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Layoffs at my company, would like parcel tax solution

Original post made by Steph on Mar 13, 2009

My company recently went through a merger. It was announced today that there will be up to 450 layoffs, some of these from our office in Pleasanton.

Since this is a pharmaceutical company this industry is important to the health and safety of the entire community. I would like to propose a parcel tax to save the jobs, and ask everyone to wear turquoise next Thursday to show their support. Even if you don't think you should have to pay to save my job, I would like your children to wear the colors to support our industry. If you don't agree, this must mean you want people to suffer because you don't support saving pharmaceutical jobs by paying out of your pocket.

Thanks for your support!

Comments

Posted by Steven Bolesa, a resident of Stoneridge Park
on Mar 13, 2009 at 7:26 pm

Amen!


Posted by Mike, a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 13, 2009 at 7:33 pm

If you have any children at your work then I will support you becasue it's ABOUT THE CHILDREN.


Posted by Steph, a resident of Castlewood
on Mar 13, 2009 at 7:39 pm

Actually it is a pharmaceutical company, so it is about everyone - children, elderly and everyone in between. I appreciate your support and you doing your duty to save my job!


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 13, 2009 at 7:42 pm

I won't support a parcel tax unless you are willing to give concessions like a 25% cut in pay!


Posted by Steph, a resident of Castlewood
on Mar 13, 2009 at 7:52 pm

I was kind of hoping people would support the parcel tax unconditionally to save my job. If they don't support it unconditionally, I assume that means they don't support the pharmaceutical industry or value any of the employees in that industry.


Posted by Dumb, a resident of Apperson Ridge
on Mar 13, 2009 at 8:26 pm

I do not support the pharmaceutical industry or value any of the employees in that industry. Profit mongers have hurt the rest of us for far too long. Let them go under and let the others lower their prices.
Then I will have more money to give to the school district, which I actually care about. What were PUSDs profits last year anyway?


Posted by KGB, a resident of Apperson Ridge
on Mar 13, 2009 at 8:39 pm

Only if your company take Casey off our necks.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2009 at 8:41 pm

You are obviously a mean spirited scalawag. How dare you be concerned for your own well-being? Don't you know that others are in line ahead of you for handouts?


Posted by Ryan, a resident of Civic Square
on Mar 13, 2009 at 8:57 pm

Seriously? While I appreciate the sarcasm, you are so far past missing the point.

So in the pharmaceutical industry you are profit oriented, receive benefits, bonus, 401K, and produce a product.

Schools shape our kids who are the future of our community, buy our benefits out of our salaries, no bonus or 401K EVER available. They sell gift wrap and cookie dough to raise money for heaven's sake.......

Apples and Oranges..........nice try though.


Posted by Steph, a resident of Castlewood
on Mar 13, 2009 at 9:32 pm

We in the pharmaceutical industry are often at the mercy of the funding of the federal and state government from grants based on where they want to put their focus. With federal and state budgets in crisis, much of our funding has been cut for the time being, one of the causes of the coming layoffs.

And without our products, people across the world would be sick and dying . Our product also protect the same children you are seeking to protect - apples and apples.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 13, 2009 at 9:48 pm

No 401k, that's right. They have 403b's. Public employees also receive benefits and retirement plans.


Posted by As I See It, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 13, 2009 at 9:49 pm

Steph - Wonderfully said!


Posted by Mother Teresa, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2009 at 10:26 pm

But are you doing such noble work that you consider yourselves volunteers even though you are paid?


Posted by Steph, a resident of Castlewood
on Mar 13, 2009 at 11:03 pm

No I do not consider myself a volunteer, I am paid based on the work that I do, the Ph.D education that I have and the capability to deliver productive results. Although the overtime I typically work each week is on a "volunteer" basis since I am not paid for that time. And the work I bring home with me on some weeknights or weekends is also not paid. But that is something I knew going into the job, as is true for most salary positions, my pharmaceutical colleagues, teachers and many other professions included.

I don't mean to draw conclusions that you did not intend but I was not quite sure what you meant by your comment. Were you suggesting that teachers consider themselves volunteers and that they wouldn't mind giving up their salaries?

While I am not for the parcel tax for the schools, I do think that teachers should be paid. And I understand that the parcel tax is about more than teachers' jobs and salaries (though those are some of the issues). Unfortunately that is the spin that has been put on it.

And the parcel tax I would like to see related to the upcoming layoffs at my company within the pharmaceutical industry are also about more than layoffs and saving my job. It is also about reducing the costs of drugs to everyone, including the many who have trouble affording their necessary prescriptions.

I have no doubt that if there were any way I could have a parcel tax such as this brought to a ballot, there is no way anyone would support it if it were only for the purpose of saving my job (and those of my colleagues). And I cannot fault you for that. And although it is about more than jobs, I also assume (maybe incorrectly though) you would appreciate an honest look into other potential solutions to make cuts and save these potential job losses. Lastly I would also assume you would expect that my company agree that even with additional funds, many sacrifices (even ones that aren't ideal but would still allow us to get by) would still be required on their part for their mismanagement, rather than putting the burden on the community who did not force their mismanagement. Those are the guidelines I would propose for my desired parcel tax, of course only after all other options have been exhausted.

I am sure that the company will have to answer to that (whether all other options have been exhausted) when making the upcoming layoffs. Some things seems like they could cut budget but taken individually are not significant enough to make an effect (things like reducing advertising and mailing, office supplies used, watering the landscape 20 minutes less per week, turning off 5 extra lights, etc). But pool the effects of 100 small sacrifices and the cost effects have true potential.

I hope that my management, and the Pleasanton School District, both see this.


Posted by Amador Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2009 at 11:39 pm

Steph,
Your posts are hysterical! If you wind up being laid off, take up writing.
Thanks so much for sharing. So very sorry to hear there will be layoffs at your firm.

Just Say NO to G!


Posted by Mike, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2009 at 12:07 am

Steph,

Would you be willing to free up the patents that your companies hold? You know, those patents are very lucrative, generates billions of dollars in profits, costs lots of money for us to buy them.

Or perhaps your research haven't found the next magical drug yet, so maybe that's why your company bought another one to increase its drug inventories, talents, and patents.


Posted by -, a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 14, 2009 at 9:16 am

Steph:

"Touche !" Great posting!!! Just so that I understand, your company actually had to make difficult decisions to cut expenses to meet its budget given your new organizational change. Wow. An organization that actually manages to budget. What a concept. Our State government (as well as at the Fed level) and public school officials should take notice of this concept with would be a first for them.

I am with you! Vote NO for the parcel tax for our public schools!


Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2009 at 11:31 am

This is my third post of this information, so don't reread it if you've already seen it. And Steph, thank you for your post; it's an important perspective on what is happening beyond the four walls of PUSD.

Steve made a point about giving decent wages and feeling the recent PUSD raises were in line. I wanted to get to the bottom of that. Using the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (San Francisco) and a person more knowledgeable than me, here is the comparison. Link to data is Web Link

2005-06 PUSD gave 4.6%; CPI was 3.9 (June '05-Jun '06)
2006-07 5.73% v 2.6%
2007-08 4.1% v 4.1%
2008-09 -3% for the last six months of 2008 (just an FYI)

That's 3.83% higher than the CPI for the period 2005-2008 (ending in June 2008). Using $100 million for the budget for salaries, that's a difference of $3.83 million . . . dangerously close to the amount requested in the parcel tax. This also does not include the step and column raises that occur each year, nor the stipends for education, etc. It appears that decent raises could have been given and still money could have been put in the bank.

And what was put in the bank? Districts have a line item in their budgets titled Designated for Economic Uncertainties. San Ramon has $6.9 million; Livermore has $4.5 million (cited from their First Interim Reports). And Pleasanton . . . it's zero. That, I think, is mismanagement.


Posted by business person, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2009 at 11:54 am

Let's consider what a business would do in this situation:

If management was having a hard time making the budget and went to the board of directors asking them to ask the investors for more money, the question from the board would be "Is this a one-time problem what will fix itself shortly?" If it were, the investors might give more money. If this were not the case, the board would insist that management look at things differently, by cutting costs and restructuring, as a cash infusion would not solve their problem.

In the case of the school district, management knows that the extra cash, painfully extracted from the investors, will not fix the problem. The problem is the management team is more interested in their jobs than they are of the stability of the institution.

Another problem we have at the district is trying to keep cash reserves for bad times. These reserves have been getting smaller and smaller. There is no incentive to increase them now, as the unions will claim that if there are reserves, it belongs to the union members. Every time the school board talked about increasing the reserves, the union reps came in and argued against it. The union members are now paying the price for only looking at the short-term. When times were good, our district gave raises higher than the CPI unlike San Ramon, which kept them in reserves. That is why San Ramon has a decent reserve account; they did not overspend when times were good.

If we are to fix the structural problem, we have to change the way we do business. As Albert Einstein said, "Doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results is stupidity."


Posted by proud parent of PUSD, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Just so you know San Ramon ALREADY has a parcel tax in place that expires this year . . .and they are trying to renew it!!!!!! Their tax was to balance their budget BEFORE this economic crisis, PUSD is trying to make up for the short fall of the state NOT from the lack of ability to balance their budget!

Sham on you Steph and all that agree for comparing a profit driven industry to public education . . .I hope your children (now or future) do not need the services that PUSD currently provides above and beyond any other district in the area!!

Teacher are not asking for you to vote for this tax to save their jobs. They are looking to have programs upheld that test scores have proven to be effective!! California is currently rank 50th for education yet both Foothill and Amador rank in the top 100 schools in the nation. I'd have to say they must be doing something right.

It's funny how you ALL hide behind your computers BUT don't come to any board meetings to voice your opinions/concerns! I know a lot of you have said you feel out numbered and don't want you neighbors to be upset with you BUT if you think you are so right then why would you care . . .could that be because you know you are benefitting through you home values?!?!?! I only mention that because many comments seem to be about individual benefits, although you have used some pretty funny comparisons about how your job benefits the masses -love it:)


Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2009 at 3:35 pm

Proud Parent: Here is the language for the prior San Ramon tax: To retain high quality teachers, keep smaller class sizes, keep school libraries open, keep counselors, and keep elementary instrumental music programs, shall the San Ramon Valley Unified School District levy an annual tax of $90 per taxable parcel for five years only, beginning July 1, 2004, with independent annual audits and a complete exemption for parcels owned and occupied by persons 65 years of age or over?

It doesn't say to balance the budget. Nor does the new one, nor does Pleasanton's. I'm not arguing in favor of San Ramon's tax, but at least they put money aside. Pleasanton was irresponsible leading up to the state crisis. They HAD the money to put aside and actively CHOSE to do nothing.

Every argument for this tax is about losing jobs. The program IS jobs, it's the only way CSR works.

California is low in the amount of state funding provided on average, and Foothill and Amador (kudos) rank well in one measure of the nation's schools, but Pleasanton has higher per student funding (higher than San Ramon for example) compared to some.

You cannot argue about anonymity when you, too, are signed in anonymously. Many (can't speak for all) have found ways to contact Board members, talk with staff, and have attended the meetings. These events are packed with teachers and parents who were emotional and rude, at best, to those in opposition. If we have great schools and great schools mean great home values, how is it that Pleasanton home values have dropped? It is impossible to believe that $1,000 in taxes over four years will buy me thousands in returned house value. It's an intelligent community, if they thought it was true, we'd pitch in that much and probably a lot more.

And really, anyone who works and pays taxes contributes to the tax base that "benefits the masses." I'm guessing that many in Pleasanton are in the top 20% of earners who pay something like 90% of the taxes collected in this country. I can get that data if you need it.

Also like many on these blogs (for or against), I'm not heartless, but I will not reward the district's spending spree with my yes vote or money. As has been said, they can make some serious changes and get back to me.


Posted by Big bad profit, a resident of Southeast Pleasanton
on Mar 14, 2009 at 3:43 pm

You may think some (even you) are hiding behind a computer but go ahead. Who cares...really? Think about it. What happens @ the ballot box is what matters. Won't change the fact that many are voting NO PARCEL TAX . And stop calling SHAME to people who hold a different opinion and will be voting differently than you "proud parent" There is no SHAME w/the comparison drawn by poster Step. And oh..."profit driven industry" Like that's a dirty word??? The big bad pahrma industry? Yes it does indeed benefit the masses. The fact that you even question that is "funny" to me. Remember that the next time anyone you love benefits from their work. I work in the health care industry as an advanced degree professional and I think it "funny" that some people just don't get how jobs OUTSIDE of teaching "benefits the masses -love it:)" In this economy, the teacher is NOT the golden cow regardless of the children, yours or mine. "Proud parent" live up to "proud" and provide your children with any of the losses you feel they will be subjected to. I had to do that 13yrs ago when my 2nd grader (now 22) had a horrible teacher. I worked with my daughter EVERY night M-F, without fail after dinner until bedtime filling in all the gaps on reading, math, spelling, science etc. I worked too so yes it was exhausting and I was glad to see the year end. Honestly, posts like proud parent need to drop the adjective "proud" and just stick w/ the word parent. Steph: have no shame!


Posted by resident, a resident of Downtown
on Mar 14, 2009 at 7:43 pm

Wow Steph, you are really brilliant. My investments are down from last year and I want another vacation so can I have a parcel tax too? Why should I have to suffer without a raise and while you are at it how about a $1,000 per month car allowance even though I live where I work? Not one administrator or teacher has taken a significant cut in pay, most of them have had raises. And they think I am stupid enough to vote for a parcel tax. I don't bother going to the meetings because I have no use for people who only want to waste my time. My mind is made up and my vote is NO. But can I please have a personal parcel tax anyway? That tropical vacation looks real good after all of this rain. I have done as much to earn it as Casey, and I have billed the taxpayers even less.


Posted by Laura, a resident of Fairlands Elementary School
on Mar 14, 2009 at 7:55 pm

SF Chronicle union votes yes to concessions

Web Link


Posted by Just a thought, a resident of Apperson Ridge
on Mar 14, 2009 at 8:05 pm

Steph,
How many of your neighbors up there in Castlewood are in education? Seems like you are kinda bitter and want to take it out on the little people. Perhaps a bit of stability is a trade off for those in education? They certainly don't get to take part in the "highs" of the economy.


Posted by Sheesh, a resident of Avignon
on Mar 14, 2009 at 9:11 pm

You are all nutso. Teachers get paid crap. That's why I would never do it and very likely why you don't either. How many of you truly followed your dreams when you chose a career? Most of you followed the money.

Now the money is going away and you go after the little guys. Why don't you ask Micky D's to lower the price on McNuggets and pay the servers even less. I mean, they probably don't work nearly as hard as you do.

Teachers live paycheck to paycheck and provide a vital service. I don't care what is cut but you can not cut the pay of these teachers. If that means mass layoffs and putting 50 of your spoiled little Iphone loving brats in one classroom go for it!


Posted by postponed retirement, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 14, 2009 at 9:18 pm

I'm retiring in 2 years from a job I had for 30 years. My 401K is now 40% of what it was last year and I may have to work another 10 years to make up for those losses.

Can I get a parcel tax bailout too?


Posted by Steph, a resident of Castlewood
on Mar 14, 2009 at 9:20 pm

I don't know how many of them are in education. And I would not call educators "the little people." Following college and before my PhD, I taught for one year in the inner city in Atlanta (where a parcel tax is unheard of - for education, pharmaceuticals, or otherwise) from 2001-2002. I was paid, less than Pleasanton teachers since the cost of living is much less in Atlanta than it is in Pleasanton, but I was paid at a rate that would put my salary in a lower bracket compared to the local averages than Pleasanton teachers are.

So I have been in the shoes of the educators (I even had to pay for my own printing and fill shifts as a yard duty) and I am not bitter towards them, nor would I call them little people.

The average salary of Pleasanton teachers is no less than the average salary of many other hard working Pleasanton residents who also do jobs that many of us take for granted that also afford them little stability. We may live in an affluent community but that doesn't mean "middle class" means living comfortably for anyone - educators, secretaries at my work, lab techs, sales people, etc.


Posted by Big Bad Profit, a resident of Southeast Pleasanton
on Mar 14, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Looks like "Just a thought" is into class warfare in little 'ole Plesanton. Want to punish "Big bad Castlewood" people? Are you trying to create divisions here or are you just "bitter"??

I don't know any teachers in Castlewood but I do know a clerk who work in the front office @ one of the schools who lives there. Does that count since she is part of the PUSD? But don't get me wrong, I am very glad she and her family do. I for one am not bitter.

Hmmmmm, are there two "Plesantons" here? The Castlewood people and the "little people" who did not get to take part in the "highs" of the economy. I work in health care and neither did I so I guess that makes me a "little people" too. But I for one am very happy about ALL the rich people in Castlewood, those in Ruby Hill too!. And I am sincere about that.

Stability? AKA as a state of continuance without change? Don't think that is possible in these economic times, but maybe for some of you who voted for change....well, there is always hope!


Posted by Dave W., a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Mar 14, 2009 at 10:13 pm

Appreciate some of the more detailed postings, as so many arguments are binary (e.g. support school parcel tax OR you don't like kids; support pharmeceutical companies OR you don't support health and safety).

I will support the school parcel tax, as great Pleasanton schools assure stable property values, educate children who will be our future leaders, and local control of local tax money is not subject to State take-aways. Still, I recognize that the $233 proposed tax won't meet the whole budget gap, so I personally support the PUSD funding reading specialists instead of travel for away sports games, etc.

As for pharmecutical companies, I personally support the President's budget increases to the National Institutes of Health to promote research in areas that drug companies have not determioned are profitable, so do not research in those areas. Would also like to see the USA ban direct advertising to consumers about drugs (like the bans in Europe and Canada) as drug companies in the USA currently spend just as much money each year on direct to consumer advertising as they do on research and development.

Dave W.
Pleasanton Valley resident


Posted by Joe, a resident of Downtown
on Mar 14, 2009 at 10:19 pm

There isn't any class warfare in "little ole Pleasanton" but it is definately a polarized community. There's the people in the "bottoms" who struggle and the people in Golden Rubywood Ranch who, well you know what you do.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 14, 2009 at 10:35 pm

Dave W wrote: "as great Pleasanton schools assure stable property values"

Actually, if you read up on studies regarding property values and school quality, the schools don't keep property values stable, it is that higher quality is directly correlated with higher property values where all else is equal. So if property values are going down because of other factors, the only thing higher school quality will guarantee is a higher property value relative to other communities with similar home inventory, etc.

Dave W also wrote: "so I personally support the PUSD funding reading specialists instead of travel for away sports games, etc."

I've gotten the sense on these blogs since January that CSR and the reading specialists are the most important programs that PUSD can try to save. But with the way the parcel tax initiative is written, those programs aren't guaranteed to be run as they currently are.


Posted by KGB, a resident of Foothill Farms
on Mar 15, 2009 at 1:25 am

Disagree w/B: Would do consider doing us the honor in spearheading the opposition against this senseless parcel tax and perhaps get your arguments onto the ballot?

I've been out talking to neighbors and most people in my neighborhood are against this tax. I think we'll have enough support to defeat it but we would benefit from your leadership.


Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2009 at 3:09 pm

KGB, There is an organized effort and I am contributing. At this point I don't think I can spearhead, but appreciate that you would ask. I would like to see an argument on the no side placed in the ballot. I'll get lambasted for this yet again, but I can be reached at parceltax@me.com (and you can send from an alias if you prefer). If you wish, I can forward your information to those I'm in contact with.


Posted by Del Prado Dad, a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 20, 2009 at 8:51 am

Appropriate and funny analogy. While we all love to help everyone, "if the money ain't there, the money ain't there." We have to face economic reality. Until we fix the state budget process which causes school budget swings, everything else is a temporary band-aid which will never solve the problem. If we want stable funding for education, lobby for fixing the process, not for a one-time temporary fix called a parcel tax, especially in these difficult times.


Posted by Fletch, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 20, 2009 at 9:50 am

I would agree that the time for reform is now. But not just at the state level! Let's start something really big right here in Pleasanton.
This is a perfect opportunity for the district to take a stand with the union for major changes. Why do we continue putting up with the system of tenure? It doesn't exit in other professions, so why tolerate it?
Take a stand to get rid of it here locally and a trend would start all over the country. What will the union call for? Well, a strike probably. So what?! Let them.
Due to budget cuts all over the state there are going to be plenty of young, terrific teachers unemployed all over the state simply as a matter of lack of tenure. Pleasanton is a great community and pays well comparatively. You don't think they would be lining up to apply for jobs here? I bet they would.
Love our teachers! (well most)
Despise tenure!

Pleasanton tenure revolt now!


Posted by T, a resident of Birdland
on Mar 21, 2009 at 9:11 pm

People are losing their jobs. People are losing their homes. Yes, here in beautiful, wonderful Pleasanton.

Will the school district give up 4% of their salaries and save every job, or will they cut out the bottom 20% of their work force and maintain status quo for the "tenured" and administrative staff?

Go ahead PUSD, use the children as your defense for not taking a nominal pay cut to save your fellow employee's job? You chose your profession. You chose your lifestyle. And this makes you immune to the current ecomonic climate?

Shame on you teachers, and shame on your union.