Guest Opinion: Economic 'perfect storm' is brewing for local agencies | December 5, 2008 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - December 5, 2008

Guest Opinion: Economic 'perfect storm' is brewing for local agencies

by Peter Carpenter

For many years I have been directly involved in local government agencies or in federal programs designed to support local and state agencies.

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Peter Carpenter is a longtime resident of the Midpeninsula who currently is a member of the Board of Directors of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District. He can be e-mailed at [email protected]


Posted by Leighton Read
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 7, 2008 at 7:17 pm

Good points. As steps are being taken to provide much greater transparency in private sector finance,it is good to keep in mind the importance of transparency for high impact decisions in the public sector. A public right to comment on negotiated labor agreements before they are signed is most appropriate.

Posted by Ralph
a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2008 at 10:03 pm

Whenever things get tough, the first thing that comes up is taking it out on hard working city employees. The last thing we need is to turn our union contract negotiations into a political football. Anyone reading these forums knows that there are legions of the "public" who like nothing more than to bash the meager pay and benefits that our hard working employees get. Think what this would be like during sensitive negotions. Nothign would get done with the demogogary.

You should try living on the pay that most city workers get around here. Can't do it. That leads to long commutes.

And we do get pensions and health care, but that's nothing compared to the stock option plans that many around here loades up their 401k's in the fat years.

If you want the good things that city workers provide, you have to pay for it. Simple as that.

Posted by Common Sense
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 8, 2008 at 6:22 am

Let's put it this way...

more taxes and more regulation leads to less businesses and employees..

leads to less income into all levels of govt....

leads to having to cut expenses.

Simple ..just like businesses and just like families.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 8, 2008 at 8:18 am

If public employees are being paid less than market conditions, including their very generous and guaranteed retirement benefits,why not have the labor agreements which have been negotiated in secret made public before those agreements are voted on by elected officials?
Secrecy is usually used to hide something which would not stand the light of public disclosure.

Posted by R Wray
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 8, 2008 at 9:18 am

The politicians are not about to renegotiate labor contracts; it will cost them union votes.
The government cannot make "capital" improvements; it doesn't produce anything. It's all expenditures paid by taxes and these expenses should be delayed during a recession.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 8, 2008 at 11:30 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

If the total employee cost is restrained to withing 10% of equivalent wage in private employment few would object. Given my druthers I would give government employees a choice between a union contract and civil service - not both - and voluntary unionism.

Posted by sv
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 8, 2008 at 7:43 pm

Enhanced employee benefits are only sustainable if the economy does well, not if there is a continued recession. While everybody is entitled to get paid fairly, Palo ALto city employees must realize that many other cities are on their way to bankruptcy because of the expensive labor contracts. Good article.

Posted by Right to Work
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Dec 9, 2008 at 6:10 am

I actually disagree with the statement that "everyone is entitled to be paid fairly"..fair is in the eye of the market. If someone doesn't want to work for a certain wage, s/he doesn't take the job..if s/he does want the job, s/he takes it.

That is the definition of "fair", not what some bureucrat somewhere decides is "fair".

I believe in the freedom to work. I would rather be free to work for less than not work at all because someone has decided the wages offered aren't "fair".

BTW, I like the "Report Objectionable Content" section at the bottom of these, but what happens if there is a report?

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