the current group of experts, many of which were the former group of experts that also significantly enriched themselves, seem to be doing nothing more than picking at the edges of the problem.

I'm losing faith in our elected officials. I like Matt Sullivan but his comments that negotiations have to be part of the collective bargaining process is troubling. Every single union rep that has been quoted in the past few years says the exact same thing. If you here a council member repeats the words it most likely lets you know everything you need to know about who they're really working for. I'll say that goes double for Pleasanton because the RETROACTIVE PENSION BENEFITS are such a taxpayer rip-off that any politician that defends the previous contract, or says that we have to be fair to employees, is completely ignoring the people they have sworn to represent.

While other cities are struggling to balance a budget and asking their unions to make real concessions, Pleasanton elected officials are saying we don't have to do that because we value our employees and we have money. I guess our Mayor and Council don't think these other cities value their employees. I would appreciate it if our wealthy city (?) would set an example and at least acknowledge that the decisions that have been made in the past aren't healthy, the raises that employees received during the recession were probably not warranted, and we should be responsible by not continuing to ignore the obvious problem.

Surrounding cities, our good neighbors, are going to be impacted by the lack of discipline demonstrated by our current experts. Continuing to cater to the unions, considering the ridiculous benefits and raises they have received over the past eight years, is a disservice to every other city that participated in the two county task force. Not only are our experts doing a disservice to us but they are also doing a disservice to our surrounding communities, and every other city that uses Pleasanton as a comparable salary survey city.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 12, 2011 at 8:37 am

Stacey is a registered user.

The Council does have a staff of experts to help, but they're missing an actuary, as mentioned at the Feb. 1 workshop. The City relies upon CalPERS for actuarial reports. I don't know if those reports include OPEB or not. If not, then the City is somewhat driving blind with regards to how much it should be contributing for OPEB.


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Posted by Rick
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 12, 2011 at 10:54 am

I hate to break the news to you but I just checked out the PUSD budget. The unfunded pension liability is $54 million dollars and it went up 25% from 2008-2010. That can't be good.
Page 52-53Web Link


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Posted by it is hopeless
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 12, 2011 at 3:49 pm

"The council has a staff of experts at their disposal who actually have degrees and experience in this arena."

Is this the same staff that said that the pensions were not going to cost the city anything in 2002?

Is this the same staff that said in 2002 that increasing pensions retroactivily were not going to cost anything?

Is this the same staff that negotiated for a 8-year contract, 41% pay increase after the beginning of the downturn in the economy?

Is this the same staff that put in the staff report in 2002 that if the economy or the state does have problems that they will go back to the union?

Is this the same staff that pushed for retiree medical at no cost to the employees?

Wow, these guys are so good. I think I will hand over my 401(k) and have them invest it for me. NOT.


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