City execs could take pay cuts | May 22, 2020 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - May 22, 2020

City execs could take pay cuts

Shikada says managers will 'give back' 15% of salaries

by Gennady Sheyner

With Palo Alto facing a budget crisis, City Manager Ed Shikada said Monday that he plans to take a 20% pay cut and that managers at City Hall will give back 15% of their salaries.

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Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at [email protected]

Comments

Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on May 19, 2020 at 5:44 am

Taking a pay cut is never an easy thing to do, and the managers are to be commended for doing so.

Tanaka should realize that those city workers on the lower end of the pay scale should not be cutting their salary.


Posted by S_mom
a resident of Community Center
on May 19, 2020 at 6:53 am

Thank you, city managers. A tough pill, but a very impactful one.


Posted by Due to Us
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 19, 2020 at 7:11 am

I couldn’t understand why Shikada didn’t show some leadership early on and announce he would take a cut as we saw service after service axed and he had just gotten a raise. This is the response I was waiting for.

It is one of those times where public pressure, not council members, moved the needle to where it needed to go to get this to happen. Good for us


Posted by AP
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 19, 2020 at 7:36 am

Thank you Ed.

The City should have an optional choice for directors to take an additional 5% pay cut. Why just Ed?


Posted by Budget Massacre
a resident of Downtown North
on May 19, 2020 at 7:50 am

Mr. Shikada is not a leader. This was forced upon him. His office is still the mother lode of over-staffing bloat and inefficiency, with no culture of accountability for his department or those departments below him.

15% (a fake number when you dig in) for one year just doesn't fix City Hall's bureaucratic disease.

See the info below on HIS OFFICE ONLY. How big are we as a city? Doesn't he oversee managers is literally every department?

City Council needs to tell him to cut his office in half, and tell other departments to keep the managers and admins that are doing the real work... give them raises maybe.. but axe the piles and piles of nonsense. We love lots of it.

City Manager - $356,000
Assistant to the City Manager - $310,000
Assistant City Manager - $256,000
Deputy City Manager - $214,000
Chief Communications Office - $206,000
Communications Manager - $121,000
Executive Assistant to the City Manager - $102,000
2 Admin Assistants - $178,000
Management Analyst - $85,000


Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 19, 2020 at 8:09 am

As commendable as this move is, and I thank those taking part, it is also very apparent that we have too many administrators with fancy titles that are doing little to provide service for the residents of Palo Alto.

I would like to see the number of those in City Hall who are pen pushers with a fancy title, being whittled down.

We need everyone of our first responders and those who are out every day working on infrastructure and we need all our recreation for all ages. The shuttle is paramount particularly since we have lost VTA service as a result, although we could charge a fare for the shuttle.

So please look at this from the perspective of quality of life, not protecting the top jobs.


Posted by Accounting 101
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 19, 2020 at 8:59 am

A most self-sacrificing gesture on the part of our city administrators.

Now when they also agree to take a 20% cut in their current retirement benefits the picture will become more magnanimous.


Posted by Stan
a resident of Downtown North
on May 19, 2020 at 9:04 am

I'm happy to see that Ed and the managers will be taking a pay cut, since they all make consideraly more than the general employees for the city do. I hope regular staff won't face any paycuts, as most departments will be laying staff already, and work will double for the ones who don't get laid off.


Posted by Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on May 19, 2020 at 9:49 am

The City Staff and administration is taking us for a ride. Mayor Adrian Fine to say that a formal negotiation would be required, implying that RE-NEGOTIATION of union contracts during unprecedented time of a PANDEMIC is utterly ridiculous.

Check out how much we are being BILKED in salaries and over time by all these city managers. The website shows 2018 salaries (so do the estimate - we are now in 2020) and you can understand how overly bloated our City staffing is. Perhaps time to let a few people go and become more lean.

Web Link

WHO voted this guy in? Listen to the City Council meetings and watch which motions Fine supports and which motions Fine votes against. Ask yourself, is Adrian Fine protecting community programs?
We are a highly educated and intelligent group of residents. Fine's votes speaks volumes on his priorities for our city. If you want to protect community programs, look at his voting record during City Council meetings.


Posted by Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on May 19, 2020 at 9:58 am

Mayor Fine already said that EVERYONE will have to bear the burden during city Budget meetings.
Seems Fine wants all the city residents to swallow the bitter pill of cutting community programs but when it comes Adrian Fine coming to the table to protect city interests and re-negotiating with unions, he is unwilling.

The fact that Fine is so scared to re-negotiate the union contracts speaks volumes. He uses the excuse that it will take time. To quote FIlseth's words from the last budget about cutting community services that were peanuts in budget, something about a dollar saved now should be seen in the light of years of savings.

So why can't Fine or Filseth re-negotiate the contracts? Sure it' takes time, but given the budget shortfall, and long term impact of the budget deficit, re-negotiation would also help YEARS down the line in savings.

Look at how much overtime some city staff are billing us. Why are union contracts created in a way to allow such outrageous billing of overtimes? Take a look.
Web Link

Google Transparent California and see how in 2018 Palo Alto paid outrageous amounts of monies in overtime and salaries.


Posted by tax deductable?
a resident of Mayfield
on May 19, 2020 at 10:05 am

Are voluntary salary cuts tax-deductable?


Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 19, 2020 at 10:09 am

These cuts may help but their real purpose is to keep the community from being able to remove the redundant positions from city hall.

We have built a large bureaucracy that we really don't need. Top-level staff wants to keep it this way, they like their empire.

A temporary cut is better than losing positions permanently.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 19, 2020 at 10:27 am

"Seems Fine wants all the city residents to swallow the bitter pill of cutting community programs but when it comes Adrian Fine coming to the table to protect city interests and re-negotiating with unions, he is unwilling."

Unwilling and evasive. "Oh, I can't discuss that. Labor negotiations are confidential." "Oh, we can't defer the big Cap Ex projects; we'll need them someday so we're doing them."

Yet he and Ms. Kniss were adamant in condemning Lydia Kuo's excellent and comprehensive survey on budget priorities, preferring the city's lame ONE QUESTION survey. They clearly don't care what we want and instead attack the messenger(s). Enough already!


Posted by rita vrhel
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 19, 2020 at 11:05 am

Yes, i also want to praise Lydia Kou's excellent budget survey. It still can be taken (until5/24) @: https:/www.lydiakou.com. Have your say!

Unlike the simplistic City survey, Kou's survey is in depth and allows residents' to make comprehensive comments. Results to date show residents wanting to protect public safety, libraries, and city services. NOT large capital improvement projects.

It was likely easier for Kniss and Fine to reject Kou's survey then to review the findings. Thank you Lydia.


Posted by Ranganath
a resident of University South
on May 19, 2020 at 11:24 am

Would respectfully request Liz Kniss and Adrian Fine study the result of Lydia Lou's detailed survey of resident's priorities for our town. Commendations of Shikada's leadership is disappointing, given the history of how it came about! The suggestion in one of the earlier comments to open negotiations by Fine and Filseth is an excellent one, given the facts of this pandemic's impact.


Posted by Kerry55
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 19, 2020 at 11:24 am

I agree with Budget Massacre.

City Manager - $356,000
Assistant to the City Manager - $310,000
Assistant City Manager - $256,000
Deputy City Manager - $214,000
Chief Communications Office - $206,000
Communications Manager - $121,000
Executive Assistant to the City Manager - $102,000
2 Admin Assistants - $178,000
Management Analyst - $85,000

Way too much redundancy, cut 1/2 of these positions. No need for 2 Asst. City Managers, 2 Communications Managers, 3 admin. assts. Maybe cut all these 6 positions and add 3 more Management Analysts at $85,000. There are so many highly qualified people who have been laid off from their tech. jobs with the right skills for these jobs.

Also, thank you Ed Shikada for showing leadership at this difficult time.


Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 19, 2020 at 11:29 am

Get the union leaders to the table now. In no uncertain terms let them know that unless employees agree to salary reductions, the layoffs and position eliminations will begin in every department. Period. Upper level management and union employees have been ripping the city off for decades. It's time to put a stop to this once and for all. My guess is that city council doesn't have the stomach for this sort of thing. We'll have to see how it plays out and if things don't change get rid of them all.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 19, 2020 at 11:31 am

"Also, thank you Ed Shikada for showing leadership at this difficult time."

It would have been leadership if he'd instituted the cuts BEFORE the community outrage built to the degree it has. The terms of his employment contract have been widely reported where the city gave him -- the only candidate considered for his position -- an extra year's worth of salary and benefits if he's fired for cause.


Posted by Thank You!
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 19, 2020 at 11:39 am

I want to thank our City Manager Ed Shikada very much for leading by example and taking a significant pay cut along with the staff leadership. This is substantial money coming out of their paychecks and should not be trivialized. It will result in preserving or reducing cuts in many cherished community programs and reducing cuts to public safety. It will also better position leadership for negotiations with the unions. Thank you!

Hamilton


Posted by Another Giveaway
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 19, 2020 at 11:40 am

Kniss and Fine are functionaries in an larger informal administrative district run out of San Francisco and San Jose. Kniss and Fine will stick to the party line unless or until they receive new policy guidance from party leadership. Until then, it's full steam ahead for capital projects.


Posted by Family Friendly
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 19, 2020 at 11:45 am

I still can't get over the fact that we're paying for a City Hall PR department.

Perhaps if they didn't cut police officers and tie the hands of the ones remaining, and didn't hire a bunch of bureaucrats who don't provide us with any useful service, they wouldn't need people to try to spin that madness.


Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on May 19, 2020 at 11:53 am

What does “Are voluntary salary cuts tax deductible?” Mean? For the most part these cuts are not voluntary and the city is not a 501(c)(3) charity?


Posted by Rose
a resident of Mayfield
on May 19, 2020 at 12:04 pm

Shikada and city managers can use this crisis for some careful housecleaning. Where can positions be eliminated altogether? Why so much overtime? This is the time to carefully examine and then streamline the city’s processes. Too much is needlessly complicated and duplicative.


Posted by Budget Massacre
a resident of Downtown North
on May 19, 2020 at 1:07 pm

The comments thanking Mr. Shikada are genuinely funny to me. Whether or not they are intentionally sarcastic, they bring a smile to my face!

I guess when City Hall and the School District have their own PR departments, they're gonna use it against you!... it's pretty easy to spot who they are. :)


Posted by Barron Parker
a resident of Barron Park
on May 19, 2020 at 1:27 pm

Commendations to managers for taking a $5M cut. That still leaves $33M in the hole.

Two options: cut services with layoffs, or have some of our non-emergency union employees take pay cuts. The second option is clearly in the interest of Palo Alto citizens! It is also in the interest of the employees that would be laid off in option 1.

Suggest a progressive set of cuts for option 2. Consider each employee's total pay plus benefits, P+B. Here is an example of how to do this fairly, cutting pay in higher brackets by progressively larger amounts:

P+B < 100K: no cut
P+B in [100K - 150K] : cut 10% of (P+B - 100K) (max is 5K)
P+B in [150 - 200K] : cut 5K + 20% of (P+B - 150K) (max is 15K)
P+B > 200K : cut 15K + 30% of (P+B - 200K)

The actual formula can be worked out to get as much of the $33M as possible, to keep services and avoid layoffs.

The excuse of the difficulty of negotiating with the unions is not acceptable. Give the union (the SEIU) a choice between options 1 and 2. If they choose option 1, layoffs, the worse option for Palo Alto and for some of the employees, it is on them.

Draw up the two plans (options 1 and 2) and give them two weeks to choose.


Posted by mjh
a resident of College Terrace
on May 19, 2020 at 1:34 pm

A bloated staff in the city manager's office equals power and prestige. Rolling back the power grab that has occured in this office will only happen if the council uses the city budget to force the city manager to reduce the size of his office. Unfortunately, the way the city charter is written the city manager has extraordinary powers and the city budget is one of the few areas the council has power over.

Council members, past and present, that have allowed this top heavy administration to grow have a huge responsibility for the city's future ability to pay pensions and retirement benefits for thirty or forty years based on these inflated salaries.


Posted by Jim
a resident of Midtown
on May 19, 2020 at 1:41 pm

The extreme anger and hatred towards city employees in these comment sections is ridiculous. The unions had their first meeting with the city last Thursday. It hasn't even been three business days yet and more meetings are scheduled. No one is making excuses about negotiations, they're simply saying that negotiations are part of the process. Y'all need to just calm down.


Posted by merry
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on May 19, 2020 at 1:46 pm

So how, exactly, did the managers office become what it is? He has assistants, the assistants have assistants. They all make really really good money. Seems like
Some position cuts should start at the top.
I am unimpressed with 15% pay reduction. Job elimination makes more sense.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 19, 2020 at 2:16 pm

"The extreme anger and hatred towards city employees in these comment sections is ridiculous. The unions had their first meeting with the city last Thursday. It hasn't even been three business days yet and more meetings are scheduled."

It's not "hatred toward city employees" and the "anger" didn't suddenly miraculously arise mere days ago. The city's been tanking in city satisfaction surveys for years as what makes/made PA special gets destroyed to become yet-another-boring crowded office park where the residents pay an increasing share of the tax burden.


Posted by mjh
a resident of College Terrace
on May 19, 2020 at 2:27 pm

My experience is that the rank and file staff members are supported by the community. Many of them aren't paid much and I don't think that there is much community support for cutting the salaries of those at the lower end of the pay scale. It is the top heavy bloat and advocacy of developers at the expense of residents that is not appreciated.


Posted by Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on May 19, 2020 at 2:57 pm

The city staffing should remove duplicating roles. The city staff spend our tax dollars and their budget and expenses should be closely audited.

Apparently the city of Palo Alto has Aeron chairs. You won't find a private run company ordering the most expensive brand of chairs for their office workers when there are less expensive (and less well known brands) that are ergonomically comfortable.

If the City of Palo Alto administrative staff were to share their budget expenses (which they should, given pandemic and our huge deficit), I bet the residents of Palo Alto will be surprised at the line items approved for purchase.


Ordering ergonomic chairs is understandable. Ordering the most expensive brand available on the market? That's harder to justify when using public monies.

There needs greater accountability at the city administrative level.

The excuse that the bridge over 101 has started and therefore can't be stopped. How long ago did it start and when did we know we had a budget crisis happening? Why wasn't all capital infrastructure building stopped immediately?

The CC needs to ask these questions and let the chips fall where they may.

City of Palo Alto residents need to vote strategically. The City Council members who are standing behind massive infrastructure costs and construction projects at the cost of Palo Alto community and residents, where it's expected that Palo Alto residents foot more bills during this pandemic, should be called out.

If the City Council can't represent the community and instead represent the builders and contractors and developers, even in the midst of a budget crisis and world wide pandemic where everyone (including it's very own citizens) are suffering, so big pocket developers can make more money during this crisis, we need to not re-elect them.

Vote them out. Remember their names. Remember who they represent at the City council meetings when they cast their own CC votes.

Palo Altans all love this city and right now, there are a few foxes in the hen house. Get rid of the ones who do not represent us as city residents.


Posted by Budget Massacre
a resident of Downtown North
on May 19, 2020 at 3:22 pm

"The city staff spend our tax dollars and their budget and expenses should be closely audited." ... The City Council (at CMO's advisement) eliminated our auditor, despite being mandated by the charter. So, lol.

Not that our auditor was good. Apparently "good" or even "compentent" aren't on the menu with this City Council and this City Manager.


Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on May 19, 2020 at 3:37 pm

Maybe the Management Analyst should take a good look at the management model and recommend some efficiencies. What do they all do? We need to understand why a City Manager for a city the size of Palo Alto needs an Assistant City Manager, a Deputy City Manager, an Assistant to the City Manager, an Executive Assistant to the City Manager, two administrative assistants, another two people handling communications, and a management analyst. That's a whole lotta help. Given the size of this City, this requires explanation.


Posted by Liz
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 19, 2020 at 4:02 pm

How about selling off $40 million of City owned property for the purpose of providing affordable tax credit housing for our resident essential work force? During this unpresidented time we have confront the other elephant in the room. Make something certain. Housing not just for the rich and well established.


Posted by Oh Well....
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 19, 2020 at 5:50 pm

Thank you Annette for pointing out the bloated city manager's office management staff. Take those bloated staff numbers and move down the ladder of all senior management positions where city management encourages building an empire of non-essential managers to bolster their positions. Taking a reduction in pay at first glance seems admirable but maybe reducing non-essential management positions and eliminating all senior management yearly bonuses would solve the budget fiasco.


Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on May 19, 2020 at 7:22 pm

The Residents would like to fire all of upper management them keep the Management Analysts for $85,000 a year.
That would be the "Palo Alto Way" of doing things, very progressive.


Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on May 19, 2020 at 7:23 pm

The Residents would like to fire all of upper management then keep the Management Analysts for $85,000 a year.
That would be the "Palo Alto Way" of doing things, very progressive.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 19, 2020 at 7:40 pm

@Resident, no need to exaggerate that "the Residents" want to " fire all of upper management then keep the Management Analysts for $85,000 a year" when what most of us are saying is that we want real accountability and efficiency and a "right-sized" city manager's office.


Posted by Independent
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 19, 2020 at 8:13 pm

@Liz - please use your own money for your own housing, rather than trying to take public funds which aren't yours.

Sorry, but yes, it is a free market economy.


Posted by Roger Dodger
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 19, 2020 at 8:44 pm

Time for PAUSD to follow the role modeling here, starting at the top. Austin has moved unilaterally to cut positions with no input and no discussion. He should be more than willing to model his own austerity.


Posted by FYI
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 19, 2020 at 8:45 pm

@Independent public property is paid for by the tax payer. Selling off $40 million worth of our holdings would be a win, win, win. Thank you very much. PS how much is the new parking garage costing the PA tax payer per parking spot that’s housing a single car 2-8 hours per day?


Posted by Present Value
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on May 20, 2020 at 11:13 am

$356,000 per year plus benefits, wow. Once retired, what percentage gets paid out? 60%? 80%? plus benefits for life? Is that how this works? What is the present value of such a pay package? Close to $8-$10 Million or more? Then once this guys retires taxpayers are still paying him and have to also pay the new hire, so double the cost for the same duties. Foregoing $70,000 is a small price considering overall compensation and benefits and isn't going to solve the issue of overpaid bureaucrats.


Posted by Liz
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 20, 2020 at 1:58 pm


@ Resident “Sorry, but yes, it is a free market economy.” Nothing is free as our economy is in the pit. The City has always sold its souk to highest bidder! I would surely buy if unlucky Pro 13 had not stripped California bare!


Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 20, 2020 at 7:38 pm

Roger Dodger, you are so right about PAUSD.

Present Value, I join you asking what past salary percentage and monthly amounts are we paying for City retirees.

I've asked before on Town Square for at least such data on the highest paid 10 retirees. It's OUR money the City is spending. We have the right to know such data. I don't care at this point about union secrecy deals on that data. It's like gag orders for sexual harassment payoffs at this point. The City can just tell us the top ten monthly pension payments, the average last salary percentages, lump all data together and don't tell us the names of those receiving the data. Just tell us the numbers and last staff positions. And, poll those retirees to see if they would also kick in 15% to help the City get through this emergency.

I said before on this forum when we saw how the City Hall first decided to make cuts we'd see who was beholden to whom. So fall, its still union contracts above all.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 21, 2020 at 8:55 am

I am wondering about the surrounding cities and their city management layout. Menlo Park and Mountain View have a more complicated city network given that they are home base for major corporations which are currently building with a fervor. It would be good to know the makeup and salary base of the city staff in Menlo Park, Mountain View, and Sunnyvale. San Jose is a major city - we should not be competing with them for the size of city staff. Mr. Shikada keeps using San Jose as the token comparison point for his points of view. We are not San Jose and never will be. We are not Menlo Park with FB or Mountain View with G. All we have is SU which is it's own world and runs itself. Even Sunnyvale has more commercial business then we do. We have a name because of SU and the heritage of HP and Apple built in garages. That is long ago - they all have moved on.


Posted by CPA in PA
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2020 at 12:47 pm

Oldster,

Retirees’ pensions are paid by CalPERS. The City pays into CalPERS for future retirees. Asking those who are already retired to take a reduction wouldn’t really help the current budget crisis.


Posted by Firehim
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 4, 2020 at 9:04 pm

This man is unfit to hold a position that allows him to impose curfew on the whole city. He acted irresponsibly and should me removed.


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