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Fire chief's new contract reflects economic climate

Original post made on Mar 24, 2011

Menlo Park Fire Protection District Chief Harold Schapelhouman will continue receiving $191,616 per year through 2016, without any raises "unless and until there is a material and positive change in the economic climate and an adjustment is prudent and affordable at the discretion of the Board," according to the new contract unanimously approved by the board of directors on Tuesday (March 22).

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, March 24, 2011, 3:17 PM

Comments (62)

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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 24, 2011 at 6:45 pm

That's a lot of money.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 24, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Joanna - I think that you missed the point of the Chief's new contract. The Chief made a very significant sacrifice in agreeing to this new contract. He gets no salary increase for 5 years and has significantly reduced the anticipated payouts for accrued sick leave when he retires.


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 24, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Thank You Chief Harold Schapelhouman,

I think that is a perfect demonstration of leading by example.


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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 24, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

Thank You Chief Schapelhouman,

Perhaps your leadership will set an example for the rest of your department.

Roy Thiele-Sardina


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Posted by Melinda Tevis
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Mar 25, 2011 at 1:02 am

Thank You Chief Harold
I expect that this gesture required an equal amount of backbone as it did of any sacrifice You have probably been our MVP (most invaluable public official) all along anyway, so your leadership skills were never anything that was properly monetized to begin with.
We were already lucky enough to have you, but now again you lead by example to remind all of us what commitment and dedication used to look like.
Good job Chief!


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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Mar 25, 2011 at 9:51 am

Very well said, Melinda! Ditto from me, Harold.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 25, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Thank you, Chief, for leading by example. This community is fortunate to have you.


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Posted by Scholar
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 25, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I also think that is a lot of money. And there's a chance for more.


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Posted by AWhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Mar 25, 2011 at 1:21 pm

$191K/year is a good salary. And some can say, as some have, it is a lot of money. However, in this region, it is about average compensation for a mid-level manager at an established corporation. CEO's, which is what a District Fire Chief is in that organization, in those same companies would have average compensation exceeding $400K. Add to that medical/retirement benefits which the Chief gets, and potentially very large bonuses and stock options which the Chief does not get, and I submit, Harold is a freekin bargain!


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 25, 2011 at 1:40 pm

What is overlooked in this story is that Harold could retire NOW and receive 90% of his current salary. He is agreeing to work for another 5 years for a net salary benefit of $19k per YEAR !!. Show me another CEO in the public OR private sector who has a $30M plus budget and 110 employees who works for even 10 times $19k per YEAR. To say nothing of the hundreds of thousands of dollars of unpaid sick leave that he has agreed to give up.

His action in helping craft and then accepting this agreement is public service and leadership by example at its best.


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Posted by Jackrabbit
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Mar 25, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Woodside Fire Protection District = "take notice". Chief Muela skates into retirement at age 54 after only 4-1/2 years as chief with $162K/year for life plus benies. What a deal.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 25, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Add another point to Jackrabbit's comment -- Menlo Park Fire has 7 stations, a training center and a US&R team. Woodside Fire has 3 stations. And which chief makes more money and which Board voted a bonus to their chief? Not Menlo.


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Posted by Marcy Magatelli
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 25, 2011 at 7:21 pm

I, too, would like to thank Chief Schapelhouman, for this and all the sacrifices he has made, for our safety and piece of mind. I would ask those, who feel he is overpaid, what price it would take to get them to run into a burning building, only to carry out a dead baby? Think for a moment, what this man has witnessed & endured: besides leaving home, on short notice for disasters in other areas, to dig in filthy, contaminated rubble and carnage! He has EARNED his pay! I also, know, for a fact, he is well respected beyond this community. I know two other cheifs, who speak highly of Harold; one, a big city Cheif, in the Bay Area, the other, out of state, in a large city, that also has one of the 24 elite rescue squads. Our Cheif's knowledge and experience, in 30 yrs. of serving this community, is so valuable in a time of crisis; he knows the geography and exactly what to do. Count your blessings~


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Posted by Thomas
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 25, 2011 at 7:48 pm

It should be pointed out that the fire chief could never earn his current salary as a private sector CEO with only his high school diploma unless it was a company he had started on his own such as Michael Dell, who dropped out of college to start Dell Computers. Most reputable companies require a higher education even for entry level positions and certainly for any mid-level position.

As I stated in The Almanac's previous article (January 19th, 2011) when Chief Schapelhouman's decided to close down a fire station for his press conference, San Diego's Fire Chief Mainar, also a 30 year veteran who was appointed in October 2009, is compensated at a base salary of $166,000...nearly $30,000 less annually than Chief Schapelhouman. Chief Mainar directs over 1200 employees and oversees a budget of $190,000,000. Chief Mainar also earned an associates degree in Fire Science as well as a B.A. in Public Administration while working as a firefighter...credentials most cities require for their fire chiefs.

While Chief Schapelhouman may be a nice guy, even he knows his salary is out of line and remains out of line when compared to other cities.
His concession, in my opinion, is "smoke and mirrors" to draw attention away from the well politicized outrage over the salaries of our public servants and his inability to act as a responsible liaison between rank and file firefighters and their union...a union, I might add, that also helped him for many years attain the wealth he enjoys today. Until management shows some real leadership with regards to their own salaries, we should not expect the same union that afforded Chief Schapelhouman a great income for decades to do any less for those also trying to make a better life for themselves and their families.

I would also add that my opinion is based as what I see as fair and equitable for all sides and that I am neither a firefighter nor am acquainted with with any firefighters or their families. I add this disclaimer in advance since this is always one of the lunatic notions that arise from the usual bunch of that disagree.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 25, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Thomas and I have had this discussion on a number of other threads and I am disappointed that I have been unable to convince him of the error of his opinions on leadership, experience and education.

When my community lies in ruins after an earthquake or my home is on fire I am much more concerned with the experience and the leadership skills of the person in charge of the response than I ma in their academic credentials. In my decades of executive leadership experience I learned, often the hard way, 1) that experience is a much better predictor of success than are academic titles and 2) that really good leadership simply cannot be taught. In my opinion Chief Schapelhouman's leadership experiences at Oklahoma City, the World Trade Center, Katrina and the Challenger recovery operation (among others) are more than the equivalent of a PhD in Disaster Management.

As for his salary compared to other chiefs with comparable responsibilities he is certainly nowhere near the high end. And under his new contract his net salary places him well below any other chief in the country as well as below all of the people who report to him.

Thomas' "smoke and mirror" claim wrings hollow when you realize what the Chief has given up and the example which he has set.


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Posted by Daveo
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 25, 2011 at 10:20 pm

WOW. That's a lot of money. More than 16 grand a month!(I assume that's before taxes and United Way). It seems to me to be somwhat above what a 'mid=level manager' at a local private company might earn. I believe at this salary, your talking director/VP level or higher.

And 600 hours of annual time off.... ..more than 60 days.. if I understand that correctly. Throw in the time off and we're now talking $24k/mo. All I can say is: Yikes!

I don't mean to imply that this might not be fair compensation for him relative to chiefs in other departments. I suspect that he is quite talented and hard-working. This is just what you end up paying the 'chief' after 30 years, when the indians are getting 90-120k/yr. Merely, that this and all others are quite high. These public salaries are somewhat out of line.

But the real issue is the reirement benefits and their resulting costs. We reallly need to move to a retirement benefit that is more in line with the private sector.

Retirement at age 50; who gets to do that? and at nearly your full salary. --for the remainder of your life. --paid medical? -paid
life insurance?

I suggest we make a real effort to get the retirement more in line with the private sector. A switch from lifetime pension to a self-funded retirement (i.e.401k) might be a reasonable approach, particularly at the salaries (sorry, compensation) they earn. Anything significantly more than that and we really need to look closely at to what degree the pension being self-funded.

I am merely giving my position; I am no expert in compensation. Although there are many available who could help to tell us what would be more equivalent to private sector total compensation, taking into account all pertinient factors, such as whether or not given public employees contribute to and are then eligible for Soc. Sec.

And to the issue about the risk of the job, I suggest massive life insurance policies, during their active working years that would truly take care of any family in the event of a tragedy. That seems only fair. and logical, too. The cost for this could be split in some manner that makes it a responsible purchase for the firefighter. Not much sense providing a massive life insurance policy for bachelor firemen.

So what do people fell about this approach? I really want to hear.


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Posted by Thomas
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 25, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Mr. Carpenter... having grown up in Lindenwood, the son of a self made man that fled Europe during the early 1940's with little education, I understand much better than you, with your "decades of executive leadership" that academic credentials are mundane. Unfortunately, the lack of academic credentials universally closes the door nowadays and even Chief Schapelhouman knows he is quite fortunate to be in the position he has today and owes his success, in a great extent to the firefighter's union.

While you certainly break no laws in defense of your friend and as a member of the MPFPD, but even a casual observer would doubt your efforts at transparency in trying to convince anyone that Chief Schapelhouman is underpaid given the comparison I published. Giving up "sick days" as a primary concession to assuage the outrage people are having with public employee salaries rings much more hollow to me than setting an example and offering to take a cut with his very bloated salary.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 26, 2011 at 8:15 am

As noted above, but disregarded by Thomas and Daveo, what is overlooked in this story is that Harold could retire NOW and receive 90% of his current salary. He is agreeing to work for another 5 years for a net salary benefit of $19k per YEAR !!. Show me another CEO in the public OR private sector who has a $30M plus budget and 110 employees who works for even 10 times $19k per YEAR. To say nothing of the hundreds of thousands of dollars of unpaid sick leave that he has agreed to give up.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Mar 26, 2011 at 10:51 am

Good to know that he's a reasonable guy making a lot of money who could make more. He's not a hero for this - he's a hero for the work he does, how he does it, his leadership & the district's innovation & global sense of community.

We've all had to make sacrifices given this economy & I'm glad he has, too. But let's put it into perspective, please. He's NOT a business CEO, he isn't motivated by the same goals, ideals or rewards. He's a public servant & his being authentically that is part of why he is so well-respected.

So to put it in perspective, he's like a lot of the rest of us, doing what it takes to do a great job, keep the budget balanced & keepin' on keepin' on. One of the differences is that new stories aren't written about us & our sacrifices to keep our home and/or professional budgets balances while our workload has increased as has the pressure to do more than our share of work.

There are many people whose work puts their lives on the line or is otherwise risky. He chose this line of work & is still suitably paid for it. I'm not ungrateful, but I also wouldn't expect less from a professional who takes his work seriously. He's a class act.


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 26, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Today"s Daily Post article by Ryan Riddle

Redwood City average Fire Captain pay is $178,885.00....That is for a Captain not a Chief.

Thank You Chief Harold Schapelhouman


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 26, 2011 at 1:25 pm

In 2009 the Belmont-San Carlos Chief made $208,341 to supervise 42 full-time firefighting personnel staffing 4 fire stations.

MPFPD has 7 stations and 87 firefighters.


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Posted by Thomas
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 26, 2011 at 3:12 pm

It should come as no surprise that the San Carlos Fire Department is being dissolved in October as the city looks at outsourcing the fire department as it already has done with the it's police department. It looks as though the city is unable to sustain the fire chief's salary.
Chief Schapelhouman should take note.

Mr. Stogner, as someone that is running for supervisor, you should be aware that the cities of Redwood City, San Carlos, Foster City, Belmont and San Mateo are all studying a proposal by Cal Fire to take over fire services in those cities. The proposed savings would be $17M. You might further educate yourself on this by reading the article posted by The Daily Journal on February 12, 2011. You might receive additional votes were you to look for ways to reduce deficits
instead of condoning our overpaid fire chiefs. Voters are not impressed by candidates that take the path of least resistance.


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 26, 2011 at 3:22 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

Thomas - you clearly have a hidden agenda - Who are you and what is your agenda?


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 26, 2011 at 3:57 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

For anybody who isn't aware Chief Schapelhouman has been one of the earliest and strongest advocates of county wide consolidation of fire services.

Want the facts on this issue, then see:
Web Link

And CalFire is not the way to go - while they are a superb wildland fire agency they are not a urban area fire service and the Governor is withdrawing them from their current urban area fire service commitments.


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 26, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Thomas,
You continue to miss it by a mile....

As Peter has pointed out several times Chief Schapelhouman could retire today and receive 90% of his income and do nothing if he wanted. I know of a local Police Chief who did just that.


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Posted by Daveo
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 27, 2011 at 2:38 am

Peter, Peter, Peter,

The issue is not about his agreeing to accept a 5 year --even though this freeze is not guaranteed to happen; let me mark my calendar to check back in 2016 to see if the freeze indeed was maintained-- pay freeze.

It is about the following:

1. What is fair compensation for performing this job for a year?

2. What is a reasonable retirement plan?

Some might argue that ~200k/yr is well above what might be just compensation, and that retirement at age 50 and still getting paid 9/10ths of your salary plus benefits 'til death is well outside the norm. Can city governments continue to pay this? Does the residential population want to continue to pay this?

I, for one, think police and fire salaries, benefits and retirement plans have become unconscionable and that reform is needed.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 27, 2011 at 4:33 am

Daveo -

I think many of us, including Mr. Carpenter, agree with your statement that "benefits and retirement plans have become unconscionable and that reform is needed."

Thomas -

Instead of complaining about a 30 year Fire Chief's $191,000 salary, what do you think is appropriate? Keep in mind that (1) Menlo Park is not Pahokee, Florida, (2)he does have 30 years in what is an executive position and (3) this is 2011 and salaries, like home values and gasoline, have gone up since the 1990's.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 27, 2011 at 8:14 am

Daveo - see and contribute to this topic:
Web Link

Public employee pension reform - what can and should be done?
Around Town, posted by peter carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2011 at 1:51 pm
peter carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online

Numerous Town Forum topic threads have quickly digressed to this issue so let's have that discussion here.

I propose:

1) We start with the assumption that the present public employee defined benefit systems, particularly with low retirement thresholds of 3% at age 50, are unsustainable

2) Both the employing government agencies and the public employee unions collaborated to create, perhaps unintentionally, the current unsustainable system

3) It solves nothing to attack individual public service employees

4) It does nothing to attack other posters as opposed to challenging their ideas and opinions

5) We can build a better system and we must.

I have NOT restricted comments to registered users in the hope that more people will participate in this discussion and that all that do so will be respectful of each other.


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Posted by Thomas
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 27, 2011 at 11:01 am

Pogo, your question about what should be a reasonable salary I felt was addressed adequately with my first post if you've been following the thread. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any guidelines for setting the salaries of management which is why I drew upon a comparison.

And Menlo Park is not Pahokee, Florida? Really? You might want to
compare the demographics of Pahokee with the Belle Haven district of
Menlo Park as well as East Palo Alto...two areas that contribute to
the chief's $191K annual salary. Parts of the fire district are actually quite comparable to Pahokee, which is located in Palm Beach County...one of the wealthiest counties in Florida not unlike San Mateo County.


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Posted by info
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Mar 27, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Peter please go to wikipedia and read about Cal Fire. They provide services in many California communities, The are trained for urban and rural services. In fact, they are providing excellent services on the San Mateo Coastside.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 27, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Thomas -

So you think our Fire Chief's salary should be $166,000, like San Diego's Chief? Two factors to consider over that 13% discrepancy. Our Chief has been a Chief for two years longer than the San Diego Chief. When you add in the fact that our cost of living is higher than San Diego, it doesn't seem so far off to me.

But don't duck the question, Thomas. What should we be paying Chief Schapelhouman? State your number.

Finally, I suspect I may have an advantage over you in that I've actually been to Pahokee and I can assure you it's nothing like Menlo Park (much less Palm Beach, as you suggested...), demographically or otherwise. The main business is a hardware store that sells bait. Almost nothing else. Then again, perhaps Menlo Park will achieve that status soon enough.


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Posted by Thomas
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 27, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Pogo...Keep in mind San Diego's fire chief also has a degree both in fire science and public administration and Chief Schapelhouman does not. Even a rank and file firefighter earns a higher salary than his peers with a higher level of education. San Diego would not even consider Chief Schapelhouman for a position as their fire chief given his credentials let alone any possibility of advancement to a managerial position. I would also add that San Diego will not even interview prospective candidates for a position as a new firefighter without at least an associates degree in fire science.

As for stating a number, not going to take that "bait". I'm interested in seeing immediate concessions, not something like sick days to throw us off track when the city is broke and there has been a maelstrom over the salaries and pensions of our public servants.

There are others with far more leisure time than I that can arrive at that number.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 27, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Thomas states:"Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any guidelines for setting the salaries of management which is why I drew upon a comparison."

Thomas, you have not done your homework. The Fire District DOES have a very specific policy which is part of the Board Policy Manual posted on our web site. This is reviewed each year and there has NEVER been a single public comment during that review process.




5.11 Fire Board Employee Compensation Philosophy
The Fire Board values its represented and unrepresented employees and seeks to
provide equitable compensation for each group and classification.
In determining any compensation increases, decreases, or adjustments, the Fire
Board of Directors may consider, weigh, and be guided by the following
criteria:
A. State and Federal Laws Applicable to the Menlo Park Fire Protection
District: The District will consider all relevant laws governing public employee wages and benefits.
B. The Interests and Welfare of the Public and the Financial Ability of the District: The District must ensure that General Fund revenue can sustain the economic benefits provided to its employees,
infrastructure and core services to the public.
C. Recruitment and Retention: The District will consider its ability to attract and retain highly qualified employees.
D. Internal Comparability/Alignment: The District will consider options for avoiding inappropriate compaction between or within
classifications, appropriate internal comparability among
classifications and alignment between and within job classifications.
E. Comparability: The District shall consider the total wage and
benefit policies it offers to its represented and unrepresented
employees in light of those wage and benefit policies offered by
comparable cities, counties, special districts and other agencies
providing fire services. Relevant wage and benefit policies include
base salary, overtime benefits, vacation benefits, holiday benefits, paid leave time, life insurance benefits, pension benefits, health and
welfare benefits, uniform allowance, educational incentive pay, and
all other economic benefits provided to represented and
unrepresented employees by comparable public agencies. The
District may also consider total wage and benefit policies offered by
the area's private sector.
F. Consumer Price Index: The District shall consider the cost of living as measured by the relevant U.S. Department of Labor Consumer Price Indices.
G. Labor and Employment Standards: The District may also consider
any other data, not confined to that specified in paragraphs A-F,
normally or traditionally taken into consideration by public and
private sector employers in determining appropriate wage and benefit
policies, practices and procedures.


**********

Here are the comparable Chiefs' salaries:
: State Controller's 2009 Fire Department W-2 Salaries Report – San Mateo County
Fire Chief:

Belmont-San Carlos $208,341
Redwood City $$204,868
Burlingame $199,257
Daly City $196,157
Millbrae $194,512
Woodside Fire Protection $189,108
South San Francisco $188,862
San Mateo $182,826
Foster City $172,504

*******************
The Chief's new contract was prominently posted on the District's web site for weeks before the Board discussed and approved this contract on 22 March. NOT ONE citizen appeared at the 22 March Board meeting to comment on this contract.

Keyboard bravery is not a substitute for citizen participation.

So now what exactly do you object to and on what basis?


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 27, 2011 at 2:39 pm

I'm not sure that Mr. Carpenter, Thomas and I are as so far apart

Regarding Chief Schapelhouman's degree, I would only point out that he was hired 30 years ago in 1980 when that "fire degree" was probably less important. And I'd rather have an experienced manager running my plant than a newly minted MBA with no experience. Two extremes, yes... but no more than Thomas suggesting that Chief Schapelhouman is unqualified... which is absurd.

Thomas says he won't "take the bait" and name a salary... yet he is very specific that $191,000 is wrong. Thomas, you can't have it both ways. Man up and state a salary that is acceptable to you. In light of Mr. Carpenter's survey numbers, just how far off are we?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 27, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Thomas states:". I'm interested in seeing immediate concessions,"

What exactly don't you understanding about the huge concessions that the Chief made in agreeing to his new contract?

He gave up most of his accrued sick leave.
He is working for a annual salary that is fixed for 6 years.
His net salary, after deducting the 90% that he would already be getting if he did not work, is $19k per YEAR.

Thomas - you amuse and confuse us. You make unsubstantiated assertions and then ignore the facts that are presented to refute your assertions. You ask questions and ignore the answers. And you refuse to answer questions that are asked of you. Pray tell, how can we have a thoughtful gathering with you?


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Posted by Thomas
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 27, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Keyboard bravery? Maybe. But with alleged misconduct by your own police department you do not opine on that other than to want to outsource the APD. Perhaps it's easier for you to speak out against alleged misconduct in neighboring cities than your own city so as not to offend your neighbors. If the energy you devoted to these blogs was only half way harnessed towards demanding an independent oversight committee to investigate police misconduct in your own town than I might agree with your tired concept of keyboard bravery. You demand transparency from everyone else but then pick your battles so as not offend anyone in your own town. This is the distinct benefit to posting anonymously and you might notice this from the lack of participation on threads you initiate even when they are unrestricted.

As for the comparisons Mr. Carpenter provides, even he admits that in The San Mateo Patch (February 17th, 2011) that these salaries are unsustainable given the prevailing economic conditions and peninsula cities investigating the proposal by Cal Fire. "There will be resistance from our local fire officials who feel that their empire is threatened, but our responsibility is to the residents we serve". Providing the salaries of other fire chiefs on the peninsula should not serve as a justification to continue the madness.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 27, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Thomas states:"But with alleged misconduct by your own police department you do not opine on that other than to want to outsource the APD. "

WRONG AGAIN. I actually presented, in writing and in person and in public, a proposal to the Town Council for a police oversight committee.

***********
Almanac Feb 4, 2010

Police oversight committee for Atherton?

by Andrea Gemmet
Almanac Staff

Share
Is a citizen oversight committee needed to restore confidence in the Atherton Police Department? Peter Carpenter, the president of the Atherton Civic Interest League, has approached Atherton City Council members with a proposal to create a committee to address "concern and distrust" surrounding the town's police.

The committee should be made up of five residents and should hold public meetings in accordance with the state's Brown Act, he said. The police chief and city manager would be non-voting members of the committee, under his proposal.

"I take this position not because I feel that there (are) serious problems, but because I believe there is a growing level of concern and distrust regarding the police department," Mr. Carpenter said in the e-mail he sent to town officials on Feb. 2. "Rather than waiting until we have a crisis on our hands I urge you to be proactive on this matter."

The oversight committee, as envisioned by Mr. Carpenter, would advise on police policies and procedures, as well as act as the review board for citizen complaints.

Atherton Mayor Kathy McKeithen could not be immediately reached for comment.
************

PLEASE do your homework before making more baseless assertions.

And now back to the questions you refuse to answer":
What exactly don't you understanding about the huge concessions that the Chief made in agreeing to his new contract?
So now what exactly do you object to and on what basis?


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Posted by ANON
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 27, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Peter Carpenter says: "I propose: 4) It does nothing to attack other posters as opposed to challenging their ideas and opinions"

Yet, Pete, you just attacked Thomas: "PLEASE do your homework before making more baseless assertions." You have also had previous attacks removed from Town Forum. Please take your own advice.

Pete, you say that the chief is making "huge concessions." In today's economy, lots of us have had to make similar, if not larger financial concessions. Pay cuts, fewer/no benefits, and lost jobs are unfortunately commonplace now. If I could retire with 90% of $190k, I would be thrilled. That's not the norm in most jobs now either. He is frankly very fortunate to have a job in our community.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 27, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Anon - I am not attacking Thomas. I am simply holding him accountable for his baseless assertions, his charges that I did not speak out on police issues in Atherton and his consistent refusal to respond to questions. This forum is meaningless if people are not held accountable for being wrong -"Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any guidelines for setting the salaries of management which is why I drew upon a comparison." WRONG. Anybody who has access to this forum also has access to the Fire District's web site.

In fact, I think Thomas owes me an apology for misstating my record regarding the police review board issue.



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Posted by Thomas
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 27, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Mr. Carpenter...you are exhausting. Your last two questions were already answered in my original post dated March 25th @ 7:48 P.M. and apparently you agreed with your statement in the San Mateo Patch that preceded my post. The only question you have asked of me that I have not answered is "who are you and what is your agenda?" I don't think that question is worthy of an answer and speaks volumes about you.

My apologies for having missed the article posted over a year ago on your suggestion for an oversight committee. This certainly is more of an outrage to me than trying to charge an overzealous Menlo Park council member with a felony for a violation of a 57 year old law that has never once been prosecuted. Council members in towns such as Atherton and Menlo Park are not experienced politicians and to great extent are volunteering their time. I found your crusade to suggest jail time was over the top and I find it unfortunate with all your leisure time you have not advocated more strongly for an independent investigation for alleged APD misconduct in the year that has since elapsed.

And to Anon, having read your post right before submission of my post, Mr. Carpenter has his apology. Unfortunately he chooses to ignore the examples I cite which sustain my opinion and why most posters avoid participation on the threads he initiates. Mr. Carpenter feels this is his sandbox and can throw sand while the rest of us cannot. Publication of the salaries of other fire chiefs on the peninsula is not a justification to continue the greed.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 27, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Thomas -

1)What exactly don't you understanding about the huge concessions that the Chief made in agreeing to his new contract?

2) Given the Fire District's Compensation Policy what exactly do you object to and on what basis?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Mar 27, 2011 at 11:50 pm

Thomas, is it that you think this chief & most of the others are overpaid? I certainly do. I appreciate that our chief was more understanding of the current economic climate, but still, I think they're all overpaid.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by old timer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 28, 2011 at 9:41 am

Carpenter likes to shoot off his mouth at every opportunity. What a ridiculous statement "don't you understand the huge concessions that the Chief made". I sure don't understand that all all.

Almost $200,000 for a Chief is outrageous and so are the salaries of all the firemen. There is plenty of incest in this department --- it should be abolished. San Carlos is trying to make a major change.

Of course, with directors like Carpenter, no chance of that ever happening.

Let the private sector take care of everything except real fire emergencies --- close many stations -- perhaps get a volunteer brigade going. I don't know how this gets started, since this is a real enclosed fifedom, and the public has little say, except to force some kind of fundamental change.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 28, 2011 at 10:10 am

peter carpenter is a registered user.

Old Timer states:"Carpenter likes to shoot off his mouth at every opportunity. What a ridiculous statement "don't you understand the huge concessions that the Chief made". I sure don't understand that all all."

The first step to understanding something is to read the contract. After you have read the contract and understand that his salary has been frozen at the 2009 level for 7 years and that he has given up 75% of his unused suck leave then please ask me any remaining questions you have about this contract.

Old Timer states:"There is plenty of incest in this department --- it should be abolished. San Carlos is trying to make a major change.

Of course, with directors like Carpenter, no chance of that ever happening."

Before making ridiculous statements like that please read both my (many) posts on fire consolidation and the MPFPD Board's resolution on this subject:

Web Link****

Consolidation of San Mateo County Fire Agencies - Yes or No?
Around Town, posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Nov 10, 2009 at 7:14 am

In another discussion the issue of consolidation of San Mateo County Fire Agencies was raised. I promised to post your Fire District's position on this issue - see below.

Perhaps we could have a thoughtful discussion on the pros and cons of such consolidation.

**********







MENLO PARK FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT

Resolution No. 1181-07

RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE MENLO PARK FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT

DECLARING IT IS IN THE PUBLIC'S INTEREST FOR THE BOARD AND AFFECTED RESIDENTS TO

REVIEW AND CONSIDER ABROAD RANGE OF POTENTIAL CONSOLIDATION ALTERNATIVES TO

IMPROVE SERVICE AND REDUCE COSTS AND IT IS IN THE PUBLIC'S INTEREST TO ENCOURAGE

ALL OTHER ENTITIES IN SAN MATEO COUNTY THAT OPERATE FIRE AND EMERGENCY MEDICAL

SERVICE ACTIVITIES TO ADOPT ASIMILAR POLICY

The District Board of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District finds and determines as follows:

(a) WHEREAS, on Wednesday August 15, 2007 the San Mateo County Local Agency

Formation Commission ("SM LAFCO") pursuant to California Government Code Sections 56430 and

56425 considered areport documenting a Municipal Service Review and Sphere of Influence update for

Menlo Park Fire Protection District ("District") and Woodside Fire Protection District; and

(b) WHEREAS, the SM LAFCO report analyzed the advantages and disadvantages of

consolidation or reorganization of the Menlo Park and Woodside Fire Protection Districts. The report

included the options of maintaining the status quo of two side-by-side Fire Districts or consolidating the

Menlo Park and Woodside Fire Districts; and

(c) WHEREAS, on September 18, 2007 the SM LAFCO presented the District Board with the

Municipal Service and Sphere of Influence Review; and

(d) WHEREAS, specific to the concept of consolidation, the Strategic Planning Commission of

the District Board recommended to the Board that it direct the Chief and District staff to draft aletter or

policy announcement to all elected officials and citizens of the local region to review and consider both the

positive and negative impacts of fire district and fire service consolidation.

In consideration of the foregoing findings and determinations,

IT IS RESOLVED by the District Board as follows:

1. The Menlo Park Fire Protection District Board declares that it is in the public's interest for

the District Board to carefully review and consider whether consolidation is a desirable action and, if so, the

available range of potential consolidation alternatives from the local to the County wide level in order to

improve service and reduce costs.

2. The District Board encourages all entities in San Mateo County that operate fire or

emergency medical services activities to adopt a similar policy towards the review and consideration of

consolidation options and to engage in intergovernmental and community dialogue so that all issues may

be explored openly and in solidarity.

3. The District Board wishes to emphasize that it currently has no predetermined position on

the merits of consolidation in general or any particular consolidation option in particular.

16 Oct 2007
********

How can we have a reasonable discussion if you make statements that are not supported by the facts?



 +   Like this comment
Posted by Michael
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Mar 29, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Menlo Park should move the way of other cities on the pennisula and simply shut down the fire dept. and find a lower cost alternative; perhaps regionalize fire (broken up on a grid like basis) protection to get rid of innefficient small town dept.'s with their (by definition) overstaffed organizational bureacracy. It would also help if we merged Police and Fire dept's into "Public Safety" depts. with the Public Safety Officer taking on dual roles. I would support todays salary levels for efficient organizations like that.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 29, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Michael - The City of Menlo Park does not have a fire department. The Menlo Park Fire Protection District was established before the City of Menlo Park even existed and it serves the geographical area of Menlo Park, Atherton and East Palo Alto plus portions of the unincorporated area of San Mateo County.

As noted above the Fire District has long been on record in support of county wide fire consolidation.

Merging Fire and Police would be a big mistake as these two functions have totally different missions and they attract very different types of people to serve in them.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Belmont-San Carlos Fire Chief Doug Fry could get a payout of nearly $400,000, source is Assistant City Manager Brian Moura.
His income for 2010 was $258, 313 the difference is unused sick pay.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by reality
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 2, 2011 at 10:43 pm

[Post removed.}


 +   Like this comment
Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 3, 2011 at 6:42 am

peter carpenter is a registered user.

The recent multiple postings by the same person under different names of a web link of an obscene cartoon underscore the importance of requiring registration of posters or 24/7 monitoring of the forum.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by reality
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 3, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Carpenter may call the cartoon obscene, but the reality it portrays is reality and shows a viewer what a bunch of incompetent directors over the years have done to the fire district.

Carpenter's recent defense of the outrageous extension of the Fire Chief's contract, claiming how much they had saved should be open to total ridicule. Add this to the featherbedding that the district wanted when they tried to secure another ladder truck for the Bohannon project.

[Portion deleted.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 3, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Reality - regardless of its other content the video that you posted was filled with obscenities - if you cannot make a case yourself why bother to use an obscene cartoon to speak for you?

There is nothing outrageous about the Chief's contract - obviously you haven't even bothered to read it.

Regarding the need for a ladder truck to provide adequate service to the proposed Bohannon project - would you rather that the District abandon protection of the high rise buildings west of 101?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Just Wondering
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 3, 2011 at 9:03 pm

$191k for Menlo Fire - to respond to what, one call a month???

$191k if you're the Chief of SF FD, fine, but little old MP?

You can't justify this with a straight face and then complain about city employee salaries (yea, that means you Roy T-S and Peter C).


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 3, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Just wondering - please read the story, the contract and my comments.

The Chief could retire NOW and receive 90% of his current salary. He is agreeing to work for another 5 years for a net salary of $19k per YEAR !!

Show me another CEO in the public OR private sector who has a $30M plus budget and 110 employees who works for even 10 times $19k per YEAR. To say nothing of the hundreds of thousands of dollars of unpaid sick leave that he has agreed to give up.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 4, 2011 at 7:17 am

Wandering:

as usual, you are clueless. One fire call a month in Menlo Park? Really? Get real.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Daveo
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 4, 2011 at 5:19 pm

The current chief and current firefighters are all water under the bridge (not likely to be subject to a change in pension and compensation plan). But for all future hires a pension change could be made.

What is the starting Firefight salary? (or effective salary based on an hourly rate and number of days on per year)
...same thing for one certified as EMT (I believe most are)?


and..for the last 3 yrs., what has been the MPPFD averafe annual wage increase for all fire-fighters?

I suspect the numbers will surprise most people.

Anyone have these number?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 4, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Daveo asks:"and..for the last 3 yrs., what has been the MPPFD averafe annual wage increase for all fire-fighters?"

ZERO


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 4, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Daveo asks: What are the MPFPD firefighters salaries?

Firefighter step 5 $92,585.76


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Daveo
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 4, 2011 at 10:02 pm

No, Peter.

I Asked, the following:

What is the starting Firefight salary? (or effective salary based on an hourly rate and number of days on per year)

...same thing for one certified as EMT (I believe most are)?

and..for the last 3 yrs., what has been the MPPFD average annual wage increase for all fire-fighters?

I believe you would know where to get that information.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 5, 2011 at 6:06 am

Daveo - it is time for you to start doing your own citizen's homework.
Your Fire District's web site provides a great deal of information just so you, as a citizen, can be well informed.

See Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 5, 2011 at 6:45 am

Here are some of the items that are posted on your Fire District's web site Web Link:


Fire Prevention Plan Review & Design Documents
Proposed Budget Staff Report FY 11/12
AFSCME LTD Reso 2/16/10
2010/2011 Budget in Brief
AFSCME LTD Staff Report 2/16/10
2010/2011 Revenue
LTD MOU Amendment 2/16/10
2010/2011 Expenditure
Confidential Support Staff Staff Report 11/17
2010/2011 Internal Service Fund
Debt Service and Capital Improvement Project
2006-2008 MOU MPFD 10 IAFF Local 2400
2010/2011 Budget Transmittal Letter
July 08-July 2011 AFSCME MOU
2010/2011 USAR Unrepresentative Employees Jan. 9, 2008 to July 8, 2010
MPFD 2009 Single Audit Report
Unrepresentative Employees CPI Adj. July 9, 2008
2009/2010 District Budget
Unrepresentative Employees Updated August 26, 2008
2009/2010 Budget in Brief
Unrepresentative Employees July 9, 2009-January 8, 2010
MPFPD ISO Insurance Report
2008/2009 Budget in Brief
Municipal Sphere of Influence Review
SOC 2 Final Report(Appendices)
Notice of Claim Forms (word document)
2008/2009 District Budget (10 Mb)
Overview (.7 Mb)
General Fund Expenditure (3.0 Mb)
AFSCME Pay Rate Table for July 9, 2010 – July 8, 2011
Internal Service Fund (2.0 Mb)
USAR Overview (1.9 Mb)
Appendix (2.8 Mb)
Salary Table Unrepresentative Management
2007 Financial Statement (Sept 30)
Unrepesented Staff Resolution
2007/2008 Fiscal Year Budget
Unrepresented Staff Report
2007/2008 USAR Budget
Unrepresented Salary Table
General Fund Revenue (1.2 Mb)
Unrep Salary Table 09
GANN 2010 Staff Report
CAFR 09-10 report
Preamble Compensation
Menlo Park Fire District Third Quarter 2010
Payrate Tables
Menlo Park Fire District Fourth Quarter 2010
CAFR 08-09 report
W2 Wages
CAFR report 2008


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Thomas
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 5, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Daveo...A significant savings to taxpayers in Atherton, Menlo Park and East Palo Alto would be outsourcing to Cal Fire. With the dissolution of the MPFPD, taxpayers would not only be spared the unnecessary expense associated with the election of board members to the fire district every couple of years but rank and file firefighters would be obligated to work on Cal Fire's pay scale (which is about one half of the city firefighter's salary) if they chose to continue working. A typical Cal Fire Firefighter has a base salary of anywhere between $54K-$65K. In addition, most of the non-union management would be eliminated due to duplication with Cal Fire's management which is also happy working for less. There would be no need for fire chiefs, this discussion or having to be grateful to Chief Schapelhouman by giving up his sick days.

As you probably know, San Carlos has been studying Cal Fire's proposal which offers a significant savings and the transition already seems to be working fine in Half Moon Bay. While there is an argument that staffing an urban fire department is very different from staffing a rural fire department, it is my opinion residents would rather outsource their fire department before their police department if there needs to be a decision about cutting public services. No doubt the argument that Cal Fire would be a mistake has it's roots with those looking to keep their lucrative compensation packages.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 6, 2011 at 7:12 am

Thomas joins an issue, county wide fire consolidation, that was raised and supported long ago:

Web Link

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Nov 12, 2009

In the long run County wide consolidation would both provide better

service and lower costs. Consolidation on a smaller scale would yield

proportionately fewer savings and not quite the same level of service.

For example, under County wide consolidation we could have one superb

training facility, whereas if the southern portion of the County

consolidated we would still need such a facility. Politically the

smaller consolidation might be easier but I would suggest that the

political hurdles facing partial consolidation and total consolidation

would not be significantly different.

Look at Orange County and Sac Metro as examples of what is possible

and of the incredible benefits. Compare Orange County's Emergency

Operations Center to the hodge-podge of small and inadequate EOCs

scattered around San Mateo County.

What is needed is strong leadership, which could come from either

elected officials, the media or the business community.

MENLO PARK FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT

Resolution No. 1181-07

RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE MENLO PARK FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT

DECLARING IT IS IN THE PUBLIC'S INTEREST FOR THE BOARD AND AFFECTED RESIDENTS TO

REVIEW AND CONSIDER ABROAD RANGE OF POTENTIAL CONSOLIDATION ALTERNATIVES TO

IMPROVE SERVICE AND REDUCE COSTS AND IT IS IN THE PUBLIC'S INTEREST TO ENCOURAGE

ALL OTHER ENTITIES IN SAN MATEO COUNTY THAT OPERATE FIRE AND EMERGENCY MEDICAL

SERVICE ACTIVITIES TO ADOPT ASIMILAR POLICY

The District Board of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District finds and determines as follows:

(a) WHEREAS, on Wednesday August 15, 2007 the San Mateo County Local Agency

Formation Commission ("SM LAFCO") pursuant to California Government Code Sections 56430 and

56425 considered areport documenting a Municipal Service Review and Sphere of Influence update for

Menlo Park Fire Protection District ("District") and Woodside Fire Protection District; and

(b) WHEREAS, the SM LAFCO report analyzed the advantages and disadvantages of

consolidation or reorganization of the Menlo Park and Woodside Fire Protection Districts. The report

included the options of maintaining the status quo of two side-by-side Fire Districts or consolidating the

Menlo Park and Woodside Fire Districts; and

(c) WHEREAS, on September 18, 2007 the SM LAFCO presented the District Board with the

Municipal Service and Sphere of Influence Review; and

(d) WHEREAS, specific to the concept of consolidation, the Strategic Planning Commission of

the District Board recommended to the Board that it direct the Chief and District staff to draft aletter or

policy announcement to all elected officials and citizens of the local region to review and consider both the

positive and negative impacts of fire district and fire service consolidation.

In consideration of the foregoing findings and determinations,

IT IS RESOLVED by the District Board as follows:

1. The Menlo Park Fire Protection District Board declares that it is in the public's interest for

the District Board to carefully review and consider whether consolidation is a desirable action and, if so, the

available range of potential consolidation alternatives from the local to the County wide level in order to

improve service and reduce costs.

2. The District Board encourages all entities in San Mateo County that operate fire or

emergency medical services activities to adopt a similar policy towards the review and consideration of

consolidation options and to engage in intergovernmental and community dialogue so that all issues may

be explored openly and in solidarity.

3. The District Board wishes to emphasize that it currently has no predetermined position on

the merits of consolidation in general or any particular consolidation option in particular.

16 Oct 2007

*******
Such a consolidation would wisely build on the strengths of the existing local agencies rather than trying to build up the urban capabilities of a wildland fire agency that is a subsidiary of a very sick state government. In providing fire services the level of service (effectiveness) is a higher priority than getting the lowest price.


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