Clock ticks down toward Atherton layoffs

Town management waits for judge's ruling

Atherton management is waiting until the close of business today to lay off six employees as its city attorney argues against a lawsuit filed in San Mateo Superior Court by union representatives.

According to spokesman Peter Finn, the Teamsters Union Local 856 challenged the layoffs under a section of state government code that it says makes it illegal for the town to outsource the jobs it has targeted, and has asked the court for a temporary restraining order preventing layoffs until the case concludes.

"We want to be respectful of the judge, who will hear the temporary restraining order request around 2 this afternoon, so layoffs will occur at the end of the business day," said Interim City Manager John Danielson.

The six employees include three from the building department, one from finance, one from administration, and one pending retirement, also from building, Mr. Danielson said. The town had one other retirement and one resignation in recent months. Finally, five public works maintenance employees received job extensions through Aug. 31.

One former official, Malcolm Dudley, who served as Atherton's mayor, challenged whether the town's finances were in such dire straits as to require layoffs. By his calculations, the $856,000 budget deficit could be solved through union concessions, building department revenues, and restoring rentals of town properties such as the pavilion.

"To me the motivation for calling this a 'crisis' is clear. They want to justify their action as something that is forced upon them because of circumstances. My feeling is that there are two major reasons driving this action. It reflects a strong anti-union sentiment and a strong preference for outsourcing over in-house employment," Mr. Dudley said.

Mr. Danielson responded that no matter what someone calls it, the town spends more than it takes in. Even by outsourcing the positions now in jeopardy, city management will still need to seek concessions from both union and non-union employees going forward to be sustainable, he said. "I don't want to lay off anyone in this town again."

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Posted by Arch Conservative
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 15, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Hang in there Snoopy!!!!!! (i.e. Atherton Interim City Manager) One small step for Atherton- One giant step for hopeful fiscal sanity.

Like this comment
Posted by DeAngelo
a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Under the negotiation scenario that Dudley is pushing for, the "union concessions" will inevitably be a small giveback tied to the raising of the additional revenue cited above.

With that said, the city should realize the full savings of outsourcing the overpaid union workers, and then, if it so chooses to raise the additional revenue mentioned, use that revenue for the good of the citizens who provide it.

Atherton is to be commended for standing up to the public unions that have become Special Interest #1.

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Posted by Who knows
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 15, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Well less the council is just trying to bask in the glory of looking tuff by going after these employees, while too afraid to take on the police department where the real savings could be found.

Like this comment
Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Why were the 5 public works positions extended to August 31? If you're going to hang tight on this, hang tight on this!

Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 16, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Are you people senseless ? Has anybody seen any of the so called studies that supports any savings at all by laying off anybody and hiring contractors to replace them? Why isn't someone asking those important questions of there illustrious town council.The only drain on your community is your private security force.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 16, 2011 at 1:12 pm

John asks:"Why isn't someone asking those important questions of there illustrious town council."

These questions have been asked and answered in properly agendized public meetings.

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Posted by Who knows
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 16, 2011 at 1:59 pm

I did hear someone ask the question in open session-twice in fact- but there was no response from the council or management. Were you allowed to see the departmental evaluation report?--I heard there actually wasn't one ever done in the end even though it had approval to proceed last Feb.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 16, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Who asks:"Were you allowed to see the departmental evaluation report?"

I have not asked for it but I believe that Danielson did give it to the Council.

It is clear that Danielson is operating well within his authority as defined by the Town Code:

2.12.070 Powers and duties.

The city manager shall be the administrative head of the government of the town under the direction and control of the city council, except as otherwise provided in this chapter. He shall be responsible for the efficient administration of all the affairs of the town which are under his control. In addition to his general powers as administrative head, and not as a limitation thereon, it shall be his duty and he shall have the powers set forth in the following subsections:

A. To see that all laws and ordinances of the town are duly enforced and that all franchises, permits and privileges granted by the town are faithfully observed;

B. To control, order and give directions to all heads of departments, except the city attorney, and to subordinate officers and employees of the town through their department head, and consolidate or combine offices, positions, departments or units under his direction;

C. To appoint, remove and demote any and all officers and employees of the town except the mayor, councilmen, chairman and members of the planning commission and the city attorney;

D. To represent the town in its negotiations and working relationships with the state, the county and other governmental jurisdictions; provided, that any contracts negotiated for the exchange of services from any such other governmental jurisdiction shall be subject to approval by the city council;

E. To perform all of the duties and powers imposed by law on the city clerk or city auditor;

F. To attend all meetings of the city council of the town unless excused therefrom by the council;

G. To recommend to the city council for adoption such measures or ordinances as he deems necessary or expedient;

H. To keep the city council at all times fully advised as to the financial conditions and needs of the town;

I. To prepare and submit the proposed annual budget and the proposed annual salary plan to the city council for its approval, and to supervise the administration of the budget after its adoption;

J. To purchase all supplies for all of the departments or divisions of the town. No expenditures shall be submitted or recommended to the city council except on report or approval of the city manager. He shall approve all warrants drawn on the town before payment thereof;

K. To make investigations into the affairs of the town or any department or division thereof and any contract for the proper performance thereof;

L. To investigate all complaints in relation to matters concerning the administration of the town government and in regard to the service maintained by public utilities in such town;

M. To exercise general supervision over all public buildings, public parks and all other public property which are under the control and jurisdiction of the city council;

N. To devote full time to the duties of his office and the interest of the town. The city manager shall not be employed by or work for any other person, corporation or entity, whether or not compensated therefor;

O. To perform such other duties and exercise such other powers as may be delegated to him from time to time by ordinance or resolution or other action of the city council;

P. To attend any and all meetings of any commissions or boards created by the city council upon his own volition or upon direction of the city council. At any such meetings at which he attends, the city manager shall be heard by such commissions and boards as to all matters upon which he wishes to address them. (Ord. 274 ยง 7, 1967)

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