Menlo Park pension initiative carries easily


Measure L, the pension reform initiative, passed easily Tuesday night with a 72-percent "yes" vote. Click here for latest count.

Even at 8:15 p.m., long before the final votes would be tabulated, Measure L supporters were cheering at their election night party.

Roy Thiele-Sardina, who hosted the gathering, was still crunching numbers to demonstrate his calculations of what a city employee would get for pension benefits under Measure L -- in all cases, more than the Social Security payment non-public employees would receive after working the same number of years as a public employee.

Measure L raises the minimum retirement age for new public employees, excluding police officers, by five years to 60, and also decreases their maximum pension benefits by 0.7 percentage points to 2 percent of their highest annual salary averaged over three years.

Under this measure, a new hire who retired at age 60 after working for the city for 30 years would receive 60 percent of that average salary. Current employees can retire at age 55 and get 81 percent.

The measure headed to voters after a grassroots campaign organized by the Menlo Park Citizens for Fair and Responsible Pension Reform collected enough signatures to place it on the ballot. Council candidate Chuck Bernstein and Planning Commissioner Henry Riggs spearheaded the drive, along with Mr. Sardina and Ed Moritz.

Two local unions, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), lost a lawsuit in August to keep the measure off the ballot, and then poured at least $44,050 into defeating it during the election.

Public figures opposing Measure L include Councilmember Kelly Fergusson and former mayor Gail Slocum. Of the six council candidates, incumbent Heyward Robinson said he also opposes it, while Mayor Rich Cline said he's remaining neutral.

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Posted by Jim
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 3, 2010 at 8:47 am

I an glad the pension initiative passed overwhelmingly.
Public employees are the biggest entitlement class in our nation.
They receive pensions and other retirement benefits NOT available to 95% of our population.
These "sweetheart" contracts are causing budget difficulties across the entire nation.
It is time for ALL public employee unions to understand they are not in charge - we the taxpayers are in charge.
We will pay fair compensation to our public employees.
We will not continue to pay higher and higher taxes while we work till 70 so they can retire at 55!
The gig is UP.

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Posted by looking on
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 3, 2010 at 9:31 am

The big loser is Kelly Fergusson, who hoped to be elected Mayor in December. She has no chance now having supported the No on L, the the loss by Heyward Robinson, here biggest supporter on council would certainly seem to kill off any chance at all of her again becoming Mayor. Probabaly just as well, with he job, she doesn't have the time she used to anyway.

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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 3, 2010 at 9:54 am

I would like to congratulate everyone who was behind Measure L. Menlo Park has spoken!

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Posted by ann
a resident of another community
on Nov 3, 2010 at 10:25 am are 100% right on....congrats and thank you to menlo park residents for putting this on the ballot and voting it thru.....hopefully other towns will learn from you....the gig is up....

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Posted by Henry Riggs
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Nov 3, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Henry Riggs is a registered user.

About a hundred resident volunteers put out a surprisingly simple stop gap to a disastrous "business as usual" city budget, and an unprecedented 72% of voters made it law. Unlike some other California cities, Menlo Park residents seek to turn the wagon before it goes over the cliff. This town is so cool. Now our council has to bring it all together to create a sustainable relationship with our valuable city workers - if they will let us.

Like this comment
Posted by Albert J. Nock
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 3, 2010 at 1:02 pm

This is a model the rest of the country should follow.

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Posted by new guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 3, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Thankfully this passed. Now lets see what kind of lawsuits come out of it from the unions. The unions are not going to let this one go for fear this will spread rapidly. I hope this thing lasts.

I was however enjoying the pictures of the "people like me" mailers of city employees I have never once seen.

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Posted by Stickler
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Nov 3, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Hurrah for the of passing Measure L. Now if we can get the Congressional Reform Act in order! By the way, it is "the jig is up" not the "gig", an expression originating in the late 1700's and refers to a dance called a jig. Just had to say it. :)

Like this comment
Posted by real happy
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Nov 3, 2010 at 10:04 pm

That last union mailer was especially galling and deceptive. they claimed that L was unfair to women and minorities because 47 of the 100 highest paid positions were held by men and would be untouched by L. this is true in only the most facile sense. It's because L does not deal with the police who by the large have the highest paid positions in the city. Honestly, i hope the people who worked on L will now take on the police. Their payscale is outrageous!

Like this comment
Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Nov 4, 2010 at 7:41 am

Everyone should come to the Council meeting on December 7, 2010 to see Andy Cohen installed as the next mayor of Menlo Park. He has earned it with his support of pension reform.

Kelly Fergusson will not be elected mayor come December 7. Her views are too much at variance with the rest of the new council and she has consistently demonstrated poor judgment during this past year. For instance, for her to even say that Kim LeMieux's home should be converted into a park shows how little Ms. Fergusson respects individual property rights and how willing she is to abuse eminent domain. This statist mentality will not be tolerated.

Unfortunately, for Ms. Fergusson, she has been too heavily influenced by a former mayor who shares the same views that individual rights should be subordinated to the State. But fortunately for Menlo Park this former mayor's influence is on the wane and even she realizes that she will not be able to muster up enough support for Ms. Fergusson should Ms. Fergusson decides to run for a third term.

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