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Initiative drive to cut pension costs under way

Original post made on Feb 1, 2010

Henry Riggs, Roy Sardina and Ned Moritz will lead a ballot initiative drive, aimed at scaling back pension benefits for new city employees.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, February 1, 2010, 6:19 PM

Comments (59)

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Posted by Not Enough
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 1, 2010 at 10:58 pm

Pension cuts should be much greater and include all city employees - past, current and future including the police. The changes to 60 yrs old and 2.0% - should instead be 65 yrs old and 2.0%.

What sort of retirement medical plans do the city employees get? Maybe those plans should also be looked into, for additional cost savings.


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Posted by You'll be sorry
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 2, 2010 at 12:58 pm

You get what you for. Cities historically had wonderful pensions to attract and maintain quality personnel for long time service. This was the incentive to keep long term, faithful employees. Then unions got involved when the labor force was getting squeezed. With quality people being hired away to cities with better packages, get ready for poor enforcement, litter and graffiti due to no loyalty and high turnover. Two things ruin businesses and govts: efficiency and anarchy.


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Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 2, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Menlo Park was sorry the day they allowed the city employees to unionize. The people are fed up with this game of playing off city against city and this charade will soon come to a grinding halt because all the cities are risking bankruptcy by continuing this lunacy of providing city employees with salaries, benefits and retirement packages well in excess of private industry.

What we should do in addition to the 2-tier system is to replace employees who retire, quit, or are fired, with contract employees.

Unions once had their place; but now all they are doing is causing a mass exodus of U.S. manufacturing to foreign countries since they don't have unions crippling their economy.


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Posted by With Hank
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Feb 2, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Yes, Hank. Allowed to unionize? It is their right. Should we oppress labor and bring back the fire hoses? Let's oppress women and minorities as well? Diversity means equality for everyone. Look at the standard of living in manufacturing sectors abroad. Yes, contract employees indeed. But, you may be on to something. Menlo needs high rise public housing for the low wage earners as you suggest.


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Posted by Lee Duboc
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 2, 2010 at 2:15 pm

I'd like to clarify why the initiative will be stipulating a 2% at 60 formula for new, non-police employees. That is what State law allows at this point. The State Legislature has legislated that cities such as Menlo Park must abide by the proscribed CalPERs formulas. Right now the city's employees receive a 2.7% at 55 pension formula/benefit. 2% at 60 is the most we can reset it. Also, it has been ruled that once employees are in the system, the promised pension benefits cannot be down-graded. The initiative will stipulate that any Menlo Park City Council will not be able to give more in pension benefits without a city-wide vote.


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Posted by Teacher
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 2, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Mr. Ordonez's comments are a testament to the failure of our educational system to teach how to analyze information. For that matter, a couple of PhD's on the council have the same problem.


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Posted by interested
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 2, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Kudos to Lee Duboc et al for taking this on! I hope it will be obvious how to get involved & support this. If there is some web site, I hope the info will get posted. There is never a contact address in the Almanac articles.


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Posted by Maria of West Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 2, 2010 at 4:14 pm

If ypou are going to make pension cuts, they should be for ALL employees, not just the new ones. Be fair!


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Posted by Steve
a resident of another community
on Feb 2, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Menlo Park will not be the first to change retirement packages. South San Francisco has already done it, with union support.


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Posted by Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 2, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Everyone involved in the city government knows this is the right thing to do, they just lack the ability to take on the unions directly.

Having a citizen led initiative will provide the necessary political cover for them to fix the system.

Other cities will follow in rapid succession. South SF is already in the process of doing the same thing.


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Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 2, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Lee has again shown the courage, creativity and initiative to do what is right.

This pension problem is bankrupting all branches of government. Our taxes are going to early, comfortable retirements rather than services. Unfortunately state law prevents us from adjusting the incomes and benefits of those who have already retired and are working second jobs.


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Posted by kay fraka
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Feb 2, 2010 at 7:30 pm

This is a good way of getting high quality talent Du bock !


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Posted by fat and happy
a resident of another community
on Feb 2, 2010 at 7:59 pm

I'm glad I got mine when I did.


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Posted by Mike Anderson
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 2, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Menlo Park is fortunate to have Lee Duboc and members of her committee addressing one of the largest financial problems facing our State and municipalities. To understand the scope of the problem ask yourself what sums of money will be required to fund(pay for) the promised pensions 30 years from now..Unbelievable!!..Countless articles in newspapers and financial peridicals warn of the financial disaster facing residents of our cities in the near future. Thank you fellow residents Duboc, Riggs et al for your time and attention to this upcoming disaster....


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Feb 3, 2010 at 10:20 am

This needs to be addressed at the state level. It is great political theater and everyone wants to be a hero, but with all the mechanics of contracts today, the state reform bill is where to put the energy. Why Lee and her minions continue to think they can change the world from Menlo Park and out is just lost on me.

There is a state initiative in the works here pushing for 2 at 60 and reforming Calpers and it looks like Lee did a nice cut and paste job on the positioning of this effort.

"This is not political"

"This is not about right or left"

This is the classic form of Mickie Winkler and her wedge issue strategy. Election year is just a coincidence. Quoting Willie Brown is just ridiculous.


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Posted by Real Info
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 3, 2010 at 1:18 pm

There is a lot of misunderstanding out there. City employees don't just walk in the door one day, and leave a year later with the alledge bank roll of a retirement. We must put on our time. Most of us will work 25-30 years for your city. We also pay a 8 percent of our salary towards our own retirement- so again it's not a hand-out. We never see a stock option, or bonus. So when times are good we still get the same salary- no extra's because the "company is doing good" And in our last 3 year contract the city employees received a total of 3% pay raise, and for the next 2 years we will be getting ZERO, plus sharing any increases in health case and retirement costs. So that is working 5 years for a 3% pay raise. Thank you for reading


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Posted by it's the law
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 3, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Dear "Not Enough"

I suspect Duboc's initiative is structured the way it is because of legal constraints against changing the pension for current employees, at least on a retroactive basis. They took a job based on the whole package of benefits including the pension, and pension rights get vested for all employees by law, not just for government employees.

DuBoc's initiative appears to be attempting not to run afoul of those legal constraints. Whether people go for it will depend on whether they think they will get the level of service they desire and expect from city government - the quality of leaders of the rec programs they entrust their kids to, and that of our police and code enforcement folks, and those that maintain our streets and parks. These ultimately translate into a higher quality of life and higher property values, so we must not allow Menlo Park's pay structure to fall behind and be uncompetitive.

We do get what we pay for. And our property values will ultimately reflect that too.

So this is not just about "those City employees" (i.e. other people) -- it's about your and my and everyone in Menlo Park's property values.

There's no free lunch in a free market system, and I don't want lower levels of service or lower property values. I suspect others may want to take that into consideration too before they decide how to vote on this initiative, as well intended as it may appear to be.


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Posted by Pension Reform NOW
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 3, 2010 at 2:32 pm

As an insider, I do know a few things about this initiative:

* Lee will not be, nor is interested in, running for any public office.
* This initiative does NOT have any one in the group faintly interested in running for a public office.
* Yes, "It's the law" the initiative IS structured mainly on legal constraints.

Please "Truth" let's not go down that rat hole about Lee and Mickie and their minions, bla, bla, bla. If you don't have anything to add constructively about our cause, and again it's in YOUR best interest that you support it, please just sit still until you find another long ago issue that you had with Mickie and Lee.(try the whole pool thing, that hasn't been talked about for at least a week or two) :)


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Feb 3, 2010 at 2:44 pm

I made a key comment in my note about statewide efforts that are more appropriate and, in fact, more valid. Menlo Park "taking a leadership position" is a lot of garbage talk and you know it. This is the same argument for heavy handed green policies. This is not about leadership or headlines or credit, it is about reform. And if that is the case, it is a statewide system that is flawed, not a local system. Wake up and research the topic before you pay homage to your Duboc shrine.


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Posted by Lee Duboc
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 3, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Just a bit of clarification:

It appears there will be no state initiative on the pension issue for now. I was hoping that this would be taken on in a state-wide way. But, the group that has written the state initiative has not been able to come up with the $2 M they believe would be the minimum they would need to run a successful petition drive.


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Posted by Pension Reform NOW
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 3, 2010 at 3:41 pm

[Post removed]


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Feb 3, 2010 at 4:04 pm

[Portion removed]
The point remains, there will be no cure by forcing the hand of local councilmembers. That will service Lee's great goal of dividing the city into angry pockets of people to try to resurrect some assemblance of a voter block for whomever runs, but it does not fix the problem. It is insincere to say Menlo Park will set the stage for the rest to follow. That is flat out garbage with no factual support. Calpers is sick, the statewide system is sick and it needs to fixed where it hurts.

This is the same strategy when we wanted to put $18M into fields at Bayfront on a dump. Sounds great in Lee's living room, unrealistic and poor strategy.

The best that happens is the city goes to 2 at 60 because cities need to reform. The worst is a sloppy hyped up campaign creates drama, gives Lee headlines and ends up corrupting the process further.


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Posted by I second the Truth
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 3, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Truth gets my vote.

Lee Duboc does not. Way to squeeze the little man to gain some political clout. This initiative stinks. And so does Duboc's motives.


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Posted by Need to aim higher
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 3, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Take a look at the administrator salaries, overpaid for Transportation Mgr., Community Outreach Coordinator. etc., etc.,
Are these union protected, or the "look the other way" council ambivalence that Rojas takes for granted?


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Posted by Town Forum?
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 4, 2010 at 12:53 am

This is not a Town Forum, this is a forum from which Truth continues to exaggerate, lie and stretch the truth, but is never taken to task by the administrator of this blog. Why? I think we all know why, it's a shame none of you cannot be objective enough about this subject and keep your attitudes and opinions to yourself about an individual. Lee Duboc is doing us a favor, while Truth and the Administrator trash her name and reputation, and do nothing to help with the outrageous spending of our tax dollars.

Over and out, this is the last entry from this objective thinker, it's nice having an objective newspaper in this town!






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Posted by Interested
a resident of another community
on Feb 4, 2010 at 1:46 am

For those interested in the use of Contract employees you should be aware that the use such contract employees to avoid payment of CalPers benefits is illegal.


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Feb 4, 2010 at 7:21 am

Calpers is a statewide system that drives the local contract system. It needs to be fixed and we need to make our state leaders address it. Trying to pretend this is a local issue and that by creating contract madness locally, we will change the way our state views the world is just make believe.

You can say what you will about me because you are caught up in Lee's political strategy, but we will never address the spiraling costs of long term public contracts without major changes statewide.


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Posted by Interested
a resident of another community
on Feb 4, 2010 at 7:38 am

Truth. I am not sure what your objection is other than to Ms. Duboc. As she correctly stated, the only option available to Menlo Park under the law is to select a less generous benefit system for the future. Clearly the ultimate solution is for Calpers to change from a Defined Benefit to a Defined Contribution system. It seems to me the best way for State Legislators to get the message is for local agencies to express themselves by all moving to the lower rate. It may not be the ultimate solution but it is a start.


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Posted by more
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 4, 2010 at 9:05 am

If the City was in real bad shape, why are we spending $10,000 to educate the public about a "proposed" ordinance about the dangers of smoking... absolutely crazy.. Not to mention the 26 million in reserves that the city is sitting on for a rainy day.
Hey it's raining out there


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Feb 4, 2010 at 11:37 pm

I guess you agree that we should reduce lawns to express ourselves to legislature that we need to conserve water? Local laws are not symbols of expression, they are laws. And voting in a policy to force fit a result in a town to express our concerns is poor reasoning at best.

There have been few more divisive political figures in town than the author of this proposed "expression" and to hide this behind a responsible call to arms is silly.

This is an election year. The current council has 2 and 60 on the table and SEIU has released the offer to the public.

The driving force to create a wedge issue here can be questioned and should be questioned.

Try to play this off as a cause all you want. It is a wedge strategy for an election year.

Is that clear enough?




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Posted by Tough Love
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 5, 2010 at 8:02 am

The proposed reduction is TOO SMALL and doesn't even impact the worst (financial) offender .. Policemen & firemen (whose pension are so excessive it takes your breadth away).

What is need the a significant pension formula reduction for BOTH new employees and (not for PAST, but) for FUTURE years of service for CURRENT (yes CURRENT) employees.

Without this you'll be bankrupt. Its like trying to shoot an elephant with a bb gun.


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Posted by Interested
a resident of another community
on Feb 5, 2010 at 8:48 am

Tough Love
I can understand your frustration, but what you are proposing cannot be done.

Once an employee is enrolled in a Calpers plan it is illegal to attempt to reduce that plan and rightly so.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 5, 2010 at 9:14 am

Tough Love is on nearly every blog shouting the same message. He or she doesn't seem to care about what the law or existing contracted obligations might require. Just another angry shouter.


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Posted by Tough Love
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 5, 2010 at 10:22 am

Yes, I support what I believe is the ONLY way out for California (and MANY other states & cities in similar financial binds), and that is a reduction in the pension formula for FUTURE years of service for CURRENT (not just new) employees. I also support a very significant reduction in retiree healthcare subsidies.

Why .....

Because the "fairness" and long-term "compact" between Civil Servants and the Private sector taxpayers who fund the vast majority of Civil Sertvants' pensions and virtually all of their retiree healthcare has swung way to far in the direction of benefiting Civil Servants, to the significant detriment of Private Sector taxpayers.

My repeated postings on this subject are aimed at educating those not riding this gravy train as to just how expensive it is, and how (unless something is done VERY soon), it will consume an ever growing portion of State & Local budgets to the exclusion of everything else .... like road maintenance, libraries, heathcare, social services, etc.

Should we allow this to happen just so that Civil Servants can retire in great comfort 20-30 years earlier than those that pay their way ... I don't thing so.

Please don't misunderstand me, I do appreciate the work performed by productive Civil Servants, and they should be paid fairly, including reasonable and affordable pensions & benefits. In most cases, the pay IS reasonable. An exception seems to be in Police & Fire services, where in many localities, even the pay is excessive.

The BIG problem area is in the Pensions and benefits. I'm tired of repeating "details", but at every (yes every) pay level, the employer (i.e., TAXPAYER) paid-for share of the typical Civil Servants' pension is 2-4 times greater in value than the employer paid-for share of the Private Sector workers' pension for a worker that earns the SAME pay, retires at the SAME age, and has the SAME number of years of service. And, this multiple increase to 4-6 times for Fireman and Policemen. Why is this "fair" to taxpayers ?

How many people realize that the the value at retirement of the pension & retiree healthcare benefits of the a full career California Policemen or Fireman is rarely less than $3 Million. Their unions have become master of disguise, hiding these huge costs from the public. California's Chief Actuary (Ron Seeling) has stated that these pensions are "unsustainable".

Yes, California's legislators and judges say that we cannot reduce pension for "vested" employees, suggesting that anyone currently employed falls into this category. But think about this .... the legislators & judges opining as such BELONG to these same plans and would be negatively impacted by pension formula reduction for CURRENT employees.

I don't really know if it is possible to make the reductions that I feel is our only option, but I feel such changes must be explored, investigated, and pursued. With the unions "owning" the legislature, changes will never be done that way. But, we may be able to make such reductions via ballot initiatives, State Constitutional change, or in a FEDERAL court challenge, where the conflicted judges will not be the decisionmakers.

The pension reductions I'm supporting are only for FUTURE years of service. It would a wonderful world if all financial "promises" (to everyone ... both in the Private & Public Sector) could be honored. But times & circumstances change. The Private sector has recognized that, with most Plans already having reduced pension accrual for FUTURE years of service. This is often done to avoid finanacial calamity. The few that delayed such changes paid a dear price (e.g., the UAW).

Public Sector finances are in at least as dire straights as in the Private sector. It's just that its easier to "kick the can down the road" or raise taxes instead of confronting the root cause ... overly generous pension & benefits.

We do not have the time for savings to materialize by only reducing pensions for new employees. Saving from new employees will not materialize for 20-30 years until they begin to retire. We are near broke now and need to stop the bleeding (the FURTHER increase in these liabilities). This can only be done by make these reductions for CURRENT employees.


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Posted by Interested
a resident of another community
on Feb 5, 2010 at 10:46 am

"Yes, I support what I believe is the ONLY way out for California (and MANY other states & cities in similar financial binds), and that is a reduction in the pension formula for FUTURE years of service for CURRENT (not just new) employees."

Tough Love, let me try to explain why what you are proposing is both legally and morally wrong.

In the vast majority of cases, increases in pension benefits were the result of salary and benefit negotiations between employees and employer.

In other words salary increases were reduced for increased benefits.

The representatives of the people who negotiated those contracts in the "gogo 90's" almost certainly looked at the returns Calpers was making and felt it was a good deal. And at the time it was. Calpers was making so much money that increases in benefits to employees resulted in very little cost to the local agencies.

And then 2007 arrived.

Have you any idea of the cost to local agencies in renegotiating all of the contracts that provided these added pension benefits. Assuming it was even possible, your talking about BILLIONS.


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Posted by Tough Love
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 5, 2010 at 11:21 am

Dear Interested:

I'm will try to respond to a few of your point (I welcome a free and honest discussion). Of course, I am not a Civil Servant and have one perspective, and it appears you are a Civil Servant and wish to support the status quo ... understandable.

You said ..."In the vast majority of cases, increases in pension benefits were the result of salary and benefit negotiations between employees and employer."

True "negotiations" take place when the those doing the negotiations clearly represent the interests of their constituents. Unfortunately due to block union voting, the promised "get-out-the-vote" support offered to "cooperative" legislators, and outright or poorly disguised bribery, the system has been corrupted. The legislators are supposed to look after TAXPAYER interests, not EMPLOYEE interests (that's the UNION's job). Unfortunately, our legislators have little ethics, and know where there "bread is buttered". BOTH sides are looking out for YOUR interests, with a common position of "the taxpayer be damned". Being anything but a true "arms-length" negotiation, your argument falls quite flat.

Next, you said ..."In other words salary increases were reduced for increased benefits."

This suggest that you are being "paid" less, in exchange for more generous "pensions & benefits". Less that what ? A recent US Gov't bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that except for a very few professional position (e,.g., doctors) Civil Servants make MORE, pay than their Private Sector counterparts in similar positions. It also showed that Pensions & Benefits are VASTLY better.

You also said ..."The representatives of the people who negotiated those contracts in the "gogo 90's" almost certainly looked at the returns Calpers was making and felt it was a good deal. And at the time it was. Calpers was making so much money that increases in benefits to employees resulted in very little cost to the local agencies."

CalPERS has CLEARLY become an arm of the public employees. The current consenus among financial analists is that CalPERS completely hoodwinked the decisionmakres in saying the "costs" of the 2001 changes would be nothing or minimal. This was clear to anyone with a solid understanding of pension funding because the formula changes were applied "retroactively" to PAST as well as future years of service. Applying it as such was effectively an unjust theft of taxpayer wealth.

Lastly, you siad ..."Have you any idea of the cost to local agencies in renegotiating all of the contracts that provided these added pension benefits. Assuming it was even possible, your talking about BILLIONS."

There is no alternative if we are to avoid bankruptcy.


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Posted by Interested
a resident of another community
on Feb 5, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Tough Love.

It should be perfectly clear from my prior posts that I do not support the status quo. Indeed if I had my druthers Calpers would be a defined contribution system rather than a defined benefit system.

Although even that suggestion poses serious consequences. As it stands Calpers has at its disposal 200 Billion dollars to invest where it sees fit. Obviously a Defined Contribution system would severely limit the ability of Calpers to invest in California.

I will state again that I can fully understand why pension benefits were increased as the result of salary negotiations when the California economy (and indeed the entire US economy) was going through the roof.

It looked far better for local agencies to increase benefits rather than salaries at the time since the increased benefits looked to cost almost nothing given Calpers (and the entire stock markets) returns.

Today we look back and determine these "salary/Benefit" deals were not so great. Hindsight is always 20/20.

However the FACTS are that these contracts were entered into, and that salary increases were reduced in exchange for these added benefits. You can argue against these facts but they will remain true.

Lets assume for a moment that I am correct. And lets assume for a moment that you were an employee who had accepted a lower salary increase in exchange for better pension benefits.

Can I ask you honestly how you would feel if an attempt was made to now reduce those benefits......


You stated "CalPERS has CLEARLY become an arm of the public employees." are you under the impression that Calpers was formed to do anything else.?

Surely its sole function is to provide benefits to government employees. Its like complaining that chocolate tastes of cocoa.......

I am really interested in your comment "The current consenus among financial analists (sic) is that CalPERS completely hoodwinked the decisionmakres in saying the "costs" of the 2001 changes would be nothing or minimal."

Will you give us more information on this. I am unaware of the situation you cite.



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Posted by Maria of West Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 5, 2010 at 5:32 pm

After rethinking all this, I DO NOT think current employees should have their pensions cut! That is what they signed onto and perhaps have been planning on for years.

Don't mess with Calpers! Remember, Obama wants to eliminate some of Medicares' coverage for those of us who paid into it for over have a century!

We also do not get as much Social Security as we were supposed to this year.

The cost of living is never going to go down and will go up and our savings for retirement was budgeted years ago in a much lower economy.

I have taught since 1968 and am still having to teach at 71 yrs. old.


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Posted by Hello
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 5, 2010 at 5:56 pm

And what does ..."We also do not get as much Social Security as we were supposed to this year." .....mean ?


You may not understand why SS did not increase for 2010, but no one is cheating you.


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Posted by Second that
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Feb 5, 2010 at 6:00 pm

[Post removed; stay on-topic and avoid attacking other posters]


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Posted by Who are these people?
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 7, 2010 at 10:59 am

The article states "A group organized by former council member Lee Duboc has taken formal action to launch a ballot initiative... Menlo Park resident Ned Moritz filed a statement of organization on behalf of a committee called "Citizens for Fair and Responsible Pension Reform." .... Henry Riggs and Roy Sardina are co-chairs of the group."

I know plenty about Lee DuBoc,and a little about Henry Riggs, but who are Ned Moritz and Roy Sardina? (i.e. what is their professional background and prior CIty involvement/larger agenda. Are any of these three also going to run for City Council while they push this November ballot initiative?


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Posted by been there
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 7, 2010 at 10:44 pm

You can expect to see some or all of these four people -- and maybe Mickie too -- on the ballot this November.


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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardina
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 7, 2010 at 11:52 pm

Dear "Who Are these People" and "been there"

My name is Roy Thiele-Sardiña, and I can ASSURE you I will NOT be running for ANY public office on the November ballot.....

Reforming Menlo Parks Pensions is all we are trying to do.

Roy



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Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 8, 2010 at 12:58 pm

The State law should be rscinded and replaced with a law that follows what Private companies do. That is all Municipal employees during the time they had 2.7% and 55 get to keep the 2.7% for the years under the 2.7% plan. Municipal employees for the years preceding the 2.7% plan only get 2.0% for those years. Going forward all employees get 2.0% and retirement at 60 years except those who started working when the 2.7% Plan was in force. Those employees get 2%/year but still get to retire at 55.


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Feb 8, 2010 at 1:37 pm

So Hank and I agree on two items now. State reform of pensions and HSR. Amazing.


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Posted by Col. Kurtz
a resident of another community
on Feb 8, 2010 at 8:08 pm

"You can expect to see some or all of these four people -- and maybe Mickie too -- on the ballot this November."

Oh, the horror, the horror!


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Feb 8, 2010 at 8:16 pm

i think this was your first factually correct post joanna. congrats.


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Posted by What is your problem?
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Feb 8, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Col. Kurtz - just give us ONE good reason that you would not want these folks on the ballot in November.(excluding your "friend" Mickie) You have NO idea who they are, or what they do, you just like to get personal. If you would like to pick up the benefit packages for these city employees, and pay the over inflated price of their pensions, by all means send a check.
What is SO wrong with the initiative that these individuals propose??? That's what I thought, "nothing, I just like to trash other people, and make things personal". Ridiculous.


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Posted by Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 8, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Lets try to leave the anti Lee/Mickie feelings aside and look at the substance of the proposal.

The point is that politicians across the state and country from both political parties are calling for reforming the state pension system for FUTURE employees. Sacramento did not force the benefit levels up for city employees, those decisions were made on a city by city basis. Menlo Park raised it's retirement formula on its own after some peninsula cities, but ahead of many others. Now that it is time to go the other direction, why should the process be any different? I don't know if Sacramento has the authority to force cities to lower their pension benefits but I seriously doubt that they have the will to do so.

CalPERS has provided cities with a range of benefit plans to choose from and I see no reason why we should not take some leadership in creating a two tiered system. Our council has advocated being out front on greenhouse gas reduction, building code reform, and most recently lawn irrigation. Why is this any different? Besides, the cities that are last to act will be the first to go bankrupt.

Numerous studies have shown that new employees value compensation and workplace environment over pension benefits when selecting employers. In the current environment add financial stability and Menlo Park should have no trouble attracting talent if our city government is well managed.

While some may think that this does not go far enough, it looks to me like the planners of the initiative went as far as they thought was fair to the existing employees and was allowed under current law. There is nothing to say that the formulas can't be revisited again in another few years.


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Posted by Joseph Conrad
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 9, 2010 at 7:02 am

Col. Kurtz,

You have a dark heart.


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Posted by HR
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 9, 2010 at 7:48 am

Though I do not know how this would work in practice, I like Hank Lawrence's idea on pension reform. As a long-term Human Resources professional and City resident, I am very concerned about where we are headed. In private industry, something would have been done much sooner.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 9, 2010 at 9:21 am

I agree that it would if Sacramento would legislate a global reform of Calpers. If you believe that's going to happen anytime soon, I have to assume that you're new to our state.

While we are waiting for that star to rise in the east, it would seem prudent for our local governments to implement a new, second-tier benefit system. As I've said previously, it happens all the time in private industry (airlines, auto, etc.) and in government. Setting up a second tier benefits program is both ethical and legal and it stops the hemorrhaging while our Sacramento officials fiddle. Every day wasted is a day that our local towns will have to fund a new pension that is cannot afford.

I congratulate the people behind this initiative. They should be applauded for stepping into the ring while others criticize from the sidelines.

If this referendum passes - and I sure hope it does - that mandate will give the current council cover to enact this change. Without that cover, the turmoil that employee unions will create will make change impossible. Our elected officials need our support to make this happen.


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Feb 9, 2010 at 10:11 am

I still think most of our resources and time and effort should go toward a state reform. Local stuff is hit or miss and they will not hold up our city as some shining example.

We need to get real and stop the fantasy pitch that all is better if MP goes 2 and 60.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 9, 2010 at 11:46 am

It's not a fantasy pitch, truth. There's a saying in medicine that perfection is the enemy of good. Holding out for perfection is a losing game (just ask Congressional Democrats who control all three branches of government).

2 and 60 is better than the status quo. We should take our victories where we can. We can improve upon it down the road but we must stop the hemorrhaging now.

It becoming increasingly obvious that pension reform is not your motivation.


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Posted by I Think...
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 9, 2010 at 3:26 pm

I think "Truth" is starting to show his/her True colors. This is a political play for him/her. This has nothing to do with whether this is good for Menlo Park and our community. He/She is more concerned with how the side he supports is going to play this out. I think it's killing him/her that his/her arch rivals are supporting this.(Duboc and Winkler) Please forget about this Truth, it is painfully obvious, and it's clouding your vision!


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Posted by Richard Hine
editor of The Almanac
on Feb 9, 2010 at 4:26 pm

Richard Hine is a registered user.

Please keep to the topic -- the pros and cons of the initiative drive -- and not turn this into a discussion of a poster's motivations.


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Feb 10, 2010 at 12:10 am

2 at 60 if I am correct, will only affect the new employees. Over the past four or five years the number of new employees. So let's assume that a large portion of city staff still holds the 2 at 55. A small portion -- 15 or so are 2.7 at 55. Now we move to 2 at 60. So in ten years, 45 people are at the new rate. Now assume maybe a handful make it full payout. The average tenure is not full career so that 2 at 60 or 2 at 55 is never fully absorbed.

So yeah, in 15 or 20 years we can see some reduction at the back end.

Or look at what is on the table. Cost sharing right now for all employees and a reduced Calpers risk (take a look at some projections for Calpers in the near future...it blows up). That means this city gets immediate savings and serious savings if Calpers does jump above 14.5%.

Add to that the fact that this council has a 2 at 60 on the table, and I submit this council has a much better deal for our city than whomever is driving the initiative.

I voted for this council and I have not tried to hide that fact. They are doing what I asked. Not everything I asked, but a lot of it. They are taking on the high speed rail, they are looking at a revenue producing plan for el camino and they are trying to hold the line with employee costs.

Slam em all you want. Insult them and make up your little right and left conspiracies.

It is election year, so what else have you got when the incumbents are actually doing what they said they would do, right?


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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 25, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Truth

You are incorrect in your calculation. The city council gave EVERY employee 2.7 & 55 RETROACTIVE!!! that means all of the employees currently employed in Menlo Park enjoy those benefits even though they were not granted when they started working, nor did they pay into the program with that as a payout.

This is EXACTLY what the Pension Reform initiative will stop. The City can NEVER give a retroactive increase without putting it to the voters first. The City cannot increase the benefit without putting it to the voters first. This is to return control of the costs to the citizens.

visit Web Link for more information

Roy Thiele-Sardina
Co-Chairman of Citizens for Responsible Pension Reform


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Feb 26, 2010 at 1:19 pm

So the mighty VC guys are starting to flex their muscles now locally? Seriously?

This is ridiculous. I would rather see a policy that restricts executive boards from insider BS trading that goes on all over this Valley, then see a policy that ties the hands of future council members all in the name of a vehement anti-union coalition.

Roy, ever had your hands legally tied at the board level? You sure you know what you are doing here?

This is not some start up you get going with your friends money that you can turn around and sell out tomorrow at a profit.

And are you denying that a 2 at 60 offer is on the table from this council?


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