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Mickie Winkler e-mail: Update on Unions and the Campaign

Original post made by Richard Hine, editor of The Almanac, on Oct 31, 2006

Below is an Oct. 19 e-mail from Councilwoman Mickie Winkler to Menlo Park residents. Ms. Winkler is a candidate in the Nov. 7 Menlo Park City Council election.

Dear Menlo Park Residents,
You know me as a plain talker. I report information that no one else reports. Today, I will address how the SEIU union is attempting to influence the outcome of our city's council election on Nov. 7 and why it is spending tens of thousands of dollars to do just that.
How is the union attempting to influence you?
You have recently been mailed two professionally-produced hit pieces paid for by the Foster-City based San Mateo Central Labor Council. One shamelessly distorts information about the Burgess Pool and its highly successful operation.
The second urges you to vote for the council candidates the Union has endorsed -- Robinson and Cline.
Both hit pieces urge you to "fire Duboc and Winkler."
What did Duboc and Winkler do to earn this kind of vitriol? The following quote from the Almanac tells it all. "If there are current council members running for re-election who support privatization, we will oppose them. Things will only get hotter leading up to November." Sasha Eisner, SEIU union (Almanac, Apr.24, 2006).
In short, Duboc and Winkler have dared to stand up to the SEIU (union) and put the Menlo Park taxpayer first.
The Union has a lot at stake.
It wants the city to take back the pool operation which will forfeit the quality programming and savings of over $400,000 annually. It will also put an average of 40 pool employees back on the city's payroll.
The SEIU also wants to prevent any future outsourcing.
The City has a lot at stake too.
We have the perfect storm of rising pension and long-term retiree health-care obligations, double digit health-care increases, and a rapidly aging work force.
Even though, through attrition and early retirement, we reduced staff by 13% in the last 4 years, employee costs have risen 27%. These costs do not include $13million in unfunded retiree health-care benefits. We cannot withstand this kind of fiscal strain.
Furthermore, the SEIU is on a multi-city campaign to have pension benefits increased so that employees can stop working after 22 years and receive the same benefits they now receive after 30 years. (=2.7 at 55).
Since 73% of our budget is spent on employee compensation packages, the only realistic way to contain costs is by limiting the number of staff.
Here are the choices:
-- Grow our tax base from businesses. We are very successfully doing this, despite claims by our political opponents to the contrary.
-- Cut services. Nobody wants that.
-- Prudently manage the budget, which we have balanced for the last 4 years, and look for improved quality and efficiencies that may be achieved with competitive bidding.
-- Or permanently raise taxes. Duboc and Winkler do NOT agree with Sasha Eisner, leader of the SEIU union who says "Finding that money [to pay for employee benefits] might be easier if local agencies would raise taxes." (Almanac Aug.2 2006)
I am sure you will be receiving more union-funded and other hit pieces, but I hope this email will help you to be skeptical. If you have any questions about the "facts" you read, don't hesitate to contact Lee or me --, And please know, we will continue to stand up to the SEIU union for you.
- Mickie

Comments (2)

Like this comment
Posted by Mary Ellen Patrick
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 31, 2006 at 2:25 pm

Ms. Winkler,

In regards to the union mailer entitled “Off The Deep End” critizing you and Ms. Duboc, here is word-for-word what it specifically says:

A Sweetheart Deal:
Menlo Park City Councilmembers Lee Duboc and Mickie Winkler fast-tracked a vote to privatize the operation of Burgess Pool while leaving taxpayers holding a $6.8 million bill to pay off the facility. They gave the pool rent-free to a private contractor to profit from this facility with no competitive bidding process, no review by the citizen Parks and Recreation Commission, and before even knowing his fees or the public’s hours of access to the pool.
(The Almanac, Cover Story, “How public is the process?”, March 15, 2006).

The Kids Suffered
Eight children got sick and one was hospitalized in June from chemical exposure at the pool, leading The Almanac to report “a recent chemical scare has brought into question the responsibilities of the private operator versus those of city staff.”
(The Almanac, Cover Story, “Who dies what at Burgess Pool?”, June 28, 2006).

Who Will Be Hurt Next?
Now Duboc and Winkler are vowing to ignore parents’ objections and the recommendations of a citizen task force they appointed and to move forward with privatizing the city’s child care programs.
(E-mail from Mickie Winkler, 9/2/06)

Now maybe I’m a little biased here, but while hard-hitting with striking pictures and graphics, it sure doesn’t seem like anything that is factually wrong or deceiving. In fact, if I was in charge, I would have added a part about how you and Ms. Duboc still voted to continue the childcare privatization process even AFTER it was revealed (by the union) that the one private company left bidding had been cited 8 times in the past 2 years alone by social services (as I read in The Almanac), while the city-run program had a completely clean record.

Oh, and by the way, who endorsed you back in 2002? The SEIU, I believe, an endorsement which you gladly took. I guess you thought that was supposed to be a lifetime endorsement?

Like this comment
Posted by Take Back Menlo Park
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 1, 2006 at 3:39 pm

Ms. Winkler,

You want to talk about the SEIU union supporting your opposition. Funny, but as the previous person posting a comment points out, you didn’t blink in gladly taking their endorsement back in 2002!

Now, how about addressing your troubling connection to real estate interests. We did the math, Ms. Winkler, using figures cited by The Almanac – at least $43,250 of the $78,500 your slate has raised in direct donations is coming from real-estate interests – THAT’S OVER ONE-HALF THE TOTAL AMOUNT YOU’VE RAISED THUS FAR!

And a healthy chunk of that $43,250 - $18,000 to be exact – is coming from two developers with development proposals before the city (Sand Hill Property Management and the Park Theater owner). How do you explain that, Ms. Winkler, especially after you swore off developer money back in 2002?

I eagerly await your response.

David Buckley
Take Back Menlo Park

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