Town Square

Retirement Benefit Excesses of California Public Employees

Original post made by No Fear on May 6, 2009

I was motivated to start this thread by comments made on another thread (regarding the San Ramon property tax initiative).

Here are comments from that thread, to get the juices flowing:

Posted by Joe, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, 9 hours ago

I wouldn't read much into the San Ramon vote; after all, Craig Bowen, Chief of the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District retired in December with a yearly pension of $284,000.00 plus full bebefits. His salary while he was on the job was about $221,000.00. Obviously a lot of people don't care about money or they vote like lemmings.


Posted by We need to know, a resident of the Canyon Creek neighborhood, 2 hours ago

Can someone verify what Joe said, above?: ... Craig Bowen, Chief of the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District retired in December with a yearly pension of $284,000.00 plus full bebefits. His salary while he was on the job was about $221,000.00. Obviously a lot of people don't care about money or they vote like lemmings. (end)
As posted on another thread: Pleasanton City Attorney Michael Roush announced ... that he will retire at the end of September after 32 years in the municipal attorney profession, including the last 21 years here.

What's Mr' Roush's current salary and what will his retirement package look like? Pleasanton Weekly, please report on this.
Folks, these are the long term cost traps we've built. We only have ourselves to blame.

Posted by Joe, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, 2 hours ago

We need to know- The San Ramon retirement article appeared in the Contra Costa Times on May 2, 2009 by columnist Daniel Borenstein.
I think it points to just how much citizens are not paying attention until it is too late. This is just one incident at one level of Government. It will get worse for cities, counties and the state. This "retiree" was only 51 so he'll be collecting for a while.
For more stories like this, you might want to check out and get on their mailing list.

Posted by taxpayer, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, 1 hour ago

What you need to also keep in mind is that if that fire chief claims that he was "disabled" on the job (too old to perform is one that has worked) his retirement benefits will be TAX FREE. So the taxpayers get to pay twice. There are very few retired fire dept employees who do not make a disability claim. They start that ball rolling on their first day of work. Every muscle ache, every scratchy throat must have been caused by their jobs. They document it for years and retire tax free. Talk about a scam.


Posted by Paul, a resident of the Bonde Ranch neighborhood, 55 minutes ago

To We all need to know:
Yes Joe is correct and this system is in place for all police, fire, state, and department of corrections employees although for obvious reasons when the state is going bankrupt it is not advertised. When Gray Davis ran for re-election in order to get the endorsement of these organizations and their unions he promised what is called a 3 point retirement system. They gave him their endorsement and after winning he delivered on his promise. Here is the best example of how the program works. About 3 years ago the joint chief of the Pleasanton/Livermore Fire department retired at the age of 50. He started with the department of forestry at age 18 and while an employee received his degree and worked his way up to chief. As chief his salary was $150,000 dollars per year. Since at age 50 he had 32 years of service and using the 3 point system (3 points is actually 3% of your salary for every year of service) he was entitled to 96% of his salary of his salary for the rest of his life or $144,000 dollars per year! He even stated when asked why he was retiring so young was "I cannot work for $6,000 per year! The kicker is that after retiring he was retained as a consultant to find his replacement for a fee of $150,000 per year! So his compensation after retiring increased to $294,000 plus benefits for the rest of his life. $144,000 per year plus COLA and benefits after he found his replacement if he ever did. California is the only state which has a 3 point system as all the other states have a 2 point system because a 3 point system is not viable. The only way to void these contracts is by California going bankrupt which would reopen these contracts for negotiation. This is the reason why you see so many young retirees as after retiring they can still work for other entities.


Posted by Joe, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, 26 minutes ago

the school district is part of the same taxpayer abuse. They all use scare tactics ro get voters to vote for their agendas and then don't deliver because salaries and pensions are on the top of their list, not service to the community. These abuses are going to continue until an informed electorate takes a stand and says NO MORE. Measure G is just one sliver of a huge pie; if you vote against it then you are helping to stem the tide of this abuse.


Posted by No Fear, a resident of the Civic Square neighborhood, 9 minutes ago

Joe and Pete,

You are both right on target. Looks like a new topic is needed - Retirement Benefit Excesses of California Public Employees. Our elected representatives live in fear of employee unions, who care nothing of the future of the state, just what's in the best interest of their union members.
A new law needs to be on the books - one that completely reforms the retirement equation for all new hires. A start would be the 2 point structure, not 3. Or perhaps we need to go to 1.5 points. Another would be that retirement moneys would be made available at age 65. Who will start this topic?



Posted by Sue, a resident of Danbury Park
on May 6, 2009 at 10:51 am

To all:

I believe this will be a rough row to hoe as the only way this could happen would be for the state government to get the unions representing the state government workers, police, fire, and department of corrections to voluntarily agree to open up contract negotiations and negotiate downward. I am unclear on what the teachers union has negotiated for retirement but most shocking in all of this is that these are defined benefit contracts unlike the private sector which are undefined such as a 401K or what my husband has. In a defined benefit program the retiree is guaranteed a certain retirement amount per month plus cost of living regardless of what the health of the state is. This means that if the state does not have the money available because of tax revenue then they must go out and borrow to fund these defined pension plans. These are the same time of plans that have bankrupted GM and Chrysler.

Posted by pension facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 6, 2009 at 11:06 am

There is a good editorial in the Sacramento Bee today on the public employees who are making more than $100,000 per year in pensions. You can find it at: Web Link . They reference a website where you can do a search by agency to see those making more than $100,000 in pensions. For Pleasanton, there are currently 22 retired Pleasanton personal making over $100,000 per year in pensions.

They are:

Search by First, Last or Full Name Search by Employer
Name Monthly Annual Employer Name
TIMOTHY NEAL $14,035.34 $168,424.08 PLEASANTON
STEWART GARY $13,168.05 $158,016.60 PLEASANTON
SUSAN ROSSI $12,499.04 $149,988.48 PLEASANTON
GARY TOLLEFSON $11,854.06 $142,248.72 PLEASANTON
JOHN GOODWIN $11,482.71 $137,792.52 PLEASANTON
BRIAN SWIFT $10,523.83 $126,285.96 PLEASANTON
DAVID RADFORD $10,451.79 $125,421.48 PLEASANTON
THOMAS BRAMELL $10,361.76 $124,341.12 PLEASANTON
ERIC CARLSON $10,271.48 $123,257.76 PLEASANTON
WILLIAM EASTMAN $9,770.95 $117,251.40 PLEASANTON
JOSEPH BUCKOVIC $9,407.05 $112,884.60 PLEASANTON
MICHAEL STJOHN $9,275.80 $111,309.60 PLEASANTON
SEAN CHAPMAN $8,856.90 $106,282.80 PLEASANTON
CARL COUSINEAU $8,821.74 $105,860.88 PLEASANTON
PAUL HELMS $8,691.66 $104,299.92 PLEASANTON
GREGORY WIXOM $8,593.63 $103,123.56 PLEASANTON
STEVEN ROSS $8,583.76 $103,005.12 PLEASANTON
PAUL MOLKENBUHR $8,555.76 $102,669.12 PLEASANTON

My guess is Roush will be near the top of this list once he retires, especially since the Council is voting to give him a raise JUST BEFORE RETIREMENT and MAKING IT RETROACTIVE so he can get an even higher pension. I think this would be a great article for the weekly. Hope they pick this up and be trule informative to our residents on our pensions. On top of this we also have a mostly unfunded liability on retiree medical to the tune of over $100 million! That is just Pleasanton. The Pleasanton School District has a completely unfunded liability of over $11 million in retiree medical. Now with the losses in the pension fund, the taxpayers are on the hook since these retirees have guaranteed income (defined benefit). The retiree medical will also eat us alive since insurance rates keep going up. While the city has a little control at the high end for payout in the end of the next contract, the school district has no cap, and we as taxpayers are on the hook for the medical insurance, no matter what the cost is.

Posted by A.B. Smith, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 6, 2009 at 11:13 am


Thanks for the information.

When Steve Brozosky was a city council member, he sounded the warning on this issue, from a local perspective.

State employee Defined Benefits will bankrupt this state faster than you can say – oh my god, what have we allowed to happen. Looks like the only way we can change this is through the initiative process, since our legislators won't touch this issue in any meaningful way.

Posted by A.B. Smith, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 6, 2009 at 11:18 am

pension facts,

Great info!

Pleasanton citizens, we need to wake up. This system is out of control.

Posted by Sue, a resident of Danbury Park
on May 6, 2009 at 11:20 am

This is disgusting!!!!! everyone in this town must read this.

Posted by breaking our backs, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on May 6, 2009 at 11:22 am

Now doesn't this shine a totally different light on the "policeman and fireman as hero" model? I can tell you from personal knowledge that if a company (or city, such as Vallejo) files for bankruptcy those contracts can be deemed void. The pensions can be dissolved with NO current or future liability. This applies to employees who have already retired as well as those currently working. At this rate, a bankrucpty in Pleasanton sounds pretty good to me.
As a taxpayer I am tired of seeing public safety retirees stop working at 50 and spend every day on the golf course while collecting a tax free disability pension and having no obligation to pay medical costs.

Posted by Paul, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on May 6, 2009 at 11:24 am

I am glad I wrote what I did and yes this has to be fixed and soon as the reason why they have all of these government openings is that every year at age 50 they bail and make way for the next hogs to get to the trough.

Posted by Jennifer, a resident of Downtown
on May 6, 2009 at 11:31 am

Please share this thread with every concerned tax payer you know in Pleasanton! The time for real reform is now (it really was many years ago, but here we are, looking like idiots, working our tails off for current and future government retirees - shame on us).

Posted by We are insane, a resident of Del Prado
on May 6, 2009 at 11:36 am

Firefighters and police officers do great work. However, retiring at 50 with close to and in many cases more than 100% of their final income and out of control benefits is wrong, wrong, wrong!

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on May 6, 2009 at 11:44 am

The only thing that has to be fixed is your head folks. They worked hard and they earned it.

How come so many people are upset about some people having made out better than others?

Police and firefighters work their butts off and they put their lives on the line daily.

Shut up whiners!

Posted by A friend of John Adams, a resident of California Somerset
on May 6, 2009 at 11:55 am

Cholo, we're not whiners. We are the people that pay the taxes that provide work and incomes for government workers. If it is the will of the people to reform government compensation, then it will be done. This is our constitutional right (and obligation).

Posted by Kelly F., a resident of Jensen Tract
on May 6, 2009 at 11:58 am

Cholo, abuse of the current system and reform of the current system are legitimate issues. Government of the people, by the people.

Posted by who 'ya gonna call?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 6, 2009 at 12:17 pm

When you strip our daily heroes their rightful compensations, who 'ya gonna call when those FSU or FUS (whatever those idiots are called) come harassing you? Who 'ya gonna call when your cat is in the trees or when your house burns down?

Our police and fire fighters put their lives on the line for us. We need to compensate them accordingly as a token of our appreciation.

Posted by We decide, a resident of Birdland
on May 6, 2009 at 12:28 pm

They are very well compensated. Where talking about abuse of the system and excess - real issues.

Posted by Paul, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on May 6, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Let's not get tied up in non facts and emotion like the poor Pleasanton firefighters and police putting their lives on the line (keep in mind that no policeman or firefighter is drafted to do the job but rather know the risks and make a conscious decision to go that route but that is another story) and stuff like that but stick to the facts. All government workers are currently entitled to these types of benefits. As cited above by name we currently have over 22 pleasanton retirees making in excess of $100,000 per year and none are firefighters or policemen but rather city workers. I suspect we have quite a large number of teachers drawing a pretty good sized pension but because they make less than $100,000 they do not show up on this list. The amount of people we have drawing the huge pensions in some cases starting as early as 50 is an unsustainable model and maybe years ago when the average life expectancy was 60 and the state was rich it might have made sense to some politican but now the reality is that we are no longer rich and some of these people will be drawing these pensions until they are 80 or beyond makes it unaffordable. To think as a city of our size we have an unfunded healthcare pension of $11,000,000 should make one shutter as it will only grow and who will pay the tab? I do not know about anyone else but my retirement is an undefined kind which is made up of 401K and stocks and how I do when I retire is not guaranteed 30 years in advanced even if it cannot be paid for. I think the only way to renegotiate these contracts is to make them visible and put pressure on our politicans by going public with our outcry and vote them out of office. Keep in mind that even though Gray Davis agreed to them they were ratified as contracts by our state assembly.

Posted by unclehomerr.., a resident of Downtown
on May 6, 2009 at 12:58 pm

I don't see Deborah Acosta McKeehan on that list..

When she left... [I don't know that she 'retired', but, why wouldn't she..] she was making around $200k.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 6, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

"none are firefighters or policemen but rather city workers"

Bill Eastman is up on that list. He was a former police chief.

The private sector largely dumped defined benefit plans for good reason.

Posted by pension facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 6, 2009 at 1:32 pm

Paul, the $11,000,000 unfunded retiree medical is just for the school district. For the city, the liability is $120,000,000 and they have $40,000,000 funded so the city is unfunded by $80,000,000. Pretty amazing that if you combine the city and school district we have about $100,000,000 in unfunded liabilities.

As for Ms. McKeehan, that shows why you don't see a lot more people in the $100K list. If you work at say Redwood City for 20 years and then at Pleasanton for 10 years, each agency is "charged" for the number of years while in that agency. If neither one is at $100,000, you will not see it on this list. Since McKeehan worked at a few cities, each city could be below the threshold even though the additive value is way more than $100,000. So I would guess there are a lot more people in the $100,000 club but only those who worked at the same city for most or all those years would be on this list. Public Safety personnel might be excluded from dividing the pensions between the agencies, so that would be why you see a lot of police and fire and not as many other employees. I believe this is one of the perks that Gov. Davis gave out.

Posted by Paul, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on May 6, 2009 at 1:47 pm

To make matters even more interesting the investments chosen by the state to help fund the california workers pension has lost 45% of it value in the last 2 years and the teachers union fund has lost 25% of it value. This is completely unsustainable. I wonder if a voter referendum on the ballot could force renegotiation?

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 6, 2009 at 1:47 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Sounds like an incentive to go into City work, huh? :)

Posted by Paul, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on May 6, 2009 at 2:05 pm

I just looked this one up Timothy Neal was hired as our Police Chief in early 2000 and retired in 2007 so he worked for us for almost 7 years, retired, and now we are paying him $168,000 per year.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 6, 2009 at 6:46 pm

The problems is with unions, whether in public service or the private sector. Just now that GM is going bankrupt and is closing some sites for a few weeks, their blue collar employees will still collect about 90 percent of their salary! That is because the Auto Union Worker has some contracts in place.

I hope the Obama administration lets GM go bankrupt so the union contracts can be undone. And no, the AUW should NOT own parts of GM, at least not if taxpayer funds are being used.

Please write to Obama and your senator. They need to hear that the unions are not going to continue to have a free ride on the taxpayers' money!

Posted by Paul, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on May 6, 2009 at 6:54 pm

Resident ,

Mark my words the Obama administration will let GM go bankrupt but will reward the UAW in the deal just like he did Chrysler when he should not have. The UAW ended up owning 55% of Chrysler when legally they were not entitled to anything and that is because of the amount of money donated to Obama by the UAW and the fact that he owes them. He is in the bag or they are in his pocket I should say. The government is already dictating the types of vehicles GM and Chrysler will make. The young talent is all leaving those two as fast as they can and as a result you will be seeing very small, ugly, and probably unsafe cars out of those two for some time to come. By far and away the best cars made are by Toyota.

Posted by No Fear, a resident of Civic Square
on May 6, 2009 at 9:33 pm

Great comments, keep 'em coming!

Posted by John Adams, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 7, 2009 at 7:17 am

The practice of jacking up salaries when retirement looms (or should I say appears as a golden city on the horizon?), and then rehiring pensioners as consultants goes on all the time.Web Link Pleasanton Unified School District did it recently with Sandra Lemmon Lepley and Clem Donaldson. It's the obvious path for John Casey.

Kay Ayala and Steve Brozosky lost the support of public employees (thus becoming unelectable) by asserting the city's retirement plan to be unsustainable. Tom Pico left the city with a $68M reserve, which has been steadily whittled away since. The golden city looms.

What happens when no one will lend the bankrupt government money to pay off these excessive pensions?

Posted by Paul, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on May 7, 2009 at 8:17 am

John Adams,

Related to the question of who pays for retirement benefits when no one will buy our debt look no further than what happened to the employees of United Airlines, Continental, soon Chrysler, and GM. I think maybe even a bigger question is that now that California is junk bond status on with these tax increase initiatives on the ballot which will fail without a doubt who will loan California the money to fund the even the interest on our debt. I believe Arnold is just trying to get to the finish line here and let the next guy make the big decisions. It will without a doubt be a Democratic governor with a democratic state assembly so it should be interesting. On another note, take a look at what other countries are currently doing to protect themselves against the reckless spending of the US. Stephen Harper of Canada for the first time in history is negotiating a strategic trade agreement with the EU because of fears about the US economy and China has started a large scale purchase of Euros to protect against the possible collapse of the US dollar because of the massive debt being driven up. Something has to give with these pensions and much more as it is an unstainable model.

Posted by No Fear, a resident of Civic Square
on May 7, 2009 at 8:52 am

Please read this shocking story by Daniel Borenstein of the Contra
Costa Times. This typ of abuse is happening throughout the state of California, including Pleasanton. I'm completely speechless: Web Link

Posted by Brian Laurence, a resident of Vineyard Hills
on May 7, 2009 at 9:13 am

Post removed at the request of poster.

Posted by Paul, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on May 7, 2009 at 9:49 am

Brian, you should be quite proud of your father and his devotion to duty and no one is saying your mother is not entitled to his benefits but rather we are discussing the vast majority of individuals who fall into a category far different than your fathers. I suspect very few of the beneficiaries of pensions fall into the category of your father but rather are individuals who worked and are currently being rewarded at a far greater level than we can economically afford. I am quite sure your father was aware of the inherent dangers of his profession when he signed up and for that he is to be respected. My father also died of lung cancer from i believe machining asbestos for a long period of years but since he smoked early in his life as most did who are currently older than 55 or so he was no eligible for benefits other than his life insurance after he died. We now take care of my mother financially.

Posted by No Fear, a resident of Civic Square
on May 7, 2009 at 9:59 am

Dear Mr. Brian Laurence,

I'm sorry about the loss of your father. I too lost my father to a lung illness. Your attempt to silence our voices is truly disheartening. We are protected by the United States Constitution: Bill of Rights, Amendment One. Ironically, your father took an oath to uphold our Constitution. It is not only our right but our obligation as citizens to hold legislators, administrators and other government bureaucrats accountable. Our Founding Fathers blessed us with the means to build a more perfect nation, over time. Part of that mandate is active involvement by common citizens in local, state and national politics (international too). On this thread, we're engaging in the process.

Most sincerely,

No Fear

Posted by Sue, a resident of Danbury Park
on May 7, 2009 at 10:34 am

Mr. Brian Laurence,

While I am sorry to hear of your dad's passing I had not heard of him and I have lived in Pleasanton since the early 70's. I asked my father and he said your father died in the 60's. I then looked it up and it said on the internet he died in 1969. If so, at the $105,361.80 listed on the public domain it means your family has been paid $4,214,472.00 in salary not including benefits, life insurance nor I suspect social security. I think most would think that a bit much and certainly more than our poors boys widows receive who are killed in action in foreign wars.

Posted by Parent of Two, a resident of Val Vista
on May 7, 2009 at 10:51 am

Parent of Two is a registered user.

I have no problem with police/fire/public safety field personnel getting pensions commensurate with their length of service to the city. They're doing a job that involves risk, potential injury, and protecting the rest of the city. You work for twenty years on the front lines, you deserve twenty years pension at 80% (like the US military). Period.

I do have a problem with administrators and pencil-pushers getting ANYTHING after they retire. Office personnel, while important in their own way, are not in any more danger than any other private sector employee.

I will never belittle the danger that a fireman or cop faces on a daily basis.

Posted by Jill, a resident of Birdland
on May 7, 2009 at 11:01 am

Parent of Two,

Police and fireman know exactly what they are signing up for when they apply for the job and know danger or even death goes with the territory.

Posted by Wonder (about this) land, a resident of Birdland
on May 7, 2009 at 11:26 am

"Cheshire Puss would you please tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?" said Alice. "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to" said the Cat. "I don't much care where" said Alice. "Then it doesn't matter which way you go" said the Cat.

—Lewis Carroll,
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on May 7, 2009 at 11:29 am


I believe you have wandered out of the land of magic brownies and into an area you do not have the mental capability to perform.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 7, 2009 at 11:40 am

Sue, read what Mr. Brian Laurence wrote: his father passed away 3 years ago.

Also, public safety members are not eligible for social security; contributions are made to PERS during their career and no social security contributions made.

Posted by Sue, a resident of Danbury Park
on May 7, 2009 at 11:46 am

Anonymous, here is the obituary for his father right out of Pleasanton Weekly and the article says he passed away in 1969 from cancer.

Pleasanton Weekly Pleasanton Weekly: Obituaries (December 31, 1969)

Posted by Dazed and Confused, a resident of Canyon Oaks
on May 7, 2009 at 11:53 am

Brian Laurence just had his post removed from this thread.

Why was his father's obituary in a recent PW edition if his father died thirty years ago?

This makes no sense.

Posted by Parent of Two, a resident of Val Vista
on May 7, 2009 at 11:55 am

Maybe it's like "Lost" with his father in the Dharma initiative 30-40 years ago....

Sorry, just wanted a little levity (and to talk about Lost)...

Posted by Mary B., a resident of California Somerset
on May 7, 2009 at 11:57 am

Sue, can you provide a link to the obituary? I have nothing better to do on a beautiful spring day!LOL!

Posted by Friend of family, a resident of Vineyard Hills
on May 7, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Dennis Laurence was a wonderful and beloved husband, father and grandfather. His family misses him greatly! His passing on February 4, 2006 was a great loss to all that knew him. Please be respectful of this and get your facts straight before posting incorrect information on another Dennis Laurence. You are welcome to call the Livermore/Pleasanton Fire Department. The Dennis Laurence of which I speak, was indeed a Deputy Fire Chief with Livermore/Pleasanton Fire Department and his death by lung cancer was ruled to be duty related. Thank you all who wish his family well.

Posted by Kenneth P., a resident of Bridle Creek
on May 7, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Let's get back to the topic of this thread - Retirement Benefit Excesses of California Public Employees.

Posted by Paul, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on May 7, 2009 at 12:56 pm

Aside from the state, county, or city filing bankrupcy to get out of these agreements, I wonder if anyone knows of a way to get out of these unsustainable benefits and go to something much more sensible and tied to the current and future economic circumstances?

Related to city raises being considered annually or other fringe agreements I suspect we should be able to have these items discussed in a public forum in town with our elected officials. Does anyone know if our city public officials and employees are still getting annual raises while we are in this depression or recession? I would be shocked if they hadn't been frozen.

Posted by Tom, a resident of Birdland
on May 7, 2009 at 12:58 pm

First of all, I am a cop. My father was a cop. My great grandfather was a cop, as is my cousin. Having been in this business for almost 20 years, I can tell you that I have missed countless family events, children's baseball games, school plays, birthdays, and other major events. My experience has been that the vast majority of parents with whom I am friends with, or with whom my kids associate, don't miss many of the same events that I do. Nor do they put on a gun and vest, and drive as fast as they can in the direction of gunfire when everyone is fleeing. Nor, at 40+ years old, are they working all night long, driving a car, stopping dangerous people who could cause harm to the innocent. The innocent people are you, the people who don't carry guns and run into dangerous situations. You want us to be there for you, to provide you with "customer service", don't be rude, don't swear, don't drive too fast, do everything you want. But, regardless of 30 years of service protecting the innocent, if we are compensated at the "tail-end" by a great retirement system, then we are "stealing" from the public. I wonder how many of the people writing these comments live paycheck-to-paycheck, working overtime to make sure our families live in this great community. Police officers are not getting rich, I promise you that. Instead of finding fault with how we are compensated, how about a "thank you"? And, instead of responding with "we appreciate what you do, but...", just say "thank you". That is all any cop or firefighter wants; to do their job well and at least pretend to think that the community members for which we are putting our lives on the line aren't searching for ways make us feel less appreciated than you already do.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 7, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Regarding the article by Daniel Borenstein linked to above by No Fear about "pension spiking"... The quickest solution to this is to outlaw defined benefit plans for public employees and switch to undefined. Yes, unpopular... But this kind of abuse isn't just bad for the taxpayer, it's bad for the other public employees who will end up losing out when the government goes bankrupt.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 7, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Tom, which is better? To get paid a higher salary now and get an undefined retirement plan or to be paid less now and receive in retirement more money than most people ever see in their lifetimes?

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 7, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Oh yea, and keep in mind that without the private sector, none of the above is possible.

Posted by Ken in South Pleasanton, a resident of Downtown
on May 7, 2009 at 1:30 pm

Tom (the 4th generation police officer)
Thanks. We do appreciate what you do and the service you provide.
It was your choice. A good choice from what I've read and experienced. I hope you enjoy sucking on the teets of Pleasanton taxpayers once you retire. The milk must be sweet.

Posted by Jeff B., a resident of Highland Oaks
on May 7, 2009 at 1:41 pm

Tom, please. Nobody forced you into the line of work you do.

Stacey, I couldn't have said it better. There seems to be a common thread from SOME, not all, police officers, firefighters and school teachers. The thread is "dear me, look how under-appreciated I am". Tom, I assure you, I respect the work you perform but I don't respect that you are trying to side-step the very important issues presented in this thread. You see, your "pitch" worked wonders for many years. We've made sure you and your fellow public servants are well compensated. We'll continue to do this. In the bargain, the system is broken and we need to fix it. So pardon us if we have concerns, because the pot of gold is close to, if not already empty.

Posted by Frustrated, a resident of Val Vista
on May 7, 2009 at 1:49 pm

Those who work in the public sector get raises, earn commission on sales, get bonuses when things are going well or they have done a good job, get stock options, etc. So when times are good there can be a huge windfall of money in the private sector. I have friends who are very well off due to the dot-com industry and retired at 32. City employees get yearly increases but when times are good or they have done an excellent job they are not compensated with bonuses. They are slow and steady wage earners through their whole career. There are no swings in the salary scale. I know that cops and firefighters know what they are signing up for, as does anyone who enlists in the military, so does that not make them heros? Doing the job that many won't? I know that I want to run from a guy carrying a gun instead of running toward him. I want to run from a burning building instead of going toward it. Most firemen and cops retire earlier that the private sector because their bodies have been beaten down by the job or are too old to do the job physically. All you people complaining about everything must not be "city workers" 'cuz if you were, you probably wouldn't be complaining. I firmly believe that no city worker is "getting rich" off of their pension.

Posted by Joe, a resident of Downtown
on May 7, 2009 at 1:53 pm

To Tom the Cop, Everyone deserves a well funded adequate pension; however, I know and you know and now the public is beginning to know that nobody deserves and outrageous pension. If you weren't in law enforcement you would be just as outraged as others are. These pensions are simply unsustainable and it will get to a point where some cities are going to be paying for two police departments and two fire departments for those on active duty and those retired.

Posted by Facts First, a resident of Birdland
on May 7, 2009 at 1:58 pm

Frustrated, believe what you want. You are another person responding with colorful EMOTIONS. Read the thread for details. Our system is broken.

Posted by Not your average wimp, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 7, 2009 at 2:04 pm

I support my police and fire departments. I support my schools. I support all the people that help make our city, county, state and national governments operate properly. I do not support waste of tax payer dollars. I do not support excess salaries (Jim Casey) and excess defined benefit pensions.

Btw, I have entered a burning building to save someone and I will defend my family against intruders.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 7, 2009 at 2:05 pm

Excuse me, people, but the term unsustainable is being used a lot here. Up until the recent economic downtrend, it seems to me that it WAS sustainable and it was working just fine, esp. here in Pleasanton. The sales taxes and property taxes generated more than enough for us to pay current expenses and pay forward into reserves. It wasn't until the mortgage meltdown and economic tsunami last year that municipal budgets and public retirement systems saw problems. When the economy recovers, and it will, some of these perceived issues will go away.

Posted by Frustrated, a resident of Val Vista
on May 7, 2009 at 2:09 pm

How many in the private sector retire with more than $100k in salary and benefits? I would love for someone to send me a link to a website with that information! I would love for someone to give me a percentage. I would bet that the private sector has a higher percentage. And, my friends, we are paying for their retirement packages too in the form of higher prices in the products we buy. What about all those AIG and other banking executives that get millions of dollars in bonuses each year? I bet their retirement packages/severance packages are pretty sweet. Who pays for that? US!!! We as a people pay for people's retirement packages whether private or public.

Posted by Oh boy..., a resident of Mission Park
on May 7, 2009 at 2:24 pm

Anonymous, either you don't choose to read for details or you are not capable of doing so. What is it about over $100 million dollars of future medical expenses for city workers that you don't understand? These expenses are not capped - they will escalate with inflation. This does not include the retirement money that will be paid out on top of the medical liabilities. What happened in Vallejo will happen here too. The system will not self-correct.

Posted by Kay G., a resident of Stoneridge Orchards
on May 7, 2009 at 2:28 pm

Frustrated, you are completely out of touch. Most in the private sector have undefined benefits - 401k, IRA, etc. Pensions are typically only something public sector employees get these days. Read the thread - it's discussed.

Posted by Paul, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on May 7, 2009 at 2:44 pm

I am the one which first started using the phrase unsustainable 3 point system and nobody ever said it was sustainable as it wasn't and has only been around since Gray Davis put it through to get elected with the support of the california union, gov't workers, police, fire, and california prison guards union. Without their support he would never have been elected nor would they have ever gotten such a system without getting him in. What we are talking about here is that we have this monster we cannot even come close to feeding and then we starting here about these $100,000,000 dollar medical pension funds which are not funded at a time when tax revenue is drying up and businesses are leaving the state as well as the rich small business owners. Don't believe it? Look up the numbers about real income exiting the state in the last 5 years. Shocking. So my friends we need to start putting everything out on the table and see what we want, need, desire, and most important what is affordable because if we were a private enterprise we would have shut the doors already with all of these legasy costs. Arnold is just kicking the ball down the hall until he can exit the door and then it will be someone else's and worse yet our problem. We need to discuss and look at real and long term solutions as we are also justing kicking the ball down the hall for our children to solve and the problem we leave them with might unsolvable unless we act. We keep electing these people who promise us everything to get elected and we buy it without looking at the big picture and the cost which comes with it. This goes for our elected city officials also and maybe right now even more so. True leadership is about making hard choices and the right decisions not just what is convenient or will get them elected. I would rather see someone in office who was trying to get things fixed rather than someone who was just trying to be middle of the road and lukewarm. Let's get this fixed!!!

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 7, 2009 at 2:49 pm

"The retirement money that will be paid out on top of medical liabilities." What am I missing here, retirement money is being paid out from funds that were salted away over the entire 10, 20, 30 years of a public employee's career. Those funds grew in the capable hands of PERS and similar retirement programs, and enabled a sustainable pension payout while still leaving healthy balances invested to pay for future costs. ONLY when the market fell apart and the interest no longer enabled the pension funds to remain whole was there any problem.

I'm with Frustrated, paying for our public employees is nothing compared to what we are paying for private sector retirees. Both of my parents still collect very generous pensions from the aerospace industry in Southern California on top of social security pensions, and they never stood in the line of fire one day in their whole lives, never gave up a single holiday with family or had to postpone a family vacation to cover for a brother police officer or firefighter.

Posted by Sue, a resident of Danbury Park
on May 7, 2009 at 2:54 pm

Anonymous and frustrated,

The pension fund is empty and there is no money to replenish it right now that is the issue. Your parents are the exception rather than the rule. Nobody outside of the government workers have gotten a guaranteed pension in the last 25 years. Everything has been undefined since then and not guaranteed but rather ebs and flows with their unsecured 401K. That is the tax money because no business revenue, because mfg jobs have left the state,

Posted by Ken in South Pleasanton, a resident of Downtown
on May 7, 2009 at 3:16 pm

reply to anonymous (why hide?)
Unsustainable speaks to the future, not the moment. I can sustain holding my breath for about 30 seconds, but that is UNsustainable for more than that. What makes the payments unsustainable is the unchecked inflationary nature of the payments and the reality that good times are followed by bad times (repeat several times). The compounding of the payout increases takes them to an unsustainable level in the future, especially the future of our children, as more public employees retire expecting the same cushion that their predecessors got. Add on the fact that people are living much longer in retirement and you have a recipe for disaster, one that we will pay for with higher taxes for generations to come.

Posted by Ken in South Pleasanton, a resident of Downtown
on May 7, 2009 at 3:22 pm

reply to Parent of Two: administrators and clerks not at risk
Who are you kidding?!?! Have you ever had to deal with a paper cut, closing a 4 inch three ring binder, taking off your iPod earphones just to listen to a question from a citizen, or replacing the cartridge on a wayward copier? Not face death and danger on a daily have to live it to understand it!

Posted by jay, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 7, 2009 at 3:26 pm

To Anonymous, your description would make sense if the employees were on a defined contribution and not a defined benefit program. These employees have been promised by the taxpayers a specific amount of money per month after retirement. If the investment income is not enough, the taxpayers have to contribute more. CalPERS does not have the ability to print money. They are managing the fund that is paid for by investment income and taxpayer payments. You will see this next year that all cities will be receiving a much increased bill for CalPERS. I have heard that the increase amount can be from 3% to 5% of total payroll. I am not sure of Pleasanton's total payroll but online it seems to show $60 million but don't know if that includes the benefits already. Let's take a conservative number. If payroll were $40 million then if our CalPERS bill goes up 5% of payroll that would be another $2 million we will have to pay. I heard of numbers much higher that this so don't know. Did you know that our employees pay NOTHING towards their retirement? It is 100% financed by the taxpayers; they have no payroll withholding.

Add on to pensions it retiree medical which the taxpayers also pay for at 100%. While the school district stops paying medical once an employee hits 65 and can get medical, city employees pay for the life of that person. To add insult to injury, we let them retire earlier. So if you have a fireman who retires at 50, and lets say their medical insurance cost is $1000/month (constant but we know it will keep going up), if that person dies at age 80, we have 360 months of medical premiums (30 years) at $1,000 per month or an additional taxpayer cost of $360,000 for this. With increasing healthcare costs that number is probably double or triple and could be over $1,000,000 for medical insurance, on top of the guaranteed pension they receive.

I thought the purpose of government was to provide services to the taxpayers. It does not seem fair that the benefits the government workers make is significantly higher than those they work for (the taxpayers).

We should be paying a fair wage. Period. As for the retirement benefits, they should be receiving what the taxpayers receive. What we are doing now is passing on a debt to our children so they have to pay all the retiree and medical costs that our generation approved. I am willing to pay more for police and fire but the rest of the jobs have no safety element in it. Recent surveys have shown that government workers are being paid more that the private sector for equivalent jobs in many of the government jobs, plus they get these high benefits.

Posted by Paul, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on May 7, 2009 at 4:28 pm

Bingo! we are getting it!!

Posted by Hoping, a resident of Del Prado
on May 7, 2009 at 5:11 pm

Bingo is not enough. They have to really get it on May 19th and Vote NO on 1A & 1B. Aww helol, vote No on all of them.

Posted by Paul, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on May 7, 2009 at 7:35 pm

I suppose we could get a state ballot initiative which would or could reverse this 3 point system on the premise that it never went before the voters and is not consistent with the other 49 states. I believe this would work and eliminate this unneeded debt we cannot afford. I wonder how many 50 years olds will be retiring this year? I bet quite a few.

Posted by unclehomerr.., a resident of Downtown
on May 7, 2009 at 8:01 pm

Tom the cop only asked for a 'thank you'.

Thank you, Tom and all your brother's in blue.

To the politicians who use the threats of cutting cops, firefighters, and teachers unless we throw more money their way.... scroo you!!


Posted by Enlightened, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 7, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Ken, Sue, Jay and even unclehomer,

You are all right on target! Keep on it. The more the people know, the more the people know this system is broken, at EVERY level!

We need a proposition that addresses several issues - 3 points, defined benefits, income padding in final years of employment, early retirement and access to full pensions - how about limiting the amount one can get at 50 years old, say, 50%, then moving up gradually to 100% at age 65 and older, following the lead of the rest of us who play the social security ponzi scam. Other ideas?

The time for action is now!

Posted by Paul, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on May 7, 2009 at 9:50 pm


The point system needs to be eliminated completely as it does not entail any level of risk or contribution. I would suggest that these employees get the same as the private sector. 401K with government match up to 6% of the first amount contributed by the employee. Employee can deduct without penalties at 59 1/2. This would transistion them over to a non defined benefit program the same as everyone else. Earliest retirement age would be 59 1/2 the same as everyone else and it levels the playing field and creates competition.

Posted by Enlightened, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 7, 2009 at 10:05 pm

Paul, I like your idea. I have no idea how to draft a proposition.

Posted by CM, a resident of Stoneridge
on May 7, 2009 at 10:21 pm

Jay says we should pay a "fair wage". What exactly is a "fair wage" for someone that puts their life on the line? What is a "fair wage" for the four Oakland PD officers that were killed by some scum bag who the taxpayers supported to keep alive in prison so he could get out and continue his life of crime and take four good men out. Maybe you should be attacking the bad guys who really live off the taxpayer rather than the people that try and help you by arresting those bad guys or rush to your home when you call for medical assistance and try to save your life. It is at times like those that they seem underpaid if you are the recipient of them just doing their job. If it is such a great job why didn't any of you complaining sign up? They are always looking for qualified candidates.
Some really uninformed information on this blog. First off, not all medical is paid for; the retiree does pay every month towards their medical benefits. Second, the amount that any city or county contributes to CALPERS for their employees varies from one year to another. Some years they are not required to make any retirement contributions. Also for about the first 11 years of retirement the retiree only collects from the money that they have contributed during the course of their career. They do not begin to collect on CALPERS money until like the 12th year of retirement. If a person retires at say 55 and dies at 75 they have collected on the taxpayer's money for only 9 years.

Also the annual big raise that someone mentioned is limited to a cost of living not to exceed 2%. Now that is not what I would call a substantial increase. Hell they say the average rate of inflation is 3% so they are losing 1% a year just to inflation. Yep, they are screwing the taxpayer!

Lastly the pay some of you are talking about are at the very high end of any department. These people have a lot on their plate, much like top line managers in the private sector who are compensated at a much higher wage that any chief of police or fire chief. Guess when times get tough the government employee are an easy target for those in misery.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 7, 2009 at 10:29 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

What wage should we pay our soldiers?

Posted by sue, a resident of Danbury Park
on May 8, 2009 at 6:26 am

Cm, Plese read earlier as we discussed the pople putting their lives on the line and the fact that this is a decision they made when they signed up with their eyes open. Secondly we know the amount changes annually as a matter of fact due to shortfalls it is expected to go up and makes it even more unaffordable. Nobody that I know of in the private sector is even getting a raise and most feel fortunate to have a job and if they do not having their base pay reduced by at least 10%. To expect that public should be able to retire in some cases at age 50 on the backs of people who have to support it is beyond expectations of fairness.

Stacy, soldiers are a federal issue but they would also benefit from an undefined benefit plan with government matching.

Posted by Sue, a resident of Danbury Park
on May 8, 2009 at 6:36 am

In addtion to California's 42 billion deficit problem today they say they have a problem with cash and will need to borrow 20 billion just for the year for cashflow purposes and because their credit rating is so low it will be hard for anyone to give them this money. If they borrow from the Federal government then California gives up most of its executive and financial authority to run the state.

Posted by J.K.L., a resident of Birdland
on May 8, 2009 at 6:45 am

CM, thanks for the negative energy and your effort to stop the conversation - and spare us from your emotive rhetoric.
You seem to believe that government retirement benefit plans are just fine the way they are. You don't want any light to shine on the current structure. Perhaps you plan to retire from a government position soon.

Those that feed from the taxpayer pocket are beholden to that pocket.

Talk of fair wages should be another thread. This one should focus on "Retirement Benefit Excesses of California Public Employees".

Posted by Paul, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on May 8, 2009 at 8:34 am

To all:

Beloe are some interesting pieces that came out last night and then was discussed again today. 1) Of the tax initiatives on the ballot for June 2nd none are expected to pass based on poll numbers released today which show 32% for and 52% against. Among informed voters the yes numbers falls from 32% down to 29% so it appears that these will go down in flames. 2) Additionally, today the Governor's office announced that they need to seek short term financing of $20,000,000,000 (looks different when you add the 000's) because California is running out of cash and will not be able to pay it's bill nor retirees by the end of June. 3) In the February budget agreement between the California Governor and the Assembly a provision was to reduce some of the pay to the SEIU workers in the state and it would save $74,000,000 dollars. The SEIU (a major contributor to the Obama campaign)petitioned the federal government and today the federal government said that if California goes ahead with not only this cut to the SEIU but also with other provisions of the budget compromise then they will withhold from California $6,800,000,000 dollars worth of simulus money because they say a provision of taking the stimulus money is that they state has to agree to use union labor. Sound like extortion and payback to the unions? You bet it is.

Posted by YDS, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on May 8, 2009 at 8:40 am

Thank you CM for stating the facts. J.K.L., read from paragraph 2 on of CM's entry and you will find that he is explaining, to those uninformed, how the retirement system works. Isn't that what this thread is about? Fingers are being pointed without an understanding of how it works.
Another statement that I find to have no place in the preceeding entries, and that has been brought up several times, is that someone who chooses fire safety or law enforcement as a career, knows what he/she is getting into. This applies to all of us. Hopefully someone who chose to become an accountant or a lawyer, for example, had a little forethought as well. Why do we choose the careers that we choose? Well, hopefully because we have a passion or a sense of making a difference. I have personally chosen a different line of work of which I have a passion for. I only wish that I had it in me to put my life on the line as they do each day...and, I might add, for many that have no gratitude or appreciation. The issue that the money is being pulled from tax payers is a moot point. This is how it has been done for centuries throughout the world. You pay taxes for public services. This applies to everyone, even those who work in public safety.

Posted by Sue, a resident of Danbury Park
on May 8, 2009 at 9:00 am


You need to read through this link thoroughly and reflect on what people are saying. Read 3 point system which has only been around since 2002 not centuries and when do retired civil servants make more in retirement than the private sector who are still working and never have the opportunity to retire at age 50. Read the words of a few about the current economic condition of California and where it is going. Read about the number of people who have lost their jobs or are working long hours at reduced pay. Nobody has said it yet but we are broke as a state and included in our budget is $268,000,000 for fee tuition for children of illegal immigrants. Read about all of the unfunded pension and healthcare programs in the state. Read about how we have no money to continue to pay unemployment benefits. Read about all industrial manufacturing (tax base which has left the state). Remember GM had 4 plants in the state, Ford 3, Chrysler 2, FMC, General Dynamics, Lockheed, silicon valley.

People are pointing out real problems and now we cannot just say we used to have money and all of these rich programs so we need to continue. We cannot raise taxes because ours are already the highest in the nation and people are leaving like crazy.

We need ideas and true cost reduction and not clinging to the ways of the past.

Posted by J.K.L., a resident of Birdland
on May 8, 2009 at 9:24 am

YDS, ok, game on: First, CM's first, third and fourth paragraph are filled with "emotive rhetoric". Paragraph two has a fair share as well.

Here's what CM wrote in paragraph two – my responses are in parenthesis:

Some really uninformed information on this blog. ("Thanks" for moving the conversation forward.)

First off, not all medical is paid for; (How much is paid for by the taxpayers? Be specific. )

the retiree does pay every month towards their medical benefits. (How much does the retiree pay?)

Second, the amount that any city or county contributes to CALPERS for their employees varies from one year to another. (Over the past 40 years, what has this variance been?)

Some years they are not required to make any retirement contributions. (Define "some years" over the past 40 years).

Also for about the first 11 years of retirement the retiree only collects from the money that they have contributed during the course of their career. (What does "for about" mean? Is it the first 11 years or is it another number of years? Please be specific, we're dealing with large amounts of money).

They do not begin to collect on CALPERS money until like the 12th year of retirement. (As above, what does "until like" mean? Large amounts of taxpayer dollars, CM).

If a person retires at say 55 and dies at 75 they have collected on the taxpayer's money for only 9 years. (The retiree has collected on the taxpayer's money every year during retirement, since every dime they receive comes from collected tax dollars.)

Posted by Compete or Die, a resident of Country Fair
on May 8, 2009 at 9:41 am

Sue, excellent points!

As a nation, state, county, and city, we must COMPETE. We can't compete if we think the answer is to simply raise taxes and fees (just taxes with a different name).

Generally speaking, our representatives do not represent the best interest of the nation/state/county/city. They tend to focus on special interests, especially powerful public sector unions. Threatened with being campaigned against and forced out of office (POWER), these representatives cave-in to the pressure.

I see no clear path to a more competitive future. Brush up on your Chinese language skills – they own the vast majority of our national debt and I guarantee they will not stand by and lose their financial fortunes as we gamble on the future of our grand-children by racking up debt that would make Karl Marx blush with perverse joy – a tingle up his leg, as Chris Matthews would say!

Posted by Disheartened, a resident of Birdland
on May 8, 2009 at 11:10 am

J.K.L.-seriously, "game on"? It is apparent that you amuse yourself with the opportunity to confront (anonymously I might add) and argue with anyone not agreeing with your point. Let me enlighten you to some statistical research that I am sure you are going to refute and debunk, but of which you should be aware. In an effort to keep other readers from having to read another thread of "game on", I will acquiesce that statistics are not exact and will vary from one point of research to the next. With that said, the average lifespan of a fully retired (30 year) law enforcement officer is in the neighborhood of 64 years. The national average for males is approximately 80 years. Over the course of those 30 years, depending on the city for which an officer works, they contribute on average 9 1/2% of their salary towards their PERS retirement. You can use whichever salary range you want as the percentage contributed by both the city and employee is respective to their current salary. A police officer/firefighter in Coalinga will make much less in salary than one in the bay area, and thus contributes less to the system. However, their retirement, in turn, is much less based on the lower contributions and salary. So, just to be clear, all police officers and firefighters throughout the state are not paid the same retirement, it is based on their salary. Yes, they can retire at 50. However, the average starting age of a police officer/firefighter is 24 years old. The average retirement age is 52 years old, still young I agree. But, the bottom line is this; the police and firefighters show up to work, sometimes nothing happens, sometimes it is crazy. One minute you are living life normally, the next second your adrenaline is screaming and your heartbeat has increased to double what it was. Have any of you ever thought of the toll that takes, day after day, for 30 years? Wonder why cop suicides are hundreds of times higher than average?

As far as medical coverage for retirees. The vast majority of cities require that public employees work for a minimum of 25 years to receive medical coverage for the employee only. Adding years of service will normally allow an additional person to be added. However, let me be very clear, the vast majority (I know you will challenge this so I will put it out there that I don't have hard numbers for you; game off) will contribute to their medical plan. Further, in an effort to off-set the retiree medical costs, some cities allow employees to contribute their own money to a retirement medical account.

For those who think that for the average of 12 years the cops and firefighters are being overpaid, I ask you this, are you willing to do it? And are you willing to do it without being appropriately compensated? Yes, I do mean that a nice, and expensive, retirement package is part of the compensation. The police/firefighters are not breaking the state, they are making contributions. How about the section 8 housing of up to $4000/month being provided to parolees like the OPD murderer? How about the welfare system that has so many abusers but no available resources to investigate? How about the state disability that allows 25 year old men to receive money because they get headaches and buy medical marijuana. And you want to complain about the retirement of the people that do the work you won't?

For the people that say "you chose this job" and "you knew what you were getting into". That is true. Cops and firefighters did choose their profession. Where would we be if they hadn't?

Posted by Pat Seymour, a resident of Downtown
on May 8, 2009 at 11:29 am

Disheartened, and I also point out that you list yourself as anonymous at the same time you point out others do the same. You keep trying to make this an emotional issue.....oh the poor police and firefighters when no one else is talking that way. Please see Sue's comments above as it is about money and the economy. Everyone is in the same boat so grab a paddle and do your share and realize if you are either a policeman or fireperson things will not be the same and you may have to work as long as everyone else does.

Posted by J.K.L., a resident of Birdland
on May 8, 2009 at 11:46 am

Disheartened, relax already! The term "Game On" is not intended to offend. Heck, toughen up!!

First, be perfectly clear- I value the work of our defenders of life and liberty, namely, law enforcers, firefighters, emergency medical professionals and those that defend us in our military. If I left anyone out, I apologize.

Understand that we still, for a time, live in a fairly free market system. In this system, we all make choices regarding the work we do. Some of us work in the fields listed above, others contribute in many other ways. Many sacrifice much to better their lives and those of their community. When one talks of sacrifice, don't forget the business owner, large and small. You want pressure? Make a payroll, navigate government red tape, defend a frivolous lawsuit, work first, paying everyone else first, then pay the bills, then pay yourself last. My objective is not to preach about the virtues of work and the contributions of countless millions in this country who simply go about their work daily. Please read the works of Alexis de Tocqueville. He saw the promise of this great nation. I still believe we have greatness in our DNA. Enough said.

We actually agree on lots of things. The system is broken. Abuse of the system is rampant. You mention Section 8, slacker dopers, etc. We agree! Understand this as well – this is not a zero sum game. In other words, it's not one or the other, it's all of the above.
You don't know very much about me and that's the beauty of this forum. If you don't like it, don't participate.

One of my favorite founding fathers, Poor Richard, AK.A. Benjamin Franklin, wrote anonymously. Mr. Franklin would have thrived on a forum like this – thank you Pleasanton Weekly!

Posted by A friend of J.K.L., a resident of Downtown
on May 8, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Something creeps me out about some of the posting, from the likes of CM and Disheartened and others that defend, very emotionally, union workers on other threads. They all seem to say similar things, things that pit one group against another. Union workers against management or union workers against the general public. They play the "us verses them" game - every time. Look for this common tactic. It is the tactic of the socialist organizer. Our President plays this game too. So as J.K.L. says "Game On" friends!

Posted by Jesse, a resident of Dublin
on May 8, 2009 at 12:41 pm

A friend of J.K.L., could it be that CM and Disheartened know they are getting away with a great thing and want us to continue to pay for their union deal? You betcha!!

Posted by A friend of J.K.L., a resident of Downtown
on May 8, 2009 at 12:49 pm

Jesse, you may be right. The genius of the approach is that they think they are doing the right thing and think they are not tools of the socialist organizers. They have bought the package, hook, line and sinker. By the way, I know first hand, I work in the PUSD and I have family and friends who are "to-the-death" union members.

Posted by Richard, a resident of Country Fair
on May 8, 2009 at 7:58 pm

It would appear after reading all that has been written and doing some research that the city, county, and state have built an entitlement program on the backs of the private sector and now it appears this house of cards is about to fall. After reading the above and doing some simple math it appears the term "unsustainable" is very fitting.

Posted by Mary, a resident of Country Fair
on May 8, 2009 at 8:17 pm

I do not know why anybody would begrudge me my city retirement program as this was a known when I was hired and a reason I took the job just like those of you who made choices to work where you do and I do not care how much money you make as they more you make the more you pay in taxes the better it is for all of the community.

Posted by Sue, a resident of Country Fair
on May 8, 2009 at 9:06 pm

We should revoke anyone who has retired and is between the ages of 50-59 because tht is beyond reason how anyone could expec the taxpayers to support it.

Posted by Our tax dollars, a resident of Downtown
on May 8, 2009 at 10:52 pm

Mary, exactly what type of work do we pay you to do?

Posted by Mary, a resident of Country Fair
on May 9, 2009 at 9:14 am

Our tax dollars,

I am an administrator in permitting.

Posted by more info, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 9, 2009 at 9:21 am

Mary, I assume you work for the city of Pleasanton. What year did you start working for our city?

Somewhat unrelated, I am sure your workload has gone way down in this economy. Not that many permits being pulled.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 9, 2009 at 9:27 am

Stacey is a registered user.

The way these things usually get done isn't by begrudging anyone what they've already been promised. It is done by changing the rules for new hires.

Posted by Mary, a resident of Country Fair
on May 9, 2009 at 10:16 am

I have been with the city almost 14 years and yes we have seen our activity drop off significantly.

Posted by Paul, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on May 9, 2009 at 10:20 am

Stacy probably to be fair what should happen is that all employees hired prior to 2002 should be rolled back to the 2 point system they had when they were hired, employees hired between 2002 and now should get the 3 point system, and all new hires from now on should get what all private people get and that is an undefined plan with 401K contributions.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 9, 2009 at 10:26 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Maybe employees hired before 2002 could be also credited those 3-point years. What I mean is that for years before 2002 they'd be 2% and for years after 2002 they'd get 3%. Who knows? Maybe it is already done like that?

Did you notice that Wells Fargo and a bunch of other private industry groups that still have traditional pension plans are freezing them this year?

Posted by Paul, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on May 9, 2009 at 10:30 am


You can check but I believe it against federal ERISA law to freeze or modify agreen union pension plans without legislation or renegotiation with the union. If we want to change I believe a refererendum will be required.

Posted by more info, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 9, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Mary, since you have been with the city for 14 years, you know that it is just recent (Gov. Davis) when the pensions were significantly increased, and increased retroactively.

You state, "I do not know why anybody would begrudge me my city retirement program as this was a known when I was hired and a reason I took the job." So I would assume you would feel it is ok to roll the retirement benefits back to the level of when your took the job 14 years ago since those benefits were a reason you took this job. This increased pension was just gravy to you all since you were already happy. Plus I believe 14 years ago employees were paying for part of the retirement benefits or 8%. Now the city/taxpayers pays the employee share. So would you not mind paying for your retirement benefits again?

Posted by Mary, a resident of Country Fair
on May 9, 2009 at 2:23 pm

Well actually I would mind because this is something which was arranged with the governor and the state elected officials approved of it so I see no reason it is not valid. That said I do realize things have changed from a state economic coniditon and with us being as slow as we are I do feel fortunate to have a job as we are not busy at all.

Posted by more info, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 9, 2009 at 3:27 pm

But Mary, you stated you joined working for the city based on the benefits at the time you were hired. I guess what you are saying is "I won, you lost."

Interesting that you are not busy at all now and still have a job. Yes you are quite lucky and shows the difference between the private and the public sector.

Posted by Mary, a resident of Country Fair
on May 9, 2009 at 9:14 pm

more info,

the city does not layoff

Posted by more info, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 9, 2009 at 10:16 pm

Mary, are you saying that even if a job is no longer needed in the City that the job is protected? Once you have a job, it is yours until you decide to leave? That is great job security. And to have an awesome retirement package, 100% paid for by the taxpayers, while I have a 401(k) plan that I have lost a significant amount of money in and employers are not even matching contributions anymore.

I support my government workers but things are greatly out of balance right now.

Posted by Mary, a resident of Country Fair
on May 10, 2009 at 10:19 am

More Info,

We will all be kept because what if it picks up again we need to have trained and experience to take care of the building and construction. I do feel for you as I am a single mother of 3 boys all over age 18 and they have all had difficulty getting jobs in the private sector like you. I have encouraged all of the to work for the government in some way shape or form as I heard on CNN that the private sector has lost 5,000,000 jobs since January but the government has hired 600,000 so it is a growing area.

Posted by unclehomerr.., a resident of Downtown
on May 10, 2009 at 3:10 pm

When I was a young man, my step-father was a career navy chief. His advice was to look for a government job: military, federal civil service or state/local. His point was.. as Mary stated above, the pay is less.. but, there will be no layoff's, and health and retirement benefits are better than the private sector.

It seems the wages have caught up with the private sector, and in many cases surpassed them, but the other benefits are still there. Good move, Mary.. I should have listened to my step-father.


Posted by more info, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 10, 2009 at 5:38 pm

unclehomerr, you are right. My father used to work for the state government. The pay was less but the benefits were good. You are absolutely correct that their salaries have now exceeded the private sector in many cases, and the benefits have gotten even better, beyond reasonable.

I do have an idea of how to get things back in order. If we cannot contractually put the benefits back to the way they were before, we just do a mandatory 10% - 20% pay cut. Or give employees the choice, take that pay cut or agree to the benefits before Governor Davis increased them.

Personally I think the only solution will be to let the state and cities go into bankruptcy and let a judge invalidate the contracts. I think we will be seeing cities go into bankruptcy, like Vallejo, after the cities receive their new bills from CalPERS where the cities have to make up for the losses in CalPERS portfolio. Throwing more tax money into the currently structured public employee union deals is just like continuing to give more money to GM, Ford, and Chrysler and letting them know they can keep running business as usual.

Posted by Mary, a resident of Country Fair
on May 11, 2009 at 6:37 am

More info,

the pay or benefits is something owed me and something I signed up for when I was hired. Even our president agrees because i read that he will force california not to cut the pay of SEIU employees and if they do he will withhold 6 billion of stimulus money. Our president believes in government and its workers.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 11, 2009 at 7:09 am

Mary, I think any time you say something is "owed" or is what you "signed up for" ignores the realities of what is happening all around you. People are losing jobs, taking pay cuts, getting reduced benefits or having to pay more for them. Ask auto workers, and you can look to NUMMI . . . no need to go to Detroit, union members who are facing the same issues. I'm not sure I understand how you believe you are entitled to your job.

Posted by Mary, a resident of Country Fair
on May 11, 2009 at 8:50 am

The reason I went to work for the government is that it provided the level of security and long term stability that I needed in my situation then as well as now. I knew that when I went to work for the government I would not make the kind of money that could be made at say Nummi or other companies but by the same token I was willing to give that up for long term security. When I took the job I was made aware of the what the benefits were, are, and should be in the future. I am just expecting that what I was promised is honored by the state or city that is all.

Posted by more info, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 11, 2009 at 10:21 am

Mary, I go back to a previous post where you state you took the job and benefits before benefits were greatly increased as the benefits at that time, and the job security, made up for a lower salary. We had an unusual economy and nobody except for government employees is still receiving the benefits of that bubble. I see nothing wrong with putting your benefits back to where they were when you were hired. That would give you the benefits you expected when you took the job. I would also argue that your salary is not less than the private sector. The city was supposed to do a salary survey to compare the private sector jobs vs the public sector. That survey was never finished and I believe the reason was that it did find that city employees are not paid less than the private sector.

As a taxpayer, I expect my tax dollars to be used to provide services at a reasonable cost and if the private sector can do it cheaper, then let the private sector do it (i.e., contract the jobs out). As a taxpayer I do not find it fair that I have to pay the same amount of taxes but I get less services so that the employees can enjoy a lucrative salary package (salary and benefits). The private sector would never get away with this.

Posted by Mary, a resident of Country Fair
on May 11, 2009 at 11:22 am

I can see your point but why in this environment would anyone volunteer to do that? We are currently under a contract and to that end we need to expect that the contract be honored unless negotiated differently and then that would be honored. I am not aware of anything currently being undertaken to have it renegotiated.

Posted by Cut, a resident of Downtown
on May 12, 2009 at 7:15 am

Mary, are you a union worker? If so, why folks, have we allowed this to happen in our city. Name 10 successful organization that are union operated? Perhaps UPS. Unions are the safety ground of government workers. The only sector of our economy that is growing jobs is government - federal and state. This is an alarming, unsustainable position. Mary's job and that of many City of Pleasanton employees needs to be eliminated. We must cut expenses or we will go the way of Vallejo. State and federal jobs need to go away too.