News

Menlo council forms labor subcommittee

Also vows to fight for Measure L

Newly re-elected Mayor Rich Cline and Vice Mayor Kirsten Keith will serve on a labor negotiation subcommittee with the goal of increasing the transparency of the bargaining process in Menlo Park.

The decision came during a closed session meeting on Dec. 14 with the City Council, top managers from the city, and the city's labor negotiator, Charles Sakai.

Mr. Cline described the overall goal of the subcommittee as finding ways to make labor negotiations more transparent.

"I think what we need to do is look at the process leading up to negotiations. First, put in place a timeline that allows the public to get more fully involved in the process -- perhaps a study session to explain how the contracts work, then an open time for a few weeks to gather as much input as possible -- so we have all of that information when we do go into the actual negotiation," he said.

City Attorney Bill McClure said the council also heard updates on the status of negotiations with Service Employees International Union Local 521 (SEIU). The last round of bargaining ended at an impasse, but the union may choose to re-open negotiations.

In May the council imposed new limitations on pension benefits for SEIU employees that raised the retirement age for non-police city employees from 55 to 60, and decreased pension benefits from a maximum of four-fifths of annual salary to three-fifths.

While the council voted to impose it on the 152 SEIU employees, the changes go into effect only if the city negotiates the same deal with the city's middle management employees when their contract expires in 2011.

The union, along with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), has threatened to sue the city again now that Measure L, which set similar pension limitations but also requires a public vote to increase benefits, passed in the November elections by an overwhelming margin.

Mr. McClure reported that the council decided unanimously during the closed session to vigorously defend Measure L if sued.

Earlier story: Council urged to drag union negotiations into sunshine

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Dec 16, 2010 at 6:24 am

The Menlo Park City Council is ignoring the will of the people. Cline, the lowest vote getter of the elected council members, should remove himself from this subcommittee because he did not have to courage to support Measure L. Instead Peter Ohtaki, the council member with the highest number of votes and an ardent supporter of Measure L should be appointed to the subcommittee. Plus Ohtaki is very experienced with labor negotiations and has the best financial skills, by far, of anyone sitting on the city council.

I think Keith will be OK if she can get some backbone and resist the partisan political pressure being placed upon her. But Ohtaki should take the lead since Keith has no experience in labor negotiations and Ohtaki does.

The Council is getting off to a very inauspicious start. The Cline-Fergusson-Keith Bloc is basically quarantining Ohtaki, the brightest council member and the one who got the most votes to please their masters on the San Mateo County Democratic Central Committee ("SMCDCC"). Cline, Keith, and Fergusson should be reminded that they work for the people of Menlo Park and not the SMCDCC. And if they can't put the will of the people above the SMCDCC then they should resign.


Like this comment
Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 16, 2010 at 8:13 am

Hank has just announced that he is not interested in solving this issue as a community, he wants to tear it apart. Hank does not care about the city's best interest, he cares about the politics. [Portion deleted, personal attack.]We are a mere two days from a gathering of a new council and Hank, the face of the Measure L group, has drawn a line that he will accuse anyone of anything as long as it draws blood.
[Portion removed, personal attack. Please stick to the issues.]


Like this comment
Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Dec 16, 2010 at 8:34 am

Truth,

Did you forget to take your meds this morning? First of all I am not one of the Leads of Measure L. I never have been. I am just one of 8,291 Menlo Park supporters of a just cause. A cause that passed in every precinct in Menlo Park, including the 4409, the hotbed of leftist doctrine in Menlo Park, by nearly 72%

I will continue to comment on egregious behavior by the Cline-Fergusson-Keith Bloc as long as they continue to misbehave by marginalizing the top vote getter in the last election. [Portion removed, personal attack.]


Like this comment
Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Dec 16, 2010 at 10:38 am

So what was the gift that you think should have been given to Peter? Tell us all so we can hear it and then tell us all why Chuck Kinney and Kelly were passed over by your council and explain how that works.

If you can, without insulting people, maybe I will take your word that you are denouncing council members harshly for a cause.

Can you explain your support for one and condemnation of another?


Like this comment
Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Dec 16, 2010 at 11:05 am

Dear truth,

Chuck Kinney is a friend of mine and I voted for him twice. So I can't quite understand where you are coming from. I am being critical of the council Bloc of Cline-Fergusson-Keith because Peter Ohtaki was the top vote getter and they are shutting him out of the labor subcommittee job- a job in which is far better qualified than Cline and Keith.

He is better than Cline bcause Cline gave the SEIU a 35% increase in the last round of labor negotiations and would not commit support for Measure L. He is better than Keith because she has no expertise in labor negotiations and relatively little experience in finance.

Mr. Ohtaki negotiated in the Fire District's best interest and is renowned for his financial expertise plus his most excellent education at Harvard and Stanford where he distinguished himself quite well.

It is unfortunate that the Cline-Fergusson-Keith Bloc is putting partisan politics above what is best for the community and if I call public attention to it then perhaps they will be embarrassed into doing the right thing. One can hope.


Like this comment
Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Dec 16, 2010 at 11:32 am

Hank - "....embarassed into doing the right thing. One can hope".

I'm not so sure you should hold your breath. Maybe we need to hold our nose instead. According to the City Attorney's report on the closed session, he said that the council voted to put two players to be named later on the subcommittee, the two who would be elected Mayor and Vice Mayor at the subsequent public meeting. At first, I had hoped that was the councils way of de-politicisizng the selection or at least making it more visible, but now I'm wondering if, instead, the politics were just more shrewdly done that I gave credit for.


Like this comment
Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Dec 16, 2010 at 11:34 am

Well then we have a difference of opinion. I don't see how you can leave off a council member with experience in the negotiations who knows what has happened, what mistakes were made and how it happened from first hand experience. But I don't see how this subcommittee relates to that. These guys are not negotiating for council. They are looking to make it more open.

You must see value in the idea that some form of experience is a good thing. Unless of course your judgement is skewed by your belief that council members are bought and sold under the union influence.

I have no reason to believe that.

In my recollection, Boyle voted with the council on those raises. So did Cohen. And Duboc and Winkler and countless others in the past have been endorsed by unions during their first run for council. Can you tell me if you know of Cline or Keith getting money from unions this year or endorsements? If not, then how is the path they have taken so different from the path of your favored council members?

My feeling is that you really want to make this a deeply political show and I think most of us want less of the political show. We want less name calling and labels (didn't you listen to Boyle's departing words?). Can we not evolve a little? I will try to show more refrain on this forum if you will.

This is serious stuff, too serious for it to be solved by just Peter joining a subcommittee to find more transparency.

I know you know this.


Like this comment
Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Dec 16, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Truth,

Just look at the qualifications and history of actions.

1. Ohtaki got the most votes,

2. Ohtaki has the most relevant experience in successful negotiations; Cline has experience in disastrous negotiations. I don't know about you but I think successful people should be given priority in selection over failed people.

3.Ohtaki vigorously supported Measure L before Judge Miram's ruling. Keith came on board after the ruling when it was safe, and Cline demurred altogether.

But if you think that the San Mateo County Democratic Central Committee should trump the residents will and the best qualified person then you are the one who has been adversely influenced by corrupt politics.


Like this comment
Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Dec 16, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Hank, who cares about the San Mateo democrats? That is your obsession. That is not what this community wants to hear. I have no idea what party half these people represent and I don't care.

Can you tell where you witnessed a negotiation that worked out for the city, in your mind? Be specific so I can try to understand your point of view a little better.

Peter Ohtaki did not resolve the Menlo fire union disputes. He was off the board. It was at impasse when he left. He did not fail either, he served our city well. So has Keith and Cline. Your inability to see past the party colors is going to be a challenge for you.

The fact is, Boyle voted for those raises just like the others. He regrets it, but I think everyone sees those past raises as a different time and a different economy. I think Chuck was the only voice at the time pleading the council to not give the contract.

Is Boyle unfit? I don't think he is.

I believe your hysterics and insults directed at Cline are colored by your political leanings and your love of the political game.

The facts are there to show that this is not a showering of union sell outs. Duboc did not sell out to unions when she was endorsed. Cline was not endorsed this year because he did push for a two tier. Keith supported L all the way through.

Hank, please try to be part of the solution here. A subcommittee to open up the process is not a negotiation team. There is no negotiation yet as far as I can tell. This is not about the contract but the process.

But you can pretend otherwise, I just think you are in the minority if you think name calling, labeling and insults are the way to go moving ahead.


Like this comment
Posted by Frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 16, 2010 at 12:47 pm

The argument in favor of Ohtaki seems pretty reasonable to me.


Like this comment
Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Dec 16, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Lewis Carroll best describes Truth's thought process with the following Mad Hatter Quote:

"If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?”


Like this comment
Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Dec 16, 2010 at 3:30 pm

For what its worth, I really like your position on this issue, and though I disagreed with you on some issues in the past, could not agree more on this one. I think Mr. Otaki can bring a lot to this issue in his role on council and I compliment the voters in MP for having elected him. I feel the same way about Mr. Cline and Ms. Kieth.


Like this comment
Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Dec 17, 2010 at 8:35 am

I will just say I tried to talk reasonably with Hank and I will now stop the futility. For someone with so many noticeable flaws, Hank still needs to demonize and insult people. The truest form of insecurity.


Like this comment
Posted by Maria
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Dec 17, 2010 at 1:14 pm

It isd the same old council. Cline, Fergusson and Keith, whom Cline and Kelly tried to get elec ted. I hope Keith is an improvement ov er Robinson, whose remark about Cohyen is sio off base. But as we know it is things like this that kept Robin son from being elected.

Right now, I think Keith is just one of Kelly and line's pawns and all 3 of them know it. Two more years of lost integrity coming up.

And we all know Kelly wants to go farther in politics. Hopefully her game re the Brown
Act will stop that!


Like this comment
Posted by The question man
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 17, 2010 at 4:37 pm

There is no upward political step Kelly could win.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Salt & Straw Palo Alto to open Nov. 23
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 4,242 views

Lakes and Larders (part 2)
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 1,454 views