Menlo Park fire district candidate forum
Original post made
on Oct 10, 2013
The League of Women Voters of South San Mateo County is sponsoring a candidate forums for the Menlo Park Fire Protection board at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, in the Menlo Park City Council Chambers, 701 Laurel St. in Menlo Park.
Read the full story here Web Link
posted Thursday, October 10, 2013, 2:04 PM
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 15, 2013 at 8:42 pm
Peter Carpenter is a registered user.
The Fire Board adopted the following policy, which I helped draft, when I was last serving on the Board.
At its November 15, 2011 Board Meeting, the Menlo Park Fire Protection District Board of Directors unanimously approved Resolution 1498-2011, which Reconsidered and Amended Resolution 1493-2011. The changes are made pursuant to the District's Labor Relations Policy and Plan (attached as Exhibit A), as well as the District's Compensation Philosophy (attached as Exhibit B). All changes are consistent with principles of fairness, transparency, fiscal sustainability and accountability. The changes are designed so that no employee will see a reduction in their gross hourly rate.
5.11 Fire Board Employee Compensation Policy
The Fire Board values its represented and unrepresented employees and seeks to provide equitable compensation for each group and classification. The District's Board of Directors may observe this policy when adopting compensation plans and contracts covering District employees.
Principle No. 1 Recruitment and Retention: Compensation should, when
economically feasible, be set at a level sufficient to recruit and retain employees who are qualified and committed to provide high quality services to the community. One critical measure of whether compensation meets this criterion is whether there are a sufficient number of qualified applicants for advertised job openings.
Principle No. 2 Fairness: The Board may strive to ensure its compensation
program is fair and equitable from all legitimate perspectives, including the perspectives of the community, labor and management. The District may choose to survey public and private employers to evaluate the appropriateness and fairness of its compensation program. The Board is directly accountable to the District's constituents, and the Board accordingly retains the discretion to determine the fairness of all compensation programs.
Principle No. 3 Transparency: Compensation for all District employees should be 100% transparent i.e., the public should be able to see all pay elements, including the cost of all health, pension and welfare benefits, applicable to each employee. District pay packages should be simple and easily understood. Safeguards must be in place to prevent abuses such as pension spiking and maximizing overtime through manipulation.
Principle No. 4 Fiscal Sustainability: All compensation commitments must be made consistent with principles of fiscal sustainability and to ensure the District's long term success in achieving its mission. Compensation adjustments must not compromise the District's ability to successfully meet its ongoing and future financial commitments. The Board may observe its Labor Relations Policy and Plan.
Principle No. 5 Accountability: All compensation commitments must be expressly delineated and are subject to formal approval by the Board of Directors. The Board will not abide "implied" or unwritten contracts, or unspecified "past practices," that purport to require employee compensation.
Principle No. 6 Performance Based Pay: Whenever reasonably possible, compensation may be tied to merit and performance. The District may not permit pay increases based merely on the length of employment.
Principle No. 7 Economic Climate: The District may consider the overall economic climate and condition affecting the District and its constituents when setting compensation levels, including regional economic indicators such as the rate of unemployment, inflation, current and projected revenues, and the District's anticipated ability to pay in the long term.
Principle No. 8 Legal Compliance: The District will ensure that its pay practices comport with the Fair Labor Standards Act and, to the extent legally applicable, State law. The District renews its commitment to negotiate in good faith with labor pursuant to the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act ("MMBA"), and to abide by all requirements of the MMBA.
Principle No. 9 Flexibility: The District may strive to remain flexible and innovative in light of changing conditions and improving technologies, and may continually re-evaluate its pay practices to ensure they are consistent with best practices.
Here is the status of the Fire District's efforts to reach a new agreement with the firefighters"
"The Menlo Park Fire Protection District (MPFPD) and the Menlo Park Firefighters Association, District 10 of I.A.F.F., Local 2400 are working together as partners to make positive changes and improvements which will benefit the firefighters, the District and the Community that we serve. With that commitment in mind, the District has developed a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) as a starting point to return to the bargaining table. As part of the Fire Board's transparency policy to the community and their employee's , this draft MOU is posted to our website to assure that everyone is aware of the District's starting position for the wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment on which the District would like to reach agreement.
The draft MOU, includes the current hourly pay rates, supplemental earnings, medical benefits, and cash allocation plan, annual leave requirements and hours, treatment of bereavement, unpaid and other leaves, insurance, retirement, grievance procedures and union issues. The Menlo Park Firefighters Association has declined to return to the bargaining table."
Absent a new agreement the firefighters continue to average more than $135,000/year in salary plus benefits and a very expensive pension plan that allows retirement as early as age 50 with 90% of their last years' salary.
Every time a new opening is announced the District receives more than 100 applicants - hardly an indication that the firefighters are underpaid.
Would you propose to change these policies or the Board's position on negotiations?
Posted by Vote for Bernstein, Carpenter, Ianson
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 17, 2013 at 12:58 am
Thank you, Mr. Thiele-Sardina! I believe your co-chair, Henry Riggs, has also endorsed Bernstein, Carpenter, and Ianson. Your two endorsements really speak volumes!
Also, below is an email from former MP Mayor Lee Duboc supporting Bernstein, Carpenter, and Ianson. You may not always agree with Duboc, but she is right on with her endorsement of Bernstein, Carpenter, and Ianson:
Vote Bernstein, Ianson and Carpenter for Fire District
We now have our absentee ballots, and as the campaign for the Menlo Park Fire Protection District unfolds, I am all the more convinced that Chuck Bernstein, Peter Carpenter and Rex Ianson [nos. 415 on the ballot] are the right candidates to fill the three spots. My initial email to you on the Fire District Elections is reprinted below. It contains facts about the Candidates, the District, fire-fighter salaries and pensions.
I am disturbed about 2 events that have emerged since that email.
1. I am especially disturbed (in fact angered) by the campaign of Fire District Candidate Clarke. Firstly, she states in two fliers (one of which she paid for and one was paid for by the Fire Fighter Union) that she is a "Member, California Society of Public Accountants." I was deceived into thinking she was a CPA. But as the Daily Post revealed Friday, and the Merc on Saturday, she is not.
Worse, she is not even a Member of CalCPA as flatly stated. The term "Member" is clearly confined to certified CPAs. She is at most a Student or Associate Member because she did not pass all the CPA exams. Why the need to misrepresent herself?
2. I am also disturbed by the recent CalPERS announcement which signals that even more contributions will be required than those steep hikes already imposed on the District. I am glad CalPERS is coming clean, but the fiscal stress on the Fire District (and our City) must be confronted starting right now. I believe that Bernstein, Carpenter, and Ianson-- the 3 candidates not supported by the Union-- are the best candidates to deal with that.
It is difficult to boil issues into a short message. Please email me If you want a scanned copy of the Clarke flier, or if you want links to the Post and Merc articles, or if you want campaign signs for Bernstein, Ianson, and Carpenter. And please don't forget to vote.
Thanks, Lee Duboc (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(First email below)
Why Should We Care About Elections to our Fire Board?
On November 5, we will elect 3 Directors to the 5 member Fire Board of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District. The Fire Board controls District policy, much like a City Council does.
Let me say upfront that I am supporting:
•Incumbent Rex Ianson, who has steadfastly held a fiscally responsible line;
•Chuck Bernstein who has created and managed budgets for private and public organizations; and
•Peter Carpenter who served on the Fire Board until 2009. Carpenter felt compelled to run again this year because he feared that, unless non-union supported candidates won the election, the Board would accede to excessive union demands for salary increases, and threaten the fiscal integrity of the District.
We all value the protection that our District's firefighters provide as they are the first responders to medical emergencies (more than 60% of their calls) and to fires (less than 5% of their calls). And we pay them very well for these crucial services:
Members of the Firefighter Union in Menlo Park earned upwards of $140,000 in 2012. That average excludes management pay. It also excludes the health and pension benefits fire fighters receive. And with a workweek of 48 consecutive hours on the job and 96 consecutive hours offfirefighters can work extra jobs and live far from their stations.
The fact that there are over 300 qualified applicants for every fire fighter opening in our District, demonstrates that fire fighter retention is not a problem .
I will be writing more about the issues as the campaign unfolds, but I know that pension contributions by our District are scheduled to increase by several million dollars and if salaries increase, pension costs (which are based on salaries) will rise even more. And I know that 16 to 18% of our property taxes go to the District now.
Please let me know your thoughts on this important election, so I may be informed as the campaign proceeds.
Thanks, Lee Duboc (email@example.com)