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Public Employee Proposed Contract Falls Way Short

Original post made by Bart Hughes on Jan 13, 2011

The City published the proposed new PCEA (Miscellaneous Employees) last night, and it is a significant disappointment. It looks like elevated entitlement expenditures will continue for the foreseeable future with no guarantee that things will be fixed in 2014.

Just think about this for a moment. The public employee entitlements planning mistake (as now admitted by City Management) occurred in 2002, and it won't be fully addressed even 10 years after that date. Just amazing. This is one more example of why public unions are so detrimental to the financial health of governments. Even FDR recognized the dangers of allowing public employees to unionize.

Yes changes are occurring so the city can claim it is doing something to address the problem, but if one looks more closely they will realize how minimal the steps are. First, the recommended 2% Employee Contribution rate won't cover the CalPERS increase for this year let alone next year. City Management states that this will save the city $722K over two years. What they fail to mention is that increased CalPERS contributions will cost Pleasanton an extra $2M for just this one work group, so taxpayers will fall further behind.

Second, nothing is being done to address our current unfunded liability ($180-290M depending on valuation method). Beyond hoping that the market has an even more dramatic turnaround and CalPERS can blow away its investment target for the next 15 years straight, the unfunded liability will remain and potentially grow. This means elevated costs for Pleasanton taxpayers for years to come. Think about this, we and our children will be paying this "tax" for years so Pleasanton employees can retire at relatively young ages. We are all indentured to our civil servants because the union-controlled CalPERS board misrepresented the cost of SB400.

Additionally, the City admits this agreement with the union was established before the public vetting we the public started late last year and before they received key information from CalPERS (that they knew was coming!).

If you can believe this, the union even pushed back on establishing a two-tier pension program. The state is in the process of establishing this for state employees, and many cities have already done this. But no, the Pleasanton public employee union pushed back on this. The union clearly cares more about optimizing the benefits for their own members regardless what damage it does to Pleasanton's financial future.

Unless the City Council finds the courage to stand up to this farce, we will all continue to pay the price for years while those public employees benefiting the most will contribute the least. Please help our Mayor and City Council to find the courage to do what is right and have the city go back to the drawing board with this contract. Things you can do:

Sign the petition at Web Link

Help get others to sign the petition – see www.ptowncitizens.com for ideas on how to help

Attend the 1/18/11 Council Meeting (even if you don't speak, your presence will help)

Send comments to the Mayor and City Council urging them to reconsider this contract

Comments (56)

Posted by really annoyed, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Thanks for letting us know. This is frustrating. I was never a no tax person before, but now I am. Don't care what it's for, no more taxes, bonds whatever until this situation is tackled. I'm happy to help people who need help, but I'm not going support a system that is out of control.


Posted by Me Too, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2011 at 7:07 pm

There are two sides to every agreement. I'm not sure how you can blame the union for trying to get the best deal they can. Just like when you go to buy a car, you try to get the best deal you can. The dealer tries to make the best deal from their end. In the end the dealer won't sell you a car if it is going to lose money on the deal, yet our City seems to have no problem signing whatever deal that gets put in front of them. Have city employees ever gone on strike?


Posted by annoyed, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2011 at 8:24 pm

It's different when you are paying for the car dealers worker's salaries and pensions. You expect them to act in the best interest of the people that pay them and who have been very generous in the past.


Posted by s, a resident of Birdland
on Jan 13, 2011 at 8:44 pm

The difference between a car dealer and city employees is the car dealer is only looking for instant gratification as there is no relationship with the buyer. The public employee should have a relationship between the taxpayers. It is obvious now that the unions do not care for that relationship and have only their self-interest at hand.

The other problem with the city negotiations is the unions are are one side and the city manager and staff are supposed to be there representing us. However, as even the city manager has stated many times, even though management is not covered by a union, it is only "fair" that they get the same benefits as the employees in the union. So there is really no incentive for the city manager's office to negotiate on behalf of the taxpayers because it affects their salary and benefits also. So that is why you only see token concessions. They will present a report that says that this was a tough negotiation and in order to be "fair" we should not ask too much from the unions. Just like they presented the report when the unions negotiated the last time and receive an outrageous raise package and an outrageous pension package and said the pension increase was not going to cost us anything.

I am starting to agree with the poster on the parcel tax thread who said salaries are probably too high for teachers and the way you test what the right salary should be is lowering the salary to a point where employees start to leave and they cannot be replaced. Try to find the "market rate".

If the unions are not going to be reasonable, and the employees go along with them, the employees should be ready for a backlash where people start to criticize their jobs and their usefulness.The taxpayers have a right to be upset and the employees are going to loose a lot of respect in the community because they are taking advantage of the taxpayers. Back to my original paragraph, the employees should be interested in a relationship with the taxpayers but by not being reasonable in these negotiations, they should be ready to accept the consequences.


Posted by b, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Oh, goodie. Yet another post/thread on this subject. Moderator, shouldn't there be a limit on how frequently the same topic can be re-posted on here?


Posted by ddt, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jan 13, 2011 at 10:29 pm

"b", If you don't like this subject, feel free to post a more interesting topic. That's what the forum is all about. However, your act of posting a response shows this topic is still not stale.

Seems to me things are just heating up. Should be an interesting two weeks ahead of Pleasanton.

Thanks Bart for speaking up on this issue. It is important the people know what is going on.


Posted by s, a resident of Birdland
on Jan 13, 2011 at 10:31 pm

To "b", while I understand as a union member you do not want the public to understand what is going on at the city, the reason for this thread is because there is new information. The city published the tentative contract and is asking for community input. I want to thank Bart for letting us know about this and for him spending the time to go through it and explaining the issues. As a union member, you have had the liberty to see the contract already, probably many times, and vote on it while this is the first chance the residents/taxpayers (i.e., those who have to pay for this contract) have been given the opportunity to see it.

Bart, keep up the great work! We need people like you that spend the time analyzing this and standing up for the taxpayer. It is obvious our elected officials do not stand up for the taxpayer if this is what they "negotiated" on our behalf. Since one of the city unions was very active in the mayor's campaigns and put her campaign signs all over town (at every election), and they gave her money, I can see how she is heavily influenced by the unions.

"b", since you comment on the pension posts, I assume you are watching this issue closely and really are interested in the topic.


Posted by MB, a resident of Val Vista
on Jan 13, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Bart, thanks for working to bring this to everyone's attention. I don't know what it's going to take to get all taxpayers to hold their elected representatives accountable for rolling over when confronted by public employee unions. Let's hope that we can start doing just that at the local level.


Posted by to b, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2011 at 10:57 pm

This is new information and highly relevant.


Posted by tp17, a resident of Danville
on Jan 14, 2011 at 7:36 am

Unions and their benefits/entitlements are out of control.
Anyone who thinks public employee unions are necessary is either a union member or is clueless.
These unions are killing our cities, counties, and our once gret state.
Everything union management does is for self-preservation.


Posted by RROBINSON, a resident of Danville
on Jan 14, 2011 at 7:52 am

No more higher taxes until these issues are addressed. It just keeps getting worse,the politicians spend more and then they want more taxes. California already has one of the highest tax rates in the country. We are living proof that out of control spending and higher taxes do not work.


Posted by Cathy, a resident of Amador Estates
on Jan 14, 2011 at 7:55 am

Why do we let union employees vote for their employer? Or put another way, why do we let the county legislature allow and create union perks? If our government is now in the business of buying votes by promising goodies to union workers, then the game is had. The government positions will be won by those promising the biggest handout. The country cannot sustain this type of payola. When do We the People get out from under somebody else's debt? California is on the 50 year slide- and it's coming to a neighborhood near you.


Posted by M, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 14, 2011 at 8:00 am

Bart,thank you for continuing to call attention to all the fiscal problems these public employee unions have caused and are continuing to cause!

At a time when folks are being laid off and having salaries reduced, the union members are acting like irresponsible, spoiled brats.

The city council and mayor should take a stand and have meetings on this topic that are open to the public.

I find it reprehensible that the union members are paying only 2% toward pension benefits! Virtually all of private industry has gone to defined contribution plans. Any new city employees should have this as their only option and current employees should take a hge hint from City Manager Fialho who wisely decided to pay the entire contribution to his own plan.


Posted by Jim L, a resident of Old Towne
on Jan 14, 2011 at 8:07 am

Time for the city council to step and do the job they were elected to - though they are probably there for the spotlight and not the hard, technical work.


Posted by Carol M. Hehmeyer, a resident of another community
on Jan 14, 2011 at 8:30 am

I am a resident of Pleasant Hill, but strongly support the Citizen movement in Pleasanton to control the rapacious public unions, and deal with an underfunded City Budget. The Pleasanton situation affects all of us and we must all pay close attention to local politics and out of control spending.


Posted by Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2011 at 8:44 am

The problem is not with the union but with the city management,mayor and the council. Are they representing the taxpayers who are the citizens of Pleasanton or the unions? Some council members are union members themselves. Who is representing the taxpayers?


Posted by Bill Fazakerly, a resident of Downtown
on Jan 14, 2011 at 8:45 am

It is time for the taxpayer of Pleasanton to wake up and demand that the City Council send a letter to all CalPERS employees that is a mirror image of what we receive from the Social Security Administration each year. Here is the caveat from the Social Security Administration ...

*Your estimated benefits are based on current law. Congress has made changes to the law in the past and can do so at any time. The law governing benefit amounts may change because, by 2037, the payroll taxes collected will be enough to pay only about 76 percent of scheduled benefits.

Then the Social Security Administration outlines a new set of expectations in the following format:

...your full retirement age is now 66 years
...if you continue working to your full retirement age,
your payment would be about .................. $NOT MUCH
...if you stop working and start receiving benefits at
age 62, your payment would be about .......... $EVEN LESS

We should then modify the Social Security format to add one more line
...if you stop working and start receiving benefits at
age 50, your payment would be about .......... $0.00

Wake up taxpayers. By the time you retire, your true payment from Social Security will be $0 because governments from the Federal down to the City have spent all of YOUR money paying themselves and their employees. When neither side of the negotiation table represents the people who have to pay the bills, it is not a negotiation.

Bill Fazakerly
Pleasanton


Posted by Debra, a resident of Danbury Park
on Jan 14, 2011 at 8:48 am

"The public employee entitlements planning mistake (as now admitted by City Management) occurred in 2002, "

When did Fiala take over?

When did Hosterman come on, Hosterman was supported by the City staff, for Mayor against Ayala, because Ayala was already trying to get the community to look at pensions. Hosterman has allowed this to escalate during her entire reign.


Posted by In the same boat, a resident of Birdland
on Jan 14, 2011 at 8:50 am

Perhaps some of the frustration should be placed where it truly belongs, and that is with the City Manager. Employees do not want to bankrupt the city. They ask for what they would like to have maybe not always what they need. It is the City Manager and ultimately the City Council that approve the contracts. But many times when it comes to retirement benefits those same City Managers recommending the contracts to the council for approval benefit from the provisions of the contract. May be just a bit of a conflict there.

Ultimately the solution may be smaller government staffing at the local level at all levels. Is there really a need for each town to have its own Police Department? We currently have 1 fire department serving two cities and Alameda county has one fire department serving mulitple agencies. I am not saying to lose on the street officers but do we need the heavy administration staff that comes with having our own ploice department? Dublin utilizes the Alameda County Sheriffs office and does not need a Police Chief ($200,000 per year salary + benefits) or a chiefs admin staff etc.

When there was a booming economy a lot of programs were added because we could afford them, it may be time to make some tough decisions on some things that are near and dear to our hearts. By the way did the fire house turned cultural arts center really need to be rushed through while we we searching to deal with a budget crisis or was the legacy of getting it done under the current administraion's watch clouding smart fiscal decision making.

Yes there are changes that need to be made to salaries and retirements, I think everyone agrees to that but first understand how it got this way and then try to examine and find solutions from all angles. The budget problem is not impossible to solve but it is not so simple that one cut here or there is the solution.

As a side note to the poster praising the current City Manager for paying his own retirement contribution, that is done many times by managers to spike their base pay before they retire as any portion of the PERS retirement cost paid by the city is not added to the calculated final salary for retirement. Pay your own PERS contribution raise your base pay!


Posted by b, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2011 at 8:52 am

I have no problem with the conversation. I'm merely asking that you keep it to a single thread, rather than re-posting the same material every three days and then re-hashing the same tired points.

ddt, I've never been a member of a union or a public employee, nor do I expect to ever be one. I have been both a small business owner and technology-industry executive, and have created hundreds of jobs over the years.

I'm simply skeptical of people who have nothing better to do than nit-pick about every little expenditure our city makes and the perfectly reasonable salaries paid to our hard-working teachers, police officers, librarians and park maintainers.

Sadly, these tend to be the same people who scream "support our troops" at any cost, and don't think twice about the $2 trillion that is being dumped into Iraq and Afghanistan, two nations that did nothing to us.


Posted by jkahn31@comcast.net, a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 14, 2011 at 9:13 am

As a native Californian, I have observed for the past 59 years as a voter, the gradual take over of our local governments by the unionization of government employees. They now have a strangle-hold on the local economy. Pleasanton is only a small example of what is to come. This issue must be solved by the voters regardless of political affiliation. Our citizens attention needs to be focused on what is happening in our local communities. Our out cry must be translated to action at the Ballot Box starting in Pleasanton.
Julius Kahn III


Posted by to b, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2011 at 9:23 am

b. the material is new. Read Bart's message again, he was reporting what happened the night before his post, which is new and relevant considering many of us expressed an active interest in what would happen at this meeting. Many of us have signed a petition asking them to reconsider their proposed contract and to have public discussions before agreeing this.

"The City published the proposed new PCEA (Miscellaneous Employees) last night"

So the new news is - they did not listen or even try to rectify the mistake made in 2002 in their meeting this week, which is disappointing.


Posted by bkilmartin, a resident of Danville
on Jan 14, 2011 at 9:25 am

These pensions are going to bankrupt our cities. Pleasanton needs to get in line with other cities, be a leader not a follower. You are elected to represent the citizens of Pleasanton, not union interests.


Posted by s, a resident of Birdland
on Jan 14, 2011 at 9:30 am

"I'm simply skeptical of people who have nothing better to do than nit-pick about every little expenditure our city makes ". You have to be a union employee or a union boss to think that this is a "little expenditure". This is all bankrupting our communities and for places where it is not going that way, services have to be cut way back. If neither if this is true then the city obviously has too much tax money and we should reallocate it to other agencies or reduce our taxes. The government is supposed to be "we the people" and the government workers are supposed to be working for the taxpayer. Not screw the taxpayer.

"As a side note to the poster praising the current City Manager for paying his own retirement contribution, that is done many times by managers to spike their base pay before they retire as any portion of the PERS retirement cost paid by the city is not added to the calculated final salary for retirement. Pay your own PERS contribution raise your base pay! "

That is actually not true in this case. The way the employee contract was written, when the employer (i.e., the taxpayers) pay the employee part of the pension, that is considered special income and is added to the base pay when calculating pensions. So not only do we pick up their part of the pension cost, they consider that income and their retirement goes up. So you take the employees highest pay and add 8% (the amount the taxpayers are paying for their pension), and then that becomes your base pay for calculating pensions. Talk about a racket. That should be illegal.


Posted by s, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2011 at 9:37 am

If you go to the website: Web Link you can see those who are currently making over $100,000 in pensions; guaranteed by the taxpayer. For Pleasanton, the pension costs and risk are completely paid for by the taxpayer. And we let them retire starting at age 50.

Here is the list of Pleasanton retirees making more than $100,000 (Web Link) :

Name Monthly Annual Employer
BRAMELL, THOMAS $10,569.50 $126,834.00 PLEASANTON
BUCKOVIC, JOSEPH $9,595.19 $115,142.28 PLEASANTON
CARLSON, ERIC $10,771.36 $129,256.32 PLEASANTON
CHAPMAN, SEAN $9,855.65 $118,267.80 PLEASANTON
COUSINEAU, CARL $9,266.81 $111,201.72 PLEASANTON
CROLL, DOUGLAS $10,137.49 $121,649.88 PLEASANTON
DICKINSON, CHRISTOPHE $9,274.32 $111,291.84 PLEASANTON
EASTMAN, WILLIAM $9,966.59 $119,599.08 PLEASANTON
GARY, STEWART $13,431.30 $161,175.60 PLEASANTON
GOODWIN, JOHN $11,712.36 $140,548.32 PLEASANTON
HALVORSEN, WILLIAM $8,550.00 $102,600.00 PLEASANTON
HELMS, PAUL $8,865.64 $106,387.68 PLEASANTON
ISERSON, JERRY $11,200.31 $134,403.72 PLEASANTON
KIELY, DENNIS $8,474.15 $101,689.80 PLEASANTON
LAURENCE, MAUREEN $8,955.50 $107,466.00 PLEASANTON
LYNESS, ROBERT $10,887.35 $130,648.20 PLEASANTON
MADRID, SALLY $9,054.73 $108,656.76 PLEASANTON
MOLKENBUHR, PAUL $8,726.88 $104,722.56 PLEASANTON
NEAL, TIMOTHY $14,316.04 $171,792.48 PLEASANTON
PHELPS, KRISTEN $9,105.34 $109,264.08 PLEASANTON
RADFORD, DAVID $10,661.33 $127,935.96 PLEASANTON
ROSE, GARY $8,497.48 $101,969.76 PLEASANTON
ROSS, STEVEN $8,755.43 $105,065.16 PLEASANTON
ROSSI, SUSAN $12,759.43 $153,113.16 PLEASANTON
ROUSH, MICHAEL $13,445.05 $161,340.60 PLEASANTON
SAULSBURY, DONALD $8,576.44 $102,917.28 PLEASANTON
STJOHN, MICHAEL $9,461.25 $113,535.00 PLEASANTON
SWIFT, BRIAN $10,949.07 $131,388.84 PLEASANTON
TOLLEFSON, GARY $12,090.89 $145,090.68 PLEASANTON
WALSH, WILLIAM $8,430.23 $101,162.76 PLEASANTON
WILSON, ROBERT $12,695.70 $152,348.40 PLEASANTON
WIXOM, GREGORY $8,765.64 $105,187.68 PLEASANTON
WOLFE, JAMES $11,801.51 $141,618.12 PLEASANTON

For this list of employees the payout is over $4,000,000 per year. There are many more retirees however.


Posted by to b, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2011 at 9:40 am

"I'm simply skeptical of people who have nothing better to do than nit-pick about every little expenditure our city makes and the perfectly reasonable salaries paid to our hard-working teachers, police officers, librarians and park maintainers."

I work hard and make less than the people you mention, so can you set up a collection for me to retire at 55 on more than I make now please? A penny a day from each wonderful member of this community should do it.


Posted by to b, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2011 at 9:46 am

Yikes, I forgot, I haven't taken my sick days. Can we raise it to 2 cents a day? Hope you all don't mind.


Posted by Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2011 at 10:32 am

Municipal bonds have been dropping for the past month and hit a new low today. There is total lack of confidence with cities,counties and states . The pension issue is the main factor. Maybe we all need to go bankrupt before the local politicians and unions will come to their senses.Bart has done a lot of work showing our problems and the powers that be still have blinders on and don't want to face facts.


Posted by Lugnut, a resident of Country Fair
on Jan 14, 2011 at 10:35 am

In the same boat had it right. City employees in the late 80's, early 90's paid their full contribution to the pension and then the city took it over because it was beneficial for the city. Let the city employees go back to paying their full share like the CM has done and is being foolishly praised for by the city council. Most city employees are desk jockeys. The only ones i could legitimize in getting some kind of decent pension are rank and file police and firefighters who are on the "front" lines protecting us. they get hurt and killed the most. I know this will excite some. When you look at the list of the $100,000 club most all were in Management, Police Chiefs, fire Chiefs, Finance Director, etc, etc. What isn't listed on that list is former CM Deborah Acosta-McKeehan's retirement amount. makes me wonder if this list is accurate or not. But hell, why let a good rumor get in the way of a fact? huh.....


Posted by ConcernedForFuture, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 14, 2011 at 11:36 am

Thank you Bart for a very well written and informative report. Pleasanton government needs to become more responsible to the citizens that pay taxes for these services. Employees need to pay the full 8% of their contribution to their retirement pensions. Note that the city already pays a matching 8%, so the new contract has the city paying a total of 14% while our well-paid employees pay only 2%.

Also, the employees need to pay more of the cost of their medical care (via co-pays, deductibles, etc.). These coveted jobs are well paying with excellent benefits and considerable job security. Medical insurance should cover the major expenses, not every office visit and bottle of pills.

Lastly, Pleasanton should consider a two-tier system where new hires are given a 401k plan rather than these pensions that always end up as an underfunded liability that future residents will inherit.


Posted by Bart Hughes, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2011 at 11:54 am

This may aggravate you more, but the city's portion is much higher than 8%:

Misc. - 21.1%
Fire - 31.9%
Police 33.4%

Add the 8-9.4% Employee Contribution portion to this to get the total city spend on pensions.

Now you can appreciate why the proposed 2% employee contribution is so miniscule.

And keep in mind this isn't even enough as evidenced by our large and growing unfunded liability.


Posted by Not So Sure, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2011 at 12:02 pm

I appreciate the transparency and analysis Bart brings to us.

Also, thanks to "s" for posting those pensions above.

The only other info I'm curious about is:

1. The age at which each of these people retired.
2. Whether they are now working somewhere else, while collecting their "retirement". If so, then they don't need to retire. And, is there "double-dipping"?


Posted by RE, a resident of Ponderosa
on Jan 14, 2011 at 1:17 pm

I think the employees should be paying their full 8% by the end of this contract. Increase the payments each year until you reach the 8%. Have a two tier system with all new employees having a 401K that they must contribute into in order to get any city matching funds. Finally, I would suggest everyone take a look at the endorsements and contributions that were made by the unions to the incumbent mayor and city council members as part of the November 2, 2010 election. As these three members of the council are also involved in the contract negotiation/approval process it seems to me this represents a conflict of interest. The citizens of Pleasanton should be asking each of these individuals to recuse themselves from the process.


Posted by steve, a resident of Dublin
on Jan 14, 2011 at 2:14 pm

"This may aggravate you more, but the city's portion is much higher than 8%:

Misc. - 21.1%


Fire - 31.9%


Police 33.4%

Add the 8-9.4% Employee Contribution portion to this to get the total city spend on pensions."

Are you sure about these numbers? If I'm reading this corrctly your statement is that pleasanton is paying 30-42% of salary toward pensions. I find that hard to believe. Where are these numbers coming from?


Posted by Bart Hughes, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2011 at 2:47 pm

The numbers came directly from Pleasanton's Oct 2010 CalPERS report. You can confirm this with the city if you want.


Posted by Arnold, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2011 at 7:21 pm

"Additionally, the City admits this agreement with the union was established before the public vetting we the public started late last year and before they received key information from CalPERS (that they knew was coming!)."

Unfortunately this isn't all that surprising. I will say I did expect more from both our paid and elected leaders given the state of the economy, the generosity of past contracts, and the very generous and burdensome pension programs. Taxpayers are paying this largess at the city, county, and state level. The best place to put our collective foot down is right here, right now, in Pleasanton.

"If you can believe this, the union even pushed back on establishing a two-tier pension program. The state is in the process of establishing this for state employees, and many cities have already done this. But no, the Pleasanton public employee union pushed back on this. The union clearly cares more about optimizing the benefits for their own members regardless what damage it does to Pleasanton's financial future."

I can believe it. That is what I expect from the unions. What I can't believe is that our paid and elected officials are accepting it/allowing it to happen!

Bart, I want to thank you very much for your continued efforts on behalf of the long term health of Pleasanton, and the better good of all Pleasanton residents. The pension issue has been a concern of mine for several years but it seemed like the issue died or was dismissed every time it came before council. I think your thoughtful and well researched approach to addressing and presenting this issue has been the catalyst that has inspired me and others to speak up and get involved. I think you are doing a great service for the city of Pleasanton and the entire Tri-Valley.

Thank you!


Posted by b, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2011 at 8:28 pm

The amount of money spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, two countries that did nothing to us, could have instead paid for the employment of every single K-12 teacher in the United States for nearly 10 years.

Where's your outrage at that?


Posted by b, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2011 at 8:36 pm

...and your personal share of each of those wars is about $6,500. That's per person--multiply by number of household members accordingly. And since you're not paying for it now, be sure to account for future interest charges.

Hard to get your arms around that sort of waste of our tax money, isn't it?


Posted by Restore Our Republic!, a resident of Danville
on Jan 14, 2011 at 10:33 pm

NO MORE Unfunded Pension liabilities. No more money left to bilk out of WE the People. Watch Progerssive Marxism collapse.
Good riddance!


Posted by Just Sayin', a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Jan 14, 2011 at 10:55 pm

The absolute gall of unionized Pleasanton workers to be "Millionaires by Proxy" by not creating any wealth, but living on money they never even saved, for life, is appaling.

The antidote to this madness is a 401K and cutting any service that can be done by a private company.

No stress, no firing, no even need to produce anything while the private sector pays for their useless regulations, bureaucracy, fees and fines...producing 0.

Cut, cut and cut more. Millie the Librarian cannot retire at 55 and live 40 years (with CPI's and full medical/dental) for life. It's not sustainable.

It has to stop. Now.


Posted by ti, a resident of another community
on Jan 15, 2011 at 12:20 am

You voted for change didn't you? Got any spare change? Just quit electing these wealth distributors.


Posted by Carol Gibson, a resident of another community
on Jan 15, 2011 at 2:28 pm

I too, am concerned about this issue. I live in Rodeo. But it affects us all. IF the cities don't have the money, then the unions and the employees don't get it either. Period. End of discussion. You can't give what you don't have. And this government and the local governments have taken til there is NOTHING left! The councilmembers need to develop some cajones and tell the unions, tough there is NOTHING left for you. In fact CUT the employees pensions by 10% and their current salaries, and IF they don't like that tough, fire them ALL and hire new people that are willing to have jobs at the new wages where they are to fund their own retirement. People are hurting, I bet there are a lot of people out there who would go for the idea.


Posted by Concerned, a resident of Golden Eagle
on Jan 15, 2011 at 9:43 pm

It is clear to me that there is so much outstanding liability that it has to be addressed immediatly... in this contract. Everyone is taking cuts in private industry. The ability to retire at 50 who does that in private industry? Folks who are paid by our tax dollars should not have this level of benefit. It needs to be addressed now! Further, they should contribute fully to their pension or have a 401k option theur choice.


Posted by John, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2011 at 9:55 pm

I hear you b- I was wondering the same thing. Seems to be falling on deaf ears here since it doesn't fit in with the point many are attempting to make. Really "s" all you need are some better graphics and crosshairs for your chart and you will really be all set. Oh, I mean, surveyors marks.


Posted by to b or John, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2011 at 10:59 pm

So where do I fit in if I'm not happy about the wars, the banker bailouts or the public sector pensions and retirement at 50 or 55? Because that's where I am and there are lots of people like me.


Posted by Bart Hughes, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 16, 2011 at 9:41 am

b, I'll be happy to join any effective anti-war effort you organize. The wars are a travisty on many dimensions. In the meantime, I'll stay focused on solving local issues that I can have influence over.


Posted by Nerissa Sopher, a resident of Castlewood Heights
on Jan 17, 2011 at 11:58 am

I live near Stanford University, Palo Alto, and am aware of the disservice of Unions to the general welfare of the citizens. I am against giving the Unions any perks. In fact, we should do everything to diffuse Union power.
Give back to the California public the choice of working in Non-union environments.


Posted by Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Bart Hughes is a true hero for taking on this thankless task. Most of us have been trying to get comparable salary and fringe benefits for public and private sector salaries for years and the city has not taken any steps. Bart has impartially come up with numbers from Pleasanton's documents to show the hole we are in. Everyone knows the problem. If we still do nothing we are incredibly stupid and deserve what we get. Franky the City manager, mayor and the council have fallen down on the job.


Posted by to John, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 8:52 pm

"Posted by John, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 15, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Really "s" all you need are some better graphics and crosshairs for your chart and you will really be all set. Oh, I mean, surveyors marks."

Why would you want to go there? Do you have no concern for recent events, or do you just think it is funny?


Posted by John, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 9:17 pm

So do tell me what the purpose of the list is for? Be specific. Or I should say, explain the motivation to post the names who gave so much to our city? Seems like an attack on those who are receiving a retirement they worked for.

This subtle method of intimidation is not acceptable. I was outraged at Palin's less than subtle list, that it is now defended, and the incitement that can come from it. You post my father's name like this and now he is being harrassed, I have a huge problem with it. No wonder so many are remaining anonymous. Some are coming forward, and will be held responsible for the incitement they are stirring up.


Posted by Arnold, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2011 at 5:06 pm



There have been claims by people like "b", "City Employee", and others to the effect that employees have given up wages for increased pension benefits. The facts do NOT support those claims.

In 1996, the employees received a reduction in their retirement eligible age from 2@60, to 2@55. This also increased the amount of years that Pleasanton was responsible for covering retiree healthcare benefits, to the Medicare eligible age of 65, from 5 years to 10.

In 2002, the employee's pension formula was increased from 2@55 to 2.7@55. This undoubtedly increased the unfunded pension liability substantially. As part of the contract the city also agreed to increase the "employee pick-up" from the previous 7% of salary to the current 8%. While the CalPERS actuaries assume an average COLA increase of 3.25%, the 2002 contract looked something like this, and these numbers do NOT include 5% step increases that many employees will receive:

2002: 4% wage increase (COLA) + additional 1% pension pick-up
2003: 5% wage increase (COLA) + additional 1% pension pick-up
2004: 5% wage increase (COLA) + additional 1% pension pick-up
2005: 5% wage increase (COLA) + additional 1% pension pick-up
2006: 4% wage increase (COLA) + additional 1% pension pick-up
2007: 4% wage increase (COLA) + additional 1% pension pick-up

- City revenues begin there decline and other cities are now attempting to reduce employee costs. Pleasanton doesn't have any contract language that allows them to re-open the contract.

2008: 4% wage increase (COLA) + additional 1% pension pick-up
2009: 4% wage increase (COLA) + additional 1% pension pick-up

- The city makes the claim (in agenda item 7) that employees didn't receive a raise in 2010. While that may be true, technically, the employees did receive a 4% in November of 2009, most of which is paid in 2010. If the new contract provided for wage increases they would certainly have been retroactive back to November 2010. The city seems to be implying that employees aren't receiving raises for three consecutive years - and that just isn't true. I find it interesting that with a proposed contract that doesn't include wage increases, but does include employees contributing 2% toward their own pensions, that those contributions don't take effect for several months. I guess "retroactive" only comes into play if the city/taxpayers are on the paying end. If the employees are on the paying end they extend the obligation as far out as possible.

While the increase from 2@60 to 2@55, along with the additional 5 years of retiree health care benefits is a significant cost, so is the increase from 2@55 to 2.7@55. To compound the already compounded problem, the city paid COLA increases well in excess of 3.25% that CalPERS actuaries build into their pension model. All of these actions, and there are actually many more that I haven't yet touched on, have helped reduce the PCEA pension plan to junk status, or taxpayer bailout status.

As I have mentioned previously:


FUNDED STATUS OF EMPLOYEE PENSIONS
-----------------------------------------------------------

Statewide average:
FY 2009: 61 percent funded
Source: CalPERS

Pleasanton PCEA pension funding
FY 2009: 52.2 percent funded
Source: CalPERS


Posted by Walter, a resident of another community
on Jan 18, 2011 at 10:39 pm

Oh you poor "Tax-paying citizens of Pleasanton." Life is so rough that all those beautiful parks, gorgeous homes, clean streets, graffiti free walls, and low crime rates mean nothing. It appears many of you like to jump on the bandwagon and speak with little knowledge by blaming those who make your city so nice for the root of the financial crisis. The facts have been clear for the past several years, the housing bust, banks, and Stock Market are the reasons for a failing economy… not the city workers.

Let us think about it for a minute; the city employees are doing a job that many of you would not want. In fact, many of you can enjoy your life, house, and fancy cars because of the job you possess. Many of your city workers do their job not because they have to, but because they want to give back to their community. In fact, many of your city workers possess a college degree and still choose to work for YOUR city. Furthermore, it would be interesting to note how many of YOUR city workers actually live in YOUR community of Pleasantville. I am guessing not many.

In addition, I'm guessing the majority of Pleasanton's city workers live in other cities because they cannot afford the high cost of living you "tax-paying community members" can afford. How about this, if you are so concerned about the taxes you pay, why not move to another city that is failing like Oakland, Antioch, and so on. See how much of your quality of life changes and your taxes will be much lower too. Remember, your city workers also have homes and families to care for. And like so many other American's, their homes have lost values, spouses have lost jobs, and have had to foreclose or short sale to sustain a life.

Now, some of you also criticize the police and fire department. Are you serious? Let me ask you this, asking for city employees and public safety personnel to contribute 2-4% of their earnings that is like taking a 2-4% decrease in monthly pay. So in essence, you are asking public servants to be just that… slaves to you! As a citizen of Pleasanton, when you call for one of these services how long does it take them to respond? Do they (Police and Fire) do their jobs effectively? Are they professional? Now, reduce their monthly pay (Now putting them in financial difficulty) and see how those attitudes change. How can you look them in the eye when you call for help and ask them for help after you have just reduced their income? But I guess for you Pleasanton residents it really does not matter does it? When you take your vacations on holiday weekends and enjoy being at home with your families at night and on holidays, these are the people who look after you. Yes, they are not home with their families; instead they are watching your homes and keeping your city safe.

If you really want to save the city money here is an idea. Stop having all those happy "Community of Character" special events. Downtown street fairs, antique fairs, that stupid tree on Main Street lit up year round, and etc. Oh that's right, it's the city employees who do all the work so that you have your Mayberry life. As for your City Manager, "MR CM" (Really, who has such an ego) he boasts about paying his 8%, but how about his other perks like monthly allowance for a car. Did the other managers really agree to pay 4% or were they demanded? Hmmm?

And who is this Bart Hughes? A "Business man?" Why doesn't he stick with running his own business versus trying to attack the employees who dedicate their lives to a community he lives in. Stop trying to be hero Mr. Hughes!

Stop and think about it….


Posted by to Walter, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2011 at 11:03 pm

I think city employees are appreciated and I think most employees appreciate working for the the city of Pleasanton. Maybe you aren't one of those employees and you would be happier working elsewhere.


Posted by m, a resident of another community
on Jan 19, 2011 at 6:00 pm

What jumps into my mind after reading this is, how many of those pensions listed are PCEA members?

Do I want 65 year old police officers chasing bad guys from my home?

Do I want the lowest bidder to be hanging my signs, paving my streets, interactiing with my kids at the library, billing my sewer, answering my 911 call?

While I hear the argument, and it's a fair one to discuss, I agree with those who are warning to really think through the aftermath of SOME of the "proposals" that are being thrown out.

I read a lot of "we all have to pay the price". I suppose there's a grain of truth, but have you ever heard of "you get what you pay for"? Just a thought.

Glad to see that for the most part we're trying to be repectful to each other, but please keep in mind that in the end we're all "neighbors". Be patient and tolerant :)


Posted by Nancy, a resident of Downtown
on Jan 19, 2011 at 6:48 pm

You all should read the proposed contract for yourself (in tuesday's agenda packet). Takeaways are all over that proposed contract. Frankly, it is hard to see why the city employees would agree to that many takeaways. You also need to understand that an agreement with a bargaining unit is not going to happen during comments open to the public. There is a process. For a city that is not struggling financially, it is quite nice of the city employees to step up. Contrary to all of the hype, the City is making progress toward pension reform. By the way, the biggest liability for the city isn't pensions, it is medical. In the proposed contract, new tiered system taking away spousal medical, increases in doctor visit and prescription co-pays, cap on the premium increases that the city would pay, and oh yeah everybody moves to medicare at age 65. I applaud the City and the employees for bargaining in good faith and trying to come up with an agreement that helps the City.


Posted by GX, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Nancy - it would be great if you could outline the specific take-aways the current employees have agreed to - not what future employees will give up - but what current employees will.

For example, the 2-tier medical program is not a take-away for current employees.

BTW, I understand that the unfunded medical portion is only about 10-15% of the total unfunded pot so this particular take-away isn't going to have much impact on the total bill.


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