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Police commander pay bump passes on split vote

Original post made on Jun 15, 2011

Although City Manager Glen Rojas characterized it as a restructuring instead of a pay raise, the end result of a 3-2 vote by the Menlo Park City Council on Tuesday night was to bump up the salary for police commanders by approximately $14,000.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, June 15, 2011, 12:30 AM

Comments (42)

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Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 15, 2011 at 2:06 am

Can I take my vote for Cline back? I definitely made a major mistake voting for him if he cannot see that the issue is ever increasing pay and pensions in a time when cuts are needed. But he sees (in what crystal ball?) increasing revenues.
Yep Rich that makes a lot of sense - you see more revenues on the horizon so lets spend it now on something we shouldn't be spending it on. The ridiculous salaries and pensions are killing us. You should also be voting to lower the sergeant salaries.
Brilliant remark on Cline's part "There are a lot bigger things going on than $14,000 in salary." It's not just $14,000 it's $28,000 each year into the future including percentage increases and increases in the never ending pensions once the commanders leave here. I suspect that true cost over the next ten years is more like $400-500,000.
Next to Atherton we've got the most dysfunctional council in the Bay Area. How soon before we can vote Andy and Fergie out, we're stuck with Cline for another four years.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 15, 2011 at 2:09 am

third paragraph second line should read "...into the future NOT including percentage increase..."


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 15, 2011 at 6:16 am

"Staff reported that without the pay increase, the salary for a commander fell mid-range compared to other similar cities, while the pay for police officers ranked second and for sergeants, third."

If MP wants to always be second or third out of 13 cities then its annual wage increase will always be above the average for those cities.
And since none of the other cities want to be below the average the super inflationary police salary spiral goes up and up.

There is so little long term thinking in this entire budget,


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Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 15, 2011 at 6:30 am

I am disappointed in Rich Cline. He seemed to have shed the shackles of the Slocum machine and become a sensible moderate looking to do what is best for the public. But, unfortunately, I was mistaken. When you have the San Jose police Department taking a 10% pay cut and still laying off 122 police officers why does Menlo Park feel it is necessary to pay Police Commanders up to $179,000 per year.

This does not make sense. Our police department is overpaid as it is. With the private sector having about 70% of the pay and 40% of the benefits of the public sector why does our City Government feel it is necessary to continue this largess?

Not everyone in Menlo Park is wealthy. When you look at retirees getting $30,000/year on social security and barely being able to make ends meet, how can you justify the creation of a publicly funded pluto-kleptocracy.

Rich,

A very close friend of mine, a venture capitalist, convinced me in the last election cycle to not pillory you in the Almanac you because you had seen the light and became a fiscally responsible person. I was hoping he was right. And up until now he was. But your vote last night pushed you right back into the Slocum Camp where you most likely be seen until your current term expires. You owe the residents of Menlo Park and apology for your imprudent vote last night.


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Posted by looking on
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 15, 2011 at 7:46 am

One might think that when pension reform passed last election with such a huge majority, Council would get the message.

Obviously Cline, Fergusson and Cohen have not.

Cline is facing other major problems. He is responsible for the Downtown / El Camino specific plan, on which $1.5 million has been spent and the result is a disaster. He also failed to get a majority of votes in the last election, but then again Keith didn't either. So Cline is Mayor because of the Fergusson fiasco. He loves the spotlight, but his decisions are really questionable.

One might wonder where Cohen's head was last evening. He was strong for pay cuts and now he goes along with this.

Cline's statement we have a balanced budget is a joke. Keep on drawing down on the General reserves, and one day it will be gone.

In any case the whole group seem really clueless, and current staff led by Rojas needs a total revamping, beginning with just elminating him now and getting it over with.


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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 15, 2011 at 10:16 am

Rojas, Cline, Fegusson and Cohen need to go!!!


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 15, 2011 at 10:51 am

Just compare how serious Atherton has gotten about eliminating its structural deficit under the leadership of an outside Interim Manager with Menlo Park continuing in its old ways ("Staff reported that without the pay increase, the salary for a commander fell mid-range compared to other similar cities, while the pay for police officers ranked second and for sergeants, third.") under the leadership of the rehired old City Manager.

Change is painful and old ways die hard. If you want a new approach then you have to have new leadership.


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Posted by Mojo
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jun 15, 2011 at 11:42 am

You can add Starla Jerome Robinson to the of staff to shed. She was clueless last night.


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Posted by Henry Riggs
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jun 15, 2011 at 12:33 pm

It is more than disappointing, even on a "small" issue of pay levels for two positions. When you make a principled decision, you stick with it. When my credit card is maxxed out, you put it away, period. A lot of us are packing our lunch and eating at home, driving less, wearing older clothes and not using heat or AC to keep to a budget in a lean year. What is with this council?

Last night Rich Cline got offended that letter writers are stirred up over one "small" raise. Rich, if you want respect as mayor in Menlo Park, a community that spoke loudly in November about controlling city expenses, you have to put the damn credit card away until the library is open evenings and weekends. Until then, you are earning the commentary.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 15, 2011 at 12:37 pm

The MP problem is that there are NO adverse consequences for council members who keep going on a spending spree.

Where is the outrage?


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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 15, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

Dear City Council Members

Your actions last night were reprehensible.

Peter Ohtaki and Kerstin Keith should be commended for trying to do the right thing last night. They fought a valiant fight, in a rigged battle.

Glen Rojas and his staff deserve a great deal of the blame for this fiasco, and their hiding of the facts when presenting the Police Sergeant proposal shows their incompetence and devious behavior. Their business as usual attitude shows that the "insiders" view of operating the city is simply broken. Having them do any further negotiating for the city is a disservice to the citizens of Menlo Park.

Andy Cohen flip flopped as usual. Just to remind you Andy when you second something you are implying that you will be voting in the affirmative for it....quite frankly the November 2012 elections can't come soon enough to replace your erratic antics on the dais with a candidate that actually knows what they are doing....

Kelly simply can't be helped. She's never met a spending program or employee raise she didn't like. And as stated earlier, the November 2012 elections replacing you can't happen soon enough.

Rich Cline's comments last night are the most disappointing. After he narrowly was re-elected in an election where fiscal responsibility became the biggest election issue. You either missed that lesson (doubtful) or ignored it. Rich this is NOT about a single person or position. It is about the PROCESS of continued raises and costs to operate the city. You are OUT OF TOUCH with your constituents. Embarrassing and insulting, simply embarrassing and insulting.

As a council you've AGAIN shown your dis-regard for our city's budget. You are thinking short-term and not understanding the long-term financial implications of your actions.

ROy Thiele-Sardina


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Posted by bob
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 15, 2011 at 1:48 pm

With all the complaining I am amazed that these people got elected, apparently the majority of MP voters disagree with the posters on this topic.


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Posted by Frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 15, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Kelly voted to support a bloated payroll? What else is new?


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 15, 2011 at 3:58 pm

It's obvious that 3 of the members just don't get the big picture. Rich Cline asked about the balanced budget -- let's look at the overall financial picture and where the city might be in 2 to 3 years. What's the status of reserves? I don't see business flocking to MP to create additional revenue.

They were quibbling over as they said a small amount of money. But what I want to know are the comparables -- who else in the work force (business world) is making $175K? A CEO, a bagger at Safeway, or a mechanical engineer fresh from Stanford? How about the SEALS who did some work in Afghanistan recently? Unfortunately, this "small amount of money" has roll-up costs that do add up. Police can't be compared just to police otherwise there will always be an increase because somebody's always making more than you.

Wake up Council, the community wants you to be frugal. The near-term economic forecast isn't for sunny skies and smooth sailing any time soon.


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Posted by W Patterson
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 15, 2011 at 4:04 pm

When will the outrageous transfer of wealth to the public sector stop? This constant march of pay and benefit increases must stop. The constant lowering of the standard of living of the citizens and the constant heaping of wealth and benefits on the public sector is leading us to a new style of living. I need to recommend to my son, a UC graduate, to become a fireman or police, or for that matter, any job making up to staff of Menlo Park to assure his wealth and benefits will exceed his associates.
An abundance of talent is available to replace all those who work for the City. That talent will enhance to productivity of personnel and the cost would be less and in line with the private sector.


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Posted by James Madison
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 15, 2011 at 4:28 pm

1. It will be interesting to learn how the officers in the department react to pay raises for the Commanders after the Sargents have agreed to a freeze.

2. On a more general topic, is there any way for the Almanac to reject comments from individuals who do not include their names?


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Posted by concerned citizen
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 15, 2011 at 5:50 pm

Mr Carpenter's statement was correct in that if Menlo Park wants to
be 2nd or 3rd of 13 cities, this is what we have to do. Isn't this
the same thinking that the union and the Fire District are battling
about now ? Who was it that said, "we want our Dept to be 2nd or 3rd
out of 13 agencies ? The Chief, the (08) Fire Board, the Union ? Someone made that claim and where are we now ? Spending who know's how much on lawsuits, litigation, District empolyee time on and on.
When does this madness stop for Fire, Police, city employees ? So what is the big deal about being 6-9 in pay for a couple of years? With layoff's their is no movement in jobs, people will stay put and should be thankful for their employment. Where's the gratitute ?


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 15, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Actually, Mayor Cline, $14,000 is A LOT OF MONEY. It probably represents a full year of property taxes paid by your two neighbors. Ask them if $14,000 is a lot of money.

Yes, $14,000 won't fix or balance your budget... but there is no single item that will do that. You didn't get into this mess by making one decision; you made LOTS of them.

When your family budget is underwater, you cut back on eating at restaurants, going to movies, skipping a vacation or buying new clothes. Why do we do them? Because, in aggregate, they do put your family in the right direction and set a tone for everyone. It's a start.

All you did last night was continue in the wrong direction.


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Posted by Fed Up
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 15, 2011 at 6:04 pm

MP is getting as bad as Atherton in dysfunctionality ! They used to be a joke, now Menlo Park is the joke of 13 cities, plus Santa Clara ! Amazing and dishearting ! Candidates promise one thing and do/say something else. People live in rual areas for a reason. I need to call my Century 21 person.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 15, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Fed Up states:"MP is getting as bad as Atherton in dysfunctionality ! "

Atherton is actually getting its act together and will actually have a balanced budget without the use of reserves. MP is now in a class by itself in terms of fiscal irresponsibility.


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Posted by On The Floor
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 16, 2011 at 9:44 am

A quote from Ned Moritz was that this individual would receive $4 Million in pension dollars!?? Is THAT correct? Can anyone verify that? I fell off the floor reading that. THAT is the most important part of this joke! Any city employee, or state employee for that matter, receiving $4 Million from public funds is robbery. I don't want to hear about the "private sector", this is HIGHLY unusual for any sector. We have crossed into the land of craziness!


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 16, 2011 at 9:56 am

Even if this person retired with the maximum pension benefit of 3% of salary after a full 30 years of service - which equates to 90% of their salary - that means this individual would receive 90% of $14,000 or $12,600 MORE than he would have without this raise.

With cost of living increases, over his 30 year retirement, this raise will cost Menlo Park approximately $500,000. I haven't even accounted for Menlo Park's pension and other salary-based benefit contributions during the remainder of his career.

Of course, to Mayor Cline, that's no big deal. Unfortunately, this is exactly how cities get themselves into trouble.


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Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 16, 2011 at 10:25 am

It is a combination of Employee Union avarice and spineless City Council members who are beholden to these Unions for their generous contributions and loaning of labor to canvas precincts during election cycles that mtotivated this fiscally reckless decision.

The Employee Unions are creating a doomsday scenario where if their rapacious appetites for tax dollars continue unabated the Menlo park will have to either outsource services as many cities are already doing or declare bankruptcy and default on retirements. Neither scenario is desirable but are becoming increasingly likely unless changes are made.

However, the employee unions are drinking the Kool Aid getting "high" on tax payer dollars which will eventually lead to their demise. The City Council has a fiduciary responsibility to the residents of Menlo park and on Tuesday Night it abrogated that resposnsibility and turned its back on the residents of Menlo park. It's behavior is beyond disgusting.

Only the new members Ohtaki and Keith have displayed any sound judgment and maturity. They are to be commended. Cline, Cohen, and Fergusson should be resoundingly condemned for their irresponsible behavior.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 16, 2011 at 10:44 am

The citizens of MP will have to push for a policy change which requires more public input on ANY increase in compensation or benefits for any city employee. Why not at least two consecutive votes by the council as is done for ordinance adoption?

Even starting the ball rolling on an initiative like this would perhaps get the council's attention.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 17, 2011 at 12:38 am

One of Cline's quotes from another media site-
"There are things going on a lot bigger than $14,000 in a salary increase, but yet the email goes out and colors this whole thing like we're a bunch of slogs here giving into the unions," Cline said. "It's ridiculous. Ridiculous."
Cline your comments only show your total lack of respect for the community. Unfortunately your are now squarely in the same class of politicos as your buddy Fergusson.
By the way do you even know what a slog is (if that's what you actually said)? Definitions - hard persistent work; a hard dogged march or journey; or a prolonged arduous task or effort - which definitely defines what we MP residents have been suffering through with the council's antics.
Of course the other media site could've made a typo and you actually said slugs - which would be right-on.


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Posted by Ted D.
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 17, 2011 at 8:39 am

A couple of things:

1) Keith and Otahki didn't vote to delete the commander pay increase, they voted to take it out and "study it some more". If you watch councils in action, you'll know that "more study" is a great way to wait things out and not really change anything in the end. It also wouldn't surprise me if the two of them suspected it would fail anyway, letting them make a gesture to their base that didn't really have to be thought through.

2) Prop L passed with an impressive share of the vote, but keep in mind that it replaced a generous pension plan with a less-generous but still good pension plan, and only for new non-safety employees at that. It did not say anything about freezing new hiring until it was in effect, and it very deliberately didn't say anything about police at all. Taking it as a "mandate" that a police commander should make less money than her subordinates is a huge stretch. If you disagree, hey- start getting signatures for another initiative or a Council run.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 17, 2011 at 9:23 am

Ted D -

You are right that we shouldn't over-read Proposition L about pension reform. But there was also a greater message that shouldn't be lost by the Council.

Citizens want fiscal responsibility. Our elected officials were simply asleep at the switch when they voted in high salaries, new perquisites and enhanced benefits for public employees. We are now paying the price for an unsustainable level of compensation.

Everyday we read about a library closing, layoffs at a school, closing a park, demands for employee compensation concessions. EVERY DAY.

So when a Council so cavalierly awards a $14,000 raise to a police officer - which also obligates the city to an additional $350,000 in pension benefits over that employee's lifetime - it is simply another sign that they don't get it.


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Posted by interesting
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 17, 2011 at 7:14 pm

To be honest, I think people are angry because Cline lectured them. There are a ton of big egos in this community and they don't like finger wagging. Usually the mayor has a more even demeanor. I think I heard a reduction in police staff during the presentation. Was that right? If so, why is that not a part of this forum discussion? I am not interested in getting into a fight, so if that is your goal don't bother responding.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 17, 2011 at 10:12 pm

interesting -

I don't think it's Cline "lecturing them" that bothers some people.

I think it's his dismissive attitude to the public that it's really no big deal that he committed his city to $500,000 in funds to a single employee when we are shutting down services, laying off employees, considering outsourcing and struggling to pay our bills.

Tone deaf.


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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 18, 2011 at 8:26 am

What can be done to let Cline et al know that what they did was wrong?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 18, 2011 at 8:35 am

"What can be done to let Cline et al know that what they did was wrong?"

Get a group of fellow concerned citizens and go to the next council meeting. Use the public comment period at the beginning of the meeting for each of you to demand that the Council adopt a policy like the Fire Board's which requires publication of any pay or benefits increase at least 15 days before the Council can vote on such increases. Only a formal policy will stop this kind of shenanigans.


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Posted by interesting
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 18, 2011 at 2:04 pm

POGO, it is obvious from my reading you have never supported someone of different political values. You did not answer my question, only repeated insults you have made for years. I really don't want to play part to that part of this forum. I don't want to fight about people.

Can someone confirm what I heard that two police officer positions were reduced during the same meeting? That would make a big difference to me.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 18, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Why in the world would I support someone of different political values?

Congratulations, interesting, that could be one of the oddest questions ever!

I'm not sure what you found insulting.

PS - No, I don't support someone of different political values. I suspect neither do you.

PSS - I don't know the answer to your question about the two officers. If it's so important to you, why don't you pick up the telephone and call your city officials and ask them?


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Posted by Kenny K
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 18, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Interesting has drunk the Cline/Cohen/Fergusson Kool Aid. It is irresponsible liberals like him/her that is bringing our country on the brink of a fiscal collapse. His/her smarmy, condescending remarks only reflects on how clueless he/she really is.


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Posted by Menlo Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 19, 2011 at 1:43 pm

If Richard Cline listened more to the residents of Menlo Park and less to Kelly Fergusson and Gail Slocum he would not be subject to so much criticism. He needs to be his own man rather than a mouthpiece for the far left in Menlo Park. Last Tuesday he managed to alienate about 80% of Menlo Park residents who are dialed in to local politics. He needs to be a stronger mayor and get a better picture of the long term fiscal health of Menlo Park.


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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 19, 2011 at 2:21 pm

He needs to be ousted along with Fergusson.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 19, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Joanna - don't wait for the next election - too much may be given away in the meantime. Organize a big group of citizens and demand that the council adopt a binding policy on any future changes in compensation.


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Posted by R.Gordon
a resident of another community
on Jun 19, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Peter...........that sounds a lot like "get a posse together".

Councils do not work in this absurdly diverse county.


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Posted by R.Gordon
a resident of another community
on Jun 19, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Would you kindly stop blocking my verification entry?

My attorney entered the last one along with my asst.as a witness. I am having a meeting.


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Posted by discouraged
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 20, 2011 at 8:54 am

I find it amusing when people criticize Rich Cline for his adherence to the thinking of others. Rich thinks for himself. I often like the way he thinks, but he was WAY off the mark here. How many times do these guys have to say, gee, maybe we shouldn't have given those increases last year, before they start changing how they view the big picture? We're being bled by piecemeal decisions, sometimes later regretted, when we should be able to expect council members to see the big picture by now.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 20, 2011 at 10:00 am

discouraged -

Excellent point. This "piecemeal" expenditure represents a commitment of more than $400,000 for Menlo Park over this employee's career and retirement.

That's significant.

It's that kind of thinking that got us into this situation in the first place.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 20, 2011 at 10:19 am

As posted early in this thread:

There is so little long term thinking in this entire budget,


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