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Palo Alto Weekly

News - July 30, 2010

Palo Alto police attack plan to end arbitration

Police join firefighters in opposing city proposal to place binding arbitration on November ballot

by Gennady Sheyner

Palo Alto's police officers have joined the firefighters union in opposing the city's effort to erase the binding-arbitration provision from the City Charter.

The provision, enacted by city voters in 1978, enables an arbitration panel to settle labor disputes between the city and its public-safety employees.

Members of the City Council said Monday night that arbitration panels have historically favored labor groups over the city and argued that the provision makes it impossible for the council to control the city's spiking employee costs.

The council is scheduled to vote Aug. 2 on whether to place the repeal on the November ballot.

So far, the council's discussion on binding arbitration had focused on the firefighters union, which will have its own initiative on the November ballot. The initiative, spearheaded by Palo Alto Professional Firefighters, Local 1319, would require the city to hold an election any time it wants to reduce the staffing level in the Fire Department or close a fire station.

On Monday night, the attorney for the Palo Alto Police Officers' Association (PAPOA) submitted a letter to City Manager James Keene stating the union's opposition to the proposed measure and calling the city's attack on binding arbitration "misguided."

Rockne A. Lucia Jr., of Rains Lucia Stern, PC, criticized the city for not consulting with the police union before launching into a discussion of binding arbitration.

"Given the Association's demonstrated willingness to work in unison with City leaders, the current discussions concerning the repeal of binding arbitration are simply unfathomable," Lucia wrote.

Sgt. Wayne Benitez, president of PAPOA, said the union didn't want to get involved in the ongoing dispute between the council and the firefighters union. In recent months, the council criticized the firefighters union for refusing to make concessions to help the city close its projected fiscal year 2010 deficit.

The police union, by contrast, offered to defer its negotiated 6 percent raise for two years in a row.

"The city forced us into making a decision and our decision is to fight this," Benitez told the Weekly Monday.

The council Monday night couldn't reach a firm decision on whether to place the repeal on the November ballot, with several members indicating that they need more information.

Councilwoman Gail Price said she opposes the measure to eliminate binding arbitration, while Councilman Greg Scharff said he strongly supports it. Councilman Larry Klein said he opposed binding arbitration, but said it might be better to wait a little longer before placing the issue in front of the voters.

Scharff called repealing binding arbitration "the single biggest thing we can do to control our runaway pension costs and to get our labor costs under control.

"As a city, we try to achieve equity for our employee groups," Scharff said. "To achieve that, we need to remove binding arbitration from our charter."

Price said the city is moving too fast on what would be a very significant change. She said the city's rush to change the charter makes it seem as if the proposed repeal is "retribution for the firefighter's initiative." She also said she is worried about the "ricochet impact," as it relates to the police officers.

"The speed in which we're moving and discussing this causes me great concern," Price said.

Attorney Alan C. Davis, writing at the request of the recently formed Palo Alto Police Managers Association, stated that members of the managers association "do not understand why there has been any interest in repealing the provisions of Article V of the Palo Alto City Charter which applies to represented police officers as well as to firefighters."

He said the association "is aware of the anger engendered among some members of the City Council regarding the staffing initiative measure sponsored by friends of the Palo Alto Firefighters Union," Davis wrote. "The Palo Alto Police Managers Association has not endorsed and is not involved in that initiative measure."

Davis said the council has a legal obligation to confer with the union before discussing binding arbitration and urged the council not to repeal the provision.

Councilman Sid Espinosa said the proposed repeal is not an effort to get back at the firefighters union but the beginning of an important conversation about the city's process for negotiations with its labor groups.

"This is not an issue of retribution," Espinosa said. "It's not tied to the initiative that was put on the ballot."

Klein said the binding-arbitration provision is "undemocratic."

"It takes the decision out of the hands of the people's elected representatives and passes it to someone who no one in Palo Alto may know and who has no responsibility to the people in Palo Alto," Klein said. "This person may impose a decision on us that the community can't live with.

"That's a power I don't like."

Benitez disputed the city's claim that binding arbitration is driving up employee costs. The last time the city and the police unions went to arbitration was about 15 years ago, and the city prevailed, Benitez said.

Tony Spitaleri, president of Palo Alto Professional Firefighters, Local 1319, also wrote a letter to Keene saying that arbitration measures "have unfairly become a whipping boy because of concerns the City of Palo Alto and other municipalities have over financial constraints imposed by the ongoing recession."

Lucia, who represents PAPOA, asked the city officials to take no action on binding arbitration. If the city proceeds to place the measure on the ballot without properly notifying the union, PAPOA could sue the city for its failure to "meet and confer" with the police union before considering binding arbitration, he wrote.

"The Association remains a willing partner in addressing the City's current economic condition, and is prepared to continue working in a cooperative effort with the city on any matter of mutual concern," Lucia wrote.

"However, given the significance of the discussion scheduled for this evening's council meeting, and the city's failure to initiate any communication on this subject with the Association, the Palo Alto Police Officers' Association cannot stand idly should the City continue to neglect its obligations under state law.

"In the event that the city fails to comply with this request, please know that the Association is prepared to seek the assistance of the courts to enforce its rights under the law."

Palo Alto City Attorney Gary Baum said Monday night that the city isn't legally required to meet and confer with the unions on this subject.

Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be e-mailed at


Posted by JA3+, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 27, 2010 at 9:41 am

It's time to fully consider the merger of PA Fire with adjoining fire district(s); the current costs of service to our City are simply too high and are, therefore, unsustainable.

It's time, too, to consider changes to PA Police staffing, wages, and benefits, including pensions.

"He said the association 'is aware of the anger engendered among some members of the City Council regarding the staffing initiative measure sponsored by friends of the Palo Alto Firefighters Union,' Davis wrote."

Mr. Davis, Esq., should realize the concern extends to many residents of Palo Alto; no one is angry here: instead, we citizens -- many of us paying quite high property taxes -- are simply fed up with the high costs of PA Fire and, to a lesser extent, PA Police.

It's time our elected officials explored all options available to our City; such options rightly include merger or consolidation; it's worked well elsewhere and is worthy of further inquiry by City management.

Posted by Eric, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2010 at 12:08 pm

As I listened to the debate last night one comment struck me. A member of the City Council in favor of amending the City Charter and removing the arbitration clause commented, that as we sit here there are 8 Police Officers on duty and 30 Firefighters.

Posted by Fed up!, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 27, 2010 at 12:53 pm

We're just tired of spending and paying - paying and spending. And for what?? Citizens generally have no problem supporting good police and fire personnel. Our community needs these services! But we also need a balance, and right now, there is a lot of fat on one side, and a very tightly squeezed turnip on the other, and it just isn't working. Something has to give. Trim the fat - consolidate services - manage resources. I'm tired of feeling like I'm being held hostage by the union membership. There was a time and a place, but now, it's all about what's in it for me - and we can't afford to continue down this path. We're already broke!

Posted by Ralph, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 27, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Wow. 30 firefighters on duty at one time. Is that normal? I know it takes several guys to fight a fire, but 30?

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 27, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Binding arbitration is a reasonable accommodation to the law denying public safety employees the right to strike.

Posted by danos, a resident of another community
on Jul 27, 2010 at 2:39 pm

"Wow. 30 firefighters on duty at one time. Is that normal?"

- No, not for a city the size of Palo Alto. As a point of comparison, Santa Cruz city, with a comparable population (about 60K without the Stanford campus) has 12 firefighters on duty per shift. Just 12.

And having lived in both cities, I can tell you that Santa Cruz has more "urban ills" to deal with than PA..

Posted by Palo Alto Citizen, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 27, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Price seem more concerned with Unions and workers then the citizen who elected her. I understand good leaders need to think about both, but I am not seeing or hearing balance from her.

Posted by Seems like overkill, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 27, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Walter. There is a state law denying the right to strike of firefighters and police. The PA City Charter arbitration law takes decision making out of the hands of our elected council. An arbitrator has no city ties or responsibility for our budget. That is the responsibility of our elected Council.

Ralph. Yes. The present firefighters' contract requires 29 on duty at night and 31 during the day. In addition they have agreements with adjacent cities to provide backup units if called on.

There was a small kitchen stove fire on E. Charleston Court a month or so ago. I witnessed a Mt. View unit, 3 PA trucks, and one paramedic unit responding. The Mt. View truck and two PA trucks simply parked by the side of the road for some time rather than going back to their stations. Oh, yes. A battalion chief's car also arrived after 10 minutes or so. Why it was needed I have no idea.

Posted by Public Safety, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jul 27, 2010 at 4:23 pm

The more personnel you have the better the situation. There is no such thing as overkill. There are situations where there are too many Chiefs and not enough Indians, but having available resources around the clock is essential.

In response to Santa Cruz, while the city itself may have 12 fire fighters they also has the ability to bring in Cal-Fire from the hills, in comparison to Palo Alto where PA fire has to take care of their hills along with Santa Clara county fire.

Just remember PA also does transport, which requires more personnel as a medical call can sometimes require more medics and EMTs on an ambulance that have to be borrowed from an Engine, thus putting it out of service.

I'm not denying that it could be run more efficiently and much better, I'm just stating that if the public tear the fire department down, cut staffing, and remove stations, its only a matter of time before a child, or someones grandma gets sick/injured, and people ask where the fire department is, and why a private ambulance coming from San Jose takes 40 minutes to show up. (because it has happened before)

I do not work for PA fire, nor do I support everything they are doing, but having worked 911 for the county EMS, I can guarantee people will be complaining when they have to rely on private ambulance services to run routine 911 calls in Palo Alto. Only becuase if you think a bunch of over payed lazy firefighters are bad, wait until you get underpaid over worked private paramedics knocking on your door. The wealthy, me first citizens of Palo Alto will riot in the streets.

Posted by danos, a resident of another community
on Jul 27, 2010 at 4:31 pm

"In response to Santa Cruz, while the city itself may have 12 fire fighters they also has the ability to bring in Cal-Fire from the hills, in comparison to Palo Alto where PA fire has to take care of their hills along with Santa Clara county fire."

- And Palo Alto has Menlo Park, Mountain View, Santa Clara County Fire as backup. What's your point?

"Just remember PA also does transport, which requires more personnel as a medical call can sometimes require more medics and EMTs on an ambulance that have to be borrowed from an Engine, thus putting it out of service."

- PA and South City are the only two FDs that provide EMS transport in the entire area. Somehow all of the other cities in Santa Clara, San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties "make do" with contracting out to AMR for ambulance services. No doubt PA could do the same.

Posted by george, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jul 27, 2010 at 5:23 pm

City Council members from the bankrupt city of Vallejo have been quite clear about the beginning of their problems: binding arbitration. Time and time again, the unions would win big salary and pension packages through binding arbitration until suddenly, the city had to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy (San Jose Merc 7-3-10).

The City Council cannot be held accountable for their budget decisions if, through binding arbitration the labor costs go through the roof. Public employee unions have become very powerful and they use that power to bring benefits to their members that could NEVER come in the private sector.

There is not much that can be undone: the pension obligations are already out there. The salary standards are pretty much set. The medical benefits are established. The one small (very small) thing that can be done is eliminate binding arbitration to slow the surge of power in the public employee unions.

Posted by JA3+, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 27, 2010 at 5:43 pm

"The more personnel you have the better the situation. There is no such thing as overkill."

In a mythical world of no constraints, true.

In our world today, however, there are limits; the City simply must take action here, examining all alternatives available.

We must be mindful of the past, of the problems encountered by others elsewhere; we must study the failings of other municipalities and attempt to avoid such fates.

Of the following there's nearly no doubt: PA Fire's compensation and benefit levels are way out-of-whack.

It's time our City Council, City Manager, and other senior employees took action.

Fiscal prudence is so important here, not only for us, but for our kids and our grandkids, too.

Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 27, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Price and Espinosa are two of four council members who got elected with union help. When it comes to the taking the interest of the citizens of Palo Alto versus the unions, they have sided with the unions.

I do sympathize with the Police, as they have been real team players in trying to solve the deficit issues. It's too bad they have to be caught up in the situation with the fire fighters.

Posted by who cares, a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Jul 27, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Binding arbitration was a great idea when safety employees had the right to strike, however, state laws were created to now prevent this labor action. I get it, labor does not want to give up one of it's bargining chips, but other than providing a labor organization the right to negotiate knowing that whatever the outcome of negotiations they can rest assured that they will receive enhanced salaries and/or benefits through arbitration. Nobody is the good guy or bad guy in this argument, and those comparing this city to that city seem to have missed the point. The fact is that the reason for enacting the binding arbitration ordinance is no longer a valid argument. But then again when you have a city manager who receives $2,000,000 from taxpayers for a house in Palo Alto and the City Council enhances that with taxpayer money to remodel that same house along with paying for his property taxes along with a $270,000 salary and benefits too numerous to list on this post, well I guess it puts the whole argument in perspective.

Posted by Citizen voter, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Palo Alto Citizen says: "Price seems more concerned with Unions and workers than the citizen who elected her." You are absolutely right that's because the Firefighter's Union was a contributor to her election campaign.

Unions have also been contributor to several other elected Council persons, so don't expect an impartial vote on this issue or necessarily support for the position of those citizens who elected them.

Posted by The Dirty Little Secret, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 27, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Everyone is missing the point and the strategy we should all be working here.

The Fire Fighters placed a ballot initiative on the November Election because they new they would lose if they had to take staffing levels to arbitration. Arbitrators are experts and would look at the staffing levels in Palo Alto and compare them to other bay area agencies. (I know, here come all the arguments about staffing for Stanford, Staffing for SLAC, and the fact that we have our our medics). Even putting all those extra wonderful and funded items aside we are inflated in terms of staffing compared to other cites. An arbitrator would clearly side with the City on staffing in the fire department. The fire fighters know they can't win a fair fight in front of an impartial unemotional third party. So they want to go to the ballot box where they can scare everyone with all the horror stories about what will happen if we reduce a few staff or reduce some equipment.

It's much easier for them to count on the citizens who do sometimes think emotionally and not rationally about how much fire protection is enough. Of course it's great to have 30 or so firefighters on duty just incase we have the big one, or several large ones, or perhaps many small ones, but can we continue to afford it?

Thats what they have mutual aid agreements for with Menlo Park, Mountain View, Cal Fire, Santa Clara County Fire, Sunnyvale, and on and on. If they need the resources they are endless.

So the proper strategy here is to leave arbitration in place, vote down their ballot initiative, and if they don't agree to cuts from the City then the City can take them to an arbitrator who will make the cuts the fire fighters are afraid of.

Just think about it. if the fire fighters really thought their staffing was justifed, they would have no problem making their argument to an arbitrator.

There's a reason they are going for voter emotion.

Posted by A Neighbor, a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Jul 27, 2010 at 9:37 pm

To George and St. Claire Gardens:
Arbitration cannot be blamed on the Vallejo predicament. Fire fighters haven't used arbitration in Vallejo since 1988. Police officers haven't used it since 1996 and the non-safety employees haven't used it since 1998. The real problem in Vallejo lies elsewhere and it's a long sad story.

Posted by A Neighbor, a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Jul 27, 2010 at 10:00 pm

To Dirty Little Secret:
An interesting but flawed analysis. Haven't you forgotten that Stanford pays handsomely for the presence of fire fighters at two of its stations along with the paramedics? Those revenues go directly to the General Fund. Where will the paramedics, now the heart of community fire fighting, come from once an arbitrator reduces the staffing levels in the Fire Department? Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Mountain View or Menlo Park? If so, they won't be there in time, will they? But, you are right about "missing the point". It isn't about comparing 8 patrol police officers versus 30 fire fighters on the night shifts. It's about providing a level of safety in both organizations that the community believes necessary at whatever hour. If an arbitrator decides that kind of issue, so be it.
But, isn't it also time that you and others recognize that the fire fighers' interest is in the will of the voters? Isn't it possible that the fire fighters really did want the voters to decide the ultimate issue of "how much fire fighting and emergency medical services is enough?."

Posted by Seems like overkill, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 27, 2010 at 10:49 pm

As I recall the last time(s) the City and Firefighters went to arbitration, the arbitrator sided with the higher figures for pensions, pay raise, and staffing. Why would a new arbitrator with no stake in the community do any differently?

The Council was elected to make the hard decisions. They must consider the long term effects of the funding commitments they make, not just the short term band aids to appease the unions. All citizens must be represented, not just those who work here and live elsewhere as almost all firefighters do.

Posted by M, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 28, 2010 at 3:00 am

Would you all be willing to put your lives on the line for $1,000,000?

Well, these men and women of our police and fire departments do it for a lot less. Everyday. Stop trying to cut their pay and benefits.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 28, 2010 at 10:35 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Why not just establish limits on the power of the arbiter? Or return the right to strike to public safety employees with the proviso that Sheriffs and mutual aid firefighters are able to cover?

Posted by Retired Staffer, a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2010 at 11:32 am

Here is the issue as it will be presented: Response time.

If headcount is reduced, stations will be closed, and response time will increase.

Question: Do you want to pay for reduced response time or not?

Posted by Anne, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 28, 2010 at 11:46 am

I want to pay for safety, not mandated staffing at fire stations! We need to combine our safety staff and dispatching with neighboring cities. 2 trucks are sitting idle at a kitchen fire is a good example of over-staffing. Fire Fighters running ambulances is another. Current FF pensions and overtime pay make it too costly to keep firefighters and fire stations. Good bye PA fire, you've priced yourselves out of any sympathy we may have had to keep you.

Posted by Taxpayer, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 28, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Almost everybody agrees that Palo alto wants quality safety services. The issue(s) are how much should it cost and what is the most efficient way to provide the service.

1.) Salaries - PA is paying their pafd union employees (it is silly to call them ff's when only 3% of their calls are fire related) three times the national average. This whole discussion wouldn't even be happening if they were being paid a reasonable amount. So that needs to be fixed first. Salaries alone could be cut at least 30% (not to mention requiring the union employees to fund more of their retirement and changing the retirement age to a reasonable # like 62). This isn't going to change until binding arbitration is eliminated.

2.) Staffing - The whole industry needs to be analyzed and a more efficient approach (regionalization, for profit, etc) needs to be factored in) but you know if Santa Cruz can do it with 12 employees, PA is way over staffed with 30. PAFD union folks spend little time working. Most of it is spend sleeping, shopping, etc. The first step is to vote down Spitaleri's featherbedding initiative. The next step is for the City Council to make a a PAFD efficiency project a high priority.

The result would be an efficient, reasonably paid emergency service dept, and $10M savings for whatever PA citizens need.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2010 at 3:14 pm

For Retired Staffer:

Here's a recent Annals of Emergency Medicine paper that shows no correlation between EMS response time and patient survival rates: Web Link

Posted by senor blogger, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 28, 2010 at 3:27 pm

How many calls are responded to by 30 firefighters in a day?

Posted by Joseph E. Davis, a resident of Woodside
on Jul 28, 2010 at 3:40 pm

In order to stave off bankruptcy, we need the 50-50-50 plan.

1. Fire 50% of the public sector employees. A large portion of them are redundant and not really needed.

2. Reduce wages and compensation for the remaining employees by 50%. Public sector employees are greatly overpaid for the work they do.

3. Cap pension payments at no more than 50K per year. Any more is an unconscionable ripoff of the taxpayer.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 28, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Another priority is to NOT re-elect Yeh, Price, and Shepard to the city council when their terms are up. They are either for the residents or against them.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 28, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Palo Alto bought this change when we started electing social change visionaries instead of conscientious caretakers.

Posted by g, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 29, 2010 at 11:56 am

Dear Public Safety, re: "The more personnel you have the better the situation. There is no such thing as overkill. "

I think you've inadvertently solved the current economic conundrum. Let's just hire everyone who is currently unemployed. Of course, they'll need some training, and I suppose there is some cost involved, and perhaps they'll need somewhere to live and something to eat.

But it's a small price to pay for healing our moribund economy. We could call it, uh, an economic stimulus.

Gratefully yours.

Posted by Tim, a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 29, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Listen, if you can't afford it, maybe you need to move out of town. I am all for paying our public safety personnel what they deserve. I have had several exceptionally great encounters with PA police and fire department employees. They are hardworking an dedicated. Comparing their salaries to the national average is obscene, what a joke. I would be happy to see a bond measure to maintain/increase staffing.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 29, 2010 at 4:43 pm

What is obscene is the ridiculous salary and benefits paid to the PAFD union staffers. It is crazy to pay these folks so much money so they can sleep and shop. If this keeps up no one is going to be able to afford to live in PA but the union folks.

The union initiative is losing by over 2-1 on the PA Online poll. No surprise there. Now if we can just get the council to put the binding arbitration on the ballot.


Posted by Tim, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 29, 2010 at 6:20 pm

"If this keeps up no one is going to be able to afford to live in PA but the union folks."
I'm with you...wouldn't want a bunch of blue collar workers living in my town. Let's see...1 firefighter of 105 lives in town.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Jul 29, 2010 at 6:38 pm

Tim states:"1 firefighter of 105 lives in town. "

They make as much as the average PA resident and yet choose to live elsewhere primarily because their work schedule allows them to commute only every six days. Ever think what will happen when there is a big earthquake and 2/3s of the firefighters are far far away?

Posted by Resident, a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 30, 2010 at 6:10 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

I saw in the paper today that:
a.) a Milpitas union fire inspector rec'd $461K in salary last year
b.) a cop in SF was paid over $500K.

Most Americans don't have $50K saved up and we are paying these folks close to $0.5 million in one year. And what sort of qualifications do they have that they are receving these huge salaries. I feel like I am in some sort of weird Alice in Wonderland world where everything is turned around. Our children are going to wonder how we ever let this happen and saddled them with thse huge liabilities.

I would add a 62 to the 50/50/50 from an earlier post. The 62 would mean that no public employee could collect retirement until they turn 62. If they want to retire early (and with the salaries they are getting they certailnly can afford to), OK. But no pension $'s from the public trough until they reach the retirement age that the rest of us use.

Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 31, 2010 at 8:34 am

Another article predicting how the vote will come out on this: Web Link

The 4 council members supported by the unions Yeh, Price, Espinosa & Shepard. Now they have to pay back for that support. These 4 have done nothing to help get the city's finances in order. Watch these 4 - they'll want to pass some more taxes and bond measures next year, instead of bringing spending under control.

Posted by How Come, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Aug 2, 2010 at 2:10 am

Why doesn't the city allow more businesses in town? At least then, we could generate more of a tax revenue.

I realize that some feel it would bring a lesser quality of person into our prestine city, but I shouldn't need to remind everyone that 101, 82, Oregon/ Page Mill, Foothill Expy, and 280 all run through town. I know these are just a few small meaningless roads. Nobody would travel them. Especially if it meant coming through Palo Alto.

During business hours the City doubles. More business (not posh niche businesses either)like restaurants, grocery stores, Targets, Walmarts, etc would not only increase jobs in town, but also keep money in our town instead of giving it to Mountain View or Menlo Park when people need things like toilet paper or socks. I would love to go eat somewhere where I can sit down and not spend $100 on my wife and I. At the same time I don't want to eat from a paper sack.

Just a thought. There's more than one way to skin a cat rather than stickin its head in a boot jack and jerkin on its tail. Im just sayin.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Aug 10, 2010 at 6:22 am

U.S. Personal Income Took a Hit Last Year - particularly in the Bay area:

New data released by the Commerce Department show that personal income declined in 223 metro areas in 2009, increased in 134 others and was unchanged in only nine regions. "Even though prices declined last year -- down 0.2 percent from a year earlier as measured by the national price index for personal consumption expenditures -- incomes fell even more," the Wall Street Journal reported after analyzing the data.

2009 2008 Change 2009 From 2008 Change 2008 From 2007

San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont CA $59696 $62598 -4.6% -0.1%
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara CA $55404 $58531 -5.3% -1.4%

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