News

Menlo Park: Union-backed bill to cut contractor work draws ire

Residents, urged by former councilwoman, ask council to take public stance

A California Assembly bill, backed by government unions, that would set limits on how cities contract for services has drawn vehement opposition, and some support, from Menlo Park residents who emailed the City Council in recent days.

Menlo Park Mayor Kirsten Keith, who was absent from the May 2 council meeting, said she planned to add the matter to the the council's May 23 agenda.

The bill, AB 1250, was introduced by Assembly Member Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer Sr., D-Los Angeles, on Feb. 17.

Backed by union organizations – the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, and the California State Council of the Service Employees International Union – the bill would require cities and counties to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of using city employees to do the job versus hiring a contractor. Government agencies would have to show that no city workers would be displaced, demoted or given fewer hours because of the contract. Also, the contractor would have to reimburse the city for the cost of the analysis.

Opponents to the bill include the California Chamber of Commerce, the California State Association of Counties, the League of California Cities, and 54 cities. Supporters are state, county and special district unions and employee associations.

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In a statement, the League of California Cities claims the bill "is a multifaceted attack on local discretion and places substantial burdens on local agencies by adding onerous, over prescriptive and unnecessary requirements that have significant impacts on local governance."

Many cities, the league says, are already "near breaking point" when it comes to paying for unfunded pension liabilities and actual pension costs. Cities should not add more pensioned city workers when contractors can do the same job without requiring pension contributions – at least until the the state adjusts from a recent CalPERS policy shift that will significantly increase cities' pension obligations, according to the statement.

Last December, CalPERS, the state public employee pension system, lowered its expected rate of return to 7 percent from 7.5 percent. "This action alone is projected to increase total pension obligations in some cities to 65-70 percent or higher of total payroll by (fiscal year) 2022-23," according to the league's statement.

The extra work the bill creates for cities to contract for services will add significant staff time costs, it reports.

Menlo Park's Mayor Keith sits on the league's board of directors.

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Local opinions

Former Menlo Park councilwoman Lee Duboc sent an email to residents asking them to contact council members and urge them to actively oppose the bill. "This bill would essentially eliminate all contracted services, increase the number of unionized public employees, increase costs and pension liabilities and further burden cities with a plethora of new regulations," Ms. Duboc said in her email.

Most of those who emailed the council expressed opposition to the bill.

"As a longtime Menlo Park resident, I urge you to find ways to reduce the payroll and pension expenses that taxpayers are facing," Sanj Goyle, a Menlo Park resident, wrote. "We all want good services from the Town but would hope that you're exploring the most efficient ways to obtain them."

Karinne Collinsworth called it "too expensive," and Frank Tucker said that it "will impose onerous and costly constraints on cities' ability to use contractors when needed to provide city services."

A small number supporters emailed the council, such as Menlo Park resident Tom Buch, who wrote: "I realized that the unions in this country are, and have been for some time, under assault from the business community without regard to the benefits the unions provide to millions of workers, both private and public. … I hope the Council does NOT take up the agenda of the assault on workers rights."

Meredith Ozbil wrote that she supports the bill because it is harder to maintain quality with contractors and staff time must still be spent to provide oversight of contractors, among other reasons.

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Menlo Park: Union-backed bill to cut contractor work draws ire

Residents, urged by former councilwoman, ask council to take public stance

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Wed, May 3, 2017, 3:26 pm

A California Assembly bill, backed by government unions, that would set limits on how cities contract for services has drawn vehement opposition, and some support, from Menlo Park residents who emailed the City Council in recent days.

Menlo Park Mayor Kirsten Keith, who was absent from the May 2 council meeting, said she planned to add the matter to the the council's May 23 agenda.

The bill, AB 1250, was introduced by Assembly Member Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer Sr., D-Los Angeles, on Feb. 17.

Backed by union organizations – the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, and the California State Council of the Service Employees International Union – the bill would require cities and counties to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of using city employees to do the job versus hiring a contractor. Government agencies would have to show that no city workers would be displaced, demoted or given fewer hours because of the contract. Also, the contractor would have to reimburse the city for the cost of the analysis.

Opponents to the bill include the California Chamber of Commerce, the California State Association of Counties, the League of California Cities, and 54 cities. Supporters are state, county and special district unions and employee associations.

In a statement, the League of California Cities claims the bill "is a multifaceted attack on local discretion and places substantial burdens on local agencies by adding onerous, over prescriptive and unnecessary requirements that have significant impacts on local governance."

Many cities, the league says, are already "near breaking point" when it comes to paying for unfunded pension liabilities and actual pension costs. Cities should not add more pensioned city workers when contractors can do the same job without requiring pension contributions – at least until the the state adjusts from a recent CalPERS policy shift that will significantly increase cities' pension obligations, according to the statement.

Last December, CalPERS, the state public employee pension system, lowered its expected rate of return to 7 percent from 7.5 percent. "This action alone is projected to increase total pension obligations in some cities to 65-70 percent or higher of total payroll by (fiscal year) 2022-23," according to the league's statement.

The extra work the bill creates for cities to contract for services will add significant staff time costs, it reports.

Menlo Park's Mayor Keith sits on the league's board of directors.

Local opinions

Former Menlo Park councilwoman Lee Duboc sent an email to residents asking them to contact council members and urge them to actively oppose the bill. "This bill would essentially eliminate all contracted services, increase the number of unionized public employees, increase costs and pension liabilities and further burden cities with a plethora of new regulations," Ms. Duboc said in her email.

Most of those who emailed the council expressed opposition to the bill.

"As a longtime Menlo Park resident, I urge you to find ways to reduce the payroll and pension expenses that taxpayers are facing," Sanj Goyle, a Menlo Park resident, wrote. "We all want good services from the Town but would hope that you're exploring the most efficient ways to obtain them."

Karinne Collinsworth called it "too expensive," and Frank Tucker said that it "will impose onerous and costly constraints on cities' ability to use contractors when needed to provide city services."

A small number supporters emailed the council, such as Menlo Park resident Tom Buch, who wrote: "I realized that the unions in this country are, and have been for some time, under assault from the business community without regard to the benefits the unions provide to millions of workers, both private and public. … I hope the Council does NOT take up the agenda of the assault on workers rights."

Meredith Ozbil wrote that she supports the bill because it is harder to maintain quality with contractors and staff time must still be spent to provide oversight of contractors, among other reasons.

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Comments

I got one hand in your pocket...
Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 3, 2017 at 10:51 pm
I got one hand in your pocket..., Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 3, 2017 at 10:51 pm

For anyone (e.g. Tom Buch) who questions whether public employee benefits are out of control, consider the year 2021 pension contribution and matching levels such as those buried in MPCSD's justification of the latest property tax increase: Web Link

Average Jane in the private sector is making $100k/yr, contributing 16.5% to max out her 401k, and getting a private sector average match of 2.7%. Meanwhile, Average Joe, an MPCSD teacher, is making the district average at a hair over $100k, contributing 10.3% to his pension fund and getting a combined state and district match of 27.4%. So he's contributing 38% less and receiving 10X more in benefits. That's really an underestimate of the disparity since the average income in SM and SM counties is actually less than $100k for Average Jane (but hey, it makes the math easy).

Oh, and Average Joe's union managed to get him exempted from paying social security tax so he doesn't have to pull his weight supporting current retirees on SS either (haha, you suckers). Average Jane is going to be working decades longer (if not 'til death) carrying Average Joe on her back through his leisurely retirement.


MacTax
Menlo Park: other
on May 4, 2017 at 8:15 am
MacTax , Menlo Park: other
on May 4, 2017 at 8:15 am

Or average Mac makes 387,000 taxpayer dollars and gets a pat on the back from his board.


Belle Haven Resident
Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 4, 2017 at 5:15 pm
Belle Haven Resident, Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 4, 2017 at 5:15 pm

A cost benefit analysis ought to include the pension costs involved in hiring more public employees vs contracting out. If it isn't comprehensive it isn't realistic.


Stan
Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on May 4, 2017 at 5:39 pm
Stan, Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on May 4, 2017 at 5:39 pm

Isn't it wonderful what a one party government can do for us. Pretty soon we'll also have a train to nowhere, mega-tunnels to conduct more water to farms and So Cal so that the "Gov" can rationalize not lifting the water rationing, and last but not least mandated medical insurance underwritten by the state. Just think all the services your money can buy. Funny how Oregon can have MUCH better roads and cheaper gas. Maybe it's because you can' pump your own gas there.


B.S. Enuff
Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on May 4, 2017 at 8:00 pm
B.S. Enuff, Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on May 4, 2017 at 8:00 pm

Write to Senator Hill and tell him what you think of this BS bill.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on May 4, 2017 at 9:31 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on May 4, 2017 at 9:31 pm

yes BS, tell the fox guarding the hen house you're not happy with how he's doing so. That'll work. This is the problem having a single party running things in this state. And the sheeple will keep reelecting them becasue they're democrats. God forbid they are beholden to all kinds of special interests OTHER than the people of the state. We can't possibly even consider a republican. Not that once they're in office they are any less beholden to special interests. At least if they are elected there's a balance between dems and pugs, and there's a balance between who they're beholden to. Which means the labor unions might lose a little control.


Stats
Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on May 5, 2017 at 12:33 pm
Stats, Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on May 5, 2017 at 12:33 pm

Stan, Menlo Voter,
As a liberal Dem, I'm also against this bill andI have also supported the Menlo Park dual-tier benefits for employees. But your raging characterizations of Dems, makes me me realize how out-of-touch California Republicans have become and why they have self-immolated over the past 20 years.
* As someone who travels to Oregon/Portland frequently, Oregon has lousy urban roads. Try getting from Hillsboro to PDX on a late afternoon, especially after a light dusting of snow.
* We had a 2+ Republican governor in Arnie, and he did a a respectable job governing once he got off his high horse representing Rep. interests and found compromises with the Dem. assembly and senate. But he's a a far cry from a big chunk of the Rep. party who continually harp that "the sky is falling" in CA.
* I'm going to sent a note to senator Hill, but probably more importantly to assemblyman Berman.
* In my mind, most of the Bay Area transportation and cost issues are a result of apolitical NIMBYism, sometimes masked as environmental protection.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on May 5, 2017 at 6:14 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on May 5, 2017 at 6:14 pm

stats:

who has control of the state?


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