Measure D foes clash over 'fairness' in Palo Alto | October 14, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - October 14, 2011

Measure D foes clash over 'fairness' in Palo Alto

In debate over labor reform, both sides say they're trying to be fair to city workers

by Gennady Sheyner

The two sides in Palo Alto's heated debate over labor reform have one thing in common each claims it is fighting to preserve fairness toward city employees.

This story contains 1116 words.

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Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at gsheyner@paweekly.com.

Comments

Posted by on the fence, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 12, 2011 at 8:41 am

Does anyone know how the % of the salary costs for the city are down to the public safety employees and how it has changed since binding arbitration was introduced?


Posted by Joe, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 12, 2011 at 9:46 am

Since binding arbitration has been around for so long in Palo Alto and much of the historical data wasn't available (public safety salaries weren't even published until a few years ago), I don't believe such a comparison exists. However, the "Yes on D!" web site: Web Link has a nice graph showing the rise in percentage of expenditures by department. I don't think anyone has disputed the implication that most of the rise is due to personnel costs and salaries.

In San Luis Obispo, binding arbitration was added started in 2000 and repealed last August. The effect of binding arbitration on public safety salaries and benefits can be seen in their chart: Web Link Of course, San Luis Obispo isn't Palo Alto, but it gives you an idea of the net effect of that binding arbitration has had.


Posted by Ed, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 12, 2011 at 11:18 am

There is lots to be learned by reading the San Jose story in Michael Lewis' new book, BOOMERANG. It makes a great case for approval of D.p9jPU


Posted by Walt Hays, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 12, 2011 at 11:21 am

All parts of an anaerobic digestion (AD) facility would be in closed containers, and trucks would approach from the side opposite the park so there would be no noise or smell.

Opponents of Measure E say that 10 acres is the same as eight football fields. That means that the remaining 106 acres are the same as 100 football fields. It's hard to see how AD could "destroy" a park that size.


Posted by no longer on the fence, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 12, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Thanks, Joe, the graph on that site says it all: Web Link


Posted by Mike, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 12, 2011 at 12:13 pm

If this is indeed a 'clash over fairness' then anything that promotes the good of the citizens of Palo Alto and the city infrastructure that supports them must trump union employees needs to gain excessive compensation and benefits.

Fairness is not putting up with pot-holed streets, crumbling infrastructure and dramatic increases in utilities from raiding of the utilities for the general fund in order to help a fireman retire at age 50 with 90% of an inflated annual compensation as retirement.


Posted by Get it right, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Does Walt Hays understand we're talking about Measure D not Measure E!!! Vote "YES" on Measure D. Vote "NO" on Measure E. That should do it!!


Posted by Voter, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

We need Measure D to have the flexibility to pay our public workers fairly. The public and its most valuable interests (whether it be fixing our roads, offering tax relief to the taxpayers, increasing funding to the police department) are currently starved by a bloated fire department whose members make as much as police officers despite working a much safer, less arduous, two-shift-per-week job with plenty of on the clock downtime. The fire union and Tony Spitaleri's militancy and constant threat of using binding arbitration lead to this imbalance, and it needs to be rectified for the city's sake.


Posted by DAVID, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 16, 2011 at 2:04 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Richard, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 18, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Palo Alto online community,
Initially I shared many of the same concerns as stated above, but I am not one to buy into either side's political propaganda. I took some time to do some research and discovered some information that has been left out. Palo Alto Fire Department provides a high level of service at a very competitive rate. If you look at our surrounding cities you will see that Palo Alto is at or below others operating budget (when looked at proportional to size, employee count, population, and coverage sq miles). In Palo Alto our fire department is very unique compared to others in the bay area. We have Ambulance Transport service through Palo Alto Fire Department, which means our firefighter/paramedics in Palo Alto not only work days on fire engines but half of their scheduled days are on the ambulance which makes money for the city, not the department, and goes directly into the city's general fund. Palo Alto Fire recovers millions (which does not go back to their budget) through this program and also provides a great service level that cannot be compared to surrounding cities. In the history of binding arbitration in Palo Alto, you can count on one hand the number of times it has been used over the past approx. 30 years (since the time of inception in this city). Binding arbitration has never been used in this city to increase salaries or pensions rather it was over other things such as hiring practices. Many of these instances where it was used there was not a landslide victory for either side, and arbitration allows for reasonable compromising. I believe in my city and my firefighters, I challenge you not to be blinded by political propaganda. Please don't call our firefighters POS's, these are the same people who will (without checking what you wrote about them) give you the best quality emergency service for us and our loved ones in the bay area. No they aren't heroes but they're certainly guardians of our community. Save your anger for the CEOs who have made fiscally poor decisions while increasing their quarterly bonuses (increasing their wages to larger than the entire operating budget for public services such as fire or police) that has got people like me laid off after 28 years of work the firefighters are not to blame so don't take it out on them.
Thank you for being good neighbors,
Mr. Ross


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