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Do Palo Alto Employee Unions Have Too Much Influence?
Original post made
by Chris, Palo Alto Hills,
on Mar 26, 2007
Diana Diamond recently described a City Council Meeting where purple-shirted members of the local City Employees' Union tried (apparently successfully) to forestall the City Manager's suggestion that some park maintenance be outsourced.
Some city council members, notably LaDoris Cordell, have seemed to act almost as slavish advocates for the Union's position - refusing to even consider any plan that might reduce Union jobs, and therefore clout.
Unions have become significant players in Palo Alto electoral politics, and have done things like distribute flyers to local residents in support of particular causes.
Recently, a thread on this forum dealing with the outsourcing issue was closed by the Weekly after one poster, hewing closely to the union line (and perhaps a union member himself) upset other forum participants with his increasingly extreme and repetitive ad hominem posts.
In light of all of this - and given the fact that most city employees aren't even residents of the city, is it fair to ask whether city employees - or their unions have too much influence on Palo Alto politics?
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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 27, 2007 at 1:19 pm
Chris, where's the ad hominum in the post below? In fact, many rude and ad hominum attacks have been visited on our hard working city employees.
It's amazing to see the same few persons in this forum continue to criticize our city's workers with unjustified attacks, including very harsh personal attacks.
Please tell me where is the ad hominum in what's written, below. We're waiting...
"Where are the guarantees for lifetime employment? Is that written down somewhere, or is this just another straw man innuendo that Diana created in order to raise ire and doubt regarding the way our city operates?
There are differences of opinion among residents and policy makers regarding the way our revenues are budgeted, and so on. That said, Diana Diamond inevitably manages to merely scratch the surface of municipal constraint problem by creating another straw men - this time it's "City employees aren't guaranteed work for life!". Again, who said they were? Seems like Diana is the only one - Diana and a few rabid "cut the budget" handwavers who march to Diana's drumbeat. It's a gathering of about 100 Palo Altans, with Diana leading the parade.
It has to be said: (Diana's "solutions" for improved governance - cut, outsource, shrink, lean out, etc. etc. are mostly defeatest - as are the residents who who agree with her in the extreme. The latter are in the VAST minority. Diana's and their arguments are *tired*. Who needs to hear the same siren song over and over and over again?
Sadly, in a time when our city needs most to consider ways to repair aging infrastructure, and at the same time keep an excellent service array on an even keel, we have Diana and her tiny phalanx crying like Chicken Little - - "the sky is falling!", they exclaim, as they run around with their spreadsheets trying to preach to the 10 Palo Altans who will listen, that we need to "cut the budget".
Mind you, what we *never* hear from Diana and her group is "what can we do to help Palo Alto grow?", or "what can we do to make our current array of services even *better*?", or I'm proud of the level of oservice delivery we have, and the people who deliver those services". Nope, not a word or phrase, just a droning whine that - if one listens long enough - is a relief to tune out, because it's a "downer" message, full of blame, accusation, finger-pointing, and other negative innuendo that most Palo Atans look askance at.
If we do have long-term employees that are doing the job, why not keep them around? What is the *tangible* advantage of employing people who are dedicated, loyal, and proud of their work? Or, would Diana prefer that we simply fire good people and replace them, en masse, with mercenary outsourcing firms?
It's true that we have outsourced some parks maintenance, and it seems to be working. Has Diana asked what other reasons - other than her latest invented concpiracy (this time between the unions and City Council) - might exist to maintain those employees? Nope. INstead, she attacks the City Council and the people who make our city run.
In all - and who knows, maybe it's because Diana is writing this column for free - the keen insights that Diana once brought (even those I disagreed with) seem to be missing from her latest missives. I see a kind of "cheap shot" journalism eveolving from her pen - a journalism that more and more resembles the minority fringe extreme in our city, many of whom have the time to stand up in front of Council during oral arguments, week after week, railing about this and that - as our city continues to run, and our citizens lead their lives - the latter mostly happy with the way things are.
The latter are looking for a better community, a community that's led by people with positive ideas, who offer messages of hope, who understand more than simplistic solutions (like "cut" and "outsource"), who want better schools, police protection, parks and libraries. "