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What's up with the Fire Department Contract

Original post made by Mr. Brown Act on Jul 13, 2012

I've never understood the double super-secret negotiations between city management and employee unions. The FD contract negotiations seem endless yet the public remains in the dark. Why is that? I don't think there is any absolute requirement to do so. Both sides can agree to open negotiations. So why is it that the only people not privy to these elongated negotiations are the same people that will ultimately pay for the service.

Considering government transparency is in vogue (sort of), and we are talking about taxpayer funds, how long is this process going to continue while keeping the consumer/financiers/money providers in the dark? The entire process is absurd.

Who is protecting whom?

Comments (57)

Posted by Pleasanton Neighbor, a resident of Avila
on Jul 13, 2012 at 8:37 am

Anything We The People pay for should be open for us to read. This includes teachers, police, fire department, city workers and all of their administrators. All of it. Number of hours, how much vacation time, over-time pay and the retirement benefit.

The retirement age needs to be moved up to match the private sector and yes, there are jobs that police and fire fighters can do when they are older without being hazardous...


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 13, 2012 at 8:57 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I know of at least one place where negotiations themselves are open to the public, not just reading about them. Can't recall if public comment is allowed, but being able to attend the meetings mean you can then comment to the council or board who has final approval.


Posted by taxpayer, a resident of Downtown
on Jul 13, 2012 at 9:03 am

The contract will not be significantly changed. They will still retire at age 50 with 90% of their final earnings paid for life. Every year they will get a COLA and every time the workers get a raise, they will get one also. They will collect these obscene pensions although they have paid virtually nothing into them. Their health care will likely still be entirely free for life, all of this paid for by us. We will go bankrupt while they enjoy our fully funded retirement starting at age 50. Most will take another job and will collect full pay as well as full retirement benefits.
Are you fed up yet? Have you written to the city council to tell them?
The pensions need to be changed to 2% at 65 with no paid medical benefits. Any earnings they have after retirement must reduce, dollar for dollar, their pensions and that reduction needs to stay in place for life. They need to contribute fully to their pensions, not some infinitely small amount that is not significant.
Don't bother with the argument that "no one will want the job". Nonsense. Put out the word Pleasanton is hiring, with these restrictions, and watch the swarms of people show up for the class.


Posted by taxpayer, a resident of Downtown
on Jul 13, 2012 at 9:29 am

Keep thinking the golden goose will never die lugnut. Your pension is not as secure as you think. Taxpayers have had enough of cops and firemen getting good wages to work and better pensions to retire at age 50. How's that disability scam coming along for you? Have you logged every little made up injury from date of hire to prove that you are retiring on a completely tax free pension?
Yeah, I do know what I am talking about. Been married to a fireman for nearly 30 years. Heard all the stories about guys like you and watched all the jerks retire on their "disability" to go play golf every day. Rape of the taxpayers, simple as that. The honest guys, like mine, pay the price in disrespect from everyone who hears about the ones like you.


Posted by homer, a resident of Downtown
on Jul 13, 2012 at 9:40 am

eventually you run out of "other people's money".


Posted by Been There, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2012 at 7:10 pm

I totally agree with you, taxpayer" about how many people would show up for a firefighting job in Pleasanton if *half* of the current salary and benefits were offered. Do you know how many young men and women have been through firefighting school, thinking this would be their career, only to find out when they were half-way through the program that there are basically no jobs available anywhere. It's such a boondoggle. These programs are still being taught at community colleges everywhere in the State by firefighters (on their many days off) and only a very, very small percentage of the students will ever have a chance of getting hired anywhere. How many families are being ripped off and how many young people are wasting a couple of years of their life doing this? It is shameful, really.
If it weren't for the ironclad union, this job would have been vulnerable to low wage immigrant labor. I hardly ever see the firefighters shopping together in the grocery store anymore. I used to see them all the time and the kids would go up to them and be so excited. That was before so many people lost their jobs and realized what was going on. Along that line, maybe firefighters might want to be considerate to the public by not displaying their union sticker on their Lexus. They may be proud of their union but everyone else is irritated...and we are paying those salaries. Taxpayers who work long, hard hours themselves and have nowhere near the pay and benefits, have paid for those nice cars.

I'm not saying a decent salary isn't warranted for this critical and important job. It's just that things have gone too far.


Posted by Inappropriate i, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2012 at 10:05 pm

This public union back and forth seems a good place to insert my reaction to the comments on the conflict between Dublin officer and homeless person, resulting in a shooting. Thoughtful comments on that restricted thread, and I was ready to add one myself. Then came upon a midnight comment full of attitude and arrogance, with a so there, lecture to Pleasantonians. ...'just remember all Pleasanton police and fire earn every penny of retirement and do work we're afraid to do.!' Inappropriate. Union fight always right there on the edge. I can't help but think his attitude must interfere with doing his job. He's probably arguing at that secret union 'negotiating' table. That's why we can see just how everything is granted on the spot. What we see following is just theatre, to look like both sides were thoughtfully 'discussing'.


Posted by Informed, a resident of Livermore
on Jul 13, 2012 at 10:42 pm

Public employee contracts are just that... Public. The city of Pleasanton City Council held a public hearing prior to entering into negotiations with all employees. When an agreement is reached, it will also be reviewed publically and voted on by the council.

Public employees are professional, well trained and committed people. All the programs, community improvements, safety and community maintenence to make Pleasanton a beautiful community is done by these employees.

I think these employees have a right to make a wage and benefits to live in the community they maintain and protect. The current challenges with pensions comes from investment losses. These losses were not driven by public employees. They were driven by dishonest and greedy private sector employers and investors who caused collapse of the banking industry and the housing market. The two strongest economic drivers in the United States. If this had not happened, investments would still be strong and pension costs would be little or nothing, like they were in the mid 1990's.

Much of the negative here is misrepresented or misinformed. To receive a 90% pention, you must work 30 years, not to 50 years old. for some, that will be 50. For many, that is 60, or unattainable because their bodies wont hold up to the work.

To the person with the spouse with 30 years on the job. Please thank them for me. I know what the have been through and the things they have seen over a 30 year career. Please do not assume your spouse in the only honest firefighter. The fraud you speak of is a selfish few in the workforce, and exists in EVERY workforce.

Do not presume you know what public employees actually do for a community unless you have been one. Everything you enjoy, from your parks to your safety is brought to you, coutesy of them.


Posted by Mr. Mittens, a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2012 at 10:43 pm

I agree that the lack of transparency is appalling. By gosh, this would not happen in the private sector. Chase Manhatten, for example, like my own presidential campaign and my willingness to reveal my economic finances and taxes, is a fine example of how public sector institutions should strive to emulate those of the private sector.


Posted by Inappropriate , a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2012 at 11:44 pm

To informed, who is so NOT informed..Definitely blind, biased or naive. You may try to con other uninformed and or gullible. but it won't work.
First, comparable pay for comparable education, security, length of service, and contributions would be realistic. However, such is not the case.
But the really big untruth is about the public union financial stability and lack of sustainability. From day one they were financially impossible to sustain longterm, even if nothing had changed in the economy. The investment situation just made it visible to the most ignorant and uninformed, but the situation was there all along. The trajectory would only have been a short bit later. Small postponment, but inevitable, very inevitable mathmatically. Statistically unsustainable from the day those first excessive contracts written in Gov Davis day. Studies and warnings were published several years earlier. Nice try, but euphemistically speaking....factually incorrect.


Posted by local, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2012 at 2:33 pm

"Informed", the program got real bad when the professionals in the unions convinced the elected officials that a huge increase in pensions, combined with the greatly decreased age to required, plus making that retroactive till the day the employees started their job, would not cost the taxpayers anything. Add to that the ability to spike salaries and really cheat the taxpayer with saving sick and vacation time and allowing employees to purchase "air time". Oh yes, add to that free medical care once the employee retires.

The current system of public employee unions is completely broken. the employees have all the rights while the taxpayers (i.e., the employees) have none. The decisions made around 2000 which were obviously bad decisions cannot be turned back, according to the unions.

I have a simple solution to the problem:
1) Figure out the correct compensation and benefit package for new employees (something comparable to the private sector). Have a pension system that is comparable to what the taxpayers have (i.e., 401(k) type plan plus social security where the employer and employee pay equal amounts), pension costs calculated at the actuarial amount that the private sector would require, and no free retiree medical insurance. Then calculate the total cost for that employee.
2) Employees on existing benefit packages can not get an increase in any salary or benefit (e.g., increase in medical insurance, etc.) until their total cost (including benefits) is below the same level as new employees (group 1).
3) Employees from group 2 can change to the salary and benefits of group 1 if they wish.

Pretty simple. That should be a simple state initiative which would apply to all state agencies including general law cities and counties.


Posted by Arnold , a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2012 at 3:24 pm

So many of you think you can fool me. But you can't, as any idiot is capable of doing the math and then realizing that a flood of overwhelming proportions is coming. Look at Stockton. There are people moving out in droves because, after declaring bankruptcy -- BANKRUPTCY -- there will be no police force, no fire fighters, to corrupt teachers' unions. It's a return to what existed just prior to the great flood that Noah and his family saw coming.

I like what Scranton has done. Minimum wage for all public 'workers', and cut 40% of them who don't deserve any pay whatsoever. This is what they do in the private sector. My own extensive mathematical calculations show that cuts like this are necessary if we are to get to the kind of society we need to live in, where Chase Manhatten execs earn 170 times what a peon teacher or fire fighter earns.


Posted by Inappropriate , a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2012 at 6:39 pm

I thought we were comparing neighboring taxpayers to neighboring public employees. We local taxpayers in East Bay do not make NYCITY wages EITHER ! ! We're comparing each other in education, skills, years, exchanged, benefits, contributions, etc, ...Now you think you're a Wall Street genius !! Life isn't fair, but neighbors who are 'exchanging' goods, time, and sweat, should be fair to each other, and not intentionally screw your neighbors.


Posted by Mr. Mittens, a resident of another community
on Jul 14, 2012 at 7:02 pm

I agree that fair is fair. The really important people like at Chase Manhatten, Lehmann Bros., Wells Fargo, Walmart do more of their fair share of sweating compared to the little people. It's time we acknowledged this. It isn't enough that CEO's make tens of millions per year; what is important is that we not tax them as much as their secretaries get taxed.

Before exiting, I do want to stress how awful my opponent is being with his undignified criticisms of my background and my refusal to divulge past tax forms. I wish I could deny the charges for heaven's sake. But since I can't, let it suffice to call my opponent a very classless act. He's in way over his head. We need a businessman for President. Sincerely yours (well, sort of -- heh-heh-heh), Mr. Mittens


Posted by Mitwad, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 15, 2012 at 7:00 am

Before exiting, I do want to stress how awful my opponent is being with his undignified criticisms of my background and my refusal to divulge my school transcripts. I wish I could have actually attended classes, but I was too busy community agitating. But since I can't, let it suffice to call my opponent a very class act. I'm in way over my head. We need a businessman for President. Sincerely yours (well, sort of -- heh-heh-heh), Mr. Mitwad


Posted by Mr. Mittens, a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2012 at 7:26 am

Yes, Mitwad is so correct. Of what importance should a record of my business practices be compared to my opponent's law school transcripts? Harvard says only top 10% of class is eligible for the Harvard Law Review, so Obama's presidency of the HLR must have been some kind of affirmative action thing. Or, the people who were doctoring Obama's birth certificate for the time this socialist was planted in our midst may have been doctoring Obama's law school records as well.

We need a businessman in the White House, but my past experiences as a businessman, how much money I earned, what taxes (ha-ha-ha) I "paid," whether my filings were legal or not, well, for goodness sakes, these means nothing compared to a sitting president's law school transcripts.

Mr. Mittens = Full transparency. Heh-heh-heh.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 15, 2012 at 11:06 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

A picture is worth a thousand words: Web Link


Posted by Nurse Shark, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jul 15, 2012 at 11:26 am

So are you going to give your pension back, then, Staceleen? Early retirers sure do add to that tidal wave!


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 15, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I'll respond when you figure out you are trying to address two people. (Hint: Lip service doesn't count.)


Posted by Nurse Shark, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jul 15, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Staceleen, you dodge questions like a lifelong politician. You sure you won't run for governor? They could call you The Great Evader. In the predictable lack of a straight answer, it seems you're content to retire early on the taxpayers' dime, but you're not really down wit' OPP (other people's pensions). That cartoon tidal wave's got nothin' on your own personal entitlement wave.


Posted by Mr. Mittens, a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Oh my!!! That cartoon that Staceleen offered is too much!!! It confirms in cartoon black and white what my friend Arnold has been saying for years. There is a tsunami coming! How original! All the more reason we should resist Obama's efforts to raise taxes on Americans (or at least on Wealthy Americans, which being our job creating heroes, are the only ones who count).

My fellow Americans (and you little people, too), we are faced with a choice: raises taxes on the best of us to help pay outrageous salaries and pensions and health benefits of the little people among us; or punish the little people for asking 'for more, sir.' Obviously, fire fighters and police and teachers have been living beyond their means. I see this clearly from the perspective of all six of my houses around the country.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 15, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

NS, Not a dodge; it's a request for you to acknowledge the idiocy of your claim.

Mittens, "raises taxes on the best of us to help pay . . . the little people" Interesting viewpoint on who is best, who is little, and the image of Oliver apple to public sector employees.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 15, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Sorry, image of Oliver applied to . . .


Posted by image of Oliver applied to...., a resident of Pheasant Ridge
on Jul 15, 2012 at 1:34 pm

apology accepted


Posted by Tell them, Mittens, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 15, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Mittens, maybe instead of being so defensive you could approach the FD contract from the opposite angle. I agree with you, by the way, that the FD employees are the little people but many don't accept that argument. You and the FD would be better served by justifying the average employee cost of 230K (before overtime) by equating it to the number of calls for service. Most people understand the need for the Fire Department but many don't understand how many calls they respond to. Some even wonder why Paramedics and the FD respond equally to what amounts to 90% medical calls?

Actually that last question is interesting. Are taxpayers being double billed for both paramedic/fire response?


Posted by Mr. Mittens, a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2012 at 10:47 pm

"Most people understand the need for the Fire Department but many don't understand how many calls they respond to. Some even wonder why Paramedics and the FD respond equally to what amounts to 90% medical calls?"

Boy, do I ever agree. I'm the kind of fellow who seeks understanding about how many calls FD's respond to. Even though they are little people, I follow them during great lulls and during fire seasons. too. So we're both seekers of FD response! And oh boy do I ever wonder a lot about why FD AND paramedics respond to fires and crashes. That's one of my biggest wonders!

Now, I bet you know where I' going next! I'm thinking that FD little people, given that they aren't important like internat'l bank officers and hedgefund managers, shouldn't make as much money during the slow seasons.

Of course I wouldn't stop there, my friends, but I'd also cut half of the jobs. Too much task redundancy if you ask me. And if this resulted in a few more houses and comercial establishments burning down, well, heck, think about the job stimulus that would create in the housing industry.

I'm a conservative, folks. And I'm always looking out for you and your interests.


Posted by Thanks, mittens...but, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 15, 2012 at 11:26 pm

... the people paying for the duplicitous calls for medical response and the dwelling fires that rarely happen, and the over staffed department with average employee cost of 230K per employee (not including overtime or the ridiculous pensions that are NOT fully accounted for in the 230K in average cost number), do not receive six-figure salaries and then bill the city for overtime even when it really isn't (just another scam).

The people that are paying for this grossly overpriced service are people that work full time and make much less, without lifetime medical or six figure pensions at age 50, and do not get paid overtime unless they actually work overtime. The little people don't make these excessive six figure wages nor do they even have the option of six figure pensions at age 50.


Posted by Mr. Mittens, a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2012 at 11:42 pm

Oh my gosh! So is your point that little people deserve to make those kind of wages too? Because if it is, you are treading into socialist country my friend. And we don't want to go there. For what would THAT do to the current distribution of wealth in this company ... erm, I mean country.

But if your point is that FD workers -- mostly corrupt and lying slackers, I agree with you -- should return money to the democratic state that pays their wages, then you've got a point along with the other incompetent headshakes along with you who got canned from their local FD for one reason or another.

Happy to oblige you, my friend. My motto: if you've got a grudge, however unreasonable, I'll make it my crusade. We need to inflict pain upon the unworthies for the benefit of the worthies.


Posted by Sorry mittens, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2012 at 12:03 am

...Wrong on all counts. I don't consider the FD slackers - I just think they have little to do especially considring the private Parmedics are usually the first to respond and also do the transporting. The FD is the most oversold service in Pleasanton: overstaffed, too costly, and way under utilized.


Posted by To mittens, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2012 at 12:40 am

I appreciate the entertainment value contained in your drama queen antics, but you still haven't commented on the 230K plus average cost per employee, the overstaffing, the duplication of service, the fact paramedics are often the first to respond and also do the transport, or the excessive cosr of it all.

Oh yea, can't forget the pensions or retiree healthcare costs that are mostly deferred. And how much overtime do you need to work to receive overtime pay?


Posted by Mr. Mittens, a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2012 at 7:36 am

Like I said, I'm sorry the Pleasanton FD had to get rid of you. I'd feel obsessively vengeful too if I had been unceremoniously bounced on account of incompetence and moral turpitude as you were.

Still, I can tell you have really thought this through. I'd much rather have private paramedics arrive at the scene to put out one of my houses on fire than a fire dept. I just love the private paramedics' hook-an-ladder trucks! And one of the best policies I've ever seen is when the private paramedics insist on being paid
BEFORE they will take someone to the hospital.


Posted by Been There, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2012 at 8:32 am

You don't have to pay private paramedics before they take you to the hospital.


Posted by Mr. Mittens, a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2012 at 9:00 am

In many communities across this great land, private paramedics insist on receiving a down payment before they will transport someone from pt. A to pt. B. Now, if I am proven wrong, I will certainly retire my comment, retroactively.

As for these "super-secret negotiations," I just want to tell you that everything about my campaign involves transparency. Oh, there's my opponent's desperate attempt to get me to reveal my tax returns, but great Americans like myself shouldn't be made to suffer such an indignity. Truth be told, and I always tell the truth, John Kerry's wife never revealed HER tax returns. Now, maybe she had her wealth before marrying the awful man, and, yes, he revealed his own tax returns, but this just confirms my point: people like Kerry's ketchup wife and myself are not part of the little people like Kerry and so many other aspirants for the office of the president.

Now, about that matter of getting private paramedics some nice red, shiney hook-and-ladder trucks.... Mayor Giuliani was right: we didn't need fire fighters back during the days of 911, and we certainly don't need them now. Why, a salary of 80K is about 1/3 of what my friends and I will save by preserving tax cuts for the rich. That is scandelous! Where do these fire fighters get off thinking they can bamboozle real Americans who actually work for a living? Let's see THEIR tax returns!


Posted by Been There, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2012 at 11:22 am

I repeat: you do not have to pay private paramedics to take you to the hospital in any kind of emergency that the fire dept would transport you. The liability of refusing transport would put these private ambulances out of business. If you are requesting a convenience transport to receive non-emergency care such as regular kidney dialysis or something of that nature, they would require pre-payment. But certainly not for a heart attack, stroke, accident, childbirth etc. The average transport costs around $1000. with variable insurance payment depending on your insurance plan. They will come after you for the rest. This is an expense most Americans will incur once in their lifetime.

It's not so much the FD salary that does not equate to fellow taxpayers, it's the crazy benefits! Who gets those pensions and health care? Even 20 year military officers have to wait until they are 65 to collect pensions that are 40% of their ending salaries. And their risk level and time away from their families (months at a time) and hours actually involved in labor, are significantly greater.


Posted by Mr. Mittens, a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2012 at 12:54 pm

I'm so relieved you're not bothered by my own corporate earnings, often 'earned' on the backs of others, and that I, as serious candidate for the nation's highest office, refuse to divulge my back tax information. For what business is it of anyone if I am a crook or not? The Republican Party has already established it's comfortable with my lying. Heh-heh-heh.

And thank goodness you're not going to talk negatively about the $270,000.00 average my friends will withhold from the state if I and my good friends get our way.

No, the REAL problem is fire fighters. I'm so happy so many of my supporters have their priorities straight. Keep them that way, wish for wealth, and you never know, life might take a turn for the better and you won't be sitting and watching FOX news all day.

p.s. Comparing fire fighters with our military personnel is misleading. The fire fighters are little people; but military is even more so. What kind of a loser would one have to be to accept those kinds of salaries/wages? All the more reason to dump on them, I guess. Heh-heh-heh.


Posted by Inappropriate , a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Kathleen, thank you for that great WebLink. I'm sure some overlook it, like I almost did. Amazing how she is on target point after point, and yet be so, so funny ! ! (wrong on very few)
Definitely a case if a picture worth a thousand words ! I looked and laughed for an hour, and must finish later, A must see for all.


Posted by Been There, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2012 at 1:39 pm

After taking a 20 year retirement, military members...
get another job. No different than what we all do when one job ends for one reason or another. Then at 65, retired military can collect a pension based on 40% of their last salary (often dating back to 20+ years before). And they get their medical care at the VA - pretty good care but often it's hit and miss - it's certainly not a cadillac medical plan! Why is it this way? Because the taxpayers who get no pension at all and have only Medicare, can't afford anything else!

So why would anyone serve 20 years in the military? It's good, hard, worthwhile, challenging work, often 18+ hours a day (awake)for weeks on end and often half way around the world without family but you believe in your country and something greater than yourself...and you get about $15-50,000 more a year in pension (the higher amounts for Generals) than you would have if you had regular private sector jobs for 20 years...but it's certainly not the crazy public pensions we are hearing about. Generals couldn't collect (at 65) half of what the local fire chief gets at 50.

Just some perspective.


Posted by huh?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 17, 2012 at 3:49 pm

The firefighters are too busy parking cars for Cook-Kallio's fund raisers to worry about negotiating their contract. . .


Posted by late to the discussion, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2012 at 4:08 pm


If 90% of fire department calls are medical wouldn't it be more cost effective and productive to fund less fire department stations and staff and increase the number of paramedics, while saving taxpayers money? Paramedics Plus uses predictive technology to locate units around town based on frequency of calls using time, location, and other factors to place units in proximity to statistically probable location of need. If you have ever noticed paramedics parked in certain locations at certain times of the day that is the reason. The two man crews are stationed in their vehicle ready to respond to emergency calls, which is much different than sitting in a fixed location (the station).

The FD doesn't transport. If the Paramedics are usually the first responders and also transport, then I agree with another poster that mentioned double billing for paramedic services and transportation. If there is a better and more efficient way to provide medical services while also reducing the cost to the General Fund it needs to be explored. The big argument from the FD's standpoint is that paramedics can't do extractions when vehicles are badly damaged. I would agree that with that statement but it doesn't necessitate the number of underutilized fire stations in Pleasanton.


Posted by Mr. Mittens, a resident of another community
on Jul 18, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Oh, 'late to the discussion', you are such a fibber. Do you not think we all know it's been you and you alone pushing this little mythological conflict you've constructed? Still, I forgive you. Because who doesn't lie once in a while, after all. Heh-heh-heh.

But you raise a good point. Perhaps Paramedics should not be called to the scene of a fire unless there is rock solid evidence that someone has been injured. Otherwise, why waste the gas money? And perhaps, too, Fire Fighters should not be called to an accident unless the Paramedics arrive first and state categorically that an extraction is necessary. The lost time for the victim, in either case, will easily be offset by the savings of tax dollars to the community.

Stay tuned for more brilliant commentary from your friendly Republican neighbors and their hero ... ME!


Posted by LTD, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Nice try mittens. This argument is happening in cities all over California. The argument centers around providing cost effective services to communities at affordable prices and, also, re-engineering those services where appropriate. Probably no other taxpayer funded service that needs more re-engineering than the fire department.

Do recent technological breakthroughs in building materials and higher standards in building construction with increased use of sprinkler systems mean nothing to you? What about the increased understanding of fire science? The days of bucket brigades and towns burning to the ground are a distant memory. It is time the fire department acknowledges fighting fires is a small part of their job. And Pleasanton isn't alone you know. Every city has mutual-aid agreements with their neighboring cities.

Your diatribe continues to promote increased wages, the HSR, taxes, big government, and anything else that consumes taxpayer dollars or requires future taxpayer subsidies. Pensions? What's that? You seem to make unintelligible arguments opposing anything that reduces government cost. Why is that? Is you compensation based on a percentage of the tax dollars skimmed from public employee union wages? Or are you paid by the post?

Do you even know the average call volume of the LPFD? Are you aware that, according to the LPFD website that one station only responded to 265 calls in the last year they provided statistics?

Nothing criminal about taxpayers questioning how their money is spent. It only seems to be upsetting to you, mittens.


Posted by Mr. Mittens, a resident of another community
on Jul 18, 2012 at 5:48 pm

My diatribe, as you call it, is only to agree with my supporters, however half-baked their ideas.

Yes, I too know a lot about science. I know that there are very good corporate scientists, just like those who were in the employ of the tobacco industry, who say that increased forest and grass fires is a myth, just like cigarettes causing cancer is a myth; that earthquakes and gas explosions and fires are by no means imminent in the Bay Area; that likelihood of such things as more severe storms, draught-induced fires, landslides and floods are all just fictions. Because, you know it as well as I, all those noncorporate scientists (darned near close to 100%, I think) are trying to scare us with this global warming nonsense.

So, in conclusion, I agree with you. You seem like a really bright guy -- kind of like MY kind of guy. Sprinklers, yes. Great technology. With sprinkler systems, there is no need whatsoever to worry about gas fires and explosions. Genius. Keep up your intellectual heavy lifting fella! Why, with ideas like yours, we'll drive straight into the White House.


Posted by LTD, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Mittens, I do not agree with you. Let me restate my position.

This argument regarding excessive fire department contracts IS happening in cities all over California. The argument centers around providing cost effective services to communities at affordable prices and, also, re-engineering those services where appropriate. Probably no other taxpayer funded service that needs more re-engineering than the fire department.

Do recent technological breakthroughs in building materials and higher standards in building construction with increased use of sprinkler systems mean nothing to you? What about the increased understanding of fire science? The days of bucket brigades and towns burning to the ground are a distant memory. It is time the fire department acknowledges fighting fires is a small part of their job. And Pleasanton isn't alone you know. Every city has mutual-aid agreements with their neighboring cities, including Pleasanton.

Your diatribe continues to promote increased wages, the HSR, taxes, big government, and anything else that consumes taxpayer dollars or requires future taxpayer subsidies. Pensions? What's that? You seem to make unintelligible arguments opposing anything that reduces government cost. Why is that? Is you compensation based on a percentage of the tax dollars skimmed from public employee union wages? Or are you paid by the post?

Do you even know the average call volume of the LPFD? Are you aware that, according to the LPFD website that one station only responded to 265 calls in the last year they provided statistics?

Nothing criminal about taxpayers questioning how their money is spent. It only seems to be upsetting to you, mittens.




I want to ask you these question again, not that you actually answered any of my questions in the first place because you didn't - or couldn't, but that is just you... Do you even know the average call volume of the LPFD? Are you aware that, according to the LPFD website that one station only responded to ONLY 265 calls in the last year they provided statistics?

There is little doubt that the FD contract provides an opportunity for significant General Fund/taxpayer savings should the city have the courage to stand up to the IAFF/unions/IAFF friendly council members. The compensation these employees are receiving is obscene. The only justification for maintaining the current level of compensation is based on what other cities pay. We now know that what "other cities pay" is considered too much by "other cities" that also believe they pay too much; that is an understatement.

Considering shrinking tax dollars and accelerating employee costs push is coming to shove. The FD employee costs have risen SUBSTANTIALLY during the great recession, the past 15 years really, and it can't continue. If you consider supply and demand, education, or even danger there is no justification for the level of compensation this department is receiving. Nor is their justification for the current staffing levels.

Dublin doesn't pay anything close to what Pleasanton pays based on metrics like square smiles, per capita costs, or any other measurement you want to debate. Dublin also doesn't have 10's of millions in unfunfunded pension liability that Pleasanton residents are saddled with (and most don't even know it).


Posted by Duke, a resident of Parkside
on Jul 21, 2012 at 7:46 pm

I agree that firefighters here in Pleasanton make WAY too much money! Now I don't think we should pay them minimum wage but certainly not enough to afford a home in this community, and yes some DO own homes here. Obviously not the nicer homes in the nicer parts of town, but still.


Posted by Logic and Reason, a resident of Birdland
on Jul 21, 2012 at 8:54 pm

The idiocy here stirs me to the core. So there are negotiations going on. The prevailing thought is that the general public should be made aware of that evolution step by step in real time? You would like the opportunity to weigh in on negotiations as they occur? This is not reality television. These are people bargaining for the cost and value of doing very dangerous work. If you cannot be pleased that these people are bargaining to be your servant than the least you can do is be quite. It is true that only fools and children should see things half done.
What YOU, yes YOU, mandate that these people do for you as public servants goes well beyond fighting fire and the implication that fires happen less so they do less only serves to announce you profound ignorance. They are your ambassadors for everything from Pre hospital medical care to auto extrication, water rescue, and yes even structure fires. The laws that YOU have enacted required that they are certified to perform all of these duties under standards and those are not up to negotiation o or speculation. It is glaringly obvious that the malcontents here have no idea that rank and file members of the LPFD have college degrees in amazingly diverse topics such as physics and kinesiology, some even have Masters degrees. All have very technical and specialized knowledge in a variety of life and property saving disciplines. A number of members are nationally recognized teachers and operators whose skill set is so precise and so sought after they are deployed worldwide to help with disaster mitigation incident management. KNOW THIS, when the world calls people carrying YOUR name respond honorably. All of which is brought to bear on every call, every time, for the benefit of the residents and their guests that pass through. You pay for this world class service and you are getting what you pay for.
MITTENS: Laws YOU enforce requite 2 paramedics be on scene at every medical call, EVERYONE! YOU did not want to pay for both medics so YOU made a binding contract with a private agency to provide the other in exchange for the ability to transport and bill the patient. Then YOU enacted legislation that forbid any fire department to provide transportation and billing to lock the funds away from the FD. (San Bernadino ACT, look it up) Do homework before slandering.
NO you cannot have volunteers to do what they do. Do you think Pleasanton is Oakley, Bethal Island? Extended response (ALMOST NONE OF YOUR FIREFIGHTERS LIVE IN THE CITY, they cannot afford it) times and no training standards. Who do you think you are getting on X-mas eve? What do you think happens if a volunteer gets injured/killed on the job? How inexpensive would that be?
NO YOUR CITY IS NOT BROKE. It has a 10% operational reserve fund and a 25 million $ additional reserve. The malcontents need to do some homework or LISTEN to those council meeting you watch.
YES 2 RESERVE FUNDS!!! It's not hard to find. The council talks about it almost every session. By the way that is YOUR MONEY they are playing with. (For another time)
The idea that someone looked did the idea that a firefighter cost 230k a year is lunacy. It cost far MORE than that. The training and upkeep of an employee is the most expensive component of any endeavor private or public. But keep in mind they are YOURS and YOU DEMAND they perform. The Malcontents here are absolutely not aware that the FD responds to an increased call volume year after year since they consolidated. They have no understanding that their protocols and conditions of employment have doubled since 2000. YOU DEMAND ANIMAL CPR, YOU DEMAND 12 LEAD EKG's They do as YOU ask they provide service YOU demand and when financial times get tough you fire them or dissolve the funded positions and save a truck load of money. There is no contract provider ANYWHRE that offers you the same flexibility as your own employee. That is why you're elected officials never suggest dissolving the FD or PD and going to outside contract.
So much of what goes on here is complaining about cost with no regard to value. There is no one on this thread that provides any perspective of what you get for your dollars. The malcontents here are just sure they are getting ripped off. The majority of you have no idea the value added to your life and your reputation. That is no entirely your fault. It is the fault of the fire department for not educating you. The relationship between the fire department and the civilians has been fractured. Your elected officials share in this blame as well. They fear for their jobs if they publicly praise any employee because of platforms of public discourse like this one (SHAME ON PW for promoting ignorant civic discourse. You are the rotten end of the American soul). I promise you the same people YOU elected were the same people who rejected the FF associations' pleas to fund the pensions during the decade + it cost nothing to fund it. The same frauds that came to the FF association and offered, yes they offered, to pay the employee portion of their pension because it saved on payroll taxes. These soulless fractions of humanity now remain silent when ignorance and hate and venom have replaced rational thinking. To compound matters, orders are in place to keep the employees silent. Did it ever dawn on you why you never hear from the employees? Did you assume that men/women whose career it is to manage fear and chaos for others is scared of a conversation? They are held by law. Their right to free speech is suspended because they are sworn personnel. It is called "nexus". If a nexus between their comments and their job they can be disciplined.
The malcontents here are thinking "so what they still make too much!" The average plumber makes about the same. Retirement and all. To those of you thinking Dublin pays less pay strict attention to value not cost. Dublin pays about half of the annual budget of the PLFD and they have 3 or 4 fire companies. ANDWHEN DUBLIN RUNs OUT OF PEOPLE TO CALL… THEY CALL FOR YOUR PEOPLE!! They are leaching off of your service. Do the research. Ask around about what a "Mutual Aid Contract" is.
I'm sure I've offered too much reality for this web site. PW is a sham, promoting such disinformation and civic discourse. In a time when we need to be coming together as people it is the lowest forms of humanity that arrive to drive us apart for their own emotional greed.
To you malcontents: manage your emotions elsewhere. You are slandering the good name of some fine and honorable people. Go to a fire house and ask questions. Talk to the people that serve you.


Posted by to logic and reason, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2012 at 5:06 am

Get over yourself. The job is important but way overpriced, overstaffed, and over pensioned. Have you seen all the fluff in the contract?


Posted by Rational Man, a resident of Birdland
on Jul 22, 2012 at 6:45 am

Logic and Reason is obviously on the fire watchers' payroll. And based upon the length of his reply (which was too long for THIS reader to read), he's getting paid by the word. I think PW editors should vet some of the contributors here. I don't like paying taxes to underwrite this kind of shameless propaganda.

I too find it entirely scandalous that fire watchers would be able to live in this community. A cousin I have in New Jersey told me how they do it. First, because they do hardly anything on their shift, most of them have set up a private business on the side. Second, they are all feasting on unnecessary overtime. Finally, they get their relatives into the picture and then they pool our money to buy big compounds in Ruby Hills where they set off fireworks that they've confiscated from patriotic taxpayers. It's enough to make you puke!


Posted by Fed up, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Just absurd! I too have a relative in the fire "biz". Sometimes they even stay at their homes if they live in the area and then have their buddies call them from the station if they have a really big fire, which is almost never. So they get to stay at home and collect their massive salaries for doing NOTHING! This is another good reason they shouldn't be able to afford to live here.


Posted by Inappropriate , a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2012 at 4:33 pm

None of my friends, relatives, or neighbors have pensions. I'm a senior who worked on commission and have no pension myself. but, I've heard most who do, have done their own contribution, the organization mostly just 'sets up' the plan, making some tiny tokens of contributions.
Wait, I do have a neighbor with a pension, PG&E, of course 'public' utility rates creep into that conversation too. OPM
To Informed, who is not so open, and knows Pleasanton holds a general 'venting' meeting, but the talking between city and union is all secret, no observers, no pubic notes...all secret. Then the night of the vote, we get to 'watch them vote', that's after their secret 'negotiations', a farse in the city's case it's a nod and a 'ok'. Normally city get nothing, but once in recent years, we actually got a few insignificant crumbs....for show.


Posted by The right salary, a resident of Happy Valley
on Jul 22, 2012 at 6:41 pm

So let me pose this question: What should the annual salary for a firefighter be in Pleasanton?


Posted by to: the right salary, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2012 at 9:56 pm

"So let me pose this question: What should the annual salary for a firefighter be in Pleasanton?"

Good question but the answer is more complicated then just the issue of salary, which is inflated. The real question, in my opinion, is what is the appropriate level of: total compensation for FD employees for each position at various levels of experience, necessary staffing levels for both frontline personnel and management including Battalion Chiefs, appropriate level of pensions (a BIG issue), healthcare obligations for both current and retired employees(a BIG issue), and should the department be regionalized to take advantage of economies of scale.

Part of the discussion also needs to include the appropriate level of FD staffing vs. the use of increased levels of Private Paramedic services. The current system isn't cost effective.


Posted by Inappropriate , a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Right, strange no matter how simple, both Paramedics and fire show up for everything.
Is that so when time for the heavy 'negotiating' that sorta 'ups' the call numbers....like you 'need' us really bad. But we'll work hard and
work overtime and save you folks money....like we're getting a bargain.
But the hourly is paid by taxpayers thru city channels, but we also get billed sometimes for double coverage. You know who pays from all directions, no matter what it's called.


Posted by Numbers, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2012 at 11:49 pm

Dublin:

Population: 46,743
Square miles: 14.62
GF Revenue: 71.6 million

Per capita Public safety costs: $522


Pleasanton:

Population: 71,534
Square miles: 24.2
GF Revenue: 112.9 million

Per capita Public safety costs: $700

This is only a small part of the larger story. Dublin's unfunded liability for public safety pensions and retiree healthcare costs is ZERO. While Pleasanton is paying 34% more for public safety on a per capita basis they have also accumulated about 100 million dollars in unfunded pension & retiree healthcare debt.

If Pleasanton were using the Dublin model of contracting safety services the city would have millions of more dollars to spend on things like bike trails, the Bernal Park, etc … without the long term debt obligations that are further encroaching upon Pleasanton's general fund. These unfunded liabilities will eventually require the necessity of increased taxes. Increased taxes aren't necessary if the city right sizes services. So far they haven't done anything except lower the pensions of a few employees (future employees) that may not have even applied to work for the city.


Posted by Rational Man, a resident of Birdland
on Jul 23, 2012 at 7:22 am

I don't get a pension. Why should anyone else? Its based on the rational pie model. The wealthy get most of the pie. That's only right because they're creating jobs in Dublin, Bangkok, Beijing. Then there's a little slice left over, and these insane public workers try to maximize for themselves and their families. It isn't fair. America's working people should not live well if other workers are not. Maybe if we gave a higher portion to the wealthy, working people would have less money to deal with, and so we'd all be comfortably poor without pensions. Giving more money to the wealthy would increase jobs for the rest of us. I make minimum wage. Why should anyone make more than that? I DETEST public workers.


Posted by SHUT UP!, a resident of Birdland
on Jul 23, 2012 at 8:55 am

To: Rational Man - You detest public workers? Go live on a mountain and take care of yourself then. Live off the land, bandage your own wounds and don't spend a dime. I am sure the wildlife would listen to your rants.

And to those who are saying "I pay your salary so I should have some pay". Yes, that is true you pay for the public services. But that is part of being in a society.

There is so much anger on these forums for teachers, police, fire etc. But when your child needs to be taught or you need to be rescued they are there.

Give us all a break and shut up. Go do something productive.


Posted by please, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2012 at 9:02 am

Rational man, like fake steve and fake arnold are trolls trying to stop real debate over the issues.


Posted by To: The Right Salary, a resident of Castlewood
on Jul 24, 2012 at 8:45 am

I believe that the fire department should be a volunteer organization. They should have their "real" jobs and then put in time taking care of the citizens of this fine city. But alas, they are paid and sucking the money from our fine community. I do, however, believe that they should not earn enough to live in Pleasanton. It is a blue collar job and Pleasanton should not have blue collar workers living here. They should not be able to afford to feed a family either so they should remain bachelors/bachelorettes.


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