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Atherton city manager wins big raise

Original post made on Oct 22, 2009

Jerry Gruber, Atherton's city manager, has been on the job fewer than two years, but clearly, he's won the whole-hearted support of the City Council. He is getting a 10-percent raise, bringing his annual salary up to $160,000.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, October 22, 2009, 11:41 AM

Comments (20)

Posted by blowin in the wind
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Oct 22, 2009 at 4:06 pm

Andre Gemmet left out the part about the seven month severance agreement.

Sure the Council voted 5-0. However when things get tough, and they are about to for the town, the Council will turning on the very man in charge they supposedly now embrace.

If one needs any example of that, look at how the City Council threw Jim Robinson under the bus after his six faithful years of service.

For that reason Jerry Gruber should thank his lucky stars the Council has given him time to update his resume. They will badmouth the poor fellow once he has gone just like they always have in the past.

Posted by Andrea Gemmet
Almanac staff writer
on Oct 22, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Andrea Gemmet is a registered user.

There's no change in the contract Atherton has with Jerry Gruber in the terms of "separation without cause."

Basically, if the city council fires him without cause (for cause being gross misconduct, conviction of a felony, etc.) Mr. Gruber is entitled to 30 days notice, during which time he may be placed on paid leave. He's also entitled to up to six months of salary, health and welfare benefits (but not housing or car allowance) in exchange for signing a release of liability agreement with the town.

If he is fired for cause, resigns or becomes unable to perform his duties, he is not entitled to the six-month severance payment.

The wording is substantially the same in this newest agreement, approved by the council on Oct. 21, as it is in his original agreement with the town from January 2008.

Since there's no change, it wasn't included in the brief online story about the raise.

Posted by skeptic
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Oct 22, 2009 at 6:50 pm

The way Andrea Gemmet is spinning this story one would think she works part time as the chairwoman for the campaign to renew the parcel tax.

I miss the days of fair and balanced reporting.

Despite Ms. Gemmet\'s endorsement, I will be voting no on the parcel tax.

Posted by had enough
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 22, 2009 at 7:41 pm

In defending herself Andrea Gemmet says the severance is the same as other elements of the contract.

Andrea Gemmet mentions other perks that were part of Gruber\'s old contract as well.

Andrea Gemmet should report the facts, rather than play the role of spin doctor, if she desires to be deserving of the title journalist.

Posted by gunshy
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 22, 2009 at 8:44 pm

I had the same, rather surprized, reaction as "Skeptic" to Adrea's sudden and most imediate attention to damage conrol on her Atherton coverage--She appeared to arrive at last nights council meeting already in posession of the full council packet and very prepared. It will take quite a bit of late night homework for the Almanac to figure out how they can best position themeselves for the appearance of impartial neutrality or at least not to have been asleep at the switch when certain facts are revealed next week.For the sake of public confidence I hope the Almanac can pull this one off--there is going to be enough bad news without the news also being badly done--good luck Almanac

Posted by Get serious
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Oct 22, 2009 at 10:11 pm

You anti-Gruber, anti-tax people sure are dizzy with spin -- your own spin. Ms. Gemmet tries to clarify the terms of the contract, and she's accused of working to promote the parcel tax. She provides facts about the city manager's old contract, and her journalistic integrity is challenged.

Why don't you try re-reading what Ms. Gemmet wrote. It's not spin. It's factual, and, it seems to me, it's written with the intent to explain and clarify, and keep the discussion honest.

You would serve your cause much better by focusing on the problem -- a crazy agreement between the city council and Mr. Gruber -- rather than attacking the messenger.

Posted by just the facts
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 23, 2009 at 9:41 am

I do not consider myself to be anti Gruber or anti Almanac. Nor would I characterize myself as spin crazy. I do agree with get serious on one point however. That being the agreement between Gruber and the Town is crazy.

The package awarded to Gruber is far more generous to that of his predecessor in spite of the fact that things in Town have gotten better and not worse.

The real news story here is that the City Council, by being so generous to Mr. Gruber has created the false impression that things are going just fine, when the reverse is true. The only people the City Council are kidding are themselves.

Meaning no disrespect to Ms. Gemmet, I do believe her failure to acknowledge this dynamic is a very good reason to question her journalistic integrity.

Posted by just the facts
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 23, 2009 at 9:47 am

A Correction and amplificaiton to my earlier post:

Things have gotten worse and not better.

Examples include:

A lackluster if not non-existent campaign to pass the parcel tax
Over $500k in legal expenses from lawsuits of town employees
Suspensions and criminal investigations of employees on the Town payroll
Public feuding amongst the City Council
A consensus amongst staff that management only cares about management.

With respect to the final point above, it will not be lost on the rank and file that Gruber made sure his own compensation package was settled before the represented employees reached a settlement on theirs. This is very bad leadership.

Posted by Fiscally responsible
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 23, 2009 at 10:35 am

Hey, no reason to guess about Andrea's or the Almanac's motivations. The Almanac just wrote an editorial advocating the $250/household Portola Valley tax measure, and it will be interesting to see where they land on the $750/household Atherton tax measure. To be completely fair and objective, Portola Valley has uniformly less controversy than Atherton, so it will be a fascinating editorial to read.

Posted by alex saunders
a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 23, 2009 at 2:28 pm

[Post removed; poster is a repeat violator of the terms of use and is not welcome to comment]

Posted by Outsider
a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2009 at 9:23 am

Atherton should be happy to have him. He is a long-time civil servant. Yes, good management costs money.

Posted by Fiscally responsible
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 24, 2009 at 12:29 pm

DId anyone mention that Gruber's raise is also RETROACTIVE to 1/1/09?

Posted by wow
a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 24, 2009 at 1:33 pm

The price of Guber's silence over embarassing town secrets could continue to escalate--oh well the residents are paying to be kept in the dark.....

Posted by Leading by example
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 24, 2009 at 11:38 pm

If you read the council minutes, this package has been in negotiation almost all year. Maybe that's why it was retroactive. What kind of package gets negotiated for 9 or 10 months? One in which the recipient is making very aggressive demands. This sets a horrible example for the people working in Atherton: the leader makes stringent compensation demands during a time of economic hardship, a parcel tax coming up for renewal (a tenuous proposition), and where other staff members are being asked to make sacrifices such as police positions being eliminated and frozen. How can Mr. Gruber have any credibility in pushing back against the compensation demands of other employees now? "Good management costs money?" The good managers stand in back of their team more often than they stand in front. This is clearly not an example of this and reflects very poorly on Mr. Gruber's judgment. The council never should have done this.

Posted by citizen kane
a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 25, 2009 at 1:10 am

[Comment removed; poster commenting multiple times on this thread using different names; see terms of use]

Posted by Fiscally responsible
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 27, 2009 at 11:26 am

An example of investigative press at work in a parallel situation. Capitalization mine:

October 20, 2009

Indio city manager passes on compensation/vacation boost

By Xochitl Pena
The Desert Sun

Indio City Manager Glenn Southard has declined a boost to his compensation plan that would have given him an extra 21 vacation days on top of his current 30.

The Indio City Council was slated to take up the recommendation, proposed by the mayor and mayor pro tem, on Wednesday. BUT AFTER DAYS OF QUESTIONS BY THE DESERT SUN, Southard this afternoon sent a memo to council members asking that the issue be removed from the agenda.

“Upon reflection, I have decided that this is not an appropriate time for me to receive an additional contract benefit. While I appreciate the Council’s willingness to consider this matter, I request that the October 21 agenda item regarding amendment of the City Manager’s contract be pulled from the agenda. I appreciate the Council’s continued support,” said Southard in the memo.

Posted by team spirit
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 27, 2009 at 11:39 am

I'd like to see Gruber use some of his big raise to do something for his lower level staff--all of whom were asked to tighten their belts for his benefit. Hey Jerry! Why don't you offer to pay to buy copies of the New Atherton History Book and distribute it amongst staff for Christmas.

Posted by Steve S.
a resident of another community
on Oct 27, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Jerry, way to go. We miss you. Now, take care of those junior employees. They are the ones who will end up making you look good.

Posted by Raises & Legal
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 15, 2009 at 10:08 am

Raises & Legal. What happened to spending our money on roads and drainage? Other city's are making cut backs. Were giving raises. When they said that the S&T money was going toward the police I didn't think they were talking about legal fees. Then 160,000.00, free home in Atherton on 23ac, car, ect I think given the times we need to tighten our belt not raises.

Posted by Jim Blake
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 27, 2010 at 11:23 am

The most pressing problem facing the city leadership in Atherton at present is the immensely dangerous condition of plant overgrowth onto the footpath / walkway (unpaved, unlit, undrained) that runs through Atherton from Redwood City to Menlo Park on the east side of the road. This walkway (next to speeding auto traffic) is life-threatening in the best of conditions but with the summer overgrowth it is now lethal. Please cut the trees, shrubs, bushes so that your legions of hired help can find their way to their unlit, undrained, unpaved, unmarked, unsheltered bus stops on El Camino

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