Union-backed bill to cut government contract work draws ire | May 10, 2017 | Almanac | Almanac Online |

Almanac

News - May 10, 2017

Union-backed bill to cut government contract work draws ire

by Kate Bradshaw

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 Assemblyman 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 a 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 state adjusts from a recent policy change by CalPERS, the state public employee pension system, to lower its expected rate of return to 7 percent from 7.5 percent. That will significantly increase cities' pension obligations, according to the 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 urge council members 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.

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 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 the bill would "impose onerous and costly constraints on cities' ability to use contractors when needed to provide city services."

A small number of 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.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by wil turlock
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 23, 2017 at 5:51 pm

I support the passage of AB 1250. The government has created multi-million dollar contracts and agreements with private and non-profit sector organizations for work that they once performed themselves. Foster Care contracts in Los Angeles County exceed $25,000 PER MONTH, PER CHILD after the passage of AB403 and new entities called STRTP's were developed. The rate is over $12,000 per month for AFDC-FC and additional $10,000 in DMH and mental health services.

Furthermore, this huge WASTE of tax payer money is without any valid reason or stats to show it will benefit foster youth. Additional EXPENSIVE services are being shoved down the throats of foster youth simply in order to BILL for services provided, even if not needed!! It also creates a massive conflict of interest and fraud loopholes when these private organizations are funded to keep foster youth in placement rather than reunification with family. Kids are being kept apart from family in a conspiracy by the County and these private businesses who are being paid to keep kids in their placements.

PLEASE PASS AB 1250 and stop this government waste and abuse. Counties waste millions on questionable contracts and then millions more to oversee them. Foster care was once provided directly by the government (County) but over the years, now it has become almost entirely a private industry filled with abuse, financial malfeasance and mismanagement. WHY ARE TAX DOLLARS BEING ALLOWED TO BE MISUSED and thrown out the window in this irresponsible manner.

PASS AB1250 and STOP State and Counties from contracting with private and non-profit entities for work THEIR MASSIVE EMPLOYEE ROSTER should be performing itself. County Foster Care and Children's Services employees are the laziest on the planet!!


2 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 24, 2017 at 2:17 pm

Especially with the massive time bomb of CalPERS, we should give cities the flexibility to do what's right for the taxpayers. This often includes using contractors, particularly for specialized needs, temporary staffing, or anything that can be done in a more cost effective way. Anything else is irresponsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars.


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