We believe there is room to improve this deal in the city's favor, with a goal of limiting the package cost to less than $200,000 over the contract period. Although Menlo Park is seeing some revenue increases from a rebound in the local economy, these managers already receive generous salaries and benefits. And any worries about people leaving for higher paying jobs elsewhere should be discounted, as there are plenty of qualified applicants more than willing to work for $100,000 or more a year.
Another area that needs more attention is the proposed changes in the grievance and disciplinary appeal process, similar to those agreed to earlier this year for public safety employees. Our concern is that in binding arbitration of disciplinary appeals, an arbitrator will order reinstatement of a fired employee about 50 percent of the time, according to evidence published by the Almanac last year. This happened here when a veteran Menlo Park police officer was let go after being caught naked with a prostitute while on duty, but was reinstated with back pay by an out-of- town arbitrator. This policy takes control away from city managers, who are much more qualified to decide on an employee's discipline, than an arbitrator who likely has no knowledge of city affairs.
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