Posted by Hank Lawrence, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2009 at 3:48 pm
If there is a supply/demand imbalance we need to broaden our recruitment base. By the way what good does it do to publicly notice a closed session? Am I missing something here? Menlo Park may be safer from criminals but are we safe from the tax and spend council who unjustly enriches the city employees at the expense of the residents? The real danger is the 4 city council members and until we bring about a desired change in the city council membership Menlo Park residents are really going to suffer.
Posted by Edward Moritz, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Feb 5, 2009 at 11:11 am
My academic past contains the subject of Logic and a number of other Jesuit courses surrounding the expression of thought. The use of “argumentum ad hominum” is recognized as the weakest form of response, but it’s difficult to ignore after reading Ms. Fergusson’s defense of the outlandish pay raise recently approved for the Menlo Park police sergeants. But before pointing out Ms. Fergusson’s delusional traits in her writing, let’s start with a few facts.
• At the end of the term of the sergeants’ contract a typical sergeant will be earning over $200,000 per year.
• At retirement that $200,000 will be augmented by the cash-in of saved sick and vacation time, which will be paid at the higher rate achieved as time passes. This will probably add another $150,000 to their pay base in their final year of employment.
• At age 50 the sergeants can now retire with as much as 90% of their highest final pay. So Menlo Park could be paying these retirees over $300,000 a year in retirement. And that does not include the cost of healthcare.
• Even at that pay level, the city proved a Management Program that allows each sergeant up to $2,000 per year for a variety of expenses, including child care.
Have I got your attention!!?? Does it seem logical that this level of compensation is needed to draw candidates to our police force?
I repeat Mr. Lawrence’s earlier comments about why no one showed up to comment before the City Council. The deal was done. The “majority of four” on the Council were already publicly expressing how they were going to vote. And citizens have lives that make it difficult to drop everything and rush to a City Council meeting when four days notice is given on a topic. But Ms. Fergusson failed to mention that over fifty citizens took the time to send e-mails to the council opposing the steep pay raise. Seldom is such a volume of e-mails generated by any topic on the City Council agenda. Many just asked for a postponement of the decision until the city staff report on the current status of our finances.
Missing in the entire debate was any metrics that compare the job risk / difficulty of a police person in Menlo Park vs. other jurisdictions. Wouldn’t it be logical to match relative attractiveness of the job against compensation? There’s no doubt there’s some risk for police in Menlo Park. But a reading of the daily blotter entries in our daily newspapers reveals that Menlo Park is a pretty docile place. If the Congress were ever to legalize (and tax) marijuana the workload of our police would be halved.
But Ms. Fergusson is like a former boss of mine. He felt that if he said it, it had to be fact. He was delusional, and it seems Ms. Fergusson has the same disease.
What’s wrong with turnover? What’s the largest workforce Ms. Fergusson has ever supervised? Is she not aware that people change jobs and it’s the role of management to have training as an on-going topic? Whether a company of 20,000 employees (where I worked) or a small restaurant, turnover happens. She points to having 30 officers leave over the past three years. That’s an average of ten per year. That’s ten out of a total force of 50, which calculates to an average of twenty percent per year. Sounds pretty normal to me! In fact, twenty percent turnover is probably below normal in most work forces. Delusional! or perhaps twisting numbers to look worse than they are. She must have taken a lot of math to get her engineering degree, but whether it’s calculus or simple addition and subtraction, the logic of math doesn’t seem to get in her way. Finally, did anyone check to see how many of the 30 police officers that Ms. Fergusson is loosing sleep over left during the past three years to follow the former member of the Menlo Park police that did not get the job as chief and left for another city? It wasn’t pay that caused that turnover.
And here’s a notice for Ms. Fergusson. Even with the big pay raise, there will continue to be turnover in our police. It would be useful for the Council to now require the Chief of Police and the city’s director of human resources to provide an annual report on police turnover for the next three years. I’ve got a dollar that says we’ll see 30 or more leave.
The Teamsters is the union covering the Menlo Park sergeants. I worked for a firm that employed Teamsters. Since the City Council seems to have little understanding of this organization, allow me to provide two principles they follow. They ignore financial reality, and they are never satisfied with pay or work conditions. In the 1980’s and 1990’s they put trucking firm after trucking firm out of business as they refused to lower wages or change work rules to meet the new reality of a deregulated market. There’s an example right here in Menlo Park. Remember Consolidated Freightways? Its headquarters was on Linfield Drive. Its Teamsters refused to change. They showed CF who was boss. And in September of 2002 tens of thousands of them lost their jobs as CF went bankrupt.
Ms. Fergusson says, “The Council held three closed sessions on the sergeant’s contract negotiations. All were publicly noticed. No member of the public spoke during the public comment agenda item of any of these meetings.”
I can just picture John Stewart staring at the camera with his mouth open in wonderment at the stupidity of this statement. Duh!!! The public was supposed to show up and comment on what had been held secret from them? Wasn’t the public supposed to rely on their elected officials and city staff to represent and protect them in the negotiations with the Teamsters?
Argumentum ad hominum is justified. Ms Fergusson is delusional, and now paranoid about justifying her vote to enrich the police way beyond the needed level to recruit and failing to exercise her fiduciary responsibility for the Menlo Park citizens.
Posted by elpalo, a resident of the Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park neighborhood, on Feb 9, 2009 at 11:30 pm
As a resident of Menlo Park, I regularly receive Kelly Fegusson's emails about MP's "progress." Her missives are filled with feel good garbage about how wonderful things are going in the city. For example, a recent accomplishment is the opening of Pendleton. This is progress? An out-of-touch clothing line better suited for yuppie East Coasters than laid back Californians, ironically situated in the midst of row after row of closed businesses. Yes, Kelly, you turned the corner for us.
Now we have this out-of-touch justification for why our police need a raise. I found the citing of a 2007 study as reason for increasing salaries an especially funny touch. Is she clueless, did not the entire fiscal structure of California implode in 2008? And where would they have gone if we didn't raise their pay? As the two previous posters pointed out, communities all over CA are freezing salaries, cutting back on services. Our police force should be grateful they have a job, period.
I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. I am waiting for the day, imminent as it will be, when the MP council realizes that there will be a MASSIVE budget shortfall. That day will come soon enough because we already know that tax revenues are down and the MP council HAS NOT cut any budget items. How can they possibly think that MP will escape the financial tsunami that has hit the rest of the nation.
City council's actions show how clueless and incompetent they are. They did not save for a rainy day, they wrecklessly went ahead and kept spending.
We should recall Kelly Fergusson. Heck, we should recall any of the council members that voted for this raise because it shows gross incompetence
Posted by Chava Luden, a resident of the Menlo Park: Belle Haven neighborhood, on Feb 10, 2009 at 8:03 am
Even if the City of Menlo Park has the funds for the pay raises, shouldn't they go for sensitivty training for the officers? How many times have they been accused of Racial Profiling? Menlo Park is a unique community to say the least. How about police connecting with the at-risk youth when they are young in an afterschool program of theirs?
In the wake of tight budgets, a new position in the City Clerk's office has been frozen. Instead of hiring a local employee to serve the community, we are rewarding police that come from far off cities to work here! How much is enough?
Posted by truth, a resident of the Menlo Park: Belle Haven neighborhood, on Feb 10, 2009 at 4:00 pm
Sad state of this forum when right-winged junkies who voed in the very people responsible for our financial dilemma now spend time with letter writing campaigns claiming to be the guys with the right ideas to fix the problems.
Not one of you has shown any insight into our city's budget at all. You just spit out childish insults and rail against the unions.
Stop wasting our time.
elpalo is wishing for worse conditions just so he can say I told you so. That is ridiculous and so is your anger, your insults and your complete lack of reason.
Posted by Sanfrancisquita, a resident of the Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park neighborhood, on Feb 10, 2009 at 4:44 pm
I would rather the Menlo Park pay the police force well than fund a bike/pedestrian tunnel that taxpayers will have to pay for twice -- first an residents of Menlo Park and then, when it has to be demolished and rebuilt for high speed rail, as residents of the State of California.
Posted by Surprise! Surprise!, a resident of the Menlo Park: Fair Oaks neighborhood, on Feb 10, 2009 at 4:51 pm
Surprise! Surprise! "Truth" is sticking up for the Unions, and the faltering Menlo Park Council. Same tune, same time, same place.......VERY predictable. Try being a little objective next time "Truth", see it for what it is. This is a council that cannot lead, it can't make the right decision, they're too busy trying to appease everyone, and in the process we continue to waste time, and worst of all, money. Please try to be objective.
Posted by Businessman, a resident of the Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park neighborhood, on Feb 11, 2009 at 8:45 am
I agree about the city manager pay cut. He should voluntarily give back 10% and demonstrate some leadership to others. Then top managers should follow.
Discussions with the unions will be useless unless the managers take the lead and show that they have some skin in the game.
I agree about useless positions that morph into more poisitions. The community engagement manager is a made up position; the business development manager, and his second in command, are positions that don't recover their costs. They are without a measurable plan to show their effectiveness. Whether or not businesses move in so dependent on economic factors and the readiness of landlords to negotiate, that having a bdm may be superfluous. It looks good to the business community, but hard to prove it improves the bottom line. You can also look at the BDM as another Assistant City Manager with a specific portfolio.
I expect staff to jump and say they will not give raises to preclude a discussion of give-backs.
Posted by truth, a resident of the Menlo Park: Belle Haven neighborhood, on Feb 11, 2009 at 9:08 am
Unbelieveable how simple you make it all seem. Gosh, if it was that simple, why does any state or federal or local government ever struggle with budgets? You guys seem to have the answers. Maybe we were all just waiting for the last 100 years for your specific magical touch?
I defend what deserve defending. You people are rich and you cannot look outside your own world. You think every job is a commodity, from police to city management. If you knew something about this or were sincere, you would not post the way you do.
This council has changed the game. We have more transparency in finance, we have a downtown planning process that finally takes on some resemblance of what cities do to evolve. Streamlining is all you heard from the last group. Disgusting lack of ability and creativity.
Now you will cry that I bringing up the past again. This is the next defense of the great white right. Don't look in the past unless it benefits them.
We have two strong business minded people on council now. That was missing in the town for years. Surprise, the are both on the finance subcommittee. We have finally moved past the "see no evil, see no global warming" garbage you guys spewed out. We have leaders in green on council. Another major attribute as we try to diversify our revenue stream.
This council is the best council in years. The work going on now will benefit all of you richie riches for years into the future.
List off the names all you want of city officials.
But if you want to get into facts (there are still none in your posts) then let's do that. Fact one, the city ended in a surplus last year. Fact two, the police retention crisis was real and there are letters from your leaders pleading for a fix, it is fixed. Fact three, the downtown plan has brought in more community members than ever before. Fact four, this council has not used the tax as a weapon. Fact five, this council has not wasted $18M on fields at a dump site. Fact six, the world is not crashing down around us. Leaders stand tall, the people who panic and blame and freak out, well no one ever knows them because the hide in shadows.
Posted by Hank Lawrence, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, on Feb 11, 2009 at 11:18 am
The only City Council member with executive experience is John Boyle. The other city council members would not even be considered for low level manager positions for any company that does not rely on the U.S. Government for contracts. They have no experience with being accountable to the bottom line. They have not be in agonizing meetings where good people had to be let go because their company was in danger of missing its numbers. Heyward, Kelly, Richard and Andy have no discipline. They think the answer to everything is a tax increase. But when they are presented with opportunites to increase the tax base they recoil in horror. They are addicted to high tax rates. Well the people of Menlo Park are getting sick and tired of big government that produces little results and the sooner we set these 4 out to pasture the better off Menlo Park will be.
Posted by truth, a resident of the Menlo Park: Belle Haven neighborhood, on Feb 11, 2009 at 11:52 am
Hank, I am not sure if you believe yourself to the point of think it is true. If that is that case, we'll just call you George Costanza.
"It is not a lie, if you believe it enough."
Boyle doesn't even work and he flushed out of well-known VC gig. Famously flushed. Does that mean he doesn't have it? No. But your ideological mess with the facts is a problem. Cline has a strong business background as well since he does run his own business right now, in this climate.
Have you ever run anything Hank? Don't marginalize people because you don't like them. The record speaks for itself.
When did tax increases come into this? Where is evidence of this tax increase supported by those four and not Boyle? Boyle approved the tax. You have no facts at all once again. This is all childish BS unless you have facts.
I have them. I have always had them out of respect for any readers that are not part of the right-winged letter campaign.
Posted by Hank Lawrence, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, on Feb 11, 2009 at 12:13 pm
If John is such a failure then why is he living in a multi-milllion dollar luxury home in one of the nicest Menlo Park neighborhoods. John lives where he does because he is a resounding success.
And the tax I am talking about is the UUT. The UUT was passed before John became a city council member. Again Truth does not know what he is talking about.
The Budget Advisory Committee was the High Priestess' idea put forth by Andy Cohen because he was on council and she wasn't. It's sole purpose was to gain public acceptance for the UUT. And the purpose for the UUT was to finance egregious salary increases to Menlo Park Union Employees. And there was no budget crisis until employee salaries got out of hand.
Posted by I Love You Truth, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Feb 11, 2009 at 1:20 pm
Truth, you are SO predictable! Why do you hate the very idea of America? With comments like: "Famously flushed" - like that's a bad thing? Are you THAT upset that someone has done well, and you haven't? "Right-winged letter campaign" - I know you hate differing ideas, like being conservative, but do you need to be so transparent about it? Are you going after the Atherton Rich Ladies again? Hank make a lot of sense, he may go above and beyond aligning the national agenda to Menlo Park, but he is dead on. This current council majority has not, nor will they, balance the budget, not raise taxes, nor stimulate our commercial district. I am keeping a list of items that they support that will spur growth in our community, right now, it's a blank piece of paper!
Posted by Hank Lawrence, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, on Feb 11, 2009 at 2:24 pm
I have no personal animus against Heyward, Richard and Andy. They are likeable people trying to do a job that is way above their capacity to execute. They care about Menlo Park but have been so indoctrinated by far left ideology that it has clouded their judgment. This is abundantly reflected in their voting records. However Kelly is a different story. Many would agree that Kelly is in it for herself. I seriously doubt that anything is more important to her than her personal ambition to seek higher office.
Posted by At Last!, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Feb 11, 2009 at 4:24 pm
Finally, Hank Lawrence writes something that indicates he is at least capable of understanding people and the world: that extreme ideology has the effect of clouding one's judgment. Now, if only he weren't enshrouded by far right ideology he might actually begin to understand people and the world.
Posted by "Truth" No Credability, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Feb 11, 2009 at 5:11 pm
Gotta hand it to "Truth" and his/her own little world. He/She is now telling us that people on this blog "hide their ideology", but he/she, can't even use their own name to post their idiotic insults and left wing lunatic agendas. "Truth" has never come clean. Truth is another one of those non-leaders, that supports these four council people that will continue to make "non-decisions" and make Menlo Park a much worse place to live, and to do business. The clock is ticking.....still waiting for a good revenue producing idea from this council, for this town, tic, tock, tic, tock....
Posted by truth will set you free!, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Feb 11, 2009 at 10:21 pm
Rich runs a successful business with about 30 or 40 employees, and I seriously doubt his company relies on govt contracts. All the council members are professionals with blue chip credentials. Andy is retired, but he was CEO of a nonprofit organization. It's not GM, but it's hardly "no experience."
Posted by National Enquirer, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Feb 11, 2009 at 11:56 pm
Posted by truth will set you free, a resident of the Menlo Park: Felton Gables neighborhood, on Feb 12, 2009 at 8:35 am
Menlo Park is not and never has been about unions. Some of you are so immersed in hating unions that you seem impervious to that fact. Get over it, or move to Detroit where your ideas might get some traction.
For the record, John Boyle [portion removed] has never led anything (coaching kids' sports doesn't count), and demonstrates libertarian principles. Laissez faire government doesn't work in local cities: the stakes are too high. He's a pretty face, which is how he got elected, but ours is a working council, not a beauty pageant.
Posted by Thanks Truth, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Feb 12, 2009 at 8:57 am
Thanks Truth, for showing us your true colors. [Portion removed] it's not right for you to slander someone that is volunteering his time, to make sure your folks don't run hog wild and burden this city with more pork.
"Working council" is a joke, your crew gives great raises +30% to the police............and, that's about all that has been done, during their tenure. NOTHING else has been done, NOTHING.
Posted by Laughing, a resident of another community, on Feb 12, 2009 at 9:13 am
I love the anger in these! Such furious passion. These postings are so funny. I like how many of them are seething in hatred, but accuse the other guy of being hateful. It seems there is no discourse, and to disagree with any of you is a sin against your political god that must be punished with the sharpest of insults. Get a grip folks. This is still America, and we can still disagree. Here is an idea, how about trying to woo us with your ideas, rather than bashing the other guy to death. I love rich little city politics. Ideas, not insults. I am open minded...maybe you will sway me...but you may have to open your mind a bit first...which is going to be hard for some of you, and be an adult about things. Good day!
Posted by truth will set you free, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Feb 12, 2009 at 10:34 am
And what are your grand ideas, Laughing? To lecture the hoi polloi in a misguided effort to demonstrate your intellectual and cultural superiority to the rest of us? Oops, better work on that one! As for me, if you'll forgive the cliche, I prefer not to engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent.
Posted by Aristotle, a resident of the Menlo Park: Felton Gables neighborhood, on Feb 12, 2009 at 11:28 am
I came to The Forum with a profoundly serious mind and intent, determined to guide Hoi Polloi along the path to truth through logic. But after examining the nest of contradictions in the post by "truth will set you free," I cannot proceed as if this is a serious discussion. I, too, am laughing. Splitting a gut, in fact.
Posted by Laughing, a resident of another community, on Feb 12, 2009 at 11:40 am
Truth Will Set You Free...you misunderstand. I don't have any pie in the sky ideas about this issue, but I am looking for some. Instead I find this silliness here and in many of the other threads I read. You totally missed my point, and then proved another of my lesser points by attacking me. I am not trying to prove any intellectual superiority,(not sure where the cultural superiority comment comes from) nor an I an unarmed opponent in the wit world...but that was funny, so thanks. Oh...and I am not really anti cliche, so cliche away.
Again...and in simple terms...it strikes me a stupid to bash each other because you disagree. Nothing gets done that way, NOTHING. If you have ideas, lets hear them, and then debate the merit of the ideas. That rarely happens here. When people disagree they bash each other with terrible personal attacks. For those of us on the outside who want more information, nothing is learned and no progress is made reading though attacks and insults. Again...ideas, not insults!
So please reserve your anger and insults, and enlighten me. Have a swell day TWSYF.
Posted by Victoria McClure, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, on Feb 13, 2009 at 12:59 pm
Ms. Ferguson should have stated the real reason for high turnover of our police department within the last three years: failure to listen to complaints (from the PD itself) about an incompetent and very well-compensated Chief. Most of the trained and experienced LEO left in disgust before the city finally moved out the big problem at the top. I wonder, where else is this happeneing within the city?
Posted by yaaaaawning, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Feb 13, 2009 at 2:37 pm
That you, Hank? You're boring us all into the ground with your predictable ideological dreck, Hank old boy. Why don't you run along now -- I think the votive candles at your Ayn Shrine have burned out and need some attention.
Posted by Reality Check, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Feb 13, 2009 at 9:05 pm
"The other city council members would not even be considered for low level manager positions for any company that does not rely on the U.S. Government for contracts."
Funny, Hank, but as I recall, you work for a company that relies solely on the US gov't for contracts and, since you never mentioned your actual position there, I take that to mean that you are no better than a "low level manager" at best. So who exactly are you to question what they do based on your interpretation of their qualifications.
And as far as Boyle goes, he came from money and made money based on his connections and good looks. Good for him, but that doesn't mean he knows anything about anything.
Posted by Hank Lawrence, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, on Feb 14, 2009 at 12:32 am
Reality Check doesn't have a clue. My company is involved in international commerce. It does not have contracts with the USG. I work in the Office of the President, report directly to the COO, and meet with him on a daily basis.
I always question SFB liberals who view Menlo Park residents as their personal piggy bank. You should listen to Margaret Thatcher who once said "The only thing wrong with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people's money".
John Boyle [portion removed] started from scratch and made his own money.
Posted by George Soros, a resident of another community, on Feb 14, 2009 at 2:52 pm
Why are you wasting yout time talking about John Boyle. Heyward Robinson is the real goldmine. In the last 5 years Mayor Robinson has contributed well over $100,000 to progressive candidates and causes according to
Posted by Gale Storm, a resident of another community, on Feb 14, 2009 at 6:43 pm
Tom Gibboney engages in censorship. Whenever someone makes a baseless acusation against John Boyle Gibboney lets it stand. Whenever someone tells the truth about Heyward Robinson [portion removed] Gibboney takes it down as soon as it appears. Gibboney censors these blogs to hide the outrage the community has against Heyward, Andy,Kelly and Richard. These feckless council memebers don't give a damn about the residents of Menlo Park. They only care about the unions and their extreme environmental groups who want to vacate everyone's property rights. They are ruining this city and the Almanac seems content with leeting them do so or else it would give equal coverage to both sides of the story. Remember what Margaret Thatcher said.
Posted by yaaaaaawning, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Feb 14, 2009 at 9:36 pm
That you again, Hank? You know, based on your condescending posts I realize you don't think the rest of us are so bright, but please, Hank/Gail S./Paul V./George S. etc etc etc, give us credit enough to know whom you are speaking of when you refer to "the community" that feels outrage against Heyward, etc etc etc. The "community" of Hank and his aliases hardly makes for a movement.
Pessoa wrote that "each of us is several, is many, is a profusion of selves." But Hank, each of your selves sings the same tired song. Try to broaden your perspective a little. You'll find life much more interesting.
Posted by John Dos Passos, a resident of another community, on Feb 15, 2009 at 7:58 am
Yaaaaaawning you and your socialist ilk are capable of seeing the light much as I have done. The mass movements brought on by the SEIU and the extreme environmentalists mass movements, supposedly aimed at improving the common good, are exceedingly susceptible to manipulation and control by their despotic leaders.
The SEIU wants to create a Union plutocracy where ordinary workers who take no risks and invent nothing that society wants are rewarded with egregious salaries and benefits, way beyond what workers get in the private sector, financed on the back of Menlo Park residents.
The extreme environmental groups want to banish the notion of private property ownership by stripping their owners of their legitimate rights to use their property.
Through my period of enlightenment I realized that the "enemy" which I feared the most shifted from capitalism to the totalitarianism of socialism and communism. Both pay lip service to the "will of the people" while establishing despotic rule.
The economic model championed by Stern and SEIU includes universal health care, increased taxation, an expansion of social welfare programs, and further opportunities for workers to unionize. According to Ryan Lizza, Associate Editor of The New Republic, SEIU leaders such as Stern "tend to be radical, even socialist." Please note that the New Republic is a liberal magazine. But you have to remember the the majority City Council members think that The Nation is a conservative magazine. So you can imagine what they think about the New Republic.
The SEIU and the extreme environmental groups while pretending to improve the lot of society are in actuality deceiving it to accept socialism as a legitimate and even desirable form of Government.
Posted by yaaaaaawning, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Feb 15, 2009 at 12:55 pm
Hank, Re your comment "you and your socialist ilk": Will you kindly explain what method of logic you employ to conclude that people who challenge flabby logic are socialists? The last time I checked, socialism was a political system. Political parties and organizations don't screen members for their respect for logic. There are many illogical socialists, just as there are many illogical libertarians. You've once again demonstrated your allegiance to the latter camp.
Posted by Come Out Of Your Bubble, Hank, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on Feb 15, 2009 at 5:26 pm
Why do you insist on trying to create Godzilla-like monsters where there are none?
The "radical socialist union" you speak of - they're just the city workers you can encounter every day - working folks like the rest of us. People like those who run the gym, offer classes at the rec center, run the senior and childcare centers, check out your books at the library, cut the grass at the parks, maintain city vehicles, check over plans and issue permits and licenses etc.
Not exactly an imposing/frightening group there, Hank and I have yet to see/talk to any one of them who seems anywhere close to the sterotypical Jimmy Hoffa/Teamsters image you're trying to portray.
And as far as "extreme environmentalist groups," the main contact I believe the city has had has been with PG&E through Gail Slocum. They probably also work with the local group Acterra, but that's a group who can hardly be called "extreme" by any reasonable measure, as they work with big businesses all the time, even issuing them awards on an annual basis.
So, come on already Hank and join the rest of us in the real world.