Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 2, 2012

Palo Alto, police union deadlocked over contract

City declares impasse after six months of negotiations

by Gennady Sheyner

Five months after the City of Palo Alto completed its long and bitter negotiations with the city's firefighters union, officials and Palo Alto's largest police union find themselves at odds.

City officials declared an impasse in negotiations last Friday, Feb. 24, after six months of negotiations with the Palo Alto Police Officers Association. The decision sets the stage for a possible unilateral imposition of benefit reductions by the city on the union's 82 members.

The two sides began negotiations on July 27, 2011, and according to a letter from the city's negotiator, Darrell Murray, have reached "deadlock" and remain far apart.

The union's previous contract had expired on June 30, 2011, but the terms of that agreement remain in place until a new contract is signed.

The city's struggle with the police union comes five months after it reached an agreement with the Palo Alto Professional Firefighters Association after 18 months of tense talks. The police union, however, has less leverage than the firefighters did because of the voters' decision in November to repeal the binding-arbitration provision in the City Charter. The provision had empowered a panel of arbitrators to settle labor disputes between the city and its public-sector unions, which unlike other labor groups are legally barred from striking. Without binding arbitration, the city can impose its conditions on the police union.

The impasse comes at a time when the city is trying to cope with budget deficits by seeking benefit reductions from all of its labor groups — a process that gained momentum three years ago.

The city's largest labor union, the Service Employees International Union, Local 521, was forced to accept benefit reductions, including a second pension tier for newly hired workers and a requirement to pay a share of health care costs (the city had previously paid all medical costs). The firefighters union agreed to similar concessions in September.

Sgt. Wayne Benitez, president of the police union, told the Weekly that he was surprised by the city's announcement of the impasse, an announcement that he said officials didn't share with the union before publicizing it.

Benitez said he doesn't understand why "the police union, who has a proven track record of cooperating with the city, could not even get the same concessions as the fire department received."

"We offered considerable concessions to the City, but the City denied them," Benitez said.

The city's current budget, which the council passed in June, assumed concessions by both major public-safety unions. City Manager James Keene has stated on many occasions that every labor group would need to make sacrifices to help the city cope with consecutive years of budget deficits — gaps that are largely driven by increases in pension and health care costs.

The city's newly released long-term financial forecast projects a $2 million deficit in fiscal year 2013 followed by budget gaps of $3.7 million and $4 million in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

The impasse creates a major wrinkle in what has been a generally amicable relationship between the city and its police union. While the City Council has engaged in various highly publicized spats with the fire union, it has consistently lauded the police union's willingness to work with the city. In 2009, the union had agreed to defer its negotiated 6 percent wage increases by a year, helping the city close the budget gap.

Keene said in a statement that while the city "greatly appreciated" the union's decision to defer its members' raises for a year, it is now looking for "ongoing structural savings."

"The City has reached agreements that include employee pay and benefit concessions with all of our other labor groups," Keene said. "We expect the POA to participate fully with our other employees in concessions to help ensure the City's fiscal sustainability."

Murray noted in his declaration of impasse that public-safety expenditures have been gradually taking a bigger chunk of the city's General Fund, which pays for basic city services (not including utilities). In fiscal year 2006, 25 percent of the General Fund was allocated to public safety. The number went up to 36 percent in fiscal year 2011.

An average member of the police union gets a salary of $104,013. The average salary and benefits total about $185,616.

"As the City has often stated, it believes that fairness dictates that all employees contribute in a manner that would involve a measure of real and immediate adverse impact — without a wage increase to absorb that impact," Murray wrote. "The Police Officers' Association stands alone in its continued unwillingness to meet this measure of shared sacrifice — sacrifice that the City's lowest paid employees began to experience over two years ago."

Lalo Perez, the city's chief financial officer, said in a statement that the city continues to expend "significant resources" to support fair bargaining with its unions but noted that labor groups sometimes find delay preferable to settlement "because the existing contract with its better compensation package stays in effect until a new agreement is reached.

"It is not feasible or fair to our taxpayers for negotiations without real progress to be prolonged," Perez said.

Comments

Posted by Whats Really Going on Here??, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 24, 2012 at 10:53 pm

As a Police Officer for this city, I'm completely frustrated.

We offered the exact same concessions the Fire Department just agreed to with the city and they refused and want more. How does that rank up there with the like sacrifice.

The city wants what amounts to 25% or more in cuts which of course is completely insane.

We currently have like 15 police officer vacancies, this should go a long way towards making that a lot more.

Everyone is working overtime just to cover basic beats now, where will the cops come from.

We can't find qualified new officers now who can pass the qualifications, this should be a big help.

This is crazy!


Posted by matt, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 25, 2012 at 5:25 am

"An average member of the police union gets a salary of $104,013. The average salary and benefits total about $185,616."

Yes, you read that correctly.


Posted by sidetalk, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 25, 2012 at 6:24 am

I am confused by the city's doublespeak and once again villifies the union as the culprit, but let's review:
1)Pd defers raise to help city, offers to continue this which the city rejects. (Fire does not and does special elections costing more)
2)The impasse letter attached says city is in the black 3.7 mil, yet continuing to ask for cuts based on the "red" projections.
3) city needs 3.4 mil from public safety to balance the budget. Fire agrees to new contrat providing 1.1 mil, leaving the pd up for covering twice that (that does not sound fair, despite scott's comments that they offered such a fair contract)
4) perez alludes to, and scott proclaims to council at earlier date that timeliness is needed in negotiations and unions stall on purpose (city waited for the contract to expire before beginning talks and waits until after the binding arbitration vote to declare impass, how convenient) now let's blame the unions!
5) scott and murray conveniently forget to mention what they offered the pd.
6) the actions of the pd speak contrary to murrays words " standing alone in unwillingness to meet a measure of shared sacrifice."

Despicable indeed. Reduce pay and benefits, I agree, but the language and conclusions the city has conveyed to the public to describe its public safety servants is disgraceful.


Posted by Frank, a resident of Ventura
on Feb 25, 2012 at 7:15 am

More police officers, LESS firefighters!


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 25, 2012 at 7:51 am

How far apart in dollars are the city & the police union? I think this is a piece of information that could be given out without affecting either's negotiating position.

The police have been very willing during the depth of the recession to voluntarily give back on their compensation - I think the city should make every effort to at least provide the Police with what the firefighters received.

There are other places in the budget which are lower priority.


Posted by No Support, a resident of Southgate
on Feb 25, 2012 at 8:10 am

It's funny, Palo Alto gets one street robbery and the residents go into crisis mode. Those same residents who want increased patrols are the same ones who voted by a 70% margin to get rid of binding arbitration. It seems the residents have a double standard, they want personal attention, but then don't want to pay fair market value for exceptional service. Now it appears the City is back stabbing their police department employees too. Perhaps that is why the police department has an approximately 20% vacancy rate. Good job City of Palo Alto!


Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 25, 2012 at 8:34 am

From what I have come to understand, the police union historically, and certainly most recently, have made numerous concessions, including deferring already negotiated and approved pay increases. They have never seemed to negotiate in bad faith, put counter measures on the ballot, or created the adversity that the fire union has. They have up to now met the city's budget needs voluntarily and without backlash. The police department has already made numerous cuts in both personnel as well as certain services. The number of police officers in Palo Alto has been reduced by approximately 10% in the last twenty years. They are doing more with less, and should be treated fairly, certainly given a similar deal to the fire department if not better.


Posted by Concerned Citizen, a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 25, 2012 at 9:46 am

Palo Alto Public Safety needs to take look around at other agencies and quit their crying. Pay for you medical, pay a percentage of your retirement, and take a pay cut. Look around you...Oakland had to lay off...San Jose had to lay off. And to top it off they took a PAY CUT. Why do you need to be paid so well? Are you working Oakland? SF?...SJ? Where violent crime actually exists, yet they make less...

Didn't your agency just have several officers from other agencies come to PAPD? What happened to them? You spent tax-payer's money to train these officers and where are they now???? Rumor has it, they all went back to their former agencies. Seems like a waste of our money to recruit, train, but not able to retain.


Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 25, 2012 at 10:16 am

According to a benchmark comparison of other police agencies of similar size and demographic, Palo Alto is already amongst the lower third on that list in pay and compensation. They have never been a top tier agency in terms of compensation, so we should keep that point in some perspective. A market standard for police salaries and benefits does exist in the greater Bay Area, and I truly believe that the officers here in Palo Alto should be compensated accordingly. I also believe that although they may not face the level of activity that officers in a large inner-city do, they indeed cope and manage a myriad of dangerous work that most of us would be either unwilling or unqualified to take on. They are definitely deserving of our respect in that regard. I participated in the PAPD ride-along program as part of the citizen's academy, and most people would be astounded at what they have to deal with.

Recruiting qualified police candidates is difficult, even with officers transferring from one department to another. As for the retention of new hires, rarely do officers leave on their own accord. For the most part they either fail to complete their field training or mandatory probation period. The hiring process involves many steps and qualifications, and quite frankly, not everybody makes it. After having to successfully complete a battery of written examinations and interviews, the candidates still have to pass an extensive background investigation, polygraph, medical exam, and psychological test. After a six month basic academy, or if someone is being hired from another department, the officer has to successfully an 18-week field training program which consists of daily evaluations. With that done, the officer still has to pass a year long probationary period.

I believe throughout this budget crisis over the past several years the police department has done anything but crying or complaining. They have cut personnel and certain services, made several concessions, and deferred pay increases in order to do their part in balancing the budget. They have never initiated a public argument and quietly gone about their business. The city can't have a short term memory at this stage, and needs to consider all of these factors when dealing with the police union.


Posted by another concerned citizen, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 25, 2012 at 10:17 am

Umm, Concerned Citizen, you are arguing with yourself. Okay, so you are complaining about retaining officers while wanting to cut their pay and benefits? How will this help with retention? The reason the officers are returning to their departments is because cities like San Jose are hiring again and once again Palo Alto is in competition for qualified applicants. What does it say about the fact that the officers are returning? I bet officer morale is taking a hit from all of this "support" the City of Palo Alto is showing them.

Palo Alto's police officer pay is comparable to other bay area departments. If the city cuts their pay to the extent they are stating, it will be comparable to central valley departments. How many officers can afford to live in Palo Alto? In the entire department, maybe one or two live in the city they protect. The officers are not going to commute to Palo Alto, when they can make the same (or even more) closer to home and have less of a commute.

With lower pay and less benefits than other departments and a longer commute for officers, Palo Alto will become a training ground for inexperienced officers. When they gain experience and training, they will move on to better paying departments closer to home. The training of these officers and the expense of recruiting will cost more in the long run.

Besides, I hear the streets of San Jose are not the safest place to be right now, due to staff shortages. Do we really want San Jose to be our role model?


Posted by Details, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 25, 2012 at 10:56 am

Okay let's address some of the details.

As for the officers that came here and then went back to their former agency, yes that was a failed attempt to try and fill vacancies with officers who lost their jobs at other agencies. As soon as openings occurred they went back. Waste of time and money for Palo Alto. Also completely ruins the City Council philosophy that after they lower wages and benefits they can just hire officers from other agencies. Tried that it didn't work. Yes they actually said that was their plan. Didn't work.

As for why do we need to be paid so well, it's a simple supply and demand thing. At double digit vacancies its obvious we aren't overpaying folks. Anyone who thinks the pay and benefits are all that can come down Monday and apply for the dozen or more vacancies.

We appreciate some of the support on here. Some of the comments are right on. This is a philosophical effort by the Council and some in the City to use the latest economic crisis to get rid of pay and benefits they couldn't change with an honest conversation. No doubt times have changed and pay and benefits need to be brought down, but the way they are going about it shows it has little or nothing to do with the money.

As for the person who wants our pay to come down and us to pay for our benefits. you should like the unions offer to pay 9 perrcent of our pay into our retirement, pay 10 percent into medical as the rest of the City does, create a reduced retirement for the future, and do away with several other benefits all of which will save the city money and have a huge impact on the officers pay and benefits. Reasonable people can differ on how much is enough but with the vancancies we have I would think matching and in some cases exceeding what the other groups have done should be more than enough.

The city's effort in also entirely a sham. It's clear from their spin that they are hammering employees so hopefully they can win favor with citizens so they can then put a bond measure on the ballot and say se we brought down pay and benefits so you should reward us by giving us more money to spend. The city has plenty of money. They are spending 30 million on infrastructure but need to spent 32 million (what a problem to have). They are fully funding their obligations for retirement and retiree medical. The have tens of millions set aside for retiree medical, most cities have nothing.

Not sure where this will go from here but it's probably not going to end well. I didn't quite get it when two thirds of the manageleft leave but now ive watched a third of the supervisors leave also. Likely anyone else who is thinking about leaving will before the city forces unequal cuts on our union. I haven't been here that long but I hear the reason the union got a significant contract in 2007 was because of massive vacancies and being at the bottom in pay compared to other cities. I guess it's like the cycle of life. Somewhere just short of extinction you get brought back to life only to rebuild and do it all over again.

The city is doing this because they think the majority of citizens wil back them so they can. I doubt that's the case but it's hard to say given the fact that the vocal people are usually the ones who think we should get paid the national average in one of the richest cities in the country.


Posted by What Other Cities Pay, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 25, 2012 at 11:04 am

Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, other cities in the area were paying police officers $96,330/year as of 201. See category 33-3051 at Web Link

Palo Alto is paying more, but not outrageously so. We've got limited room to cut pay here.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Palo Alto wants to lower Police salaries below that of neighboring cities, it won't work. Both Menlo Park and Mountain View police are paid at a higher rate than Palo Alto. That's why we are losing Officers, they are looking around at Cities that pay more than Palo Alto, and there are plenty of them.


Posted by Larry, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Feb 25, 2012 at 12:50 pm

One Palo Alto officer told me that a lot of his co-workers leave the city because there is "not enough action in Palo Alto". I'm glad there is not enough "action" in my city.


Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 25, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Again, when the police union and city meet to negotiate a labor contract, both sides use a list of agreed upon benchmark cities for purposes of salary and benefit comparison. I believe there are 16-18 cities that make up that list. The cities are chosen because they are comparable in terms of department size, geographic location, population served, and overall demographic. Historically, Palo Alto PD has remained in the lower third of that list.

There is a market value of what police officers earn in the Bay Area reflecting both the nature of their work, qualifications required, and cost of living. As a long time Palo Altan I want our police department to compete for the best qualified candidates, and believe they should be compensated appropriately for doing a difficult, complex job. They deserve our respect both economically as well as in our public support.

This situation is even more perplexing because it is well chronicled that the police department has made numerous voluntary concessions, suffered cutbacks, and sacrificed services in order to do their share in dealing with the budget deficit. It seems unfair and disrespectful for the city to being playing hardball with them at this point. Whatever additional sacrifices that need to be made, which the police department offered up without the difficulty presented by the fire department, should definitely be fair and equal.

The city needs to take all this matters into consideration, including the sacrifices that the police department has already made. Remember, the department is already operating with far less officers than they have in the past, all due to previous cuts in personnel. There needs to be some financial priorities set, and public safety and infrastructure need to be at the top of the list in my opinion. Until significant work has been completed to stabilize these vital needs, we should not even be talking about the myriad of other non-essential city services and programs that are either in excess or non-essential.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm

> when the police union and city meet to negotiate a labor contract,
> both sides use a list of agreed upon benchmark cities for purposes
> of salary and benefit comparison.

This is a basic problem with all public sector employees--a parallel employment system that seems to award public sector occupations with higher salaries and benefits than private sector occupations for most jobs. There is no intrinsic sense of worth in this parallel system--just a chase-the-dollar-up-the-scale to see who can offer the most this year.

As the cost of police officers begins to shoot through 4200K/year, it will become painfully clear that this parallel system is destructive to the financial health of all municipal players.

One obvious solution is to consolidate/regionalize the police functins for surrounding cities so that the competitiveness that has driven up salaries without any corresponding productivity will end. This is something that will probably take a little more time to happen, but any City Manager that takes the time to project the costs of his police/fire employees out 20-30 years will see that it will not be that long before he will be having to pay 4300K-$400K/year for a police officer!



Posted by Hiding, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Yes, wayne there is an intrinsic worth. Go walk around a neighhboring city at night and you will see that. It's called your relative personal safety. It's contributes to your education system, property values, family life, etc in ways you do not always notice, until it is disrupted and you become a victim. Then you want that back. The employees are not at fault for the health care scams that inflate the prices. That is a whole other issue.

Why did Jim Keene keep his name off this article? No comments? The city won, the cops can't strike or do anything about the impending contract. They try to keep you and your stuff safe. I hope we all do not see them as the evil public sector employee.

With staffing levels at their lowest in years, burglaries and robberies skyrocketing, etc, more affordable housing, traffic and additional residents on their way, I do not want overworked, underpaid and understaffed police dept. that isn't good for anyone.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2012 at 3:36 pm

> Go walk around a neighhboring city at night and you will see that.
> It's called your relative personal safety. It's contributes to
> your education system, property values, family life, etc in ways
> you do not always notice, until it is disrupted and you become
> a victim

How does this comment relate to the point about intrinsic worth of a given job (such as a police officer)? While we are talking about police at the moment, it seems that every municipality in the US has managed to back itself into a corner than needs a head-on solution for exit. The solutions for the various departments in a given city may vary, but outsourcing, regionalizing and reorganizing is clearly one of the exits from this situation of bloated municipal salaries and benefits.

By the way, crime has been going down in the US over the past two decades. It is about at its lowest here in Palo Alto that it's been in a couple of decades. It is very likely that this decline has little to do with local policing, and more to do with an aging population.

Additionally, personal security has increased over time with the emergence of cell phones, GPS locators, and enhanced 911 services. It's not hard to believe that these sorts of devices will increase in capability, and decrease in costs, in the coming years.

As to how much the Palo Alto police are involved in decreasing crime levels is an open question, since the Palo Alto Police do not publish yearly performance reports that help us know what they actually do. In the past, they have admitted that the closure rates on most property crimes is as low as 15% (meaning that as high as 85% of the highest type of crime in Palo Alto goes unsolved). The number of violent crimes in Palo Alto is very low. There are generally between 0-3 murders/year--with an average of about 1/year. There are few unsolved murder cases on the books in this town. Property crimes are a little higher in Palo Alto than surrounding towns, but it's pretty clear that these crimes are not being committed by Palo Alto residents, in general.



Posted by overwok, a resident of Southgate
on Feb 25, 2012 at 3:36 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Hiding, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 25, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Okay wayne, we can go at this all day. The residence of the perps is of no significance, the location (our town) is. Whatever the closure rates, etc, the police are a deterrent at the least. I would have to see the numbers about the crime, but if we based the need for policing on the aging population, then surely crime rates would rise as staffing falls. From what I have read lately, that seems to be a plausible trend. Cellphones, GPS, etc, more stuff to steal!

I am agreeing with you we need to alter the contracts and have them contribute to medical, etc. The article clearly states they have offered to do so, perhaps just not to the point of the city's liking. With the city in a position to impose whatever they want on the police, I would not assume they proposed a fair contract, hence the impass.But they didn't say what they offered, so I can't tell for sure.

overwok? Yes, the police have stated they are 15 positions below normal levels and well below years ago. Based on the drunks I have seen downtown on a Sat night, I bet your info is incorrect. You obviously question what you hear and read, did you with the "citizen?"

So again, yes, pay needs to be adjusted. We agree. My point is I appreciate the police in general, and do not like it when I see questionable, (dishonest in my opinion) politics on the part of city leaders.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 25, 2012 at 6:20 pm

This issue of salaries for Palo Alto police officers has a number of dimensions. There are so many issues that it would not be hard to write a 300 page paper on the problems facing this police department. Such a paper would also apply to most of the small departments in California, and probably the US.

This issue of pensions for life, linked to high year salaries, and coupled with at least a 2% COLA is a good place to start--
---
Because of public sector labor unions, government salary and benefits tend to double every 10-12 years. In many cities and towns, public sector salaries now range between $100K-$250K, with pensions linked to the highest year's salary. These lavish pensions insure that most government employees will make more in their retirement years than they made in their working years.

Assuming a yearly 2% COLA, CalPERS retirees receive the following payouts:

Total Pension Payouts
Pension
$100K--10-Years: $1.1M | 20-Years: $2.5M | 30-Years: $4.2M
$150K--10-Years: $1.7M | 20-Years: $3.7M | 30-Years: $6.2M
$200K--10-Years: $2.2M | 20-Years: $5.0M | 30-Years: $8.3M
$250K--10-Years: $2.8M | 20-Years: $6.2M | 30-Years: $10.3M

There is simply no way that school districts and city governments are going to be able to pay the retirement contributions of their employees without increasing taxes/fees/fines for everything associated with government. Taxpayers are already seeing about 65% of their income subject to statutory taxes. Government at all levels has been diverting about 40% of GDP for its needs in the past. This year, thanks to Obamanomics--Government is taking about 50% of the GDP, and possible more in the future.

Public sector salaries must be reduced, and pensions delinked from salaries, and COLAs reduced, or terminated--to keep government finances (entirely funded by the private sector) from being overwhelmed by these post-retirement compensation demands of the public sector.

This will not be easy, but it must be done.

Examples:
Beneath the Palo Alto Business Tax:
Web Link
Future CalPERS Payouts:
Web Link
---

The first paper looks at the long-term cost of hiring a Palo Alto police officer, over 30 years of service, and 30 years of retirement. Please take a look-see, as the numbers are staggering, if these projections were to come true.


I


Posted by LIES, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 25, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Does anyone remember when the fire contract was completed, what the city stated? They said that the $4.3 million they estimated was off and the real gap was about 1-2 million less. Yet here they say 4.3 again. Pure and simple, the city is lying to the citizens and we keep letting it happen. Stop fudging the numbers and give us the facts! Also, the city stated that the police had continued to cooperate and work for the best interest of the city financially. So what changed? Why in the fall did you say the police are working with us but now they are refusing to negotiate? Our politicians are only capable of spitting out lies to suit their own agenda. I say we ask the city council, mayor and James Keen to take a pay cut and give up some of their perks that we pay for.

Based on their past actions,I have no doubt that the police continue to negotiate in good faith by trying to work with the city. I think they are willing to take some cuts but I do not think it is fair to give them any less than fire (especially given fires track record). Really sad that people who fight you at every tern (fire) get better than the people who work with you (police).


Posted by Robin, a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 25, 2012 at 7:54 pm

We are long past the time to start implementing market rate on government workers and this is a good start. That said, the police are a lot closer to that point than others (especially fire) and the city shouldn't go too far past their offered concessions when they do up the contract.

Firefighters, on the other hand, should make about half what police make, and should be outsourced entirely if they continue their militant politics. Firefighting in palo alto is primarily paid idle time between routine medical calls. There are hundreds of of qualified candidates for every opening. They should face huge cuts when their out of market contract is up.


Posted by Marie, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 25, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Marie is a registered user.

Hiding,

Nothing I saw in the article addresses the specific concessions the police union offered. The impression was that most of the concessions offered by the police union were deferments of current expenses, not structural reductions of the most skyrocketing expenses, healthcare and retirement benefits.

I want Palo Altoto offer employee benefits that are fair for all its employees and for those of us paying for it. Today's bloated pension and retirement benefits far exceed those benefits offered by the city prior to the 1990's and anything found in the private sector except for lavish top executive perks, which are also should be changed.

I don't understand the reluctance of city employees to pay a meager 10% of the cost of their health benefits and retiree medical benefits - typically employees pay 25% of the worker and 50% of family health benefits. If I'm understanding the latest agreements, all city employees but the police will now be paying at least 10% of healthcare costs.

Today, police can get full retirement benefits at age 50 - a benefit unseen in the private sector and, if I'm remembering correctly, not available to public employees before the 1990's, when the value of pension funds soared and the city thought they could increase retirement benefits at no cost to keep the unions happy with lower raises. The union is objecting to increasing that to 55 - for new employees only, which will not even affect current employees! I think 60 makes much more sense for new employees and 55 for current employee - which used to be the standard in public employment. I believe San Jose is going for 65.

Calculations of pension benefit today is based on the total compensation in the final year which seems to include vacation and sick pay payouts as well as overtime. More typical, certainly for other public employees I've talked to, is a pension calculated on base salary and averaged over the past three year which is still very generous. It makes no sense for pensions to be based on anything but actual base salaries, which appear very reasonable. Private pensions in the private sector, back when they still existed, were generally based on the final five years and rarely if ever included vacation pay. Are there even any limits on the amount of vacation and sick pay that can be accrued? There certainly are in the private sector.

I'm really sorry that our very fine police officers and fire fighters have unfortunately gotten used to outrageous and unsustainable benefits. If I were the city, I'd be going for deeper cuts in retirement and health benefits offset by increases in salary, particularly for lower paid positions that will be more affected by the increased costs.

I'm also wondering if there has been a delay in the filling the 15 open positions until a two level pension system is implemented, in which case the sooner this impasse can be broken, the better.


Posted by Marie, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 25, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Marie is a registered user.

Hiding,

Nothing I saw in the article addresses the specific concessions the police union offered. The impression was that most of the concessions offered by the police union were deferments of current expenses, not structural reductions of the most skyrocketing expenses, healthcare and retirement benefits.

I want Palo Altoto offer employee benefits that are fair for all its employees and for those of us paying for it. Today's bloated pension and retirement benefits far exceed those benefits offered by the city prior to the 1990's and anything found in the private sector except for lavish top executive perks, which are also should be changed.

I don't understand the reluctance of city employees to pay a meager 10% of the cost of their health benefits and retiree medical benefits - typically employees pay 25% of the worker and 50% of family health benefits. If I'm understanding the latest agreements, all city employees but the police will now be paying at least 10% of healthcare costs.

Today, police can get full retirement benefits at age 50 - a benefit unseen in the private sector and, if I'm remembering correctly, not available to public employees before the 1990's, when the value of pension funds soared and the city thought they could increase retirement benefits at no cost to keep the unions happy with lower raises. The union is objecting to increasing that to 55 - for new employees only, which will not even affect current employees! I think 60 makes much more sense for new employees and 55 for current employee - which used to be the standard in public employment. I believe San Jose is going for 65.

Calculations of pension benefit today is based on the total compensation in the final year which seems to include vacation and sick pay payouts as well as overtime. More typical, certainly for other public employees I've talked to, is a pension calculated on base salary and averaged over the past three year which is still very generous. It makes no sense for pensions to be based on anything but actual base salaries, which appear very reasonable. Private pensions in the private sector, back when they still existed, were generally based on the final five years and rarely if ever included vacation pay. Are there even any limits on the amount of vacation and sick pay that can be accrued? There certainly are in the private sector.

I'm really sorry that our very fine police officers and fire fighters have unfortunately gotten used to outrageous and unsustainable benefits. If I were the city, I'd be going for deeper cuts in retirement and health benefits offset by increases in salary, particularly for lower paid positions that will be more affected by the increased costs.

I'm also wondering if there has been a delay in the filling the 15 open positions until a two level pension system is implemented, in which case the sooner this impasse can be broken, the better.


Posted by Hiding, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 25, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Marie, you are missing my point for starters, and secondly you have incorrect info, plain and simple. San Jose going for 65? That is silly...and incorrect.

Police are also based on the last three year salary formula. Anyone hired after 1983 does not get paid for sick leave, not sure about vacation. I had a conversation with an officer and was told they did not object to the two tier system, including the 10 percent medical contribution same as SEIU did a few years back, as well as the other info. Let's not talk about benefits unseen in the public vs private sector, it is apples and oranges, and I am not even going to go down that road, I don't think the public employee's stock options are of concern. (hope you catch my point)

Please focus on my issue I have stated . I am not concerned about debating pension reform since that battle has been won by the city and is going to happen, we can stop burning them at the stake. And I AGREE AND SUPPORT IT. My point is again, I don't feel the city is being honest with the info, based on the articles I have read. That is all I am trying to objectively state. Too often I feel our town is mismanaged, misguided, etc by the council and its designees. Oh, the ones that ratified these contracts we so deplore.....and now blame the employees once again. It is not right.



Posted by Details, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 25, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Thanks again for all the supporteres in here. We appreciate it. You really need to come speak at the Council meetings and flood them with email to help make a difference. Thank you again!!

To Maire's Points.

The reason the city didn't list what the officers are willing to give up is becuase it is substantial and it doesn't fit the narrative they are trying to portray. As stated above, the union offered to pay 9% of their salary towards retirement. They also agreed to the lower pension plan and to pay 10% of the health care as all other employees are. Additionally their are other concessions that were agreed to, but the bottom line is the officers agreed to give up exactly what fire gave up and much more than what any of the other unions gave up in the city. (Thats the reason the city didn't announce the concessions offered because it doesn't fit their agrument)Adding everything up the concession is probably around 13 or 14 percent.

As for the 15 openings, they are open becuase we can't find any qualified candidates that want to work in Palo Alto. It's a cyclical thing. When our pay and benefits are competative with similar cities, we can atract good candidates. When our pay and benefits slip, we loose people to other jurisdictions. One way or antoher the city is going to pay. It's just at what cost. Do they accept reasonable concessions now and at least keep the officers they have left or do they achieve some kind of short lived political victory forcing more officers out and then have to hire and train less qualified people only to later increase the pay again.


Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2012 at 12:33 am

Marie, the total compensation package for qualified police retirees absolutely does not include overtime, vacation pay-outs, or sick leave pay-outs. The compensation calculated into the equation would be the employee's base salary by rank, any specialty assignment pay that would increase their salary, or the increase for night-differential pay. Specialty assignments would involve having responsibilities above and beyond that of a standard officer which earns the officer a pay increase.

Also keep in mind that the majority of officers, nearly 90%, do not accumulate enough time to retire at 50, and those that do, are nowhere near maximizing their potential retirement benefit. The full compensation package that is commonly referred to can give people the impression that the majority of officers or firefighters reach that, thereby inflating the potential financial costs to local governments. It's just not the case. There are many more officers that retire or leave the profession due to injury or stress related issues.


Posted by The city blew this one, a resident of Walter Hays School
on Feb 26, 2012 at 9:31 am

The city completely blew this one and took it too far.

Council Members and city staff listen. You took our anger and frustration over the antics of the fire fighters and tried to use it on the police. You overreached. Were not interested in you driving out our police officers so you can make some statement about what you have done to city employees.

The police officers are the ones who actually serve our needs 24 hours a day every day. They dont sleep during their shifts and they dont have 20 days a month off and have second jobs.

If the concessions they are offering are the same as fire, I think that's too much. They should have a far better deal than fire.

Accept a good deal and move on before you destroy the good will you had when as clearly stated here they have worked with you in the past and lets not forget they were the only ones who volluntarily gave up anything. Everyone had to as their contracts had expired.

Based soley on your treatment of the police officers, I will be voting against any bond measure you try and sell us based on how much you made changes on city employees. Nice try.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 26, 2012 at 10:20 am

> Also keep in mind that the majority of officers, nearly 90%, do not
> accumulate enough time to retire at 50, and those that do,
> are nowhere near maximizing their potential retirement benefit.

Hmm .. according to the Palo Alto HR department, the average time of service at retirement is 27 years. The point in time for retirement is a personal choice, unless actual/proven disabilities have been incurred so that an earlier retirement is in the best interest of the employee, and the City.

> The full compensation package that is commonly referred to
> can give people the impression that the majority of officers
> or firefighters reach that, thereby inflating the
> potential financial costs to local governments.

Well .. 27 years is not too different than 30 years. Oh, and the pension multiplier accrues for each year of service. So, someone who exceeds 30 years can start his/her initial pension payouts at more than 100% of his/her exit salary.

> It's just not the case.

Hard data, not assertions, would be appropriate at a time like this.

> There are many more officers that retire or leave the profession
> due to injury or stress related issues.

Keep in mind that public safety sector employees get a 50% reduction in their income tax liabilities if they are retired because of "disabilities". The number of public safety sector employees who actually enter retirement via this path is not generally known, unfortunately.

A few years ago, the Daily News ran some stories on Fire/Police union members retiring with "disabilities". The story claimed that the City had allowed the employee seeking retiree status to get a statement from his/her own doctor, and that there was no "second opinion" required. As such, a goodly number of Fire/Police employees managed to work their whole lives as "fit for duty", but then claimed to be "disabled" when it came time to retire.

This whole area of computing exit salaries and initial pension payouts has been badly manipulated by a lot of public sector employees, so that the term "pension spiking" has entered the vocabulary of public sector employment issues:

Pension Spiking:
Web Link

Audit finds possible 'pension spiking' in Montebello:
Web Link

California Takes Aim at Public Pension Spiking:
Web Link

Whether unethical, or illegal, California public sector employees have had no trouble "bending" the rules to increase their pension payouts—which make most Fire/Police retirees multi-millionaires in their retirement years.


Posted by Is the city kidding?, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2012 at 10:22 am

After reading the attached document to the press release, my understanding is that the city wants the police union to payback money earned by them, retro-active to October 2011. So you mean to tell me that a group, the police union, that deferred their raises, which I actually heard was done for 2 years not 1, is now expected to payback money they worked for. Additionally, talking to officers in the city, I was told they offered to defer their raise for a 3rd year but was rejected by the city.

The city has to be kidding. The union gives back money owed to them, willingly, and then offers a similar deal to the one agreed with the fire department, who at every turn disrespected the city and the citizens, and the "thanks" the city offers is a worse deal. No wonder the police can't retain their own employees or get new ones in there. Additionally, I heard that nearly all of the police managers have left in the last year. Will this start happening with other police employees soon? I'm guessing yes.

I hope the city does not get their way in this, although with the ability to impose a contract I don't see how they won't. It is going to be a long bumpy road ahead to rebuild a good police department to keep us safe.


Posted by No They aren't Kidding, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 26, 2012 at 12:30 pm

They are using a crisis to force things on the Police Department they could never get away with if the real facts were shared. This is no different than the federal goverment using a crisis to pass things they could never pass otherwise.

The police union has offered the same concessions as fire and far more than others in the city.

The police union is the only union that helped out with voluntary concessions. Everyone else was forced to do it as their contracts were expired.

The city has plenty of money it just a question of where they want to spend it. Look around at all the money they spend on a variety of things. Its okay if you want to pick and chose what you spend money on just be honest and don't create a crisis and monkey with the numbers.

One of the officers told me they heard from their superiors that the city intends to make further budget cuts this year and that a couple million more dollars needed to come from cuts in public safety. The city priorities seem a bit out of whack.

I will be attending the Council meeting to speak out against this mess. Leave our police along. Near as I can tell they were the only ones that worked with the city.


Posted by annoyed, a resident of another community
on Feb 26, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Here goes....I TOLD YOU SO !! I told you that we can make nice and make concessions and the city will not do the same. I told you that they would promise to make it right and then they wouldn't. History repeats itself and the city is screwing you AGAIN! Get out if you can. Damn this used to be a great place to work. Too bad.


Posted by This is Bizarre, a resident of another community
on Feb 26, 2012 at 8:50 pm

I worked the last couple days and the feeling in the police department is that everyone just got thrown out like the trash. So lets forget about all the nuances and issues everyone has talked about here and just look at one simple set of facts.

The fire fighters faught tooth and nail with the city for almost two years. The fire fighters sponsored their own ballot measure in an effort to make it so the city couldn't even manage the fire department. The fire fighters refused to give up any concessions until their contract was expired unlike the police. The fire fighters took the city all the way to the brink of arbitration. At the 13th hour they finally conceded to a two tier retirement system, paying for their medical, and paying 9% into their retirement.

The police didnt fight with the city. The police didnt try and put some lame ballot measure on the ballot. The police gave up volluntary concessions even though they were locked into a contract and didnt have to. The police offered the exact same concession the fire department agreed to and thats not good enough. This sends an increadible message to employees everywhere.

15 vacancies and counting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




Posted by Martin, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 27, 2012 at 7:09 am

The city doesn't want the same concessions (for police) that the firefighters agree to. Now that binding arbitration is history, the city is going after what they really want for all employees- To have them pay more into their medical and pension.
Wait to you see what happens to the San Jose employees in June and then be happy you still work in Palo Alto.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2012 at 9:27 am

> 15 vacancies and counting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Staffing levels are often based on non-analytic approaches—more often driven by labor union demands, rather than any kind of intelligent review of department performance, actual demands for police response, and the use of non-sworn officers doing some of the work currently done by sworn officers.

The City of San Jose has recently released a study, performed by an IBM public sector support group, that suggests that a significant staffing levels reduction could be achieved with a well thought out reorganization of the police service delivery model—

IBM Public Sector Analysis—City of San Jose Operations Efficiency Report:
Web Link

San Jose Auditor's Comments On IBM Analysis:
Web Link

The diagnostic notes increased Police spending despite reductions in San Jose's crime rate over the last 30 years, and suggests the City should consider recalibration of force levels and alternative deployment models based on crime data. The IBM team used the City's data to graphically show available patrol time compared to weekly service call volumes by day of the week, time of day, and by beat.
Other consultants, with a variety of approaches, have in the past reviewed the potential for increased efficiencies in San Jose patrol staffing. A recent consultant report recommended a "comprehensive statistical workload analysis" to create police staffing options and to identify alternative staffing and scheduling options. Another consultant found that one option to help the department cope with reduced staffing was to modify shift schedules to at least five shift start times per day because fewer start times inhibit the matching of on-duty staffing with the demand profile (and, as a result, require significantly more officers to provide the same level of service)
…
Similarly, previous work by the Auditor's Office found that the department has room for improvement in its deployment of personnel. Our 2010 audit of civilianization opportunities in the Police Department assessed the efficiency and effectiveness of the current deployment of sworn versus non-sworn employees, identifying duties and roles that could be outsourced or performed by civilians at significant cost savings. Our 2010 audit of Police staffing (which also referred back to our 2000 audit of Patrol staffing and deployment which used a data-driven analysis similar to that used by IBM) recommended reducing supervisory spans of control, and establishing schedules and start times that better align staffing with workload.
---

This sort of systemic rethinking of the staffing levels needs to be done for Palo Alto. Included in this work should be looking at regionalizing/merging the police function with surrounding cities, to see what kinds of cost reductions can be achieved, with what corresponding effects these reductions would have on the quality of service delivered by this new "joint" police service


Posted by Not a fan of San Jose, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 27, 2012 at 10:07 am

I do not know why you want to hold San Jose up as a role mode Wayne. You do realize that with all their police cutbacks, the rate of murder in San Jose doubled in 2011. They also had a large increase in officer involved shootings (less backup putting officers in more dangerous situations?).

The Chief of the San Jose P.D. says that "low-level" crimes are less likely to get attention. "We're beyond doing more with less," he said. "We're now into doing less with less."

The Chief's, due to his lack of resources, is to depend on the public.
"...and proposed a novel solution for the department's reduced manpower: Ask the public to help."

Web Link



Posted by James Keene, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Feb 27, 2012 at 10:12 am

Do you think it hypocritical that our city manager, James Keene, just got a raise, but yet expects everyone else to take deep pocket cuts? How about our city manager lead by example?


Posted by Liars, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Feb 27, 2012 at 10:17 am

The city claims to be in a financial dire; however, didn't they just receive 140 million from Stanford University as a bribe to be able to expand their hospital? What are these funds being used for?


Posted by Run the numbers, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 27, 2012 at 10:20 am

So let me get this straight, the city wanted 3.4 million in salary savings from public safety and they received just under 1 million from the fire department (who by the way were the ones to fight tooth and nail and even did a ballot measure that cost tax payers) so the city now expects the PD to foot the majority of the bill?


Posted by Robert, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 27, 2012 at 11:06 am

The city was too easy on the fire department by a huge margin. Firefighters should make 60K with a generous 401K match, not 120K with six figure taxpayer funded pensions starting in their fifties. Even at these rates there are hundreds willing to do the job for every opening.

In the context of police vs. fire, the police are getting a raw deal, but that is only due to the exorbitant packages the fire union has managed to pry, bribe, and threaten out of the spineless city council in years past. The city needs to fix the payscale of most govt. workers to remove the bloat in their salaries and benefits that have developed over the years. The police happen to be first in line. Fire was lucky to lock in another well-above-market deal just before the voters fixed binding arbitration, but they should face much deeper cuts when their contract is up.





Posted by Public Safety Servant , a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2012 at 11:08 am

Palo Alto Police Department has lost police officers and they stand to lose more if their City enforces these cuts. Furthermore, the citizens of Palo Alto stand to experience a further cut in services as a result of the loss in staffing. As a result of the contract imposed upon the SEIU workers Palo Altos 9-1-1 center is experiencing one of the worst staffing levels in many years. Also, with the new retirement scale being imposed on SEIU Palo Alto has become a training ground for dispatchers and, most likely, will never again see full staffing to take 9-1-1 calls from its citizens. The number of hours in overtime your dispatchers and officers are covering is unheard of in public safety. And, to add insult to injury your public safety workers are subject to harsh criticizum because of the seemingly high levels of pay published in Palo Alto papers. I assure you, if staffing were at the appropriate levels and overtime was not forced upon this work group, to ensure the safety of your city, these published numbers would not be so high. The Palo Alto police department, on a whole, is one of the lowest paid departments in the bay area.

I encourage the citizens of Palo Alto to look at the way your City is spending it's money. I also encourage you to look at what your City truly pays for the retirement of your public safety employees. The PERS system is designed so that investments on monies in the system pay for the bulk of the retirement system. Furthermore, PERS is also designed so that, in some years, a City will not pay an funds into the PERS system. For a number of years Palo Alto paid not a penny for the retirement of its employees. Where did the money from that savings go? I also encourage Palo Alto citizens to look at the amount of money paid to your City Manager and his assistant City Managers. Palo Alto is incredibly top-heavy for its size. Palo Alto citizens are educated and understand the processes of management in business. Take a look and you'll be astonished at the gross level of mismanagement by your City Manager.

Palo Alto should question its Manager not question the people that keep your city safe and at one of the lowest crime rates in the bay area. How many crimes have occured in Palo Alto in recent months and within days or weeks the crime is solved and suspects are in custody? This is not an easy process and your streets are not safe by chance. Your streets are safe because your officers and dispatchers are educated and experienced too.

Also, take the time to read what other cities your manager worked for have said about him. The articles make for interesting reading. I know I was disturbed and frightened not only for the employees of your city but the citizens as well.


Posted by steven, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 27, 2012 at 11:11 am

Get rid of the unions there wont be any proplems ,the police can get the ptoper pay like all of us in the private sector ,if you dont like what you get do somthing eles ,look around at all the vacant buildings there all for rent ,people leave because we are taxed to death ,we just cant afford it.................cut taxes,make california a right to work state things will change


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2012 at 11:39 am

> The city claims to be in a financial dire; however, didn't they
> just receive 140 million from Stanford University as a bribe to
> be able to expand their hospital?

Not really. $92M of that $140M (or thereabouts)is targeted for CalTrain Go-Passes, which will be paid for over the next 52-years. The rest of the money is intended for various uses, including some sort of "in-lieu" housing.

This $140M is little more than a sham--as Palo Alto will see less than $50M, at best.


Posted by commonsense, a resident of Professorville
on Feb 27, 2012 at 11:42 am

To use other local governments, or any in CA for that matter, as a benchmark for the correct level of pay is ridiculous - all counties in CA are, and have been posting for several years now, huge budget shortfalls because of the same lack of fiscal discipline. Fair, public sector type pay should be an easy concept to grasp. Unfortunately, unions have the power to throw out any attempt toward fiscal discipline to benefit the few.


Posted by Joseph E. Davis, a resident of Woodside
on Feb 27, 2012 at 12:09 pm

The proper way to measure if pay is equitable is to attempt to hire for the position and see how far out the door the line of qualified applicants extends. I guarantee that the salaries and benefits of our so-called public servants could be cut in half with absolutely no problem filling the spots.

That is the extent to which public sector unions are ripping off the citizenry.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 27, 2012 at 12:11 pm

>why are you holding up San Jose as a model. Murders have doubled ..

While it is true that murders in San Jose have doubled between 2010 and 2011, the other Part I crimes has decreased, except "robbery":

Web Link

There was a slightly less than 1% decrease in "crime" in San Jose for this timeframe, based on the total Part I crime numbers.

During the 2000-2011 timeframe, there have been three years where the murders in San Jose have been 20, or fewer. Are you really claiming that the number of police officers on the street can be the cause of 20 (or fewer) murders one year, and double that the next because of a small decrease in the number of sworn officers? Can you provide any proof that this relationship is well established in the American law enforcement community?

It would take a bit of study to figure out why this jump in murders is occurring, at the same time that virtually all other crime types is decreasing--but those are the numbers as provided by the San Jose Police to the DoJ.

San Jose Homicide Unit:
Web Link

> Officer involved shootings ..

If you say so, but a link to this statistic, on the San Jose Police Department web-site, would be most helpful at this time.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 27, 2012 at 12:54 pm

> And, to add insult to injury your public safety workers are
> subject to harsh criticizum because of the seemingly high levels
> of pay published in Palo Alto papers

Police salaries are the highest of all the published public sector payrolls that we have begun to see in various newspapers because of the dogged efforts of the Palo Alto Daily News, San Jose Mercury and the Contra Costa Times—newspapers that fought the efforts to mask public sector salaries by various Bay Area labor unions.

> not question the people that keep your city safe and at one
> of the lowest crime rates in the bay area.

Actually, if one takes the time to review crime rates in the Bay Area, one would see that Palo Alto property crimes in Palo Alto are much higher than many other cities. Of course, this is because of the perceived wealth of Palo Alto, compared to other cities. Murder rates are low here, but they are low everywhere except places like Oakland, Gilroy, and East Palo Alto (historically). Why is it that murder rates are higher in some places and not others? Is it because of the local police salaries? Probably not.

> PERS is also designed so that, in some years, a City will not pay
> an funds into the PERS system.

Ahh .. well, maybe that is the theory, but not the practice –

Pensions Strangling Towns and Cities:
Web Link

Municipal Bankruptcy May Be Only Way Out:
Web Link

CalPers Lowers Rate-of-Return Forecast:
Web Link

A good source of daily information on the public sector pension crisis is:

Pensiontsunami.com
www.pensiontsunami.com

Labor unions simply do not seem to be capable of recognizing the tsunami of debt that is coming our way, which they have caused with their demands, and our elected, but unaccountable, public officials have agreed to without any sense of possible danger to the stability of government operations in the future.


Posted by Hiding, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 27, 2012 at 1:28 pm

How about this for correlation:

Sjpd has staffing problems so bad they get rid of their violent crimes enforcement team, aka gang team. Murders double in one year...... Fact


Posted by cfo, a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Feb 27, 2012 at 1:52 pm

nobody cares about crimes. just a bunch of hype. instilling fear on people. trying to make imprisonment the norm to get rid of undesirables. like non christians and the like. your society should not have the family role model as its ideal. just surviving is difficult now.


Posted by LIES, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 27, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Wayne: really about unions do not seem to understand? The police opted out of their pay raises twice and the 3rd time the city declined. They are willing to take cuts, which several listed in the postings above. Some unions may act greedy but PA police have continued to try and work with the city to help with budget woes.

Did you complain when there was no budget problems? Where you posting information when everything was fine with the cities finainces? What you seem to ignore is the city keeps adjusting the "forecasted" budget. First they need 4.3 mil then they said they made a mistake after the fire contract was completed and stated they need 2.1 million and now it is back to 4.3. So what are the real numbers? Why are you so quick to call out the unions but not politicians? Where is your anger towards the mayor and financial manager who allowed the so called budget woes? Why are we not demanding they take paycuts, cuts to their living perks, and benefits? Only blaming the unions for the problems is one sided.

You are right to say unions don not care about the best interest of the city, for the most part. However, in regards to the PA police, you are dead wrong to lump them in the group. They have and continue to be willing to take cuts for the benefit of the city.


Posted by LIES, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 27, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Joseph: they will have problems filling positions if pay and benefits are not comparable to living expenses. Do you think they just go out and hire anyone? Why don't you apply, not to necessarily get hired but so you can see the long process it takes to get one good man or woman out of 1000 applicants. My cousin just finsihed the process with a different agency and it took almost 9 months. Now she has to go through a 6 month academy.


Posted by Riddle me this one!!!!, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 27, 2012 at 3:57 pm

If the city budget is so bad that the police officers must take pay concessions larger than everyone else in the city, WHY IS THE CITY'S BUDGET DIRECTOR GETTING A MASSIVE PAY INCREASE AT NEXT WEEKS FINANCE COMMITEE MEETING?????????????????????????????

Hmmmm!


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 27, 2012 at 4:16 pm

> Murders double in one year...... Fact

How about a link to a San Jose Police Department press release, or staffing study, that uses some sort of decent modeling techniques to "prove" that their actions (ie-- terminating the violent crimes enforcement team) led to this increase in murders.

The SJPD posts the murders on their web-site for the past ten years:

Year--Murders
---------Murders/
-----------100K-Population
-------------
2000--18--1.9
2001--24--2.5
2002--24--2.5
2003--31--3.3
2004--20--2.1
2005--28--2.9
2006--30--3.2
2007--33--3.5
2008--30--3.2
2009--28--2.9
2010--20--2.1
2011--39--4.1
------------------
Avg:--27/year

Without some details about these murders (ie—gang related, drive-bys, domestic violence, bank robberies, murder-suicides, etc.), the small numbers make it difficult to link police "deterrence" to any increases/decreases that have occurred over the past ten years.

On a national level, during this timeframe:
Web Link

Murder rates/100K-people vary, state-by-state, from 1/100K to 11/100K. Here in California, there seems to be a more-or-less constant trend downward, from 1996 to 2010, with the average at 4.9/100K, which is the 2011 rate for San Jose.

The question of closure rates should be discussed here, more than event rates. Clearly, police are not a major "deterrent" to the prevention of the crime of murder; however, is staffing levels really affecting the closure (arrest->indictment->conviction) of these San Jose murders?


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 27, 2012 at 4:33 pm

> really about unions do not seem to understand?

Anyone following this pension issue--which is going to bankrupt America (along with the massive giveaways that the Federal Government has orchestrated over the years) will recognize the same "play book" being used by unions all over the country.

They sue to block access to public salary data. They sue to block access to pension payout data. When provided with reasonable analyses about how unsustainable the current pension system is--they claim that: 1) the studies are flawed, 2) the assumed rates of return for the money-management funds (such as CalPERS/CalSTRS here in CA) are just fine, and the people doing the analyses are using assumptions about future economic conditions that are "too low". These same people don't seem to be producing any alternative studies that actually PROVE their points, and DISPROVE the studies from the various sources that have taken on this problem (like Stanford, and any number of Grand Juries).

The unions don't understand that society can not continue to increase their salaries at the rate that they have (5.5%/year in the case of the PA Police, according to the PA HR Department), and not run into some serious problems paying these salaries, and the linked pension obligations, in the coming years.

> Did you complain when there was no budget problems?

Yes.

> Where you posting information when everything was fine
> with the cities finainces

I have been in the leadership of 4 major VOTE-NO campaigns that tackled issues like: 1) a bad storm drain tax/fee, 2) Measure D--the first failed library bond measure, 3) Measure A--a PAUSD parcel tax increase, Measure A--the massive building bond at the PAUSD, which will see $750M exacted in taxes from the property owners of the PAUSD, which means mostly PA residents.

I have written hundreds of letters to the City Council over the years--just check the public record. That's what I have done.

What have you done? Have you even bothered to read just one of those letters I wrote about balancing the budget, cost-reducing City government, and downsizing/regionalizing various aspects of local government--to deal with this problem of expanding government costs?

So .. just what have you done?


Posted by Hank, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 27, 2012 at 5:10 pm

A story about the Palo Alto police, but why is the Palo Alto fire getting so beat up?


Posted by Obvious Troll, a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Palo Alto is about as dangerous as a shopping mall. Why don't you just hire some "rent-a-cops" to drive around and keep an eye on things? Real cops can't do much after the fact, but cheap security patrols keep out the prowlers and deter the crimes of opportunity that are so prevalent in Palo Alto.

I hope I didn't expose the real plan. Everything else seems to be outsourced lately.


Posted by Annoyed, a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2012 at 9:09 pm

All these comments about the Police being over paid are hilarious and at the same time, sad.

Most are coming from cry baby, used to be paper ex-millionaires, from the dot-com bust. Nobody paid any attention to public service salaries and retirement when they were reaping the rewards of their successes. We were a necessary evil. Hated when we were in their rear view mirror and tolerated when we checked out the noise in the back yard at 3 am. And believe me, those of us who chose to serve, did so out of love of what we did. Not the money. Now that your lives didn't turn out the way you thought they would, you focus on those of us who never said a word. We just went on protecting you, at the risk of our lives and our families. If we were jealous because of the money, we kept it to ourselves. We didn't take to the papers to bitch about those of you who were given stock options like play money.

When I first started I would have done this job for free, with no thought about retirement. As time went on and responsibilities grew, I owed it to my family to provide for them.

Gee, there is something that no one has brought up. Our families live with the fact that we may not come home at the end of our shift. And you think that we shouldn't make as much as we can to care for them in the event we don't make it home. I chose to, and willingly sacrificed my life, for each and every one of you. I did that in spite of what you feel about us, and at the risk of my wife and children not having me around.

Fix the problem where it comes from. City Hall and their administration. They didn't plan for this and have no idea how to fix it. Pet projects get funded, executive salaries rise, and the lower rungs on the ladder catch the crap and are expected to fix it.

If you think you can do what we do, apply, go through the ardous process and serve. Because in the long run, that's what we do. Serve you. But that doesn't mean that you have the right treat us as second class citizens.

I am not happy with how the Fire Department handled their business. It hurt us all. But they have a right to handle their business as they see fit and you have the right to disagree. And apparently you did. But don't take it out on the Police Department. We gave money back by deferring raises, cut personnel at risk to our safety and offered more concessions that the city refused.

Now for those of you who saw the word "did" in a previous paragraph, I will explain. I am retired. I am reaping the "rewards" that you talk about. I earned it by the countless times I placed your safety before mine. I earned it because of the countless times I had to see death and injury and had to tell you that your loved one won't be coming home. I earned it because of the unmeasurable amount of times I chased the guy who hurt your loved ones or took your valuables. I earned it by the countless amount of doors I went through not knowing what was on the other side. I earned it for what I put my family through.

I earned it because I chose to serve. I could have chosen a career that paid more, but who would do this one.......You? And if I could....I would do it again.






Posted by Malik, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 27, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Fire has behaved like a bunch of overpaid, entitled children.

That said, ridiculing the private sector by calling us cry babies -- we who create all of the growth and economic output in this country (not to mention funds every govt. job) isn't going to win any votes back from a voting public that is angry about the lack of return on its tax dollars.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 27, 2012 at 10:50 pm

There's a lot of silly stuff that seems to be dominating this conversation. What I want to know, plain and simple, is: what have the police offered to give up versus what the city is asking of them?

The police union president says they offered significant concessions but the city representative says they are being stubborn. Why can't the city or the union just tell us what the terms are so we know who's telling the truth?

This should be simple, right? The article says the SEIU employees gave up 4% and another article says the fire department gave up 7%. Are the cops refusing to give up the same 4-7%? If so, I think that's unfair and they deserve to be criticized. But if the city is asking for more than everyone else gave up, the cops have every right to hold out for better.

The city put out a press release so why not put out the basic facts?


Posted by WOW, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2012 at 11:06 pm

Wayne Martin,

There is so much disinformation happening on this site I don't know how anyone can possibly make an informed decision based on reading the article or listening to the biased comments that appear to intentionally deceive the public; or out right lies. Even reading the link to "declaration of impasse" the city gets the pension funding numbers wrong. They seem to use Market Value valuation funding levels interchangeably with Actuarial funding levels, when the purpose of each has very different functions.

For instance the city claims that in 2009 the funding level of pensions was 60%. They claim the funding level then increased to 75%. That never happened. The current CalPERS funding level for the Palo Alto Safety plan is ONLY 64.8% (page 5). The unfunded liability for just the safety plan is $103,367,721 (103 million plus). You can view the Palo Alto (Safety) CalPERS Actuarial Report here: Web Link

Someone mentioned there isn't any information regarding the ABUSED number of disability retirements. That isn't true. The info can be found at the same link provided above on page 28.

What is the normal cost of the 3@50 plan? The actual cost without all the extra benefits and market losses can be found on page 15.

Someone said the PD uses highest 36 months to compute pensions. That is NOT true. They use the pension spiking highest 12 months of compensation.

"An average member of the police union gets a salary of $104,013. The average salary and benefits total about $185,616."

- I'm not sure where these numbers come from but it is pure BS. There is so much wrong with that statement I don't know where to begin. But, I'll do it tomorrow.

Tuesday afternoon I'll help to shed light on some of the bigger misrepresentations being spread as truth. If people understood how much the Palo Alto PD received in raises during the great recession they would be floored.


Posted by WOW, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2012 at 12:23 am

To the person claiming the 15 unfillrd positions the budget deficit helps dictate hiring. You are faniliar with a budget?

As to your other point that Palo Alto is somehow understaffed, based on union criteria, I will just say that Palo Alto is staffed at 1.4 officers per thousand residents. The California average range for 80% of cities is 1 - 1.3 officers per 1000 citizens.


Posted by sandy, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2012 at 12:25 am

I'd much rather see money going to our police than to the city manager and the bloated city bureaucracy--let's cut salaries for the bureaucrats (in fact, let's fire most of them), and then we can happily pay our police what they deserve--laying their lives on the line DAILY to protect us, our families and our homes. In fact, let's give the police raises and hire more officers. All you whiners complaining because police are being paid more than you think they should be getting: Sometimes PhDs. and MBAs aren't worth much when it comes to real life; I'd pay police (and teachers, and firefighters, and nurses) more than any CEO, politician, or bureaucrat.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Feb 28, 2012 at 12:34 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Sandy states:" I'd pay police (and teachers, and firefighters, and nurses) more than any CEO, politician, or bureaucrat."

If you did that then Palo Alto would have only two employees - one police officer and one firefighter.

Police officers should be paid a market based salary and that market price should determined by what other cities (who are not in the 'price fixing arrangement' of the bay area police unions) pay - which is probably about 80% of their current compensation.
Just for comparison, they are currently paid more than 3 times as much as a comparably experienced military police officer - someone who does truly put their life on the line in places far more dangerous than Palo Alto.


Posted by Bruce Li, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 28, 2012 at 9:12 am

Mr. Carpenter,

The market based salary and benefits that have been previously negotiated by the Palo Alto Peace Officers' Association was determined by what other cities pay. And PAPOA's members were never at the top of the list. This price fixing arrangement that you mentioned was determined during negotiations and is a common practice throughout the state. PAPOA never had any type of arrangements, unlike other local jurisdictions that required them to be higher than the average or the highest among the comparable agencies. PAPOA was always negotiated reasonably and for fair and equitable benefits/salaries, and almost always ended up with less than their FD counterparts.

I also believe your attempt to minimize the role of a police officer by comparing the profession to a military police officer is inflammatory. I totally respect the roles of our public safety personnel and military personnel, regardless of their duties. Yes, some military police officers may put their life on the line in places far more dangerous than in Palo Alto. However, unless you've worked as a sworn civilian police officer, which I doubt you have, i believe you are foolishly mistaken and in no position to comment on the profession of a police officer who I believe is "truly" placing their life on the line working in Palo Alto or any other jurisdiction.

And finally Mr. Carpenter, I know for a fact that Lester Cole, Theodore Brassinga, Gene Clifton, and hundreds of other police officers have put their lives on the line in places far more and far less dangerous than Palo Alto. So let's not dishonor them with insightful comparisons for your personal agenda.

"It is not how these officers died that made them heroes, it is how they lived."


Posted by Simple Numbers, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 28, 2012 at 10:43 am

Responding to WOW

Here's what we offered to give up.

Reduced Retirements - Two Teir (Same as everyone else)
90/10 Medical (Same as Everyone Else)
Tuition Reimbursement (Same as Fire)
Paying 9% of our salary into the retirement system (Same as Fire)
SEIU added 3 or 4% into their retirement funding.

In total these items exceed the concessions already given by the other bargaining groups in the city. These items match what fire just agreed to. The fire and police offers are higher than the rest of the city because we joined the concession party a bit later than everyone else as we had remaining years on our contracts. The concessions by the other groups was around 4% with both police and fire being at the upper end of your range near the 7%.

Your reference to how many oficers per residents is an interesting statistic, but it doesn't always take into account the type of community, it doesn't take into account sleeping population versus large influx of daytime populations, and most importantly it doesn't take into account the types of services the citizens expect. Some cities dont ask for or expect much in services, other ask ofr and expect alot.



Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Feb 28, 2012 at 11:20 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The market based salary and benefits that have been previously negotiated by the Palo Alto Peace Officers' Association was determined by what other cities pay. "

The 'other cities' in this cozy price fixing arrangement are all other bay area cities (notably not including places like East Palo Alto) that have agreed to pay at or above the average of the salaries in that total list. Anyone with knowledge of simple math knows that when every pays above the average then the average goes up - very quickly.

"I also believe your attempt to minimize the role of a police officer by comparing the profession to a military police officer is inflammatory." I don't find these facts to be at all inflammatory, but rather informative - just look a the difference between what military police officers are paid and what their Palo Alto counterparts are paid and explain to all of us why there should be such a difference.


Posted by Simple Numbers, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 28, 2012 at 11:43 am

Regarding the market Based Salaries.

The other cities are supposed to he similar in nature in the size of the community, services they provide, etc.

The number of cities is sizable to avoid large swings. Some cities pay more some pay less. Palo Alto has historically had a stated goal of staying around the middle, but in reality has usually been slightly below the middle. Years ago, they fell to alsmost the bottom which is why the city stepped in and gave increases to get them back to near the middle.

Palo Alto has never been at the top or even near the top. Where they were ahead was medical benefits, now they will be closer to the middle on that also.


Posted by taxpayer, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 28, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Bruce Li,

Your attempts to criticize Mr. Carpenter fall flat. He has stated some facts. All I saw from you was emotional, hero worship outburts. Do you think it helps to call some one "foolishly mistaken" and tell them they are in "no position to comment". Why do you think your opinion is so much more important than his?

What was your point of typing out all those names ... "Lester Cole, Theodore Brassinga, Gene Clifton ... ? Are we supposed to recognize them?

And why is it relevant that they "have put their lives on the line in places far more and far less dangerous than Palo Alto" We are talking about the compensation of the PAPD. How many PAPD have died while on duty?

"It is not how these cooks, plumbers, engineers, gardeners etc died that made them heroes, it is how they lived."


Posted by trudydo, a resident of another community
on Feb 28, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Remember, Mr. Carpenter, the military is fed, clothed, equipped, medicated, and buried by the government. Police do not have quite the same benefits.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 28, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Lester H Cole was a PAPD reserve officer killed while performing traffic duties on January 31, 1969.

PAPD officer Gene A. Clifton was killed serving a warrant on October 1, 1971.

Theodore H. Brassinga was a PAPD officer killed during a swat training exercise on May 15, 1994.

As a citizen of Palo Alto, I certain am grateful for their service and sorry for their loss.


Posted by Ernesto USMC, a resident of Ventura
on Feb 28, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Serving as a military police officer is a far more arduous and dangerous job than serving in Palo Alto, by any statistical or qualitative measure. Mr. Carpenter's reference to the pay disparity is factual and relevant.

"Remember, Mr. Carpenter, the military is fed, clothed, equipped, medicated, and buried by the government. Police do not have quite the same benefits."

Police go home when their shift is over. Military police stay in-theater for typically up to a year at a time. To say nothing about overtime, union work rules, sick and retirement pay. A government issue uniform and a free burial if you're killed in the line of duty does not amount to much of a benefit. The above poster's insinuation that it does, and that the 3:1 disparity between Palo Alto and Military police compensation is therefore somehow more justified, is an insult.

The military has programs that help place returning vets into police and fire roles. I know a large percentage of returning vets would welcome the life of a PA firefighter or police officer at much reduced compensation than what the taxpayers are currently paying.


Posted by Annoyed, a resident of another community
on Feb 28, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Ernesto USMC.....first of all. Thank you for your service.

There are any fine men and women who are veterans serving at the Police Department. We have always welcomed veterans to apply and continue to serve. That being said, we haven't had a military draft since 1974 so all those eligle to serve since did so willingly. Not my fault the pay sucked and the conditions were worse. And trust me when I tell you, not one of those veterans ever declined a pay raise just because they were happy to have a job. They should be paid well no matter where they are when they put their life on the line.

For all those returning from protecting our country, apply. If you qualify and pass all the tests you may be hired.

Taxpayer......there are no words to describe how insulting you are. Those names were Officers who gave their lives protecting the citizens of Palo Alto. Whether they made $100 or $10,000 a month, they died doing an honorable job, serving you. And I don't recall EVER minimizing the profession of someone who's death I had to respond to. Shame on you is the nicest thing I can say.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 28, 2012 at 5:52 pm

> I also believe your attempt to minimize the role of a police
> officer by comparing the profession to a military police officer
> is inflammatory.

As a former Army Officer, I find this statement incomplete (there is no reason provided for Carpenter's statement to be inflammatory), and I don't see that Carpenter has tried to "minimize" police officers-- just compare the salaries of civilian police and military police.

At first, I was about to suggest that comparing the two was not really all that "apples and apples", since military police are a very small element of their respective branches, and don't spend a lot of time handing out traffic tickets. But then I remembered having researched a friend's father's WWII service. His father had been assigned to an MP battalion that had assigned to be the advance unit for one of the lead units that landed on Normandy Beach. Here's a little snippet of what the MPs did while the Infantry was trying to scale the hills and establish a secure beachhead:

Web Link

INFANTRYMEN often have described the Corps of Military Police as the soldiers who posted "Off Limits" signs even before towns were liberated. But there's one place where doughs found no signs; there were no complaints about the early presence of MPs. That was the Normandy beaches.

MPs crossed those narrow belts of sand at H-Hour, D-Day, and began clearing vehicles from the beaches, evacuating wounded, guarding prisoners in an improvised cage, unloading shells. In the pre-dawn air invasion, MPs had come in fighting with the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions.

They were not immune. The same murderous fire caught them as well as their infantry buddies. In some ways it was even tougher for the MP. Once posted, he had to stand up and take it. His duty didn't allow him to duck into a foxhole. If he became, a casualty, another MP replaced him.
****

I don't know how many MPs die every year in the line of service, but they do give their lives keeping our country safe. Of course, the big difference is that police officers work their shifts, and go home. MPs are in for "the duration".. they work their shift, and then don't go home.

Attacking people (like Carpenter) on a personal level is just not acceptable. Most of us who served on Active Duty did so because we believed in basic American values—which includes a more-or-less right to free speech in the political arena.


Posted by Hero's daughter, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 28, 2012 at 6:23 pm

My father and brother both served in the 5th Special Forces group and both went on to become police officers (not for Palo Alto). I thank God for our military, who perform a job not many want for not enough money. I also thank God for our law enforcement officers, who also perform a job not many want and who are constantly being attacked in the news and by the public. Yes, military police work for less. However, the salaries of federal law enforcement (who also employ a high number of ex-military) are comparable (I believe even higher) than what Palo Alto officers make. Federal law enforcement also gets paid more, if they are located in the bay area because of the high cost of living. The military should obviously be paid more rather than Palo Alto police officers be paid less. We already do not pay enough for our officers to live in our city. If we lower their wage to military pay, it is not a livable wage in the bay area. The bottom line is we will not be able to retain quality officers because they will not be able to afford to work here if we cut their pay. What the city is proposing is very short sighted and is going to cost us more in the long run.

My family is a very proud military and law enforcement family. The both consist of a team of heroes and both should be appreciated for the sacrifice they take. My father was stabbed, exposed to agent orange and shot at as a green beret in Vietnam. As a bay area police officer, he was also shot at, exposed to the HIV virus,TB, hepatitis, had his police car worked on by a hell's angel agent who tampered with it so the exhaust was leaking inside the vehicle, causing him and several other officers who drove that car to get into car accidents before they discovered the issue, got in many (too numerous to count) fights with people resisting arrest (injuring his back and knee), etc. By the way, my father worked in a low crime, comparable to Palo Alto City where the citizens believed the officers never did anything. My dad's sacrifice as a soldier does not diminish his sacrifice as an officer. My dad's salary as an officer was comparable to Palo Alto's and he deserves EVERY PENNY.


Posted by spicyhulagirl, a resident of another community
on Feb 28, 2012 at 8:06 pm

The sign of the times is that everybody in public service is going to have to give up something... whether it be pay, concessions, retirement, etc. Every officer in PAPD knows this and is in agreement with it. It's just sad that the city they work for has been unethical, unfair, and refuses to work with them for an agreed upon contract. Instead, the city throws their officers under the bus so they can look good. So they can enjoy their newly remodeled homes, fancy dinners, and pay raises. But in the meantime, every officer here continues to work extended shifts because there isn't enough staffing, comes to work sick because they know if they don't, somebody else will be forced to come in, and they provide excellent, exceptional service. Police officers didn't start this job because of the pay, they did it because it was their calling. It takes a special person to be a police officer. You can agree or disagree, but it's the truth. Too bad this city doesn't have a "citizen's academy" so you people, who hide behind your computer and criticize the police department, can come out and "play." See what it's like to make split second decisions under a tremendous amount of stress. Get shot at (with simunitions, of course) and still get back to win the fight, deal with "Red Man" and take a combative subject into custody. Try doing that in "real life" for 44 hours a week, minimum. Day after day. Birthdays? Too bad. Christmas? Maybe next year. Son's 1st birthday? He'll turn 2 next year. Yep, but like you said, these police officers are overpaid.

City Council and City Manager, just be fair. Be ethical. Be reasonable. That's all.


Posted by outta there, a resident of another community
on Feb 29, 2012 at 10:20 am

We did have a Citizen's Academy. It ran for a good chunk of years. Unfortunately, it was one of the first 'positions' to get cut in the great Union backlash of 2008 that began with SEIU. Yeah, we lost positions,(ie:people), benefits, pay, and morale. I guess I was lucky enough to be able to flee when the writing was on the wall. It read:NONE OF YOU MATTER.
So, even though all you LEO's are getting the same treatment that others got, it matters not what you have sacrificed. (to the city at least). In reality, this is your chosen profession. Going into it, and every day you go to work, you can keep doing it, or do something else. It's not like you were "born this way", so why all of a sudden do you think you are less likely to get screwed than any other worker? It just puzzles me.
Besides, aren't cops supposed to be sort of suspucious, untrusting, and wary? Your union pretty much gave up the goods before anyone, expecting that it would really matter 4 years later. Really? Well that's what you get from trusting people with the power to own you. I feel about as bad for you all as I do for someone who gets scammed in some nigerian email scam or canadian lottery fraud. Sorry it happened, but there is a lesson in this.


Posted by annoyed, a resident of another community
on Feb 29, 2012 at 1:03 pm

"outta there".....I said the same thing 15 years ago, 10 years ago and up to the day I retired. Nobody listened, nobody wanted to believe me. The wierd thing is, we kept doing the job as good as we always did. No matter how many times they screwed us over. I too got out of there on time.

Oh...by the way...it is a calling and most of us were born this way. But, shame on us.


Posted by Al Bundy, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Mar 2, 2012 at 10:25 am

Pension Reform and Concessions are going to happen. Police work is a career that will not make you rich but comfortable. You are there to protect and serve, and you do a great service. However, with all the agencies taking cuts seems like the employees need to be willing. Not wanting the police officers to be broke. But I see my friends at other agencies struggling but they would never leave.

So for all those who feel PAPD is the lowest paid...you might read this. Located in San Jose Online about budgets...All I can say is this...all you badges better fell lucky to what you have and stop the threatening of lateralling when/if we lose. Only shows you were hear for the money.
Take home for SJPD 2148.00
Palo Alto Take home 3008.00

Econ ProfessorMon, Feb 06, 2012 - 9:49 pm.

You want to know the real reason SJPD is Pissed off? Their getting scammed by the mayor and screwed out of wages.

Per SJPD website a top step officer makes $97,198 per year. In a few months officers will be paying over 21 percent of every pre tax dollar they make into retirement= 97198 x .89%= $86506.22.

For blue shield HMO health coverage that officer will pay approximately $200 per pay period= $200 x 26 (pay periods) = $5200 in premiums $86506.22 - $5200 = $81306.22

Assuming that officer pays 15% to Uncle Sam in TAXES that leaves= 81306.22 X .85= $69110.287 Divide that by 26 pay periods and you have $2658.08 per pay period. Minus $100 dollars a month for union dues = $2558.08. Minus uniforms and dry cleaning ( approximately $60 per pay period) =

$2498.08 bi weekly base "bring home" salary for the average top step officer with a max of 6 hours of overtime for pay.

The mayor is proposing SJPD officers pay up to 45% percent of their pre tax dollars into their retirement in his ballot language. That would keep them in the 3 @ 50 retirement plan that all other agencies in the area have. Here's my quick math on that= $97198 minus 45% for retirement = $53458.90 minus $5200 in medical premiums = 48258.90 Minus 15% in taxes = $41020.06 divided by 26 pay periods = 1577.69 - $100 dollars in union dues = 1477.69 minus $60 dollars for uniforms and cleaning = 1417.69

Top step Officer will be bringing home $1417.69 bi-weekly

Compare this to Palo Alto PD. A top step PAPD officer working nights makes $54.18 per hour ($112,694.40 Per year.) On paper it only looks like about 15k more per year than SJPD right? Wrong! The city covers all their retirement contribution and I believe all their medical premiums, all their uniforms, pays them to work out, and unlimited overtime = $54.18 x 80 hrs (bi-weekly pay)= $4334.40 minus taxes 4334.40 - 15% = $3684.40

Web Link

Top step Palo Alto officer brings home around $3684.40 bi-weekly. Compare this to San Jose's $2498.08 bi-weekly and potentially $1417.69 Bi-weekly and you can see the difference. Currently thats a difference of about $2372.32 dollars per month that Palo Alto brings home over SJPD. If the mayor gets what he wants it will be a difference of $4533.42 per month (bring home dollars less).

Palo Alto PD pays about as good as Santa Clara and Sunnyvale, and Milpitas and Mountainview. SJPD makes about as much as Sacramento SO currently, except our house prices are quite a bit higher. If this ballot passes SJPD cops will be making about as much as New Orleans cops, maybe even a little bit less.

Now you see why these SJPD cops are pissed at what the mayor is doing. They already make a bunch less and now they are going to be making about a third of what Palo Alto makes while doing a more dangerous job in a rougher town. SJPD cops will continue to leave in droves until the pay becomes remotely competitive with surrounding agencies. You get what you pay for, and this city isn't paying for much.

Econ Professor CorrectedTue, Feb 07, 2012 - 10:12 am.

Correction. I used some bad math….......21% of 97198= $76786.42 minus $5200 in medical premiums = 71586.42 minus 15% in taxes = 60848.45 divided by 26 pay periods = 2340.32 minus union dues -$100 and uniform costs -60 = $2180.32 bring home per pay period not 2498.08.

That makes a difference between the bring home of a top step SJPD officer compared to a Palo Alto officer approximately $3008.16 per month. Thats right folks. Palo Alto cops bring home just over $3000 per month more than SJPD cops currently. Thats a good sized mortgage payment in in itself, and its only going to get worse if this ballot measure passes and is upheld.


Posted by Ralph, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 5, 2012 at 8:37 pm

To al bundy: way to throw your fellow officers under the bus! Sjpd has the right to be pissed but to make a point against other cops also going through salary cuts is shameful.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 5, 2012 at 8:55 pm

We have to be fiscally prudent

We over pay and have to many employees in the PAPD

Security contractors can do 80% of their duties for pennies on the dollar--PAPD is a boondoggle for most employees

The PAPD may get lucky once in a while solving drug issues in San Jose

--but that is not what we tax payers pay them for out of their jurisdiction--their union is trying to play that up--what a fail!

Where are the foot patrol PAPD?

Very rich people in PA have to hire their own security and they do

We need to cut the PAPD budget and pensions severely.


Posted by Earn the respect, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 10, 2012 at 11:34 pm

PAPD has forgotten what it takes to be a community police force.

Maybe the arrogant officers are right it is not their fault, fire the police chief. The chief should set the tone but instead is as lazy as those who defend their right to only do speed traps.

The police are bored? Learn a new skill, be part of the community.Until you do any attempt to get support for your union will be shot down.


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