Mayor Cline - don't bother me with facts or public input Menlo Park, posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jul 17, 2010 at 12:22 pm Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
Menlo Park Mayor Cline has just held another secret meeting - with himself. Such a meeting is perfectly legal but unwise. He has decided that Menlo Park will not even consider outsourcing its police services - a decision made without any staff analysis, without any public discussion and without any public input.
Menlo Park has a police services budget of $14,689,025 and spends $477 per capita on those services. Woodside spends $242 per capita, Portola Valley spends just $111 per capita and San Carlos has just negotiated a contract with the Sheriff which will cost $249 per capita. Menlo Park could easily save $6-7 million per year and avoid any future unfunded pension liabilities by outsourcing police services to the Sheriff.
The Menlo Park Council routinely spends hours discussing budget items that are less than $100,000 but somehow Mayor Cline feels that doing a fact based analysis on police outsourcing and having public discussion and input on this issue is simply unnecessary.
Oh well, why worry about a $7 million/year savings for every year going forward?
Posted by Hank Lawrence, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, on Jul 17, 2010 at 7:31 pm
Richard needs that Police Union money to fund his re-election effort. I guess Gail is tapped out trying to save the House of Representatives from falling into the GOP's hands. Too bad for Gail--that is an exercise in futility. Stretch Pelosi will soon be House Minority Leader.
Posted by odt timer, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Jul 17, 2010 at 10:12 pm
To blame Mayor Cline for this is simply ridiculous.
Peter, you know full well that there are needs for a lot of safety officers because of high crime areas in Menlo Park, that certainly are not present in Woodside, or Atherton.
Perhaps a full discussion of how big the police force should be is in order. After all, after they got the force up to full employment, due to Rojas giving away the farm in a new contract, the crime rate did not go down. No instead it went up. But I don't see MP being able to get by with as low a rate as Peter thinks is possible.
BTW, what about the outrageous salaries of the firemen; why didn't you do something about that when you were on the board?
Posted by POGO, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2010 at 6:49 am
Old timer -
I think the concern from Mr. Carpenter's original post was that Mayor Cline won't even hold a public hearing to discuss and consider using the Sheriff's Department as Menlo Park's public safety resource. You don't think saving a few million dollars is even worthy of discussion?
No one suggested reducing coverage, in fact, using the Sheriff's Department for this service might actually increase the intensity of policing in those areas of Menlo Park that you appear to worry about.
Posted by Hank Lawrence, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2010 at 8:12 am
Welcome to the dysfunctional world of Menlo Park where council members take their marching orders from Union officials and the residents interests are always subordinated to the interests of the powerful unions.
I applaud your optimism in hoping that Rich Cline would be fiscally responsible and do the right thing by the people of Menlo Park. But look at the bright side. Richard Cline actually made a decision even if it was at the direction of the police Union.
The truth is that the Unions have a vice grip control over Richard and Heyward and the only thing that can be done is for the residents to wake up and vote them out on November 2nd. Rich and Heyward do not know how to serve the people of Menlo Park; but they would make fabulous Union stewards.
I will miss their hubris and arrogance and Heyward's obsequious fawning over Gail Slocum on the dais. [Portion removed.]
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2010 at 8:48 am
Old timer asks:"what about the outrageous salaries of the firemen; why didn't you do something about that when you were on the board?"
I did - note that the firefighters' contract expired in June 2008 and it still has not be renewed because the Board, on which I served until Dec 2009, refused to accept the firefighters' wage demands.
Old timer states:"you know full well that there are needs for a lot of safety officers because of high crime areas in Menlo Park,"
As has just been shown in the case of San Carlos the same or even better coverage can be provided by the Sheriff's Department at HALF the cost. Look at the data ! Better coverage, better backup, better training and lower cost - what is the problem, except ego?
Posted by truth, a resident of the Menlo Park: Belle Haven neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2010 at 8:54 am
Hey Republicans, did you know that our Democrat Mayor does not believe in outsourcing police services? Maybe we should call our Libertarian friends and see if we can't make some election FUD out of this?
Good idea, call Peter, he has overreacted and made public panic out of less, maybe he can lead the charge here?
And then maybe Hank can jump in and start that tea bag thing?
And then some folks can drop in with neutral notes, but still take shots?
This is too good. Gotta do it.
Atherton residents have such a great vision for police services. They pick up the paper and find lost pets. I guess I can see why they want to outsource.
Mr. Cline cannot stop a meeting from happening if the council wants one, and Peter is just losing credibility with every step. Mr. Cline does have a right to his own opinion and he states it clear, without any question.
I live in an area that could have major issues if not for our great police force.
Hank does not. Peter lives on another planet. And the rest of this tea bag forum are talking ideology, not civic strategy.
Posted by John P Johns, a resident of another community, on Jul 18, 2010 at 9:08 am
Before Old Timer critizes Mr. Carpenter for failing to rein the "outrageous" salaries paid to fire fighters, think for a moment what those fire fighters do for a living.
In a day, in a single call, they are expected to exercise more courage than most people will in a lifetime.
Has old timer ever seen a firefighter in action? I have. I saw three of these brave men run towards a VW van to extinguish the flames in a burning engine compartment. I saw them do it with the full knowledge that they were approaching a vehicle with untold quantities of gasoline in it that could explode like a bomb at any moment.
I wondered why these firefighters would resist the natural inclination of a human being to flee danger and instead fling themselves headlong into such peril. Why not secure the perimiter and let this thing burn itself out or send water into the engine compartment from a safe distance? I wondered.
It then occurred to me that they raced toward that burning vehicle without regard to their own safety because maybe, just maybe there was a person trapped inside of the van who was at risk of being incinerated.
I am now happy to have a group of firefighters as a client in a litigation support engagement. I have come to learn that these brave men and women are more often than not the sole breadwinner who, in addition to being asked to put their lives on the line day in and day out, spend extended periods away from their families. They live in modest homes and have few if any extravagences.
In the case of the firefighters who serve Menlo Park, I sincerely doubt that many, if any, can afford the price of a single family home on the Peninsula. It is more likely that they commute from points afair.
It is more likely that they travel here to protect the lives and property of many who take home more in a single paycheck than they do in year. Yet knowing their bretheren as I do, I suspect that the firefighters of Menlo Park, harbor no resentment, they bear no grudge. Instead I imagine they feel fortunate to be of service to such a fine community and to earn a living wage in doing so.
Before old timer criticizes Peter Carpenter for failing to control "outrageious firefighter salaries" Old timer should reflect upon what he or she thinks his or her own life is worth and by extension what the price of putting one's life on the line day in and day out should be.
When old timer looks at from this perspective, I dare say it is quite possible that he or she will think that the folks down at the station are deserving of a raise.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2010 at 10:20 am
It is perfectly acceptable for Mr. Cline to have his own opinion on police outsourcing. However, as Mayor Cline he essentially controls the Council's agenda; if he allows his personal preference to deny the Council and the citizens the opportunity to even consider saving $7 million/year then he is not acting in the public interest. If this is not put on the agenda then the citizens themselves will simply exercise their new found ability to force the Council to act by petition.
I have also made the same recommendation regarding police outsourcing to both Atherton and Palo Alto. And I have long been on record in favor of large scale fire service consolidation - at least county-wide and perhaps even crossing county boundaries.
Posted by Once Again, a resident of the Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2010 at 6:17 pm
Truth strikes again, with not one, but TWO mentions of Tea Baggers! Excellent, I was concerned that I would not see a post from him saying something about Tea Baggers! And, once again, he provides NO credible evidence, no facts, no numbers, just the same old rhetoric about how we have an endless money pot, and standing by his liberal thought, no matter what the cost, and no matter what new, and creative ideas are out there. Please Mr. Cline let's discuss this issue, they ARE our dollars not the union's!
Posted by truth, a resident of the Menlo Park: Belle Haven neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2010 at 7:31 pm
If you are under the assumption that MP is going the way of Vallejo, then you clearly must do your tax reports in crayon and you are eating the glue.
This is important business, more important than Peter's need to get attention.
This is about our future as a city and it is a war for our future. You want to sell out our future by outsourcing our police without any research of service levels in comparable towns, than put that on your ballot card and get ready to be stomped right out of this election.
Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2010 at 8:17 pm
[portion deleted.] It needs to go on the agenda to be studied as you suggest. GET IT? If it doesn't go on the agenda it doesn't get studied or discussed. GET IT? Outsourcing may not be the right thing to do, but it will never be explored if it doesn't see the council AGENDA. GET IT?
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2010 at 8:24 pm
Truth states:"You want to sell out our future by outsourcing our police without any research of service levels in comparable towns,"
Truth needs to do her homework and to read other postings - like these:
Posted by POGO, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood
Whenever a local city or town has looked to outsource police services they have ended up with the San Mateo County Sheriff's Department. The latest city to do this is San Carlos (other cities include Woodside and Portola Valley).
Once you investigate other police departments, it becomes evident that the quality of service from the Sheriff's Department is difficult to beat. They have superbly trained deputies, equipment, capability and control lots of assets such as jails, dispatch, emergency services, etc. Additionally, the Sheriff's Department does not identify with a "home city" (such as Redwood City) - they are a county-wide service and already cover the entire county from end to end. They are also very familiar with your town because they frequently come in as part of mutual aid.
From first-hand experience I can say that their service to Woodside has been top notch. We know and respect our local deputies and I wouldn't trade them for anything.
How San Carlos will save money by outsourcing cops
At first glance, the dollars to justify outsourcing police service for San Carlos don't seem to add up.
The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office says it can hire everyone in the San Carlos Police Department, hand out raises and maintain the same of level of service around the clock — all while saving the city $2.1 million.
Chalk it up to economies of scale gained when a small city outsources public safety to a much larger organization, say county and city officials. Or, as San Carlos Council Member Andy Klein summed it up at a recent council meeting, "it all has to do with the back bench."
The council last week authorized city staff to find out how sheriff's officials plan to offer the same level of police service for $6.8 million a year that San Carlos now pays $8.9 million to receive. The council expects to consider a final contract later this year.
The city police department, which has 32 sworn officers, including command brass, and eight non-sworn employees, assigns three officers and a sergeant to each eight-hour shift. That allows them to handle two incidents with a backup at any given time, said City Manager Mark Weiss.
To maintain that staffing level 24/7, the city has to keep enough officers on the payroll to ensure they have enough backup when someone is sick, gets hurt on the job, goes on vacation or is unavailable for some other reason, Weiss said.
"What we've found is we need our 32 positions to maintain
our three-and-one staffing level, and even then we're using some overtime," Weiss said. The police department paid $319,421 in overtime last year, records show.
By contrast, the much larger sheriff's office — with about 620 employees, including 450 sworn personnel — needs to assign only 19 sworn staff to San Carlos full-time to maintain the same three-and-one staffing because it has a larger "bench" of deputies who can be redeployed to cover when needed in San Carlos.
"Someone gets sick, someone gets hurt, (the sheriff has) people to fill in," Klein said last week, "but when you're your own department, you can't call your friends up the road and go, 'Hey can you lend us a couple guys?' That doesn't happen, that's why we have to have a much larger number."
Sheriff Greg Munks said the city is "kind of buying an insurance policy that they'll always have a certain level of staffing, and we guarantee it because we have a bigger department and we're able to bring people in if they're not there."
San Carlos officials say rising salaries and benefits have eclipsed savings from cutting seven police positions over the past decade. Paying $2.1 million less for police service is especially crucial now as the city tries to eliminate a $3.5 million budget deficit, they note.
Munks said sheriff's office staffing patterns will dictate whether and how often he'll need to pay overtime to keep the city fully covered. The sheriff's office spent $21.7 million on overtime last year, according to public records.
For the city, "all they care about and what they'll see is the body will be there," Munks said. "It might be a body we moved from another beat, or it might be somebody that signed up to work overtime for that spot."
Munks said he has kept about 30 positions in his department open in anticipation of absorbing everyone in San Carlos, in addition to the 19 sworn positions that will be assigned to the city.
That means many current San Carlos officers will likely be doing other jobs for the sheriff's office, including staffing jails, providing court security or patrolling unincorporated areas.
The change also will likely result in a pay bump for San Carlos officers, who for years have been paid less than those in many other Peninsula cities, though officials emphasize those figures will be hashed out in negotiations.
Sheriff's deputies make between $79,477 and $99,341 in base salary, not including pay for special assignments or overtime that could add tens of thousands of dollars to their take-home totals. San Carlos officers make base salaries of between $73,394 and $89,211.
In the sheriff's office proposal, deputies assigned to San Carlos each would come at a cost of $269,855, sergeants $324,865 and captains $339,510.
But Weiss said such figures are misleading because they are "fully-loaded" positions that include all the costs of keeping cops on the street.
In addition to salaries and benefits, the costs include 427 "relief hours" per year for absent officers, uniform allowance, human resources services, liability insurance, safety equipment and training.
Besides $6 million for staff, the sheriff's office proposal factors in $342,000 for the use of 18 vehicles and $400,000 for miscellaneous expenses.
Munks said his office will be able to provide San Carlos with specialized services such as multiple detectives for a homicide investigation or deployment of a helicopter for a search. The parties still need to negotiate the cost of overtime to staff special events, such as the city's summertime Hot Harvest Nights farmers market.
Another source of savings will come from having fewer command staff assigned to San Carlos. The city department currently has eight positions in its management ranks — a chief, two commanders and five sergeants.
The sheriff's proposal calls for assigning five full-time managers — one captain and four sergeants — to oversee 12 patrol deputies, a detective, a motorcycle traffic officer, four part-time community service officers and four non-sworn administrative staff.
"I think that's just a recognition that that's what regionalism means," Weiss said of the shared management. "We're trying to be more efficient."
It's not yet clear whether all the sergeants and commanders in the San Carlos department will have management positions in the sheriff's office, Munks said, adding he expects police Chief Greg Rothaus will move into a captain position.
Munks said his office's experience in providing contracted service to Woodside and Portola Valley makes him confident that the numbers in the San Carlos proposal are accurate.
Weiss said the city also plans to verify Munks' calculations, though his main concern is that the sheriff can deliver on his proposal.
"From the city's perspective, that's kind of the key," Weiss said. "What's the bottom line on the contract? What service level are you going to get?"
E-mail Shaun Bishop at firstname.lastname@example.org.
San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks says he needs just 23 employees to deliver the same level of service the San Carlos Police Department currently provides with 40 employees, resulting in a cost savings of $2.2 million; it"s mostly because he can draw from a much larger employee base to provide backup if needed.
Position San Carlos San Mateo County sheriff"s proposal
Posted by truth, a resident of the Menlo Park: Belle Haven neighborhood, on Jul 18, 2010 at 8:57 pm
Now we name call and cut and paste others opinions?
What a case you have there. Peter claiming the mayor is censoring the city from a topic, another out of towner saying he hears the police services improve and then our own menlo voter just names calls.
Posted by It's politics, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Jul 19, 2010 at 2:16 pm
Of course a council member who is running for re-election is not going to put anything on the agenda that might upset the powerful public employee unions. What is Peter thinking? This is all about politics; not what is good for Menlo Park, or even bad.
I agree, let's look at everything. Let's study it. Maybe outsourcing or even combining public services isn't the answer. But will we know until there has been a study of it? And, I'd say it should be a study commissioned to an outside group that is not on CalPERs; and doesn't employee any current or past city staff. New eyes, folks; that what we need.
Posted by WHoRUpeople, a resident of another community, on Jul 19, 2010 at 3:02 pm
$tudy, $tudy, $tudy, $tudy, $tudy, $tudy--no, not typos, I meant $, and I typed it 6 times to indicate the number of digits in the cost of such a $tudy(and the significant digit will be a crooked number). You folks must have money to burn--good thing you have a mayor with a brain. Sorry, I usually avoid chiming in on issues that are totally MP centric, but wasting money on the $ word always strikes a nerve
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jul 19, 2010 at 3:39 pm
Given that Woodside, Portola Valley and now San Carlos have already studied this issue and decided to outsource their police services, I suggest that Menlo Park could get all the answers it needs to save $7 million a year for practically nothing.
Posted by R. Gordon, a resident of another community, on Jul 19, 2010 at 3:57 pm
Well, as unemployment continues a downward trend and a lot of people who are not wealthy, or very unhappy---so much so, they have started taking it out on strangers----might just turn to crime if the country gets in worse shape.
There are no walls to protect us, and this could turn into a war zone if we had no protection from the National Guard.
Why, it is something to think about to keep our "communities" ready for whatever could happen being the world is in such terrible shape and heaven knows how November election results could impact our beautiful Peninsula. A man was shot yesterday in the Bay Area by a complete stranger simply because he was in an expensive M.Benz sports car with the top down.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jul 19, 2010 at 10:57 pm
Just Wandering asks:"Uh, Peter, where exactly did your $7 million in savings figure come from - sure looks like you pulled it from you know where (as usual)."
It is useful to read the entire thread before asking a stupid question. The FIRST posting stated:
"Menlo Park has a police services budget of $14,689,025 and spends $477 per capita on those services. Woodside spends $242 per capita, Portola Valley spends just $111 per capita and San Carlos has just negotiated a contract with the Sheriff which will cost $249 per capita."
If Menlo Park were to contract out its police services for $250 per capita it would save $227 per capita or $6.9 million per year.
Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community, on Jul 20, 2010 at 10:45 am
Mr. Johns says, "just issue a request for proposal.....and MP will have the answer". In order to issue an RFP, a specification and scope of work is needed in order for responding parties to be able to have a basis for bid, etc. Anyone in the procurement profession, be it public or private sector, would tell Mr. Johns that creating a good, meaningful RFP is no trivial task, and I will tell him that a poorly crafted or otherwise noncomprehensive RFP usually guarantees a bad contractual relationship for both parties.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2010 at 2:33 pm
Whorupeople states:"creating a good, meaningful RFP is no trivial task,"
True, but San Carlos, Woodside, Portola Valley, Saratoga and the League of California Cities all have existing tried and proven RFPs that MP could simply revise to meet its needs - this is NOT rocket science.
Posted by truth, a resident of the Menlo Park: Belle Haven neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2010 at 2:42 pm
Peter thinks San Carlos, Woodside, PV and Saratoga are so much like Menlo Park. Peter was on the fire district board and still think this. Peter obviously sat in his nice little meetings and rarely went out into the world.
MP has an entirely different set of challenges, Peter.
Come on down here to my neck of the woods and we can go for a quaint walk around 11pm.
Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community, on Jul 20, 2010 at 2:57 pm
Peter, I agree with you more often than not, but this is one of those times. Public safety is very high on my list of things that are important, and as you might have guessed from my previous post, I've spent a good portion of my professional life writing/critiquing/negotiating RFPs and service contracts. Utilizing a cookie-cutter approach to creating specifications for such an important service, in my personal view, would be a mistake.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2010 at 3:18 pm
Whorupeople states:Utilizing a cookie-cutter approach to creating specifications for such an important service, in my personal view, would be a mistake."
I have done lots of RFPs in my time, some for over $100 million, and it is the height of stupidity and egotism to start an RFP from scratch for services which have been successfully contracted for by others. Yes, your RFP need to be tailored to your needs but the portions of the RFP which have to be tailored to your particular needs are usually a very small percentage. For example, every police service RFP needs a response time definitions and all 'your' rfp has to do is to specify the your desired response time.
Posted by POGO, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on Jul 21, 2010 at 11:13 am
Just Wondering -
The point is that we'll never know because the Mayor will not even put the topic on an agenda. Whether it makes financial sense is not the point... at least not yet. But not to even discuss it?
San Carlos didn't think about outsourcing police services because it would cost MORE. At least their elected officials recognized the problem with their current cost structure and had the courage to calendar the topic and open it to public discourse.
Posted by Just Wondering, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Jul 21, 2010 at 11:09 pm
PC: #1 dubious assumption: Menlo Park = San Carlos
Last time I checked, San Carlos didn't share a border with EPA
OK, then how about also discusing whether to allow pot dispensaries to open up in town? Or allow Bay-fill development to take place a la Redwood City? Or a golf course on the Baylands Park? Or selling off city parks to private developers?
In short, why not open up every crack-pot idea for "public discussion"?
Posted by ReCliner, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Jul 23, 2010 at 7:24 am
Cline has got to go. He is an arrgant do-nothing mayor who is abrogating his responsibilities to the residents. We can do better than that. Heyward should go too. All he cares about is carrying the Unions water.
The Slocum/Brown/Collacchi/Speer shadow government is what is propping up these fatous fools. [Portion removed; stick to the issues]
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jul 23, 2010 at 7:30 am
Just Wandering states:"Last time I checked, San Carlos didn't share a border with EPA"
Do you really think that having East Palo Alto as a neighbor DOUBLES Menlo Park's cost of police service from San Carlos's $249 per capita to Menlo Park's $477 per capita? That I think is a dubious argument.
Posted by POGO, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on Jul 23, 2010 at 8:49 am
By the way, who do you think patrols MP, Atherton and Redwood City with your local police departments? It's the San Mateo County Sheriff's Department.
The way some people are posting, you'd think our sheriff deputies never wander beyond unincorporated San Mateo County. Completely false. You see them assisting your local agencies ALL THE TIME.
Who do you think takes care of emergency services, mutual aid, jails, criminal records, courtroom security, swat, bomb squad, and forensics? Yes, of course, it's your San Mateo County Sheriff's Department.
To think they are not already involved in Menlo Park and Atherton is false. They know your streets and they can certainly handle any police issue as well as your local agencies.
While I suspect they can save you a lot of money - millions, perhaps - there's only one way to find out.
But the MP Mayor doesn't even want to talk about it. So be it. If that's the kind of open government you want, you should re-elect him.