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Top 2016 pay in Menlo Park Fire Protection District: $387,799

Original post made on Apr 18, 2017

A recently released report from the Menlo Park Fire Protection district shows 12 people, including its chief, had total compensation of more than $300,000 in 2016.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, April 18, 2017, 5:05 AM

Comments (188)

65 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 18, 2017 at 7:07 am

They may be well qualified, but they are also overpaid -- regardless of whatever argument someone may offer. Total comp for the fire chief in excess of $325 K -- seriously?!

No wonder more than 300 people applied for 10 positions -- I'd go work there if they are paying that much.


90 people like this
Posted by 277 Bank Street
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 18, 2017 at 8:29 am

325?

Are you kidding?!?!?!?!?!??!

Do they have their own private bankers?


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 18, 2017 at 8:34 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It is useful to read the Chief's response to Barbra Wood in its entirety:

"So my overall comment is we pay our personnel very fairly, given the high cost of local housing, the schedule they work and for the type of difficult and dangerous work that they often do. We not only expect them to shoulder huge responsibilities, we also have high expectations for their individual performance and problem solving under, at times, extremely difficult and dangerous circumstances. Given the potential long term effects this can have on their family lives and their own health and psychological well being, it probably isn't enough.

You wouldn't know it, but our industry is undergoing a transformation, there is significant discussion about health, safety and the things we haven't been paying enough attention to that is affecting many firefighters today such as cancers, depression, substance abuse and suicide.

I expect our personnel to live by a code of personal conduct and behavior that in many cases goes against societal norms today. We still believe in honor, personal integrity, a career of service, duty, sacrifice, compassion and courage where you put the well being of others and the critical function of a team, before yourself.

We then ask these men and women to put themselves between the community and what ever can negatively affect it so as to keep people safe and secure. If something occurs, we expect them to quickly, efficiently and effectively resolve any emergencies that threaten individuals or the greater good, regardless of the risk or long term effects it will have on them because they swore an oath to protect and serve.

So to your question about community "norms", outside of law enforcements there isn't that same high expectation of performance and response when someone decides to call 9-11 for an emergency among other professions.

Take the vehicle accident on Sandhill Road Easter morning where the drivers life literally hung in the balance of the quick actions and extreme performance and skill of the emergency responders on-scene, that's not "normal" because what we daily do isn't "normal".

Our personnel protect life and property, while I respect educators and worked as an educator myself at the community college for 20 years and currently sit as a trustee on a private school board, there really isn't a realistic or fair comparison.

I would agree we should pay teachers more, but I would also disagree that firefighters have less education and experience because ours is a vocation of specialized trainings and experience that spans a career. Their is often less "formal" education but learning occurs daily and really good Fire agencies, like ours, train daily and expect our personnel to become masters of their craft so they can perform flawlessly under adverse circumstances.

In terms of the contract negotiations process, the firefighters were out of contract for seven years, the District was dealing with resolving two PERB unfair labor practices cases and an FLSA Federal lawsuit. I think the Fire Board showed significant leadership and resolve by listening to a variety of subject matter experts and staff members, who with the Firefighters Union and it's own leadership, collectively found a path to full resolution of a very dark chapter in labor/management/board relations.

The strain that placed on the organization, our personnel and the leadership team is really unexplainable. The deterioration and damage that was created to the most crucial element of public safety and service which is "trust", was a significant blow to not only the low moral of the employees, but it deeply divided the organization especially as it continued over a period of years.

We eventually secured a four year agreement with the firefighters Union that has allowed us to move the organization past that dark chapter and forward again. Board meetings are not consumed with PERB and litigation updates, negotiator and attorney meetings, briefings, phone calls and review of briefs and billings no longer demand most of my time and attention.

All that leads me to my final point and your last question, are their salaries excessively high, given everything I described to you my answer is no. Do many of our personnel also work many additional hours in service to the community and the organization on projects, programs and real disasters? Yes they do because they have a passion and love for providing superior service and making this organization stronger, the community safer and our ability to provide emergency services better everyday!

It's just that simple and just that complex!


Thank you



Harold Schapelhouman
Fire Chief"


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 18, 2017 at 8:42 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Fire Board is charged with ensuring that the Fire District is well managed and that it consistently performs its mission at the highest possible standards.

The Fire Board is not charged with addressing issues of equity between firefighters and other public servants.

Perhaps Chuck Bernstein's talents and perspective would be better suited to the School Board.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 18, 2017 at 8:49 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Connecting the dots.

"Hopefully in tomorrow's Almanac article on the District's 2016 compensation someone will connect the dots between the self imposed hiring freeze, staff shortages, 2016 overtime and the District recent accelerated hirings."

Sadly that did not happen.

I suggest that interested readers focus on the base salaries and not just leap to the average total compensation used in this article.


79 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 18, 2017 at 9:03 am

Thank goodness for Chuck Bernstein; he seems to be the only one who is bringing a business perspective to an organization that is awash in funds and is lavishing compensation on its employees. And the snarky comment about Mr. Bernstein from the Fire Board President is consistent with his scorched-earth response to anyone who dares challenge his all-knowing, arrogant perspective.


55 people like this
Posted by Now I Get It
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 18, 2017 at 12:17 pm

Now we know why Carpenter worked so hard to thwart the school district. He wanted pockets full o'cash for the fire department. Unbelievable. Firefighters don't even need a college degree to enter the field. Doctors, lawyers, and engineers don't even make 400k. What ripe and disgusting hypocrisy.What ever happened to people of character. These guys need to be audited. Probably a shakedown happening.


19 people like this
Posted by MEMBERONE
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 18, 2017 at 12:45 pm

This chimes in well with the article months ago about the MPFD being in the top 1 percentile of fire units IN THIS COUNTRY.

Doggone well better be.

That said, it's time for Atherton to create its own Fire Department and staff it with well qualified, and FAIRLY paid staff. Too much Atherton property taxes going to MPFD to overpay their staff.

Sometime years down the road, fair pay - not overpay - could be the norm. You're welcome Menlo Park taxpayers


32 people like this
Posted by Windfall profits
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 18, 2017 at 12:48 pm

"I expect our personnel to live by a code of personal conduct and behavior that in many cases goes against societal norms today."

I think that's called biting the hands that feed you?

Thank you, Chuck, for speaking up on behalf of all of us. And thanks to Peter Carpenter for unwittingly spotlighting the problems.


15 people like this
Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 18, 2017 at 12:57 pm

We don't need to worry about paying firefighters enough to live in this area. They also get to retire with 20 years service & get very good pension benefits, enabling any so inclined to start second careers between ages 40-45.
Their work is very important. I'm not sure what Harold means by "I expect our personnel to live by a code of personal conduct and behavior that in many cases goes against societal norms today. We still believe in honor, personal integrity. . ." Doesn't everyone believe in "personal integrity?" Do all FD personnel conduct themselves to a high degree of same outside of their work environments? Based on my personal knowledge, maybe not all.


26 people like this
Posted by hmmm
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 18, 2017 at 1:12 pm

Why is it when I read Mr. Schapelhouman's letter it feels like I am being sold something by a smooth-talking salesman? I feel like I need to take a shower after reading that!


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 18, 2017 at 1:22 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

now I get it:

No you don't. Any change to what the fire district receives in tax monies will have zero effect on school funding and vice versa. Taxes are disbursed by state law and the only way to change that disbursement is to change the law.


6 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 18, 2017 at 1:24 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

memberone:

Atherton receives more benefit than it pays for. Go ahead, start your own fire department spending the same amount of money allocated by the fire district and see what you get. One fire house maybe?


7 people like this
Posted by Zephyrab
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Apr 18, 2017 at 2:40 pm

Zephyrab is a registered user.

This is outrageous- Nothing said about minimum quotas allowing these guys OT pay while home sleeping to be "on call". This is a bad joke !!! Call the city and complain.


24 people like this
Posted by No limit
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 18, 2017 at 2:51 pm

Thank you to the Almanac for continuing to highlight this problem.

As I understand things, and I may be wrong, MPFD receives the majority of their funding from property tax from the districts they serve, and their funding scales with property tax. In others words, MPFD's property tax based revenue is not means tested, but rather, for lack of a better definition, a fixed percentage.

So I'm wondering, how much money do they need? MPFD seems to indicate, "all of it". I wonder at what point, MPFD would say, "you know what tax-payers, we have enough money. Here take some back."

When it comes to the issue of being overpaid. I think the only way to really determine if this is true or not is to LOWER pay until you no longer have masses of qualified and exceptional candidates for new positions. Also for an outside panel to assess MPFD compensation relative to CA norms and the needs in the Bay Area.

@Menlo Voter: Taxes are disbursed by state law and the only way to change that disbursement is to change the law.

Indeed. I think we all now know where we need to focus our attention.


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 18, 2017 at 3:00 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

no limit:

good luck getting the law changed.


32 people like this
Posted by Reality Check
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Apr 18, 2017 at 3:23 pm

I agree with No Limit.

If you lower the pay, and you receive no qualified candidates, then you know you have gone to too low. If you keep it as it and receive multiples of qualified candidates, then you know you are too high.

I think the Fire Department serves an important service in our community, but the compensation is terribly high.

Take a look at military compensation. Does the Menlo Park Fire Chief really need to get paid almost double what the Joint Chief of Staff or Army Chief of Staff get paid and who also live in a a high cost of living area, i.e. Washington D.C.

Web Link

In terms of personal sacrifice and duty, many members of the military are away from their families for months on end. If they are serving in a hazardous duty situation, the most any individual receives is up to $3000/year.

Again no doubt fire personnel serve an important role and deserve fair compensation, but they are well above fair currently under any measure.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 18, 2017 at 3:37 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The real reality check is for Reality Check to provide evidence of a single public entity with a unionized work force that uses your Dutch Auction hiring and compensation model.


30 people like this
Posted by WTF
a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2017 at 4:09 pm


This is insane! Vote the 5 member board out of office.


29 people like this
Posted by Menlo Tax Payer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 18, 2017 at 4:27 pm

This is what you get when someone is allowed to create a fiefdom and has a complicit Fire Board that is incompetent to reign in these runaway costs. This is a mess that needs to be cleaned out - starting with the Board and Schapelhoumen who seems to go on the defensive and pontificate each time someone questions his bloated salary structure.


22 people like this
Posted by Eileen Altman
a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2017 at 4:43 pm

These are things one could say about teachers: "I expect our personnel to live by a code of personal conduct and behavior that in many cases goes against societal norms today. We still believe in honor, personal integrity, a career of service, duty, sacrifice, compassion and courage where you put the well-being of others and the critical function of a team, before yourself. If something occurs, we expect (teachers) to quickly, efficiently and effectively resolve any emergencies that threaten individuals or the greater good, regardless of the risk or long-term effects it will have on them because they swore an oath to protect and serve. We also have high expectations for their individual performance and problem-solving under, at times, extremely difficult circumstances. Given the potential long-term effects this can have on their family lives and their own health and psychological well-being, (the pay) probably isn't enough. Given the high cost of local housing, the schedule they work and for the type of difficult work that they often do, are they compensated fairly?"


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 18, 2017 at 4:44 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Fie District:
1 - has a balanced budget
2 - has no parcel tax
3 - has no taxpayer funded bond debt
4 - has funded reserves for its pension liabilities
5 - has funded reserves for replacing its buildings
6 - has funded reserves for replacing its apparatus
7 - has zero service complaints
8 - attracts hundreds of job applicants because of its reputation as one of the best fire agencies in the Nation


38 people like this
Posted by insane grip
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 18, 2017 at 4:48 pm

The Fie District:

9 - pays some $387,799.00 per year plus HUGE, nay, YUUUUGGGE benefits.


16 people like this
Posted by George fisher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 18, 2017 at 5:03 pm

Fire department gets a disproportionate share of property taxes. How can property taxes be reallocated?


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 18, 2017 at 5:19 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" How can property taxes be reallocated?"

Simple - Repeal Prop 13.

"Proposition 13 remains popular among California's likely voters, who are mostly homeowners.[25] Among likely voters, 53% described Proposition 13 as "mostly a good thing" while 33% responded that it was "mostly a bad thing" in a 2006 Public Policy Institute of California survey. For adults who are not likely voters (mostly renters), Proposition 13 was unpopular—- only 29% approval to 47% disapproval. Among California adults, overall approval was 47% approval to 38% disapproval. Periodic newspaper accounts report high voter approval.[" Wikipedia


3 people like this
Posted by George fisher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 18, 2017 at 5:39 pm

Why did prop 13 give such a big spigot to fire department?


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 18, 2017 at 5:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Why did prop 13 give such a big spigot to fire department?"

Prop 13 and its implementing legislation simply froze the property tax allocations that were in place at the time.

Those prior allocations were set by the County.


23 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Apr 18, 2017 at 6:17 pm

The solution is to vote Peter Carpenter off the fire board and support Chuck. No matter what Peter says, the salaries are indefensible and not market. The fire board did not do a good job of representing the taxpayers.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 18, 2017 at 7:02 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The salaries were set by legally required mutual negotiations and those salaries cannot be unilaterally changed by the Fire District.

Having having been elected three times and having served on the Fire Board for over 13 years I have no intention of running for reelection in 2018.

Fortunately that are a number of superb individuals who I am confident will run in 2018.


4 people like this
Posted by George Fisher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 18, 2017 at 7:12 pm

The solution is to merge the fire district with the school district an allow a new allocation of resources and needs. An fire district election just substitutes a new person to aim the property tax spigot for limited purposes.


30 people like this
Posted by mark Gilles
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Apr 18, 2017 at 7:28 pm

the fire district allocation is a fixed percentage of property tax revenues that was established by Prop 13. The unintended consequence here is that it receives ever increasing revenue while schools must float parcel taxes to meet their ongoing budget needs. peter carpenter points out that the fire board is fiscally sound but I find his comparison to the school district to be unfair and a bit too smug


44 people like this
Posted by Ellen
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 18, 2017 at 7:55 pm

The burden on the Chief - and Board- is to address why the Menlo Park fire district employees are the highest paid in the State. Are their jobs more difficult than other firefighters? Do we have an inordinately complicated infrastructure, exceptionally high number of fires and/or other critical events, an especially difficult population? Any other factor
that would require skills and abilities beyond those of firefighters in ANY other community? Have we had high turnover with firefighters going to other districts for better pay? Have we been unable to recruit applicants?
The answers to the above questions would need to be "yes" to justify a small residential community district paying the top compensation in the state.
If the taxpayers want to pay their firefighters (or anyone else) higher than "market", so be it. But let's not pretend that it is because they are more deserving. That just insults every other public servant.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 18, 2017 at 8:20 pm

"the fire district allocation is a fixed percentage of property tax revenues that was established by Prop 13. The unintended consequence here is that it receives ever increasing revenue while schools must float parcel taxes to meet their ongoing budget needs."

The school districts also receive ever increasing revenues from property taxes - to which they also add parcel taxes.


22 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 18, 2017 at 8:22 pm

So I read the excerpt of the Chief's letter. Having him defend his staff seems a bit skewed when he is also benefitting from a significant salary.

I would also agree with some others posters -- our suburban communities aren't exactly a high risk area. Maybe if they were working in parts of Chicago, LA or DC then I could maybe see higher salaries. As another poster pointed out and I have in the past -- compared to those in the military, especially those deployed overseas, away from family and in harm's way -- how much are they earning?

While I agree with Mr. Carpenter that the Fire Board is charged with ensuring a well run agencies, I also think that it should be good stewards with our tax dollars.

Are MP firefighters challenges and conditions much or any different than those in Redwood City, Burlingame, South San Francisco or San Mateo? I would bet not -- then why are they paid so much more?


37 people like this
Posted by Menlo Man
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 18, 2017 at 8:26 pm

Peter Carpenter: "I have no intention of running for reelection in 2018".

You heard it folks....


5 people like this
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Apr 18, 2017 at 9:17 pm

It is unfortunate that public sector unions have made it so ruinously expensive to hire government workers. We would be better off with twice as many fire fighters and police at half the price.


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 18, 2017 at 10:33 pm

"We would be better off with twice as many fire fighters and police at half the price"

No, we wouldn't. You wouldn't want the people policing and doing the job of a fire fighter for half the price. Trust me.


34 people like this
Posted by Mark Gilles
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Apr 18, 2017 at 11:31 pm

The reality is that firefighters making $360,000 plus generous retirement benefits is out of scale with what most people think is reasonable. I think a lot of people myself included wonder if things have gone a bit too far.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 19, 2017 at 7:08 am

"The reality is that firefighters making $360,000 plus generous retirement benefit"

Please read the article - The total figure includes overtime, and all benefits and all pension payments. None of the other salaries discussed include anything except base pay.


For example, the firefighter with a total pay of $360,000 actually had a base pay of $137,000.


25 people like this
Posted by menlo tax payer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 19, 2017 at 9:19 am

It's time for an independent commission from the County to look into the Fire District to clean it up and clean it out. Here we have a Board member like Carpenter defending the behavior of this group that he is an integral part of creating that doesn't think this smells. His "that's the way it is folks" responses to comments about the outrageous salary costs show why this has gotten out of control.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 19, 2017 at 9:31 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

What exactly would a competent commission do with these facts:
The Fie District:
1 - has a balanced budget
2 - has no parcel tax
3 - has no taxpayer funded bond debt
4 - has funded reserves for its pension liabilities
5 - has funded reserves for replacing its buildings
6 - has funded reserves for replacing its apparatus
7 - has zero service complaints
8 - attracts hundreds of job applicants because of its reputation as one of the best fire agencies in the Nation


22 people like this
Posted by insane grip
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 19, 2017 at 9:52 am

Again, he leaves out THE relevant fact in this thread...



The Fie District:

9 - pays some $387,799.00 per year which includes HUGE, nay, YUUUUGGGE benefits.


12 people like this
Posted by insane grip
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Apr 19, 2017 at 10:01 am

What's the typical FF retirement result? About 100 grand a year FOR LIFE? $120,000.00? And Medical?

For the guys with the $300K a year - what would they retire at if their last few years rang out over $300k?


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 19, 2017 at 10:05 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Retirement pay is based on base salary - overtime and benefits are not included.

The story and comments do a poor job of comparing MPFPD salaries to others by using an apples to grapes comparison.


8 people like this
Posted by insane grip
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Apr 19, 2017 at 11:13 am

Peter Carpenter: for a firefighter making over $300k a year for his last three years before retirement, what will he retire at?

A ballpark answer is okay, since you went "apples and grapes" (?) on your last answer.


>What's the typical FF retirement result? About 100 grand a year FOR LIFE? $120,000.00? And Medical?
>For the guys with the $300K a year - what would they retire at if their last few years rang out over $300k?


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 19, 2017 at 11:29 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Peter Carpenter: for a firefighter making over $300k a year for his last three years before retirement, what will he retire at?"

If he/she had worked 30 years or m ore then at 90% of their BASE salary - overtime and benefits ARE NOT included in computing retirement.


BTW - MPFPD has 3 firefighters who each have well over 30 years of service who continue to work for a net salary over what they would get if they just went home of 10% of their salary. Why - because they love what they do, they want to continue to serve our community and their skills and experience are invaluable.


28 people like this
Posted by menlo tax payer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 19, 2017 at 11:30 am

This is one big "cash cow" boondoggle that doesn't take much talent to keep spending to make the Fire District look good. It shows a lack of conscience for tax payer money.


14 people like this
Posted by Chuck Bernstein
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 19, 2017 at 11:41 am

I would like to correct some misinformation that is being repeated here. This communication is submitted by me as an individual and not in any official capacity whatsoever.

Proposition 13 did not establish the allocation formulas used to distribute property taxes to the thousands of agencies in California. It only established a cap on property taxes paid by property owners. It assigned the responsibility for distributing funds to the Legislature.

It would be difficult to alter Proposition 13 because it was an act of the people. However, the two or three major bills that addressed allocations were acts of the Legislature and could be amended, in theory, by simple majority votes. The first bill was Senate Bill 154, passed immediately after the approval of Proposition 13 in 1978. The main bill, Assembly Bill 8, was passed the following year. It essentially froze in place the then-current allocations. The only other significant legislation was Proposition 98, approved by voters in 1988, which guarantees a certain percentage of the state budget to schools, and reduced the amount available (but did not alter the relative percentages) to be distributed to other agencies accordingly. I say, "could be amended, in theory," because there are literally thousands of parties involved and any proposed changes would create both "winners" and "losers," which would sow insecurity among 100% of the players.

In no way am I endorsing or supporting any change in tax allocations; my sole reason for clarifying this matter is to promote understanding. For those interested in a non-partisan analysis of the whole issue, the Legislative Analyst's Office has prepared a very good report that explains the matter clearly:

Web Link

There is still much to be done in the Menlo Park Fire Protection District including disaster preparedness, improved response times during the six to eight hours of commutes, and household safety. The death of a resident last weekend in East Palo Alto is a grim reminder of how much more should be done to encourage the installation of such simple measures as smoke and carbon dioxide alarms. As a director of the District, I want to spend our existing funding in ways that, in my opinion, produce greater benefits for our residents.

--Chuck Bernstein
444 Oak Court, Menlo Park


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 19, 2017 at 11:42 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It is a "boondoggle" for firefighters to spend weeks away from home at a Federally funded disaster or as a wildland fire line medic funded by the State of California?


51 people like this
Posted by Mark Gilles
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Apr 19, 2017 at 12:00 pm

Peter, I did read the article and your comment that the base salary was $137K is irrelevant. All it means is that benefits and overtime account for over $200K of that person's total compensation. This is one the main problems I and many others have with how the district is managed. Unrestricted overtime pay is in my opinion indicative of a problem.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 19, 2017 at 12:21 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Unrestricted overtime pay is in my opinion indicative of a problem."

There was nothing unrestricted by this overtime:
1 - part was do to self imposed hiring freeze during the economic downturn and the long lead time to then qualify new fire fighters
2 - much of the overtime was for fully funded emergency Federal and State deployments - deployments which inevitably required long separation from their families


26 people like this
Posted by Let's Make It Happen!
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 19, 2017 at 1:20 pm

One board member...two board member...shall we get a third? Or is it enough that two members of the Fire Board are commenting on a blog about an issue within their jurisdiction? Perhaps there is a third out there under a pseudonym? I'm sure some open meeting watchdog group might take issue with that...not to mention the Fire Chief commenting as well....tsk tsk

Save your commenting for the publicly noticed meetings. Chuck - you cannot in your opening statement say you are commenting as an individual and then later in that same statement say "...as a Director, I want..."


33 people like this
Posted by Aaron
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 19, 2017 at 1:44 pm

There are 12 positions on that list (including paramedics), all with overall annual compensation that is about $100,000 higher than the annual compensation for a typical hospitalist-position doctor at Stanford Hospital! And some people are honestly arguing that the pay structure is very fair and in balance? I support our firefighters but, honestly, the compensation of the positions on this list are way, way too high. Look, we all deal with the high cost of living here, but this is truly excessive. To think that people were complaining about how much we pay our teachers in our district...


4 people like this
Posted by Wow... !
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 19, 2017 at 1:48 pm

Where do I sign up?!?


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 19, 2017 at 2:20 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Where do I sign up?!?"

At the end of a very long line of highly qualified and physically fit young people:

"The EMT/Firefighter recruitment closed in just over two hours this year while our
Paramedic/Firefighter recruitment never completely reached the 300 candidate cap level, even
though we held it open for 11 days, we received 234 applications.
Combined, we received 534 applications for both positions, a total of 332 applicants actually
took the written exams, and others were either disqualified or simply just didn’t show up to take
the test.
Of the 332 applicants who took the written exams, 309 were male, 11 were female and 12 did not
declare. Of that, 4 were American Indian, 22 were Asian, 11 were African American, 62 were
Latino, 8 were Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 19 were two or more races, 194 were White and 12
did not declare.
Top candidates will now be banded into ranked categories for interview panel meetings. Given
all of the mental, physical and health requirements, coupled with a thorough background
screening, this group will be narrowed down to several dozen top candidates. The Fire Academy
starts in September and we plan to have 3 – 6 candidates by then. "


22 people like this
Posted by Yogi
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 19, 2017 at 4:05 pm

$387,799.00

Keep typing PC.


$387,799.00


29 people like this
Posted by Menlo Man
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 19, 2017 at 10:48 pm

In light of these bloated salary figures, I find it incredibly ironic the lengths Peter Carpenter went to to harangue and besmirch the MPCSD school board for giving teachers a 2.5% salary increase over two years...Simply unbelievable.


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 19, 2017 at 10:56 pm

"Simply unbelievable."

You do realize the fire board held the line against the fire fighters union for SEVEN YEARS don't you? They refused to roll over and give raises to the fire fighters simply because "they deserved it." Educate yourself. The Almanac is stirring the pot with inaccurate and skewed reporting.

The school board gave raises to teachers after crying poor to try and get a parcel tax passed and when they didn't, went ahead and GAVE THE TEACHERS A RAISE ANYWAY! Ya, the fire district is mismanaged and not the school district. [Part removed.]


16 people like this
Posted by Aaron
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 19, 2017 at 11:10 pm

Peter Carpenter posted that:

"The Fie District:
1 - has a balanced budget
2 - has no parcel tax
3 - has no taxpayer funded bond debt
4 - has funded reserves for its pension liabilities
5 - has funded reserves for replacing its buildings
6 - has funded reserves for replacing its apparatus
7 - has zero service complaints
8 - attracts hundreds of job applicants because of its reputation as one of the best fire agencies in the Nation"

No surprise that the district attracts hundreds of job applicants, seeing as (from the article) "In past years, the fire district has had the highest average pay of any government agency in California", and every one of those 12 positions on the list is pulling in over $300,000 a year in total compensation (life long pensions are on top of that, right?)! What do you (P.C.) mean by "best fire agency in the Nation"? Best paid? Best run? Best staffed? How is that evaluated? I still can't get over the fact that Ravenswood School District was teaching kids in temporary sheds that had no heating last year, and meanwhile our tax dollars are paying $4,069,690 in total annual compensation for the top 12 earners in the fire district.


14 people like this
Posted by Menlo Man
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 19, 2017 at 11:13 pm

Menlo Voter, you and the Fire Board can pat yourself on the back for not giving raises for seven years to the 12 people who were already making over $300,000 annually. Way to go!


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 19, 2017 at 11:16 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

menlo man:

do you understand how overtime pay works?


9 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 20, 2017 at 6:43 am

Menlo Man:

OT is like heroin -- it's easy to get addicted to. Seems like the FD has a problem.


11 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 20, 2017 at 9:17 am

Brian is a registered user.

It is Interesting, Peter keeps trying to defend the total compensation packages of our fire department, he claims that are in line and not, as many of us know, over the top. He says that the overtime pay is a result of the self imposed hiring freeze which is now gone. But over time pay is 1.5 to 2x base hourly rate and when we are talking overtime pay that exceeded the base pay , which it did in a couple cases sited, it makes no sense. At that point you hire someone for several reasons: It is cheaper, You get more hours for the same cost (1.5 to 2x more hours, they are more effective because productivity goes down when you have been working long hours. The MPFPD spent about $350K for Engineer-Paramedic overtime when the base salary for that position was $137K does that make any sense? Was the "Self Imposed hiring freeze" just a way to justify paying out exorbitant overtime?

As for being in line take a look at Palo Alto Firefighter pay. It is significantly lower than Menlo Park and I don't think anyone is going to say Palo Alto has a bad fire department. Here is a link to the Battalion Chief pay from 2015 for Palo Alto. You can also look at other pay for different positions in the department: Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by Peter F Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 20, 2017 at 9:28 am

Brian is producing fake news.

Use the SAME data base for MPFPD Battalion Chiefs and you will see identical salaries.

Web Link


7 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 20, 2017 at 12:43 pm

Peter, I do not have to resort to fake news or alternatefacts, I am using a established and respectable website to show data. If you have different figures for Palo Alto that come from a reputable source feel free to share. Also you have been defending the numbers reported by the Almanac and not disagreeing with them so I would assume that you agree they are correct. You might note that I did point out that the data on Palo Alto was from 2015. The link also shows that Overtime and "Other Pay" are significantly higher in Menlo Park, as is the top base salary.

Nothing to say about the exorbitant over time being allowed and how ridiculous that is? Why impose a hiring freeze if you don't also put caps on overtime spending and other expenses? That makes no fiscal sense.

You are really beginning to sound like a presidential briefing, calling news you don't like Fake and ignoring everything else.

Editor: Is there a similar breakdown of pay for other neighboring fire districts (Palo Alto, Redwood City, etc.) Maybe from other local publications so we can compare Apples to Apples for the same year (2016).


3 people like this
Posted by john
a resident of another community
on Apr 20, 2017 at 1:24 pm

Although Menlo has higher base and more OT, it seems the total comp is about the same. After looking at it again, it seems it is because Palo Alto's benefits are about double of Menlo's. $100k vs $50k of benefits? So if you got rid of the OT on Menlo, Palo Alto actually has a better total comp package.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 20, 2017 at 3:43 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

John - Thank you for doing the appropriate apples to apples comparison.

It is irresponsible for others to intentionally compare two different data bases that each include very different compensation components in their calculations - particularly after the same site comparison of Palo Alto Fire and MPFPD was actually posted above.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 20, 2017 at 3:46 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Nothing to say about the exorbitant over time being allowed and how ridiculous that is? Why impose a hiring freeze if you don't also put caps on overtime spending and other expenses? That makes no fiscal sense. "

It is useful to actually read what has been posted on this issue:

There was nothing unrestricted by this overtime:
1 - part was do to self imposed hiring freeze during the economic downturn and the long lead time to then qualify new fire fighters
2 - much of the overtime was for fully funded emergency Federal and State deployments - deployments which inevitably required long separation from their families.


6 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 21, 2017 at 8:40 am

Brian is a registered user.

Peter,

With you ignoring most of the questions, repeating the same tired incomplete answers to the ones you reply to and basically being a politician there is not wonder Atherton moved ahead with their study, I think Menlo Park and EPA should join them. The Menlo Park Fire Protection District under your leadership is about as transparent as a 3 foot concrete wall. It is fruitless to bother asking any questions here, they won't get answered and if there is a response it won't be complete or particularly relevant. I'll happily write to the Menlo Park City Council encouraging them to join the study and to seek answers which the MPFPD seems very much against answering.

I think this salary information in conjunction with alienating Atherton, offending many in Belle Haven and doing your best to alienate Menlo Park is a wake up call to many that the MPFPD is not being run well.

Brian


3 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 21, 2017 at 12:21 pm

"much of the overtime was for fully funded emergency Federal and State deployments - deployments which inevitably required long separation from their families."

One question, is that funded by the state and federal governments directly or does it get paid out of the MPFPD funds? More to the point if paid by State and Federal do they pay the entire amount (base salary and over time) or just a portion?

I really don't see what "long separations from their families" has to do with anything. There are a lot of people who travel for work and are separated from family for days and weeks. It is part of our job and we are not generally getting paid over time for it.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 21, 2017 at 12:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"One question, is that funded by the state and federal governments directly or does it get paid out of the MPFPD funds?"
All the costs for deployed MPFPD firefighters (including MPFPD's overhead and backfill costs) are paid by the State or Federal government to the Fire District. The Fire District pays the individuals involved as part of the normal MPFOPD payroll process.

"More to the point if paid by State and Federal do they pay the entire amount (base salary and over time) or just a portion?" The full cost including MPFPD overhead and the cost of backfilling against their positions while they are deployed.

"I really don't see what "long separations from their families" has to do with anything." I am sure you don't but the family of an expert MPFPD firefighter medic who spent more than a month last summer working 24/7 on wildland fires would certainly be able to enlighten you.


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 21, 2017 at 2:36 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Thanks to the excellent and timely reporting by the Daily Post I note that a Redwood City Fire Captain's gross with benefits was $391,982.


8 people like this
Posted by fun with numbers
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 21, 2017 at 2:49 pm

The taxpayers of Menlo Park (at least those that comment on menlo almanac) have spoken. The total comp packages is out of control and indicative of poor management choices regarding authorizing overtime, and salary choices.

I would imagine our firefighters are embarrassed to be in the public spotlight they are now in, and other public servants offended.

Remember the median household income in San Mateo County hovers around $80K, so firefighter salaries are seen as (and are) exorbitant, and any comment to the contrary is tone-deaf and insulting. Even the typical tech workers only makes about $135K base here: Web Link

It's the rare individual that makes over $200K, even here. C-level execs, surgeons, top performing attorneys, lucky IPO recipients, VCs, etc. And firefighters.


Like this comment
Posted by resident,
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 21, 2017 at 3:45 pm

Peter, or anyone else,

Can you tell us how much a soldier in the field in, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan or heaven forbid N. Korea is paid? Include benefits for both include hazardous duty pay so we can compare apples to apples. Can we get a simple answer for once?

My guess is they have more hands on training, are in a more dangerous position and get paid quite a bit less than our firefighters.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 21, 2017 at 3:48 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Resident - I have served in both capacities - as an officer in Vietnam and as a firefighter. There is no doubt that my service in Vietnam was far riskier and less well rewarded or respected.


Like this comment
Posted by Not Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 21, 2017 at 4:28 pm

At the end of the day, it comes down to effectiveness and efficiency. Since I'm no firefighter, I can only try to compare to other similar organizations. Of course, this doesn't give us a way to compare fire vs. police vs. teachers, etc.

So I did look at Palo Alto Fire vs MPFD in their 2015 numbers. Both departments get about 8000 service calls annually. Palo Alto does list inspections separately, but I assume MPFD does those as well. Interestingly, over 60% of the calls are medical/EMS. In MPFD, an additional 12% are service calls, 9% are false alarms, 9% are good intent (false alarm but well-meaning), a couple smaller categories and actual fires make up 1-2%. I can tell that Palo Alto has similar medical/EMS calls and no reason to believe that the other categories are different. Net it out --> Palo Alto and MP are pretty similar.

On effectiveness, I couldn't find KPIs for MP. PA does measure response time to fire (5 mins and 30 seconds) and medical. They also measure percent of fires contained. Can't compare to MP although perhaps they do publish those stats.

On efficiency, it comes down to dollars/activity. Given they respond to a similar number of incidents, you would think they'd be similar in cost. Palo Alto had $22.5M in salary/benefits and $26.2M with services/supplies. MPFD spent $27.2M in salary/benefits and $32.9M with services/supplies. Seems there are inefficiencies against a similar body.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 21, 2017 at 4:40 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Palo Alto had $22.5M in salary/benefits and $26.2M with services/supplies. MPFD spent $27.2M in salary/benefits and $32.9M with services/supplies. Seems there are inefficiencies against a similar body."

Not really because Palo Alto Fire does not pay for the land on which its stations sit or for much of its admin overhead - both of which are provided by the City government.

Here is some of the operational data you are looking for:
Web Link

And here are two reports that contain the data on response times:

Web Link

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 21, 2017 at 5:02 pm

Peter,

"One question, is that funded by the state and federal governments directly or does it get paid out of the MPFPD funds?"
All the costs for deployed MPFPD firefighters (including MPFPD's overhead and backfill costs) are paid by the State or Federal government to the Fire District. The Fire District pays the individuals involved as part of the normal MPFOPD payroll process.

I honestly don't know if you just did not understand the basic question or if you are being intentionally misleading. The question was, are the funds paid for these deployments coming from the MPFPD budget (ie money collected from the constituents of the MPFPD) or are they paid out of state and federal funds on top of the MPFPD budget. Who is footing the bill for these state and federal deployments?

Given your answer I am going to take it to mean that the full amount paid to the fire personnel is funded by the constituents of the MPFPD and that there is no contribution by the State or Federal government to cover costs for deployments. That would make your over stated "much of the overtime was for fully funded emergency Federal and State deployments - deployments which inevitably required long separation from their families" pretty much irrelevant.

As for long deployments away from family. Does the chief walk around the fire house, point to people and say "You are going on deployment for a month get ready or you are fired"? No he does not. The possibility of deployment was discussed during the job hiring process and I believe it is mostly voluntary. More along the lines of "We need 10 personnel to go to this fire, it will pay overtime, who is interested". So since it is not forced and it is not for a long time (compared to a military deployment) and they are amply compensated for it I do not think "separation from family" is relevant.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 21, 2017 at 5:09 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" The question was, are the funds paid for these deployments coming from the MPFPD budget (ie money collected from the constituents of the MPFPD) or are they paid out of state and federal funds on top of the MPFPD budget. Who is footing the bill for these state and federal deployments? "

My answer was very clear:"ALL the costs for deployed MPFPD firefighters (including MPFPD's overhead and backfill costs) are paid by the State or Federal government to the Fire District."

"Given your answer I am going to take it to mean that the full amount paid to the fire personnel is funded by the constituents of the MPFPD and that there is no contribution by the State or Federal government to cover costs for deployments." Then you are making a deliberately wrong conclusion - why?


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 21, 2017 at 5:15 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Neither overtime or deployments are voluntary. Firefighters who have the necessary skills and availability are assigned as needed.

For example, when an engine crew is required for deployment the firefighters who are on that engine at the time the request is received are dispatched (usually within an hour) - for as long as the assignment takes.


5 people like this
Posted by Jenson
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 23, 2017 at 10:13 pm

Sure seems like Peter has to spend a huge amount of time putting out Fires about district salaries, Atherton concerns over service and general concern about the fire district operation. It does appear that when the time comes in 2019 its time for some major changes in how the fire district operates. This much rhetoric is not a sign of a content public. Salaries of over $300.000 for personnel are out of line and Peter please don't respond with you list of 8 items again unless you include number 9 that has been posted as often by other posters.


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo. Voter
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Apr 23, 2017 at 10:20 pm

"Salaries of over $300.000 for personnel are out of line..."

They're salaries aren't over $300k. Read the article. Try to pay attention. Read the responses to questions. Those that earned over $300k did so working overtime. Their base salaries were in the neighborhood of $127k. Get it now?


4 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 24, 2017 at 8:24 am

Menlo Voter,

You say that like everyone should go "Oh, OK we paid overtime and not salary., that makes it alright
Well sorry but OT is even worse because you are paying 1.5 or even 2x the base pay rate. That means for the same dollar spent you get 2/3 or Half the amount of work. How does that make this any better and not Much Much worse. Peter keeps saying this OT was because of a self imposed hiring moratorium. Keywords being SELF IMPOSED. When you are paying that much OT and getting much less for it, it make sense to hire another person or persons, you end up paying less and getting more for what you do pay, you also employ another trained person.

The bottom line is that there are serious problems in the MPFPD and they are coming up in stores here and there from Atherton approving a study to Menlo Park being unhappy with the information they receive to the residents of Belle Haven being angry over the actions to take peoples property. The salary story is just one more, dare I say nail in the coffin.


16 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 24, 2017 at 9:12 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Brian - Every time you post you create a wonderful opportunity for education and reeducation.

Overtime does not incur additional benefits or pension obligations, and since MPFPD charges 41% of base pay for pension costs and other benefits exceed 9%, overtime is not more expensive than would be hiring additional personnel.

Also it is unwise to hire additional personnel in order to meet a peak demand , particularly when the on the job training required is measured in months not days and hence an unpredictable short term demand created by a disaster or wildland fire deployment would be over before a new hire would have been ready to perform the required role.

As explained many times above the self imposed hiring freeze was made during the economic downturn to ensure that the district could continue to afford to fully pay its personnel and all of the related pension obligations with a drop in revenues. To have made long term hires at that time would have been irresponsible - as many other local agencies have found to their regret.

Next lesson?


5 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 24, 2017 at 10:48 am

Peter,

That is funny, because every time you post you leave the majority of us wondering how you got elected and who was crazy enough to make you President.

Would you like to be transparent and break down for us what portion of overtime was paid at the 1.5x rate and what was paid at 2.0x rate? Was any over time paid at a higher than 2.0 rate?

Now to your point, the amount paid in overtime to the two Engineer-Paramedics was about $309K If you take the overtime out of their Total Compensation you are left with $217K. Now that mean that someone hired, even if you were paying that level of compensation would save the taxpayers $92K. I would guess that these two have been with the FD for a while and that is why they are getting the over time so the savings are probably greater. If you would like to share details about each of the people in the compensation list for this article, information that can be independently verified, we could evaluate better.

"Also it is unwise to hire additional personnel in order to meet a peak demand" When you are paying over time that is close to 1.5 times the cost of hiring a person full time that hardly constitutes "Peak Demand" that is a clear indicator that have poorly planned your staffing needs and are "being penny wise and pound foolish"

Keep trying Peter, the people in this district know that something stinks and regardless of your repeated excuses it is not going to disappear. Given all the recent issues that you are so fervently defending (and exacerbating at the same time) I expect things won't get any better until we have a new board. Hopefully then.




23 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 24, 2017 at 10:51 am

Peter,

The lesson you really need is how to listen and not talk. People are not happy (City councils, residents, tax payers) and your comments and lackluster attempts to defend the MPFPD have done nothing to allay that dissatisfaction, if anything I would say they have just made them worse. You are in fact your own worse enemy. I doubt you will learn anything, you are to entrenched in your ways.

Brian


7 people like this
Posted by insane grip
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 24, 2017 at 11:02 am

"reeducation"

Holy Labor Camp, Batman! ya don't see that word everyday... Do not allow "reeducation" to brainwash away the real numbers.


$387,799.00


15 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 24, 2017 at 11:50 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Per the Firefighters' MOU Overtime Pay is "at 1.5 Times Base rate, all specialty pay applicable, Holiday in-lieu pay, and BA Ed. Incentive pay if applicable."

No one at MPFPD gets 2 times overtime.

"a clear indicator that have poorly planned your staffing needs " - unfortunately disasters and deployments are, by definition, never predictable. And in the fire service retirements are unpredictable - some occur sooner than "planned" due to disabilities and others occur long after "planned" because firefighters love what they do and some continue to work for 10% of their pay after they after eligible to retire. Forcing them to retire as "planned" would be just plain stupid.

Hiring a student pilot to prevent paying overtime to an ATP rated airline pilot might theoretically save salary dollars but it would be illegal and dangerous. Similarly hiring a new, untrained firefighter to prevent having to pay overtime to a highly trained and experienced firefighter would be illegal and dangerous.

Next lesson?


5 people like this
Posted by insane grip
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 24, 2017 at 12:11 pm

The more he tries (and he is trying something awful...)


$387,799.00




6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 24, 2017 at 12:55 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

One of my responsibilities as an elected official is to answer questions from my constituents.

In reviewing the above thread I cannot find a single question that I have not answered. If there is one such unanswered question then please repeat the question.

I am reminded of a friend who commented that his students were complaining that "we are not communicating" when what they really meant was "we don't like what we hear".

Less than 0.001% of the residents of the Fire District have complained in this Forum.

When some Belle Haven residents complained at a Fire Board meeting they were stunned that we not only heard them but that we immediately accepted their criticisms and changed our direction.

The Menlo Park Council issues will disappear as soon as the issue of a fire impact fee for new developments is taken off their table.

The Atherton Council issue will resolve itself when their study is done and they realize that they really don't have any options that don't involve hurting their own residents as well as the other residents of the District.

And in the meantime the Fire District will do exactly what my 90,000 plus constituents want it to do - provide high quality, rapid response to emergencies in our community. That is what really counts.



16 people like this
Posted by Let's Make it Happen!
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 24, 2017 at 1:22 pm

First, it is extremely hard to tell when Mr. Carpenter is commenting as a private citizen or in his official capacity as the President of the Fire Board (i.e. the elected official). The last post is clearly in his capacity as an elected official. And one wonders sometimes how anyone can separate the two - answer, they can't. There is no reasonable way for Mr. Carpenter to distinguish his posts in that manner. He is one and the same - private citizen AND elected official. It is time he admits that. While being an elected official does not eliminate his rights as a private citizen - it does mean that the public - those that he serves - will have a hard time distinguishing between the two and if the issue being commented upon is within the jurisdiction of the District (i.e. salaries of the fire personnel) - he cannot switch hats in the eyes of the public. He needs to acknowledge this.

Second, public safety personnel make good money to run into the burning building and run toward the bullets. There is no true private sector comparative. One might try and approximate, but you won't find one. Private security guards are not charged with stepping in front of the bullets to protect the public at large or to run into the burning building. Volunteer fire departments work fine in rural areas where most of the response to burning structures is to let them burn and manage the incident. Public safety personnel are paid well to reflect this - they encounter hazards every day as part of their job. Yes, they may have down time due to the ebb and flow of public safety needs - that's normal with any job of this nature that responds to ad hoc incidents. Fire and Police are often on long shifts (12-hour shifts and/or 36-hour shifts) - Police Officers hang out at Starbucks and other local hangouts often seen as "community policing" or "presence" - same with fire fighters.

Third, the reasonableness question of that "good money" is for the public to weigh in on by making their voices heard to the elected officials responsible for setting the system in place. If they don't do that, the elected officials will move ahead with what they deem reasonable - and it may or may not be what you deem reasonable. But, it is incumbent on YOU to step up and attend those publicly noticed meetings to make your voice heard. There are a lot of "benefits" that accrue in addition to base salary. Hazard pay, special assignment pay, acting pay, mileage, cell phones, medical, retirement, education reimbursement, training, and not to mention - a stipend for living within a certain distance from the agency.

Last, there ARE issues with the Fire District and just because people do not show up at a Board meeting to vocalize their concerns does not mean that there are not issues that need to be dealt with collaboratively. To think otherwise is putting your head in the sand, ignoring what you know of public sentiment and disregarding concerns that have been expressed by constituents. Just because it is 0.001% of those you serve that are commenting doesn't make it any less important. There would not have been a Belle Haven issue if the approach had been different by the Fire District and Menlo Park. There would not be an Atherton Study if the approach from the Fire District had been different. Why do these two communities - which represent the same people you do - have to resort to sending formal letters and other requests to get a response from the District? Why does it take an email from the President of the Fire Board to the Fire Chief to spur the dissemination of information?

These are not operational issues or salary issues - these are management and Board issues. Attacking salaries, pay, overtime, engine's at grocery stores, etc. - those are symptoms. The real issues are management and Board.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 24, 2017 at 1:39 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" Just because it is 0.001% of those you serve that are commenting doesn't make it any less important"

Agreed - any issue can be important regardless of where it is raised but in a democracy a very vocal very small minority cannot be assumed to be speaking for the majority.

"There would not have been a Belle Haven issue if the approach had been different by the Fire District and Menlo Park."

Agreed - and the Fire Board immediately changed their position while Menlo Park continues to ignore the Fire District's requests regarding expanding the Fire District's capabilities to respond to the huge M2 developments approved by MP.

"There would not be an Atherton Study if the approach from the Fire District had been different."

I disagree. The Fire District answered every question that Atherton asked except the one for which the Fire District had no data - how much did the District spend in Atherton.

To test the viability of that question (revenues vs expenses for a portion of a political entity) I asked Atherton how much revenue they received from the Lindenwood neighborhood and how much they spent in the Lindenwood neighborhood. To his credit the Town Manager tried hard to collect that data but was unable to do so. I also asked Cong. Eshoo how much revenue the Federal government collects from Atherton residents and how much the Federal government spends in Atherton - 6 months later there has been no answer.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 24, 2017 at 2:27 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"He is one and the same - private citizen AND elected official. "

I acknowledge that fact.

When I post here I am posting as an individual - an individual Citizen and, when discussing Fire District matters, an INDIVIDUAL Fire Board Director.

I ONLY post on this Forum as President of the Fire Board and on BEHALF of the Fire Board when I explicitly state that I am doing so - and that is very seldom and usually just a reposting of a publicly issued document over my signature as Board President.


26 people like this
Posted by Èric
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 24, 2017 at 2:31 pm

Geez Louise, Peter!

Do you want people to take you seriously and actually read your diatribes and tomes?

Then start out by saying: yeah, $390,000.00 a year is a problem and something probably should be done about it.

Have I missed that in your ~10,000 words above?

Does 390k even pass the smell test for you?

[Portion removed]


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 24, 2017 at 2:38 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

To be VERY clear - 390,000.00 a year is NOT a problem iIF:

the individual who EARNED that amount put in the thousands of hours necessary to earn that amount ( which includes base pay, overtime, benefits AND pension costs - a total never seen in other compensation discussions),

and the compensation was the result of a publicly disclosed and debated labor contract that was approved in public session ONLY after having been posted for public review.


In this case I know for a fact that both conditions were fully met.


15 people like this
Posted by tivo rap
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 24, 2017 at 3:15 pm

There we are. $387k? Nothing to see here.

Never wrong, are we?


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 24, 2017 at 3:24 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"There we are. $387k? Nothing to see here."

There is lots to see here:

1 - thousands of hours of dedicated, often stressful and occasionally dangerous service by a highly trained and experienced firefighter

2 - paid for under a mutually negotiated labor contract that was approved after full and open public discussion

3 - which includes base pay, overtime, benefits and total pension costs

4 - much of which was reimbursed by State and Federal agencies and no cost to the Fire District


7 people like this
Posted by scottish
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 24, 2017 at 5:12 pm

Is $486,000 too much?

How about $886,000?


8 people like this
Posted by Jenson
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 24, 2017 at 8:40 pm

No matter how you want to spin it menlo voter, fire personnel are making well over $300.00 and it is out of line. Look at the thread in these comments
Get it now


8 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 24, 2017 at 9:54 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Jenson:

NO, I don't get it. What I see are a bunch of jealous people that are angry that SOME firefighters can make a lot more money than them. Gee, why aren't you bitching about the money CEO's make (its completely out of line with what they do) or venture capitalists (they make ridiculous amounts of money)?

Answer I suspect: "CEO's put in many, many hours to earn their insane salaries" (and thy are insane) Well in excess of $300k a year, by the way. And they don't run into burning buildings or respond to medical emergencies or disasters.

Guess what? The firefighters that made that kind of money put in many, many hours to earn it. Why do you have a problem with someone working very, very hard and many, many hours being paid for that effort and time? Jealousy. Or as most over educated folks around here, you place no value on the work done by your lesser educated fellow citizens. After all, "firefighters don't even have to have a college education." Like that's some be all and end all of a person's value in the work force.


9 people like this
Posted by insane grip
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 24, 2017 at 11:00 pm

MV; this isn't about private sector jobs, such as your venture capital red herring.

387,000 tax payer dollars.

Would 487k be too much for you?


9 people like this
Posted by fun with numbers
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 25, 2017 at 1:39 am

Wow, one individual made over 30 comments on this thread of a little over 100 comments. (and thousands more on other articles)

Yes questions were answered, but the sentiment ignored.


8 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 25, 2017 at 7:43 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

insane:

as long as the person put in the hours to earn that $487k, no, I don't have a problem with it. Why do you? It's work that has to be done. You could take that $487k and spread it across three firefighters and no one would be bitching. $487k of tax payer money still would be getting spent because its work that has to be done. No one would bitch because it doesn't have the same optics. And optics is really all we're talking about here.


14 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 25, 2017 at 8:35 am

"To be VERY clear - 390,000.00 a year is NOT a problem iIF"

Peter, it is a problem, and a bigger problem is you either don't see that or refuse to acknowledge it. Read through the 100+ messages again and it is pretty easy to see that except for you and one or two others everyone thinks this is a problem.

What makes even this problem worse is you. You get very antagonistic and defensive. I really don't know how you got elected President, you don't seem to have the temperament for that position. As for Communicating, you actually are not. You are doing the equivalent of shouting and not listening, not having a reasonable two way communications. If you think you are maybe you need a lesson on what communication really is, but I won't wast my time trying to educate someone who does not care to learn, and that is you to a tee.

Argue all your points over and over again if you want, think you have addressed the concerns in the 100+ posts here and the several hundred in the different topics related to the MPFPD that have come in in the past weeks but you are not helping your position, you have not said one thing that makes me feel better about paying $387,000 to a person in the district or the huge amounts of overtime.

I honestly believe that if anyone looks back at the MPFPD in 20 or 50 years this will be considered "the Bad Times"


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 25, 2017 at 8:58 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

My objective is to make sure that the facts are clear and then to explain why I believe those facts are defensible or not. In this case the facts are fully defensible but that defense requires looking carefully at the details involved rather than simplistic responses.

I understand that you and I disagree on our evaluations of the facts but there is no disagreement on the facts themselves.

And yes, is pretty easy to see that except for you and one or two others no one else thinks this is a problem.

This Forum is a very, very small subset of the community and I have learned how two or three people on this Forum , some often employing multiple identities, can attempt to claim that they represent the community. That is very different than being elected by the citizens three times, each time with more votes than any other candidate, as a Director of the Fire District.


7 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 25, 2017 at 11:33 am

I think we do disagree on the facts and I certainly disagree with your "And yes, is pretty easy to see that except for you and one or two others no one else thinks this is a problem. "

Just for fun, scroll up to the top of the comments, tell me how may people have "likes" the comments where people think this compensation amounts are out of line. Then scroll down through your posts and tell me how many people like your comments. What does that say. I agree that people use multiple identities, that seems to go both ways. I have no way of knowing if you only post as Peter or if you have aliases. that is just a fact.

As for your elections I would chalk that up as apathy for the position but the constituency more than anything else. I think that is true for the MPFPD as well as the Harbor district, people don't care until something makes them care. You are doing well at making people care and not in a good way.


6 people like this
Posted by insane grip
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 25, 2017 at 12:40 pm

Can't use 'likes' as data on this forum. Too archaic of a comment system.


2 people like this
Posted by henry fox
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 25, 2017 at 2:10 pm

What follows is an excerpt from a Menlofuture email.

“… the MPFD should be called the Emergency Services District because less than 5% of its calls are in response to fires. Most are for medical emergencies. And currently response times are threatened by the increases in traffic-- local and regional.

And while the allocation of our tax contribution was frozen by Prop 13 [and the legislature], I do wonder whether this wealthy district should be helping our communities (not just itself):
•By improving traffic flow by contributing to the Dumbarton Rail, Grade separations and other innovative transportation solutions to safeguard response times?
•By using a motorcycle response instead of sending a fire truck to health emergency calls?
•Or by better training our citizens in emergency medical response?”

Anyone can get on the Menlofuture email list by sending a request to menlofuture@gmail.com


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 25, 2017 at 2:36 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Henry - great suggestions.

The District is already implementing new response models using both smaller vehicles, called squads which have a two person crew, and UAV's.

The District has long ago voluntarily and at its own expense taken on the cities and town's legal responsibility for CERT training and has made great progress.

The District has zero responsibility for roads and transportation infrastructure and looks to the cities and town to solve those problems as quickly as possible.


17 people like this
Posted by get real
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 25, 2017 at 4:33 pm

Since this irresponsible level of salary funding has happened under Mr. Carpenters's watch, I'm glad that he has decided not to run again. Hopefully his replacement will bring fiscal restraint in a market-based approach to obtaining qualified people. It was also be great if people with obvious COI were not dominating the discussion. It doesn't matter whether this is due to overtime or base - it's a problem, and voters should (and I believe will)demand accountability for this misuse of our tax dollars. Kudos to the Almanac for bringing this to light.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 25, 2017 at 4:53 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The firefighter pay scales were the result a a legally required negotiated agreement -and after more than six years without a labor agreement because the Board refused to accept an earlier union demand.

The negotiated agreement was publicly disclosed and debated before it was approved in public session and ONLY after having been posted for public review.


27 people like this
Posted by Menlo Park
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 25, 2017 at 5:39 pm

Peter, if you truly believed that this Town Forum only represented "2 or 3" vocal opponents to your insanely expensive Fire District, you would not go to such extensive lengths to rebut, argue, diminish, and undermine those that disagree with you.

You are the embodiment of "Thou doth protest too much".

And speaking of multiple identities, why is there a "Peter Carpenter" and a "Peter F Carpenter" ?


26 people like this
Posted by Menlo Man
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 25, 2017 at 5:45 pm

It still boggles the mind the audacity Peter had to accuse the MPCSD school board of financial mis-management of taxpayer dollars when his bloated fire district has TWELVE employees over 300k and a top salary of nearly 400k...glad his days of public service are numbered...


13 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 25, 2017 at 9:43 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

When there are new, unanswered questions there will be new answers.


4 people like this
Posted by resident,
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 26, 2017 at 12:58 am

Then Peter, Having served,

How can you look an Iraq war combat veteran in the eye when he or she returns from battle and makes less than

.20 on the dollar of what your fireman make.

I couldn't,


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 26, 2017 at 6:41 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

There are military veterans serving as MPFPD firefighters and, both as a military veteran and as a former firefighter, we look each other in the eye with mutual pride and respect.


6 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 26, 2017 at 7:31 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

resident:

nice false equivalence


4 people like this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 26, 2017 at 2:49 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

@ Peter:
I just read that the MPFPD earned a Class 2 fire rating, which is a basis for the cost of fire insurance. Congratulations to all members of the Protection District!!


8 people like this
Posted by insane grip
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 26, 2017 at 2:59 pm

Foster City moved up to Class 2 15 years ago, iirc.

I assumed MP is Class 1, given all the hyperbole above: "its reputation as one of the best fire agencies in the Nation"

No?




4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 26, 2017 at 3:44 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

MPFPD has been Class 2 for many years - under the new system recertification is required every four years. That recertification affirmed MPFPD's Class 2 rating.

“The Fire District maintaining a class 2 rating is good for residential and business owners
because it affects the cost of insurance they purchase. Nationwide only 241 fire agencies have
earned a class 1 rating and 1,324 were rated as a class 2 Fire Agency. That places the Fire District
in the top 3.42 percent of all fire agencies rated by ISO in the United States."

The biggest impediment to obtaining a Class 1 rating is inadequate water supplies - over which the Fire District has no control.


7 people like this
Posted by Jenson
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 26, 2017 at 11:38 pm

Menlo voter you can make comments all you want about this issue but you should refrain from thinking you know why others disagree with you. Firefighters are doing a tough and dangerous job. I'm not arguing that. I do feel that regardless of what they do the money they make is too much and tax dollars can be spent in a more beneficial way for our community. Attacking others in this forum is pointless and shows a lack of respect for others opinions.


5 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 26, 2017 at 11:47 pm

jenson:

I don't think I've "attacked" anyone here. My last post called someone on their false equivalence which is exactly what it was. If calling someone out on their BS is "attacking" them, then the world must be a terribly frightening place for them. By the way, I have a son that is a Naval Officer so I know of what I speak. You may think our firefighters are "overpaid" but they have negotiated for the wages and benefits they make as is their right. Do you think unions don't have a right to do that?


7 people like this
Posted by Ellen
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 27, 2017 at 3:12 pm

All unions have the right to negotiate and the right (and responsibility) to get for their membership the best deal they can. Management's obligation is to represent the tax payers in such negotiations to make sure their taxes are well spent. Let's not blame the union for what appears to be management's failure.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 27, 2017 at 3:18 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

A negotiated labor agreement is just that - a compromise reached by both sides.

And when the proposed agreement was posted for public comment before the Board voted to approve it only 2 members of the public even bothered to comment.


5 people like this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 27, 2017 at 3:23 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

Of course Peter, people like to complain about everything. Read a report?? You have got to be joking. Complain, complain is the preference.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 27, 2017 at 3:38 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is the Staff Report issued before the 2015 MOU was approved:

Web Link

Here is the Q&A published at that time:

Web Link

12 citizen wrote letters opposing the MOU but only only 2(?) citizens spoke against the agreement at the public hearing.


8 people like this
Posted by To Peter
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 28, 2017 at 9:04 am

I get a server error trying to access those docs. Are they behind a firewall?

However, the devil is always in the detail. Was there any indication that individuals would be eligible for and then receiving $200-350K in compensation?

Publicized where?

Recreating what happened to get us to this point may point to suggested changes going forward in communication, transparency, and strategy so that taxpayers are aware and can better chose to be involved in our democracy.

And with progress, democracy needs to evolve. Attendance at a public meeting CANNOT be the only way to be involved in giving feedback on democratic issues. Most people work crazy jobs, have family and other obligations or constraints, and want to participate but cannot. Find an additional forum that is more accessible to far more taxpayers in our modern times.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 28, 2017 at 9:44 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

When long URL links are posted on the Almanac the Almanac's processing frequently truncates those lonks and then the links no longer work.

Here is the District's Sunshine Policy:

RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE MENLO PARK FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT ADOPTING A POLICY REGARDING DISTRIBUTION
OF PROPOSED COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENTS


WHEREAS, in accordance with the policy of promoting prompt public access to government records, the California Public Records Act broadly defines public records (Gov. Code Section 6252, subdivision (3)) and the exceptions to disclosing public records under the California Public Records Act are narrow; and

WHEREAS, the Ralph M. Brown Act, Government Code Sections 54950 through 54963, enacted into law in 1953, requires open meetings of local agencies “to curb misuse of the democratic process by secret legislation of public bodies”; and

WHEREAS, the Ralph M. Brown Act “…reflects a legislative determination that ‘public agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business,’ and an intent ‘that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly’ (Gov. Code Section 54950); and

WHEREAS, the Ralph M. Brown Act and the California Public Records Act require the District to conduct its business in a transparent manner; and

WHEREAS, the Board, as duly elected representatives of the citizens within the District, in conformance with the Ralph M. Brown Act and the California Public Records Act, is committed to providing the District’s citizens with information considered by the Board in making its decisions; and

WHEREAS, the Board believes due to the importance of proposed collective bargaining agreements with the District employee labor representatives, that these proposed agreements should be made available to the citizens of the District in sufficient time prior to the Board’s adoption of the proposed agreements so as to allow for adequate review and comment by the public prior to final Board action.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Directors of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District does hereby move that any proposed collectively bargained labor agreement between the District and designated District employee representatives shall be made publicly available at least fifteen (15) calendar days before the meeting at which the agreement will be acted on by the Board.


PASSED AND ADOPTED as a resolution of the Board of Directors of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District at the Regular Meeting held on the 16th day of December 2008 by the following vote:


***
The 2015 Labor Agreement/MOU was posted in accordance wit that policy and was widely covered by the Post, the Mercury News and perhaps the Almanac prior to being voted on by the Board.



5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 28, 2017 at 9:48 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here are the 2015 Q&Ss that were posted before the Board voted on the 2015 MOU:

ATTACHMENT C
Menlo Park Fire Protection District
Questions related to the Firefighters proposed new contract, or Memorandum
of Understanding (MOU), are listed below with answers based upon
information that has been received from the public or in conversation with staff
members
Letters of opinion, or statements, will be placed in the Board Packet for the
August 25th, 2015 Board meeting in their entirety.
Question:
1. Where can I find the Firefighters new proposed contract or Memorandum of Understanding
(MOU) for review?
Answer – The MOU can be found on the District’s web-site or it can be mailed to you if
requested by calling the Clerk of the Board at 688-1466.
2. How can I submit a question regarding the Firefighters proposed contract?
Answer – You may submit questions by contacting the Clerk of the Fire Board via e-mail at
mradcliffe@menlofire.org or by calling 688-1466 during normal business hours, Monday thru
Thursday.
3. Why did the Fire Board choose to “sunshine” or post the proposed Firefighters contract on its
web-site for 30 days?
Answer – The Fire Board has adopted a number of transparency policies related to open
government. The intent of these policies is to allow citizens to engage in feedback prior to the
Board deliberating and making a final decision on important topics, like the Firefighters
proposed MOU. This is considered a “best practices” approach to civic engagement.
4. Will any compensation increases result in new taxes for the public?
Answer – No, this will not result in any new taxes or an increase to current property taxes paid
by the public.
5. Is the Fire District’s “Appropriations Spending Limit” on the November ballot related to this
proposed contract?
Answer – No, the Appropriations Spending Limit is not related to this contract. A majority yes
vote by residents allows the Fire District to use all of the funds it receives in property taxes for
the next 4 years. If the limit is not increased and approved by a vote of the public, then funds in
excess of the limit would be given directly to the County.
ATTACHMENT C
6. When did the Firefighters last have a contract with the Fire District?
Answer – The last actual contract was a two year agreement from July 2006 to June 2008. The
negotiations started well but quickly deteriorated thereafter. The past seven years have been
acrimonious, and for a period of time the negotiations broke down altogether. The negotiations
were also punctuated by unfair practice charges filed with the Public Employment Relations
Board, or PERB. After re-starting negotiations in 2014, the parties were close to a new
agreement when PERB issued its decisions in late 2014. The parties then focused on how to best
resolve all items related to those rulings within the context of creating a new MOU. With the
assistance of professional negotiators and the State Mediation and Conciliation Service, the
District and the Union finally resolved their differences and the proposed MOU is the result.
The PERB rulings can be found on the District’s web-site and serves as a back drop to these
negotiations. It also included a number of “tentative agreements”, items which had been
tentatively agreed upon as far back as 2008 and prior to the unfair labor practice charges being
filed by the Union.
7. How long is the new Firefighters contract or MOU good for?
Answer – The new contract term is from July 2014 to June 2018, or a four year agreement.
Although, one could make the case that this agreement essentially covers a ten year span since
the firefighters have not received any type of negotiated increase or benefit since June 2007.
8. How do the residents benefit by the firefighters having a new contract agreement?
Answer – Labor stability benefits public employers and the community by insuring that the
District is able to recruit top candidates for any position, retain existing employees so they don’t
elect to leave the agency and so that the organization maintains a high level of professionalism,
energy, loyalty, confidence, and trust critical to employee morale.
It also frees the District from the considerable administrative burdens, attorney fees, and other
costs associated with these protracted and difficult negotiations. Substantively, District staff
believes that the terms of the agreement are reasonable and meet the needs of the public going
forward.
9. What is the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), and why do they have some say over
contract negotiations?
Answer - PERB is a state agency that administers the statutes governing the public sector
collective bargaining process. State law allows a union or public agency to file an unfair labor
practice complaint if they believe the opposing party is not following the collective bargaining
laws. Additionally, pursuant to California law, if the parties cannot reach a negotiated
settlement and one party declares impasse, the union (only the union) may request a fact
finding hearing in which PERB will assign one neutral panel member to participate in the fact
finding hearing.
ATTACHMENT C
10. How are firefighters paid in comparison to other surrounding or comparably sized fire agencies?
Answer – Based upon a survey completed in July and which included Palo Alto, Mountain View,
Redwood City, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Fremont, Daly City, Hayward, San Rafael and South San
Francisco Fire Agencies, the hourly pay rate for our firefighters was the lowest out of 11
agencies, for Engineer/EMT AND Captain/EMT we ranked 8th among 11 agencies and for
Engineer and Captain paramedics we ranked 5th out of 7 of the agencies that had these
positions.
11. How much will the firefighter’s base pay rate increase during this contract?
Answer: The proposed MOU would provide for a base salary increase in each year of the
contract as follows: 9%, 3%, 3% and 3%. In a year-to-year basis that totals 18%. However, each
year the increase resets the base higher for the following year’s increase. When factoring in this
compounding effect, the base increases 19.1% from the MOU salary adjustments.
12. Is it true that the firefighters, over the span of the contract, will be receiving increases to their
compensation as high as a 41% increase?
Answer - This amount is based on conservative assumptions and includes a worst case “all
costs” scenario for the District related to the current employee unit. There are some benefits
that are tied to salary such that when salary increases, the cost of those benefits increase.
There are also other increases in the proposed contract that are not tied to salary such as
medical premiums. When factoring in all of the increases and the compounding effect, the costs
to the District could increase by 41%, or about $14 million dollars, when comparing the end of
the contract to the beginning.
We know that retirements will occur in senior higher compensated employees. We also believe
that a number of employees will select the less expensive “cash opt out” for Health Care
benefits. It is also important to note that actual pension costs are currently being set aside at a
rate higher than is actual and classic employees are paying more towards these costs. Those are
some of the reasons we believe that the 41% is a higher, over estimation, of what could and
more than likely will occur.
13. Can the Fire District afford this agreement and will it be forced to sacrifice service delivery or
defer purchasing new fire engines or rebuilding fire stations?
Answer - As stated in the overview listed on the web-site, as a portion of the total budget, total
compensation increases to 67% of budget with these increases during the current fiscal year.
The District’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and information can be found within the District’s
recently approved budget for 2015/16 on the web-site. Fire Station reserves are funded at $2.5
million per year and will grow to an estimated $20.8 million this fiscal year. The newly rebuilt
Fire Station 2 in East Palo Alto is almost finished and Fire Station 6 in downtown Menlo Park
should break ground this fiscal year, both are fully funded.
ATTACHMENT C
Station 1 and 4 are over 60 years old and will need to be replaced next. The order of priority will
need to be revisited this fiscal year but currently Station 4 has a funded budget of $10 million
dollars and Station 1 has just over $3 million dollars.
Station 77, a much newer facility, may need to be remodeled or replaced based upon growth in
the M2, or eastern side of the Fire District, per the Standards of Cover (SOC) report and based
upon the Districts ability to purchase the property from the City of Menlo Park.
For operational purposes and to minimize service disruption, the Fire Chief estimates that the
District would be able to start its next station project as soon as 2017/18. This is based upon the
completion of Fire Station 6, which would free up the temporary mobile living quarters and the
apparatus tent used to house the fire engine and owned by the Fire District.
The fleet assets, fire apparatus and vehicles, represent $9.2 million in rolling stock assets. The
District currently has $7.2 million in reserves for fleet replacement based upon an annual
amortization and service life profile. A new Fire Engine was ordered last year and is anticipated
to arrive in September 2015.
In summary, the reserves represent a methodical effort by this Fire Board and others Boards
before them, for the agency to live within its means and set aside funds for anticipated future
liabilities.
That said, budget modifications and adjustments going forward may need to be made to add or
potentially change apparatus and staffing.
14. Did the Fire Board conduct a compensation study?
Answer – The Human Resources Manager used a number of methodologies to determine
compensation comparability with other local and regional fire agencies including pay, the
increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), internal compaction, total compensation, cumulative
cost, ability to pay, affordability and percentage of current and future estimated budgets.
This information has evolved since negotiations were restarted last year and the Fire Board has
been updated, advised and direction given to staff all along the way.
15. Are the firefighters receiving excessive increases to their medical benefits and can they receive
cash instead of care that compounds in their pension?
Answer - No, monies paid toward medical benefits or in the case of an “opt out” of medical
benefits can be considered pensionable income. Section 5.1 of the proposed MOU language
states “the opt out benefit is taxable, but it is non-PERSable income”.
The District is sharing medical premium costs, with the District paying 90% of Kaiser family
premium and employees paying 10%. This approach shares the risk between both parties for
future increases. In Fiscal Year 2015-16 the District contribution will be $1,600 per month.
If an employee provides proof of other medical coverage, the employee may opt out of the
District medical insurance plan and receive a stipend of $1,100 per month to apply toward a
flexible spending account, life insurance or as cash. As described above it is taxable but is not
ATTACHMENT C
considered income for pension purposes. This approach allows flexibility to employees and
provides savings to the District should an employee waive the medical contribution.
16. How does the Affordable Care Act “Cadillac” status affect medical benefits?
Answer: It is difficult to anticipate how the “Cadillac Tax” might affect the District. The
Affordable Care Act (also known as “Obama Care”) includes a provision to assess a charge or
excise tax on medical insurance companies for plans offered that cost more than the statutedefined
thresholds. This provision is scheduled to take effect in 2018. The main driver of
medical costs is plan design. The District participates in the health program offered by CalPERS
along with many other public agencies with approximately 1.3 million lives covered. The plan
design is governed by CalPERS, which is carefully evaluating this issue. There has also been
discussion about possible federal legislation to modify the “Cadillac tax”. For these reasons it is
unclear what the impact of this provision may be in 2018.
17. I understand the Fire District has paid a significant amount of money towards employee
pensions. -What are the employees paying towards these costs and what can be changed?
Answer: CalPERS determines the rate an employer pays toward pension benefits based on a
complex actuarial analysis. The District has been proactive in paying off long-term liability over
the last 4 years, thereby reducing the District’s rates for future years.
Employees who are sworn firefighters pay 9% of their salary toward pension. This new
proposed agreement will provide for an additional 3% of salary (12% total) paid by firefighters,
which reduces the District’s contribution by that 3%.
When the pension reform law known as PEPRA (California Public Employees’ Pension Reform
Act) took effect on 1/1/2013, all pension benefits for then-current employees were set or frozen
at their then-current levels. This pension reform law also established a new, lower pension tier
for new hires after 1/1/2013 who were not already members of the pension system. Most of
the new hires made by the District are at the entry firefighter level. Nearly all of those new hires
will be placed in the new, lower pension tier, thereby providing long term savings to the District.
18. What is this workplace proximity stipend and how is it helpful?
Answer - The residency stipend is a creative way to encourage safety employees to reside within
60 miles of the Fire District. It is an operational benefit and improvement Currently 53 of 75
employees are eligible for this stipend which has a daily benefit related to unanticipated
backfills for vacancies created by illness, injury and deployments to wild fires and other
incidents or disasters the agency may be deployed to. In short, it cuts down on “replacement”
time which is a safety improvement.
A large scale local disaster may be problematic as it applies to firefighters returning to work
regardless of where they live and daily traffic issues can be problematic for local response as
referenced in the Standards of Cover report.
19. Where do our firefighters live?
ATTACHMENT C
Answer – Some live in the District or locally, but many do not.
· 18 live within or up to 10 miles away
· 13 live more than 10 miles away but within 20 miles
· 12 live more than 20 miles away but within 30 miles
· 9 live more than 40 miles away but less than 50 miles away
· 1 lives more than 50 miles away but less than 60 miles
· 22 live more than 61 miles away
20. How does the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) pay affect this agreement
Answer – 3.17 hours of time is paid each pay period regardless of the hours worked. This can be
found in section 2.2.2 of the proposed MOU. Prior to imposition of the Board resolutions in
2011, this was the Districts practice. The PERB 2 ruling reset the practice that had been in place.
21. Are the Chief Officers in the Union and will they also be getting pay increases?
Answer – The 7 Chief Officers, excluding the Fire Chief, are not members of a Union based upon
their salaried/exempt status. One of the Fire Chief’s goals for 2015 is to review their
compensation. If the firefighter’s contract is approved, it will result in what is called
“compaction”, meaning that the pay separation between a top step Captain and a Battalion
Chief will be decreased.
An evaluation of compensation and benefits for the Chief Officers needs to be reviewed
regardless for this group to determine if any updating needs to be done. The Chief Officers last
received an increase and modification in 2011.
22. Why are four firefighters needed to staff the Ladder Truck and how does that improve
community safety?
Answer – The starting point on this issue was determined by the PERB rulings. In addition, this
was an important issue to the Union, and one on which the District was willing to compromise
based on the fact that the proposed staffing would improve safety.
Historically, the Fire District used a Squad/Rescue/Truck combination which included two
response units and five personnel for technical rescues and fires. Once that changed, It created
a combination prevention/suppression model that incorporated a single 4 person truck by using
a flex staffing model.
The Union has agreed to meet and confer related to future expansion and changes but is
resolute about the immediate operational benefits of having four personnel on a piece of
equipment that requires that those personnel perform the most technical of rescues or most
dangerous of operations in a fire such as a victim rescue or ventilation operations above a fire.
This is not a safety issue for the residents but could be one for the firefighters on the Truck.
23. Your Standards of Cover study (SOC) says you may need more people or a new ladder truck on
the east side of Highway 101, who is paying for that?
ATTACHMENT C
Answer – Currently, those costs would come out of the District’s budget. Based upon daily
staffing levels, any change to staffing or the fleet budget would need to be discussed with the
Fire Board first.
The District recently completed a draft Impact Fee study. While our local jurisdictions City
Councils would need to agree to adopt ant type of development fee, the District is carefully
looking at all of its options. One time development fees would be used for facility, apparatus
and equipment costs only. Property tax revenue would be used for staffing changes and ongoing
costs.
24. How many people applied for the recent firefighter entry level testing process?
Answer – The District only accepted 600 applications of which 300 were for firefighter/EMT and
300 were for firefighter/paramedic. Based upon information needed to validate minimum
required certifications and other factors, 127 firefighter/EMT and 67 firefighter/paramedic
candidates participated taking three written exams.
55 of the top scoring candidates from both combined categories were invited to participate in a
structured panel interview of which 52 attended.
20 of those top scoring candidates moved forward to a Fire Chief’s interview of which 9 were
given conditional job offers. Each top candidate will need to be backgrounded, psychologically
checked, polygraphed and medically screened before starting a 16 week, pass/fail joint County
Fire Academy in September.
Once on line, probationary firefighters will be given a written and manipulative series of exams
and tests every three months for a period of one year before they become “firefighters”. In the
last two hiring’s, individuals have withdrawn, or been released, due to intense scrutiny and
performance expectations based upon the critical nature of this profession.
25. Firefighters don’t really go to many fires anymore and their jobs aren’t on the top 10 list
hazardous occupations so why should they be paid the salaries and receive the benefits they
have?
Answer - Attracting individuals to apply for these jobs is easy, finding the right people to entrust
the wellbeing and lives of the community too is not! Significant effort and time is placed on
finding candidates who put others before themselves, are compassionate, trustworthy and can
work in an often dangerous team environment where they will need to rely on one another and
their training.
Firefighters must possess judgement skills in line with the organizations mission and culture.
Acceptable risk is a factor that can be trained for but its threshold is specific to each individual.
Our mission and culture is to put ourselves between the problem, or incident, and the
community to deliver superior and reliable service to each customer.
In recent years firefighter fatalities and injuries have been reduced by significant efforts to
improve equipment, training and practices nationwide. The good news is the high number of
ATTACHMENT C
deaths and injuries have dramatically dropped, the reality is this is still a profession with
considerable risk and danger.
National data indicates that there are fewer fires but proportionally more firefighter fatalities
due to the heavy fire load and modern construction changes. There is also significant data now
being developed with regard to the risk from cancer to firefighters. All these factors weigh into
the decisions with regard to Fair compensation.
In summary, public safety isn’t for everyone. The Fire District is very careful and selective about
who we allow in the communities homes and during life altering moments where the difference
between life or death can be determined by the knowledge, skill, ability and actions of those
who are responding.
26. What is the District staff’s response to the criticism that this contract was done in haste and it
feels rushed and disorganized?
Answer – The contract negotiations resumed last year but on and off discussions have been ongoing
since 2008. The discussions, mediations, negotiations, impositions, charges, judgements
and proposed resolution have spanned years and multiple legal firms, individuals, time and
significant resources.
The Fire Board and staff have been fully engaged, briefed and guided by legal counsel and
subject matter experts during the recent labor negotiations. Significant to these negotiations
has been the PERB judgements and the ability of both parties to find common ground and
negotiate an agreement in good faith and collectively for review by the community and
potential approval, or disapproval, by the Fire Board on August 25, 2015.
27. Why did the Fire District use a third party to review contract costs?
Answer – On request of several Board members but with full Board agreement, MRG was
brought in to provide a third party review to validate contract costing but their role expanded to
the AFSCME contract, PERB calculations and working with staff validating this MOU’s costs. They
will be in attendance at the August 25th Board meeting.
28. Is the Fire Board going to have a hearing on the proposed MOU, if so when?
Answer – The next Fire Board meeting when the Firefighters MOU will be reviewed and
potentially decided upon is schedule for August 25, 2015 at 7 pm at Fire Station 1, located at
300 Middlefield Road in Menlo Park.
August 20, 2015


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 28, 2017 at 9:50 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is the Staff Report on the 2015 MOU:


STAFF REPORT
TO: Board of Directors MEETING DATE: August 25, 2015
FROM: Fire Chief PREPARED BY: Harold Schapelhouman
ITEM: APPROVE A FOUR YEAR MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING (MOU) WITH FINANCIAL COMPONENTS BETWEEN THE MENLO PARK FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT AND INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIREFIGHTERS, LOCAL 2400 DISTRICT 10
RECOMMENDATION
1. That the Board of Directors receives the report.
2. That the Board of Directors approve this proposed agreement and authorize the Board President and Fire Chief to sign a four year agreement, or MOU, between the District and IAFF 2400, District 10
BACKGROUND
The Fire District and Firefighters Union’s last formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) expired on June 30, 2008. Negotiations for a successor agreement proved unsuccessful, and the District Board eventually declared an impasse in December 2010, and implemented a last, best and final offer (LBFO 1) in April 2011. The Board subsequently implemented additional changes in October and November 2011 (LBFO 2).
The Union filed two separate unfair charges against the District with the Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) between 2008 and 2011. In August 2014, the District finally received adverse decision from PERB in the two matters pending regarding LBFO 1 and LBFO2. After conferring with the Fire Board and Union, all parties agreed that the PERB decisions would not be appealed by either party. Subsequent negotiations resulted in resolution of all matter by June 2015.
Before and after the PERB rulings, the Union and District representatives resumed negotiations for a successor MOU.
In Summary:
• PERB 1 involved 30 employees and was resolved by paying those employees $460,968.00
Page 2 of 4
• PERB 2 involved 92 employees and was resolved by paying those employees $1,063,143.00
During the discussions and negotiation of the PERB settlements, the District and Union continued to meet and negotiate regarding a successor MOU. Following subsequent meetings from January through May 2015 that included beneficial negotiations between the parties that now includes elements of the PERB resolution, former (Tentative Agreements) TAs, and the creation of a new MOU.
Working closely with the Union and staff, this has resulted in a collaborative and productive reset to the negotiations that has yielded significant benefits.
• The PERB settlements have been signed by the Union representatives.
• The Policy and Procedures manual has been completed and compliments the MOU.
• The 2008 tentative agreements have been updated, revised and included in the MOU.
• The MOU has been completely modified and updated.
• The economic impacts and costing models have been updated, refined and improved.
• The cost of the entire agreement is “affordable,” and the District has the ability to pay for this agreement with no negative effects on its ability to meet its mission.
• The Union negotiators and members have agreed to this four year MOU.
• A majority of the Fire Board agreed to publicly sunshine the Proposed MOU for 30 days.
• The Board directed that this item come before the full Board on August 25, 2015.
DISCUSSION
The new MOU represents the first time this document has been completely overhauled since July of 2006. Staff worked very closely with the negotiations team and Union to make sure the actual language was understandable and useable to all parties.
• Salary information – New Prevention personnel will not be attached to the suppression pay scale which will result in cost savings. Concessions on work hours and vehicle use are beneficial to the District.
• Pay tables are now available in hourly, semi-monthly and monthly formats for easy reference and accuracy.
• Pay steps were included to spread out costs to the agency and create incentives. In addition, significant turnover is expected once this agreement is approved, which will create cost savings for the organization.
• The residency stipend was agreed upon and is based upon a 60 mile radius in order to encourage employees to not move further away. AFSCME has a similar benefit.
• The two hour training limitation was eliminated and the DailyWork Schedule language is more reasonable, flexible and up to the Battalion Chief.
• Health Care has a 90/10 split with the employee paying 10% of their medical cost with a cap of $2,000 and does not impact rollup in PERS or overtime.
• Pension – Classic PERS members will pay an additional 3% towards retirement for a total of 12%. Cost savings are estimated to be in excess of $1.2 million over four years.
• Staffing - A fourth person will be assigned on the truck for safety – Anticipated cost per year $592,360. Other staffing models were relaxed or stayed status quo.
• Optional Paramedic educational training incentive that supports internal expansion and growth of EMTs to become medics - cost estimate $30,000.
Page 3 of 4
• The Joint Labor Management Committee format was modified and more beneficial.
• Sections on discipline were modified and the process along with appeals, procedures and resolution is significantly improved and laid out.
• Overall, language was simplified and items such as side letters, settlement agreements and T/As were woven into the document with cleaner, understandable language. Other items such as job classifications were removed from this document and placed elsewhere and other miscellaneous items estimated in total to be under $10k.
TERM
The parties have agreed upon an effective date of July 9, 2014, for the contract term given the extensive good faith negotiations which have occurred between the District and the Union. This means the economic increases would be effective July 9, 2014 as would the employees’ contribution of 3% toward District PERS costs. It is likely that several long term employees will then retire, resulting in promotional opportunities and lower overall payroll costs due to the hiring of more junior employees with a less costly CalPERS formula.
COST - FISCAL IMPACT – TOTAL EXPENSE:
Proposed
Proposed
Proposed
Proposed
2014-2015
2015-2016
2016-2017
2017-18
Annual Cost Increase Over Prior Year
1,345,720
1,548,768
1,440,267
687,217 $1,239,734
Annual Cost Increase Over Current Year 2014
1,345,720
2,894,487
4,334,754
5,021,971
5,574,488
Cumulative Cost Over Current 2014
1,345,720
4,240,207
8,574,961
13,596,933 $14,149,449
CAN THE DISTRICT AFFORD THIS – ABILITY TO PAY
Historical 2008 – 2015 - 76 personnel total 38% of expenditures, or 64% including all employees.
Year 1 – 76 personnel total 41% of expenditures or 67% for all employees.
CPI- U Bay Area Comparison:
2008 – 2014 December = 14.5%
2015 – 2018 December estimated at 2.7 per year = 10.8%
Estimated Total = 25.3%
Comparable Fire Agencies sample includes Palo Alto, Mountain View, Redwood City, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Fremont, Daly City, Hayward, San Rafael and South San Francisco.
Page 4 of 4
FF EMT FF Medic FE EMT FE MedicCapt EMTCapt MedicInspector40.52$ 44.71$ 43.61$ 47.80$ 49.27$ 53.46$ 56.86$ 37.75$ 41.88$ 41.42$ 41.21$ 48.33$ 50.10$ 55.44$ 37.33$ 41.20$ 36.79$ 39.14$ 44.74$ 44.55$ 54.10$ 36.15$ 39.14$ 36.42$ 38.83$ 41.56$ 43.37$ 53.79$ 33.94$ 37.34$ 36.00$ 37.02$ 40.71$ 42.15$ 53.66$ 33.24$ 36.56$ 35.58$ 35.43$ 40.21$ 42.03$ 53.20$ 31.97$ 35.66$ 35.51$ 34.95$ 40.04$ 38.93$ 31.62$ 35.17$ 34.47$ 39.60$ 30.26$ 33.43$ 33.21$ 38.63$ 29.45$ 33.14$ 31.77$ 37.36$ 27.11$ 30.97$ 31.49$ 35.75$ MPFPD CurrentHow we rank currently (2008-2015)
Potential Compaction – Top Step Captain to Battalion Chief 2015/16
Annual difference $164,900 to $171,950. – Difference is $7,050.
Percentage of separation 4.28%
SUMMARY FROM THE FIRE CHIEF – IMPACT TO THE AGENCY
This report is a summary of a collaborative final product, a great effort and the best work of many people who have pushed for resolution and the ability to move the organization forward towards a better tomorrow.
As the Fire Chief, there is always more to do or improve, but resolving these issues and having a new, fair and equitable MOU with the Firefighters Union will greatly benefit this organization and the communities we all serve.
I recommend you approve this agreement.
ATTACHMENTS
A. New MOU
B. Overview
C. Questions and Answers
D. Correspondence


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 29, 2017 at 9:05 am

"All unions have the right to negotiate and the right (and responsibility) to get for their membership the best deal they can. Management's obligation is to represent the tax payers in such negotiations to make sure their taxes are well spent. "

And that is what happened. There's a reason the firefighters went without a contract for six years. It's because the board wouldn't roll over to the union.


8 people like this
Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 29, 2017 at 9:11 am

@Peter Carpenter, thou doth protest too way too much. Attempting to justify this outrageous level of pay is likely not convincing anyone.

I have more than 20 years of work experience in engineering, a BSEE, MSEE, and and MBA all from top universities. I will never see this type of pay in my lifetime no matter how lucky I am or how hard I work.


11 people like this
Posted by insane grip
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 29, 2017 at 9:21 am

A 20,000 word goal, Peter? Within reach!

But there's that pesky set of facts known as reality:

$387,799.00

As in: $387,799.00 taxpayer dollars.

A year.


6 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 29, 2017 at 3:49 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Mike Keenly:

What is your BASE salary? What are your benefits worth? Are you an hourly employee or exempt? I suspect the latter, so of course you can't make OT pay. Neither can I as I'm also an exempt employee. Sounds to me like you engineers need to unionize and demand to be paid on an hourly basis so that all of those insane hours you guys work will be paid for at an overtime rate. Jealous much?


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 29, 2017 at 4:16 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Fire Board will review and update its Policy Manual at it May 16 Board Meeting.

That Policy Manual i(which is reviewed in public session and then updated in a following public session) ncludes the following sections:

5.12 Fire Board Employee Compensation Policy
The Fire Board values its represented and unrepresented employees and seeks to
provide equitable compensation for each group and classification. The District’s
Board of Directors may observe this policy when adopting compensation plans and
contracts covering District employees.
Principle No. 1 – Recruitment and Retention: Compensation should, when
economically feasible, be set at a level sufficient to recruit and retain employees
who are qualified and committed to provide high quality services to the
community. One critical measure of whether compensation meets this criterion is
whether there are a sufficient number of qualified applicants for advertised job
openings.
Principle No. 2 – Fairness: The Board may strive to ensure its compensation
program is fair and equitable from all legitimate perspectives, including the
perspectives of the community, labor and management. The District may choose to
survey public and private employers to evaluate the appropriateness and fairness of
its compensation program. The Board is directly accountable to the District’s
constituents, and the Board accordingly retains the discretion to determine the
fairness of all compensation programs.
Principle No. 3 – Transparency: Compensation for all District employees should
be 100% transparent – i.e., the public should be able to see all pay elements,
including the cost of all health, pension and welfare benefits, applicable to each
employee. District pay packages should be simple and easily understood.
Safeguards must be in place to prevent abuses such as pension spiking and
maximizing overtime through manipulation.
Principle No. 4 – Fiscal Sustainability: All compensation commitments must be
made consistent with principles of fiscal sustainability and to ensure the District’s
long term success in achieving its mission. Compensation adjustments must not
compromise the District’s ability to successfully meet its ongoing and future
financial commitments. The Board may observe its Labor Relations Policy and
Plan.
Principle No. 5 – Accountability: All compensation commitments must be
expressly delineated and are subject to formal approval by the Board of Directors.
The Board will not abide “implied” or unwritten contracts, or unspecified “past
practices,” that purport to require employee compensation.
Principle No. 6 – Performance Based Pay: Whenever reasonably possible,
compensation may be tied to merit and performance. The District may not permit
pay increases based merely on the length of employment.
Principle No. 7 – Economic Climate: The District may consider the overall
economic climate and condition affecting the District and its constituents when
setting compensation levels, including regional economic indicators such as the
rate of unemployment, inflation, current and projected revenues, and the District’s
anticipated ability to pay in the long term.
Principle No. 8 – Legal Compliance: The District will ensure that its pay practices
comport with the Fair Labor Standards Act and, to the extent legally applicable,
State law. The District renews its commitment to negotiate in good faith with labor
pursuant to the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (“MMBA”), and to abide by all
requirements of the MMBA.
Principle No. 9 – Flexibility: The District may strive to remain flexible and
innovative in light of changing conditions and improving technologies, and may
continually re-evaluate its pay practices to ensure they are consistent with best
practices. "

And:
"5.13 Collective Bargaining Agreement
It is the policy of the District Board to engage in discussions for the purpose of
reaching agreements with recognized employee groups (Represented Safety,
Represented Miscellaneous, Unrepresented Safety, Unrepresented Confidential and
Chief Officers), as required in the Meyers Milas-Brown Act. The District Board
should not directly engage in negotiations itself but reserves the right to delegate
to:
(1) The Fire Chief
(2) A contract negotiator
(3) A designee
the responsibility of negotiating with employee groups. During contract
negotiations a Board member should limit communication with the bargaining
group on matters pertaining to the negotiation. Board members shall not negotiate
directly with represented labor groups and cannot agree to anything as an
individual or on behalf of the Board while bargaining is underway.
The Memorandum of Understanding ( MOU) is entered into by and between the MENLO PARK FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT (District), a California Special
District and the MENLO PARK FIREFIGHTERS DISTRICT 10 OF THE
INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIREFIGHTERS, LOCAL 2400 (Union),
and the AMERICAN FEDERATION OF STATE, COUNTY, MUNICIPAL
EMPLOYEES LOCAL 829 (Union), pursuant to Government Code 3500, et seq.
The MOUs, including side letters to such, is of no force or in effect in regard to
matters within the authority of the District Board of Directors until such matters are
submitted to, and accepted by, the District Board of Directors. "

And:
"5.14 Sunshine Policy
It is Board Policy to be open and transparent in accordance with the law.
Accordingly, any collectively bargained labor agreement between the District and a
recognized employee association shall be made publicly available for thirty (30)
days before the meeting at which the agreement will be acted on by the Board of
Directors. "

*************
Interested citizens are encouraged to submit proposed changes to these policies and or appear at the May 16 meeting and provide your comments.

I know - that is hard work, but that is what citizenship requires.


6 people like this
Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 30, 2017 at 11:28 am

@Menlo Voter, it's not at all about jealously. I'm doing just fine, thank you. I'm exempt with good benefits, but I'm not making anywhere near $388K all in.

It's about keeping a careful watch on taxpayer dollars. This can't at all be justified, no matter how many words are posted to the contrary.


4 people like this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 30, 2017 at 12:51 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

@ M K: You don't have the final say. As a famous judge would say, "Don't like I, MOVE"


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 30, 2017 at 12:59 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Mike - Please submit proposed changes to the Compensation Policy posted above.

Would you propose to ban overtime - even if that means closing a fire station?

Would you propose that the District hire the least qualified candidates rather the best qualified candidates?

Would you propose that the District unilaterally set pay rates rather than negotiating those rates - even though that would violate bot State and Federal laws?


6 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 30, 2017 at 6:59 pm

"it's not at all about jealously. I'm doing just fine, thank you. I'm exempt with good benefits, but I'm not making anywhere near $388K all in."

And neither are 99% of other firefighters. This is an aberration. You can't use it as a club to beat on all firefighters that make nowhere near that $388k number which is what you and others are doing.


8 people like this
Posted by Menlo Bloater
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Apr 30, 2017 at 10:22 pm

I guess the TWELVE other Fire District employees making over $300,000 is an aberration too? Just a figment of my tax paying imagination huh...give me a break . There's no excuse for the salary these guys are hauling in , none.


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 1, 2017 at 7:39 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Menlo:

it's called over time. Look it up.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 1, 2017 at 10:22 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

What was well known to the reporter who wrote this story is that a number of the "top earners" are firefighters who could have already retired with 30 years of service and then be receiving 90% of their base pay.

These individuals are essentially working for 10% of their base pay.

They continue to work beyond their earned retirement point because they love what they do, they are VERY good at what they do and the community needs their wisdom and expertise.

But that fact is not included in the story because it does not support the sexy story line and headline.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Bloater
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 1, 2017 at 11:30 am

I'm sure a number of those "top earners" are still in it for the extra $100,000+ in overtime they rake in annually, it's kinda hard to claim overtime if you retire, nice try Peter.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 1, 2017 at 11:39 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"I'm sure a number of those "top earners" are still in it for the extra $100,000+ in overtime they rake in annually,"

Wrong - There are 12 individuals listed on the chart accompanying this article - 6 received ZERO overtime and the seventh received a grand total of $156 in overtime.

All of these people are in exempt positions and earned ZERO overtime. What makes them supposed "top earners" is the contributions which the District must still pay into their retirement plans even though they have already earned their full retirement.


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 1, 2017 at 2:33 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Bloater - See the Fire Board's Compensation Policy.

What changes would you make?

Force firefighters to retire once they have completed 30 years of service so that they can be replaced by much less experienced and less "expensive" new recruits who will require at least a year of probationary training before being fully qualified?

Refuse to contribute to the retirement system for firefighters who continue after being fully vested even though that would be in violation of State law?

Cap the total compensation that any firefighter could earn at an arbitrary amount even though that would violate both the contract and State and federal laws?

I am reminding of when I was a USFS Smokejumper - we often worked an isolated wildland fire for days and earned a lot of overtime. But if we went to Alaska, which was controlled by the BLM instead of the Forest Service, our pay each pay period was capped by what the regional Manager of the BLM worked so sometimes we not only worked without pay but we had to pay BLM for our food!


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 1, 2017 at 4:00 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It is fascinating and telling that so many posters complain but not a single one of them has responding to my invitation to propose a single new compensation policy.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 29, 2017 at 4:16 pm
Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Fire Board will review and update its Policy Manual at it May 16 Board Meeting.
Interested citizens are encouraged to submit proposed changes to these policies and or appear at the May 16 meeting and provide your comments.
(all of the relevant policies were included here.)
I know - that is hard work, but that is what citizenship requires.


12 people like this
Posted by insane grip
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on May 1, 2017 at 4:24 pm

"It is fascinating..."

And many of us are fascinated by a couple of posters who see NOTHING AT ALL even slightly wrong with multiple public employees in a single department getting paid $300,000.00 to $387,000.00 taxpayer dollars in a single year.

All you ever had to do was hint at "yeah, maybe should be looked at" and your credibility would be intact. Maybe even a "yeah, we should look at overtime and possible solutions" or other ideas raised.

Nah. Just filibuster - insisting all is well.

Web Link

NOTHING AT ALL wrong, all is well!

$387.000.00


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 1, 2017 at 4:30 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

1 - debate and discussion
2 - establish policies
3 - implement policies
4 - evaluate results
5 - recycle - starting with debate and discussion

It is hard work to get beyond the first half of #1 if all the complainers just get stuck on complaining.



2 people like this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 1, 2017 at 5:25 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

I said before. People like complaining. They do not want to take the bull by the horns and effect change. Complain, complain, complain. Do something beside complain. And remember, overtime was involved. If they work, they must be paid. Or, how about a maximum amounts of overtime that can worked within the year?


16 people like this
Posted by george fisher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 1, 2017 at 5:48 pm

resolution seems simple. cut the property tax allotments to MPFD in half and give it to the local school districts who desperately need the money to pay teachers reasonable compensation. The golden spigot of property tax allocations was apparently set by legislature at time of proposition 13 and is hard to change. No reason for the fire department board to accept this largesse to overpay valuable employees. If MPFD board insists on spreading from this golden spigot internally only, then they should be impeached and replaced ASAP and certainly not reelected.

This has been even harder to stomach because of the self congratulation of MPFD board members for living within their means while complaining about school boards needing foundations, property tax surcharges, and succumbing to employee unions. School district boardss can't live within their means given the largesse from property taxes paid to such as MPFD allowing clear relative overpayment of their employees when compared to other employees paid by property tax allocations..


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 1, 2017 at 5:52 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"cut the property tax allotments to MPFD in half and give it to the local school districts who desperately need the money to pay teachers reasonable compensation."

That would require an amendment to the California Constitution - which is well beyond the authority of the Fire Board.

"give it to the local school districts who desperately need the money to pay teachers reasonable compensation."

They desparately need money because they have intentionally hired more staff than they can afford - their choice.


8 people like this
Posted by George fisher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 1, 2017 at 8:02 pm

QED.

Further, no not constitutional. Allocations were done by legislature, but do require supermajorities to change golden spigot to MPFD, and faucet drips to school districts, allowing MPFD to spend grandiously within their allocation, and forcing school districts to listen to sanctimony from golden spigot beneficiaries because of the unfair allocations.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 1, 2017 at 8:24 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Education Revenue Augmentation Fund (ERAF) is the fund used to collect the property taxes in each county that are
shifted from cities, the county, and special districts prior to their reallocation to K-14
school agencies.


MPFPD already contributes millions of dollars every year from property taxes paid to the Fire District which are then diverted to the school through its ERAF "contribution."


8 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 1, 2017 at 10:54 pm


Perhaps some of the grumblers in this thread might run for one of the upcoming vacancies on the fire board (or any other other civic council or board) instead of taking potshots from the sidelines. Agree or not with Peter Carpenter's views, anyone who has served on a board for 13 years should be thanked!

I live in a Sharon Heights neighborhood where, about six years ago, we had a fast and furious 5 alarm fire that heavily damaged three homes in very short order. The MPFD response was amazing and lasted over night to ensure community safety. Two fire fighters were injured in the process. We were all deeply grateful for the rapid and professional response from the FD.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 2, 2017 at 9:55 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Reading this story in the Mercury news led me to look at the actual data in the above Almanac story:

"San Jose’s police chief and city manager each raked in nearly a half million dollars in salary and benefits in 2016, topping their counterparts at more than 200 other California cities, new compensation data released Monday show.
Police Chief Eddie Garcia cost taxpayers $497,000 in pay and benefits, according to records released Monday by a Las Vegas nonprofit, Transparent California. City Manager Norberto Duenas was right behind Garcia at $492,000 in pay and benefits."

Web Link

Looking at the actually data "claimed" in this Almanac article it looks like the reporter needs to dramatically revise this story.

There are more than 2500 public employees in California who get paid more than the highest paid MPFPD firefighter.

In 2015 there were 26 firefighters in California who were paid more than highest paid MPFPD firefighter.

In 2015 there were 424 Fire Chiefs or deputy Chiefs that made more than the MPFPD Fire Chief.

It turns out that the Transparent California web site can easily do some very incorrect searches. You have to go through page by page to find where the MPFPD firefighters and Chief actually stand on the comparative pay scale.

Perhaps the urge to write something spectacular overtook the responsibility to be accurate.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 2, 2017 at 10:39 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Some useful guidelines from the NPR Handbook:

"When we say our reporting is complete, it means we understand the bigger picture of a story – which facts are most important and how they relate to one another. It’s unrealistic to expect that every story should represent every perspective on an issue. But in our reporting, we must do our best to be aware of all perspectives, the facts supporting or opposing each, and the different groups of stakeholders affected by the issue. Only then can we determine what’s best to include in the time and space we have."

"Valid news analysis flows naturally from deep, thorough reporting. Its role is to provide interpretation, explanation and context – breaking down stories to foster understanding, discerning important patterns in news events, revealing historical connections and comparisons, and articulating themes our reporting has unearthed."

"Fair, accurate, impartial reporting is the foundation of NPR news coverage. On top of that foundation, we layer factual, reporting-driven analysis – breaking down news events and providing explanation and context to aid our audience in interpreting the news. A large part of what makes our work so valuable is our effort to transcend how we feel about a subject and impart to our audience what we know about it, and what we don’t."


12 people like this
Posted by Barbara Wood
Almanac staff writer
on May 2, 2017 at 10:50 am

Barbara Wood is a registered user.

The information used in this story was provided by the Menlo Park Fire Protection District. See the district's report here: Web Link
This story does not compare the salaries of individual district employees, it simply reports the information that the fire district provided
If Mr. Carpenter believes there are inaccuracies in the district's report, as the fire board president he should take that matter up with the staff who produced it.
The story does mention information used in an earlier Almanac story which came from the state of California Controller's website PublicPay.CA.gov .


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 2, 2017 at 11:02 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Clearly this information, which was NOT provided by the Fire District, is at best lacking context and incomplete:

"In past years, the fire district has had the highest average pay of any government agency in California. "

There are more than 2500 public employees in California who get paid more than the highest paid MPFPD firefighter.

In 2015 there were 26 firefighters in California who were paid more than highest paid MPFPD firefighter.

In 2015 there were 424 Fire Chiefs or deputy Chiefs that made more than the MPFPD Fire Chief.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 2, 2017 at 11:18 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Just so the readers know how much cherry picking went on in this article a careful examination of the agencies with the highest average wages for the years 2009 thru 2015 never shows MPFPD as the highest average pay and in 5 of those seven years MPFPD was ranked 4th thru 9th and was always lower than one or more other fire agencies.

Context is an important and difficult part of good reporting.


10 people like this
Posted by insane grip
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on May 2, 2017 at 11:28 am

"In 2015 there were 26 firefighters in California who were paid more than highest paid MPFPD firefighter."

A state of 39 million - and a whole 26 made more than the MPFPD top earner.

But please, continue the filibuster without ever admitting that there may be even a smidgen of an issue here.

$387,799.00

NOTHING AT ALL wrong, all is well!

Not the slightest.

Not even a smidgen.

Not a bit.

Not an iota.

All is well.

Nothing to see here.

It's obviously your lying eyes that see a problem. There is no problem at all. We have always been at war with Eastasia.

Continue on.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 2, 2017 at 12:13 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Nothing to see here."

There is lots to see here:

1 - thousands of hours of dedicated, often stressful and occasionally dangerous service by a highly trained and experienced firefighter

2 - paid for under a mutually negotiated labor contract that was approved after full and open public discussion

3 - which includes base pay, overtime, benefits and total pension costs

4 - much of which was reimbursed by State and Federal agencies and no cost to the Fire District

5 - with lots employees of other fire agency being paid more

6 - with a 5 year labor agreement that was Sunshined before it was approved by the Board

7 - and that labor agreement was negotiated under publicly debated and published Board Compensation policies

And yet posters like insane grip ( great name!) have yet to post a single proposal to change those compensation policies.



8 people like this
Posted by Barbara Wood
Almanac staff writer
on May 2, 2017 at 12:19 pm

Barbara Wood is a registered user.

As I stated in my above comment, this article did refer to an earlier Almanac article which used information from the California State Controller's website, which shows that in 2014 the Menlo Park Fire Protection District had the highest average wages of any state agency. Click here to see that report on the state website: Web Link

In 2015, the district was second only to a one-person state department.
Click here to see that report Web Link

The Almanac did not extrapolate this information. We reported what the state shows on its website.

Please read the earlier article for a lot more information.

Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 2, 2017 at 12:19 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

I-Grip: Since you are outraged by this, I guess you are running for the Fire Board?? Then maybe you can solve the problem.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 2, 2017 at 12:25 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

""In past years, the fire district has had the highest average pay of any government agency in California. "

2015 - false - 2nd
2014 - true
2013 - false - 5th
2102 - false - 5th
2011 - false - 4th
2010 - false - 9th
2009 - false - 5th


5 people like this
Posted by insane grip
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 2, 2017 at 12:40 pm

Thanks, Peter! Yes, I agree the moniker INSANE GRIP reflects perfectly the situation of a board, union and all others involved with a dozen members of the department making over 300,000.00 taxpayer dollars a year.

And no, I'll not get involved in a list of suggestions with someone who sees not an iota of a problem with $387,799.00.

If Peter sees not even a smidgen of a problem, why would he show good faith in discussing solutions? Sean Spicer could take lessons - all is well!

"In 2015, the district was second only to a one-person state department."

Nothing to see here!


5 people like this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 2, 2017 at 12:54 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

I-G: Got it. You just like to complain.


12 people like this
Posted by insane grip
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on May 2, 2017 at 1:09 pm

Steve: 387,000 taxpayer dollars is perfectly acceptable to you? nothing to see here?

"Got it."


3 people like this
Posted by Read Up
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 2, 2017 at 1:10 pm

Other thoughts (and maybe some solutions/recommendations...but at the very least, a greater understanding):

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link


3 people like this
Posted by Read Up
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 2, 2017 at 1:11 pm

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Read Up
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 2, 2017 at 1:11 pm

Web Link

Web Link


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 2, 2017 at 1:25 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Read Up - Thank you for taking the time to fond and post these articles. Each is informative and useful.

Given that the reduced budgets of print news organization increasingly constrain their ability to do good research efforts such as yours are important to providing context and facts.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 2, 2017 at 1:27 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is an update on one of Read Up's excellent postings:

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by JBCHAM
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 2, 2017 at 1:57 pm

Perhaps the problem here is that many of us don't understand what the problem is. The Fire District has negotiated a contract with the firefighters. As part of the contract pay and retirement benefits. I do not recall either the firefighters or the Fire District putting a gun to the other's head and forcing them to sign the contract.
I admit i do not know the details of the retirement plan, but from previous experience I would guess it is a Defined Benefit Plan based on a percentage of compensation(in this case say 3%) and the number of years of service. Compensation could defined as the average of the last three years prior to retirement compensation or even just the last year's compensation. For example a participant in the plan who worked for thirty years in the district would receive 90%( 3% x 30 years) of the defined compensation amount. If the contract allowed for "spiking" (granting overtime, even paid at regular rate), it is common to see participants in the plan being granted extra overtime or work hours during the compensation calculation period, thus increasing the compensation amount that will be used to calculate the final percentage of compensation paid during retirement.
The ways I can see changing this is to convert to a Defined Contribution Plan, not allow spiking or lowering the % of compensation used in the calculation. In switching to a Defined Contribution Plan, consideration must be given to current employees in the Defined Benefit Plan.


2 people like this
Posted by Read Up
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 2, 2017 at 2:01 pm

Spiking is illegal. Overtime does not count as compensation for the purposes of calculating retirement.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 2, 2017 at 5:49 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

A defined contribution pension system would certainly be less expensive - and generally less attractive to the employees. However MPFPD is a participant in the CalPERS system and therefore is not allowed to offer a defined contribution plan. And the cost of withdrawing from CapPERS is, because of the punitive way CalPERS calculates the fee, almost 3 times the current pension liability.

MPFPD does have a second tier defined benefit plan that was recently authorized by CalPERS but, by law, it can only be used for new hires.

Between a rock and a very hard place indeed!


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 2, 2017 at 6:00 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is the corner into which CalPERS has forced participating agencies"

"The response of CalPERS, according to Schwabauer, is “if you try to come up with your own solution, ‘we’re going to take you on.”

Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 2, 2017 at 7:07 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"The response of CalPERS, according to Schwabauer, is “if you try to come up with your own solution, ‘we’re going to take you on.”

Welcome to a state totally controlled by democrats. Everyone knows Calpers is a ticking time bomb with 400 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, yet when challenged with an alternative, "we're going to take you on." With the full support of state dems. Brilliant. Can't wait to see who the dems blame when the time bomb goes off.


1 person likes this
Posted by JBCHAM
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 2, 2017 at 7:30 pm

Read up, With all do respect,I suggest you read up. I have seen right here in San Mateo County where in the negotiated labor contract a local government is required to have a minimum staffing level at each fire station on a daily basis. When firefighters are not available due to vacation, days off, sick leave, etc., the staffing levels must be maintained per the contract. Firefighters are called in from their vacation or days off to serve. Invariably those fire fighters are those within a year or so of retirement. Thus, the amount they are paid is part of the compensation that is used to calculate retirement benefits.


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter F Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 2, 2017 at 7:40 pm

JB - wrong.

"PERS recognizes elements that are considered part of pay for work during normal hours (not overtime). Specifically, " Compensation is broadly defined as payment to employees for services performed during normal working hours or for time during which the employee is excused from work because of holidays, sick leave, industrial disability, (payments under Labor Code section 4800, 4850 or Education Code section 44043, 87042) vacation, compensatory time off, or leave of absence."


Like this comment
Posted by JBCHAM
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 2, 2017 at 7:56 pm

Peter, If I remember correctly this came to light a few years back with a firefighter in Redwood City, CA. The issue was reported in the paper that this firefighter had served for twenty-eight or twenty nine years and given the amount of pay he earned the previous year, his retirement pay would actually exceed his final base salary by approximately $18,000 perv year. The paper later followed up with an article claiming it was common practice to offer OT or additional days of work to employees in the year prior to their eligibility for retirement and in so doing boosted the retirement calculation. The paper further pointed out there was absolutely nothing illegal in what was done.


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter F Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 2, 2017 at 8:00 pm

JB - the newspaper report was wrong. Overtime dies not count in calculating retirement pay.


2 people like this
Posted by JBCHAM
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 2, 2017 at 8:04 pm

Peter, Again if I remember correctly, the paper never said it was overtime, but rather it was based on fulfilling the contract requiring of minimum daily staffing levels.


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 2, 2017 at 8:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

JB - Don't confuse the reason for overtime, in this case back filling, with the fact that overtime, however required, does NOT contribute to the calculation of retirement benefits.


3 people like this
Posted by JBCHAM
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 2, 2017 at 9:20 pm

Peter, I do not believe I am confusing anything. The calculations provided in the paper said the firefighter's base salary the previous year was $135,000 and The firefighter was paid approximately $208,000. The retirement benefit calculation provided said his annual pension amount would be approximately $153,000; hence the $18,000 above his previous base salary. I personally saw nothing wrong in the calculation as it was somewhat like the calculation that was used for my late father after he retired from Carmel, CA as the head of the city Building Department.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 2, 2017 at 10:14 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The law is clear - overtime doe not count for pension calculations.


Like this comment
Posted by JBCHAM
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 4, 2017 at 11:57 pm

Peter, The article in the paper NEVER said the amount paid to the Redwood City firefighter was overtime.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 5, 2017 at 7:04 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

This is what YOU posted:
"The issue was reported in the paper that this firefighter had served for twenty-eight or twenty nine years and given the amount of pay he earned the previous year, his retirement pay would actually exceed his final base salary by approximately $18,000 perv year. The paper later followed up with an article claiming it was common practice to offer OT or additional days of work to employees in the year prior to their eligibility for retirement and in so doing boosted the retirement calculation"


Like this comment
Posted by JBCHAM
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 5, 2017 at 7:35 am

Peter, you are correct. That is what I stated, i.e., the firefighters were "offered OT or additional days of work". It did not say whether that time was paid as OT or at regular pay. I do not know the details of the negotiated contract. In my late father's case, the City of Carmel provided "comp time" for the time spent at City Council meetings, Planning Commission meetings, regional or state meetings. When my father retired, that time was paid at straight time.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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