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Duboc calls for ballot initiative on pensions

Original post made on Jan 11, 2010

After months of toying with the idea in e-mails she sends to supporters, former Menlo Park council member Lee Duboc is calling for a ballot initiative to roll back pension benefits for new Menlo Park employees, with the exception of police.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, January 11, 2010, 2:20 PM

Comments (27)

Posted by Resident
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 11, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Good luck !

Posted by More of the Same
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 11, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Why are the police excluded, Lee? They have the bulk of the pension benefit obligations.

Sounds more like the usual political grandstanding from the usual suspects, designed to try make them appear "fiscally conservative" for next year's council elections.

Posted by Roll em back
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 11, 2010 at 11:25 pm

The changes - 60 yrs old and 2.0% - should be 65 yrs old and 2.0% and should include all MP employees including police and including past, current and former employees and police.

I'll vote for it and I'll go door to door campaigning for it.

Heck, I have to wait until I'm 65 and my company canceled it's 1.5% defined benefit plan because of gov't reg changes, many if not most private sector firms have canceled defined benefit plans. And there's no retirement medical plan. What sort of retirement med plans do the city retirees get? Maybe we should look at cutting back a bit on those costs too.

Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 12, 2010 at 8:39 am

Funny to hear these old rich people crying about retirement funds when they are sucking dry my social security with every letter they type.

Posted by Roll em back
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 12, 2010 at 9:10 am

Yo "truth" - since when is 41 old? I thought I was just beginning middle age. By the way those "old" folks may be sucking up your social security, but your sucking up their air.

In any case this is about runaway local government costs - keep it to the subject.

Posted by council watcher
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 12, 2010 at 9:41 am

Truth, that really you? You can complain about your retirement funds but the rest of us can't?

Most of us agree that the current retirement benefits are ridiculous, but anyone who sends $50 to Lee Duboc is an even bigger fool that she. It would be lovely to see her taking some action, but I suspect this is just a lot of smoke and handwaving in preparation for the November election. Let's hope she remembers how badly she was defeated four years ago and doesn't put herself through that humiliation again.

We actually have a pretty good council right now, but they haven't been able to accomplish a huge amount in terms of holding back the unions. But then, neither did the council when Lee was a member.

Posted by Sean Howell
Almanac staff writer
on Jan 12, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Sean Howell is a registered user.

I talked to Lee, and she addressed a couple of the questions above. She proposed that police should be excluded from the initiative because she doesn't want to put Menlo Park at a disadvantage in terms of hiring, given the dearth of applicants. And she said she writes the e-mails herself, though she sometimes runs drafts by her husband, or people who are knowledgeable about a certain issue.

Posted by J.D.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 12, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Dear Roll-em back:

Legally speaking, I believe the City (as with any other employer with a pension program)cannot take away pension that has already vested for any existing employees and was an inducement for them to take the position as well. So your suggestion to apply it to *all* employees would be illegal, but a two-tier system where the change apllies to *new* employees as Lee proposes would appear to be legal.

Posted by What A Joke
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jan 12, 2010 at 1:11 pm

I heard that Lee invented Cancer, then after that she cursed out a little old lady, then caused global warming after she hid all of the WMD's! C'mon you guys get off of the "Lee beating bandwagon"! This topic is all about fiscal responsibility, it's not about Lee, it's not about "grammar and articulation", etc. Can we not have a conversation about saving hard earned citizen tax dollars, without you [portion deleted] getting involved with ALWAYS making it personal. Lee has done a nice job here, raising the issue, and keeping focused. We don't need to hear all of the extra peripheral stuff you guys like throwing out there, that stuff is very much off topic!

Posted by Older Mom
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 12, 2010 at 1:25 pm

I frequently disagree with Lee, but on this one I really do agree with her. If Willie Brown says it's needed (and he does) this isn't a liberal/conservative issue. It isn't right that public service retirement benefits be so out of line with what most of us get from private employers and by doing so endanger our public services.

Posted by old timer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 12, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Lee is absolutely right about this and she has been following it for years. This is the number one issue facing our city, county and state. We are forced to cut services in order to pay bloated salaries and benefits. When she was mayor Lee successfully kept the unions from taking over the pool and hiring an additional 30 to 40 people. She also held their salaries and benefits in check to the point where they threatened a strike. The SEIU salaries and benefits, rather than the police officers association, represent the bulk of our city's obligations. Lee's proposal, 60 years old and 2% vesting rate, is moderate and reasonable.

Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 12, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Simplifying the issue into slogans is unfair to the community and insincere. To say that 2 and 60 is the answer to all our problems is too Rovian for me. There are so many complexities to this, Calpers costs and the balance of risk if rates change to be one. And I think there are better ways to get the city out of this mess than just stamping a 2 and 60. Look closer at the vacation pay, overtime costs, head count and at the costs of CalPERS and create a two-tiered system that saves us money now and long term, not just a slogan. Ask Palo Alto what they are doing, and they are not just looking for a cute 2 and 60. I personally think her note smacks of a real lack of understanding of this complex issue.

What this council is doing with the managers contracts AFSME? is a good start and Lee of course neglects this.

Posted by callie
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 12, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Why can’t you blowhards just look at a problem, and stop obscuring an issue?
Would the action Lee proposes help the city in the future? Of course it would. And it can only happen if the voters sign on.

Should the city council reduce staff size? Of course it should.

Should employees pay more for their Cadillac health-care plans? And should their contributions to CalPERS retirement be increased? Of course they should.

All these things should happen. But do not fault Lee for inviting us to take a “responsible and fair” major step toward protecting the city’s financial future, no matter what else the City does, or does not, do.

Please argue the issue.

Posted by What A Joke
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jan 12, 2010 at 10:19 pm

There they go again, "puppeteer Winkler", you just can't help yourself, can you "More of the Same"? The constant negativity, the constant mud slinging......I think you need to go find something constructive to do. Again, Lee is bringing attention to an issue that is not that complicated, it's not complicated to make us aware of the run away cost of taxpayers money.
I don't care who talks about it, it is a HUGE issue, and this issue is mostly to blame for the state's continued budget problems. Thank you Lee, and anyone like Lee that proposes to act.

Posted by What A Joke
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jan 13, 2010 at 9:06 am

And it continues, "Council Watcher" gets into the personal attacks. Once again no hardcore examples, nothing to add, all negative and off topic. This side of our town, and it's politics cannot help themselves. So, rather than taking a very serious topic, and trying to possibly improve something, he/she is more concerned about beating up on the "monster" Lee Duboc. I don't care if it's Lee, or the Mayor, or a some other concerned citizen, can we not discuss this topic and help with an obvious issue that is bankrupting this state, and quite possibly if we let it, our town? "Council Watcher", please stop your uneducated attacks!

Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 13, 2010 at 9:07 am

Lee Duboc has devoted her time selflessly for the betterment of Menlo Park. We have a block of people on the far left who believe that it is the residents' obligation to create a Union plutocracy where the City workers have salary and benefits that far exceed those of the private sector.

These people are setting the City up for bankruptcy in about 10 years with a continued deterioration of city services as escalating entitlement costs crowd out operations and maintenance in the City budget.

Lee is not out to get the unions. She wants them to be treated equitably but not as a privileged class. She is looking out for every person who lives in Menlo Park by seeking to prevent higher resident costs with a corresponding decrease in City services.

She has been very good for Menlo Park. It is too bad that the San Mateo County Labor Council, the SEIU, and the far-left in Menlo Park engaged in a disinformation campaign of lies, distortions, smears and unsubstantiated rumors against Lee in 2006 that would have made Goebbels proud.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jan 13, 2010 at 9:38 am

This effort to control costs makes a lot of sense, but having lived through the reign of Ms. Duboc and her cohorts when they were on the council, I am highly suspect of her motives. The clincher for me was after the election in 2006 where she and Winkler were voted out by a large margin, but for the duration of their terms they continued to promulgate their polemic policies (primarily lot-by-lot rezoning of the Linfield Oaks commercial area taking advantage of their then-majority on the council). In the beginning of their terms, I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt that they were doing what they thought was best for the city. But after the city residents had spoken so unequivocally though the election, it was plain for everyone to see that whatever their motivations were, they had absolutely nothing to do with the interests of the residents.

Posted by What A Joke
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jan 13, 2010 at 9:52 am

And there we go again, we're on the topic of trying to control costs, trying to save tax payer's money and decreasing outrageous benefits/pensions for NEW government employees which would be fair to everyone, BUT.............we hear from "Resident" who wants to talk about re-zoning, and their side of the story.(By the way, "unequivocally"???? For some reason most of us do not remember this issue being a "slam dunk" in fact it was debated and heard from both sides equally. At no time did this issue even come close to a huge majority of residents
supporting "Resident's" position) Please stay on topic, SAVING the TAX PAYER'S MONEY.

a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 13, 2010 at 12:06 pm

As a 25 year + employee with the City of Menlo Park, I feel very frustrated in all the false information that is being spread about our huge salaries and grand retirement system. Yes we do get a decent retirement, but it comes after many years of dedicated service working for the city. You don't just walk in the door and spend a year or two and walk out with 80 % salary. There is a formula through PERS that combines years of service and age, and both must be lengthy to receive the full retirement benefit- many of us do not see that rate. In addition to that ALL employees pay for 8% of their retirement - so it is NOT all city funded. Over the last 3 years the mid manager group and the regular city employees received only a 3% pay increase, and 1% went to pay for our increased retirement benefit. So basicly a 2 % pay raise in 3 years. In the following 2 years one of the bargining groups as already settled and will be receiving 0% - yes ZERO increase for the next 2 years.
So at the end of 5 years the city workers will have received a whopping 2 % pay raise. I don't think that is excessive by any means. When the economic times were good (and will be again,) we didn't get stock options or bonuses, and never will. If we leave, we don't get huge severence packages. We work hard for our residents and I don't think you will find a more devoted group of employees anywhere.
Thank you for your time.

Posted by Say what?
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 13, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Gee, Hank, where'd you get the idea I hold the "leftists" you have targeted in high esteem? I actually side with you in this thread: What Lee is doing is valuable, and I'm glad she's doing it. And, I think people who are taking personal shots at her are silly children who should be sent to their rooms with no dessert. They have no credibility if all they do is attack someone, but don't address the topic at hand.

But you, dear Hank, lose your credibility, too, when you stoop to that level. And, as I tried to point out in my earlier post, that's what you did. So quit your spouting off and stay on topic.

Posted by What A Joke
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jan 13, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Yes Hank, "Say What?" has a very good point, we need to stay on topic. I don't think most of us are concerned about "leftists" and Alinsky's book, we care more about how our money is being spent. On another note, we do hear you "Menlo Park Employee" but the vast majority of the budget woes of this state are paying for those early retirees that we literally owe hundreds of thousands of dollars to, and then they can go out and get a second job to load on top of their generous pension. I have been in the private sector all my life, I see you are getting no raise, a pultry increase of 2% during the prior 5 years - I received a 10% pay cut this past year, and 20 of our workers were fired. I have heard that not one Menlo Park city employee has been terminated during this downturn. Is that true? I also contribute to my pension, it's a 401K. The issue with the 401K is that it is not state protected, like your pension.

Posted by Richard Hine
editor of The Almanac
on Jan 13, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Richard Hine is a registered user.

I'm taking offline comments in this thread that are attacks, or reactions to attacks, on other posters, so you can get back to discussing the topic.

Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jan 13, 2010 at 2:19 pm

It would be interesting to have this ballot measure at the same time as the Bohannon ballot measure.

Posted by Selective Censorship Is Never A Good Thing
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 13, 2010 at 8:18 pm

"I'm taking offline comments in this thread that are attacks, or reactions to attacks, on other posters, so you can get back to discussing the topic."

But you leave Hank's ususal drivel with reference to a Nazi (Goebbels).

What's up with that, Sir?

Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 13, 2010 at 10:07 pm

No government employee should get a defined benefit pension. They should get to contribute to a 401k, just like the rest of us.

Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 14, 2010 at 1:30 pm

someone has taken my moniker...i blame hank.

Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 14, 2010 at 2:39 pm


Obviously someone did take Truth's moniker. The post was sensible. That was the give away. BTW it was not me. I would never try to make Truth look good.

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