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The scandal no one has heard about

Original post made by Fiscally responsible, Atherton: other, on Nov 3, 2011

Interim Police Chief Ed Flint is drawing a $14,500 monthly salary from Atherton.

What has not been revealed is that he's doing this for half time work.

Atherton is also continuing to pay former Police Chief Mike Guerra his full salary for a year to stay home and do nothing.

Twice the cost, for half the benefit. Not exactly a great fiscal move with a $850,000 structural deficit and laying off most of town employees.

It was a mistake to have promoted an internal candidate like Guerra to be chief in December 2009, particularly one who had just two years to go to collect his 90% pension. After all, the outgoing chief at the time, Glenn Nielsen, made sure to clock out the day his 90% came due.

Then mayor Jerry Carlson refused to override Jerry Gruber's decision to promote Guerra at that time. In retrospect, we can understand why. Kathy McKeithen was shortly about to become mayor later that December, and surely would have countermanded Gruber's decision to promote Guerra with a hasty fiat decision, requiring a public process.

Nice going Jerry. Twice the cost for half the benefit.

Comments (11)

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 3, 2011 at 9:25 am

Chief Flint's appointment was approved in open session by the Council at its July 20, 2011 meeting and his contract was subsequently submitted to the Council by the Town Manager.

At the time of Chief Flint's appointment a public announcement was made regarding Guerra's being on paid leave:
"In an unusual arrangement, Chief Guerra will stay on with the town until April, not as police chief but performing specific projects, essentially pro bono, while being paid from the pool of money he accumulated from vacation and other leave time, according to Interim City Manager John Danielson.

"He's really being kind to us," Mr. Danielson said. "He's got so much time on the books that if he cashed it all out it would be kind of devastating for us."

No secrets and no scandal here.

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Posted by Hiding in Plain Sight
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 3, 2011 at 10:41 pm

A half-time chief paid $14,500 per month with another chief on the payroll collecting a paycheck for sitting at home is indeed a scandal.

The Atherton City Council is famous for pretending nothing is wrong in the face of compelling evidence to the contrary.

[Portion removed. Stick to the issue.]

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Posted by Fiscally responsible
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 3, 2011 at 10:47 pm

The "favor" Mike Guerra is doing the town is misleading.

If he retired the day he stopped being chief, a vacation payout would be due to him of about a year's salary. (The fact police employees in Atherton can accumulate more than a few weeks vacation is a scandal in and of itself).

By having the vacation paid out over the course of a year, Guerra also clocks in another year of pension benefits. Based on the 3% per each year, up to 30 years, he's earning an extra 3% pension a year for the rest of his life.

That's about 3% * $174,000 = $5,220 a year for the rest of his life, plus cost of living increases.

If CALPERS can't make the payment due to overestimating market returns, Atherton taxpayers are on the hook.

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Posted by JR
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 4, 2011 at 8:47 am

Can the Almanac confirm that the new chief is making this salary for just half time? This is by my math a full-time salary of $350,000 for managing a very small department. That would be unreasonably high.

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Posted by JP
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 4, 2011 at 10:48 am

Just because there is "no secret" doesn't mean that there's no scandal.

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 4, 2011 at 11:10 am

Just because some anonymous person asserts that there is a scandal does not mean there is a scandal. Particularly when the matter in question was decided in public with the opportunity for public comments and there was no public comment.

scan·dal .
1. A publicized incident that brings about disgrace or offends the moral sensibilities of society:
2. A person, thing, or circumstance that causes or ought to cause disgrace or outrage:

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Posted by JP
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 4, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Thank you Peter

You have articulated what is so scandalous about the Guerra incident. Few in Atherton seem to care about his inability or unwillingness to clean up the Department.

Most of Atherton's residents seem perfectly willing to accept Danielson's representation of his having left on his own volition.

A constituency that is indifferent to corruption is deserving of a town government like Atherton's.

Go ahead keep whisteling past the graveyard.

Like this comment
Posted by R. Gordon
a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2011 at 6:22 am

Peter is always there to defend the undefensible. Part of being a politicia or the wrong era.
I did promise that heads would begin to roll.........this is just the beginning of audits in the mid Peninsula 1% investigations.

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Posted by JR
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 5, 2011 at 11:25 am

As far as I know Peter often complains about public employee compensation on these boards, even though all the contracts were approved at council meetings. I don't see the logic of why this is okay because it was done at a public meeting also.

Peter, is $350,000 per year for half a police chief okay with you or not? Tell me if my math is wrong, but that's for half of Flint and all of Guerra, $29,000 per month, but we're only getting half of one of them. Even taking Guerra out of it, is paying Flint $14,500 a month for half time good fiscal policy or not?

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 5, 2011 at 12:16 pm

I believe that many but not all of our public employees are paid, considering both salary and pensions, above their fair market level. I also believe that elected officials have the responsibility to deal with this in a fair and effective manner. I have been at the forefront of ensuring that proposed new employee agreements are made public well in advance of being acted on by elected officials. However if there is no public input then we inevitably most rely on the judgement of our elected officials.

If you don't like any proposed public employee compensation then speak up before it is approved.

Like this comment
Posted by R.Gordon
a resident of another community
on Nov 7, 2011 at 9:07 am

[Post deleted. Please focus your comments on issues, not other posters.]

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