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Palo Alto City Manager celebrates 5 year anniversary - with a $1000+ per month increase in his City paid retirenet funding

Original post made by Diogenes, Crescent Park, on Sep 23, 2013

Congratulations are in order for Palo Alto City Manager James Keene, who early this month celebrated his 5 year anniversary with the City. This is a major milestone for him for two important reasons.

First of all, this is an apparent precedent for him, at least in his track-able and seemingly transient employment history over the past 20 years or so, where he has failed to make that 5 year horizon in his employment with ICMA, Tuscon AZ, Berkeley CA, Coconino County (Flagstaff) AZ,the California Association of Counties, and others in the past.

This 5 year milestone now allows him to become vested in the California Public Employees Retirement System, also an apparent first for him in his retirement planning. That vesting occurs at the rate and benefit level that was in existence at the time he was hired by Palo Alto 5 years ago, not at the reduced levels he has implemented during his tenure. That would appear rather ironic for a Manger who has been so vocal in his criticisms of those prior levels.

Further, and more to the point, this milestone enables an increase in his "off the books" payment by the City Council to a little known provision in his original employment contract for an IRS section 401(a) "Government Money Program" account established for him by the City. Those funds are paid by the City directly into a separate pre- tax account without going through his paycheck or showing on his reported salary.

That contract proviso is for payment of 100% of the maximum amount allowed by the IRS code once the 5 year threshold was met. That now results in an increase of over $1000.00 pr month in that amount, up to a new annual total of $51,000.00 beyond his base salary.

Most private sector folks - and other City employees - are limited to a maximum of $17,500 per year, and that deducted from their base salary, not over and above it!

This all is just yet another example of the "Do as I say, not as I do" attitude prevalent at the top in City Hall.

Comments (10)

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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 24, 2013 at 12:38 am

This does not make me happy. If tax revenues are not going up, why should anyone's salary be going up, but even if revenues were going up, every demand on new money should be carefully weighed and balanced against the needs of the city.

This is not right, somehow corporate officers and executive politicians have created a special class for themselves that ignores everyone else, and puts them only in league with and representing the rich and powerful ... only then do they get to rip-off the public like the others.

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Posted by Que pasa?
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 24, 2013 at 12:26 pm

What kind of excuse is that for an exorbitant raise? Certainly not a legitimate one. What achievements have earned him such a raise? Nothing exceptional or worth that increase.


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Posted by S. Coen
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 3, 2013 at 11:39 am

Wow!!! With only two responses from local residents it seems that the majority of you must agree with how he is doing and that he deserves this increase. I'm sure that ALL of the employees from Palo Alto will be very happy for the City Manager and his financial increase. If I was a city employee and trying to maintain my income and future retirement I would be now looking at other cities who seem more concerned with retaining workers and i would consider relocating when the option became available. HOW DARE THE CITY MANAGER AND THE CITY COUNCIL PULL THIS TYPE OF BS ON ALL OF US AS TAXPAYERS!!
Palo Alto City Council you should be ashamed of yourselves for allowing this to happen while demanding pay cuts, less benefits , reduced staffing and telling us that we have no money and you should have told the City Manager that he too will have to do without.
Our employees deserve everything they have and more!.

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Posted by William Warrior
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 13, 2013 at 7:02 pm

In all these five years, our ignoble city manager has never stopped by to visit the City animal shelter, which after losing the budget committee vote to close us in 2012 he continues behind the scenes to abandon and shut down by neglect.
This is for you, big-boss:

Ode To Keenetic Theory (revisited)

You never write.
You never call.
You never visit us at all.

We're in your hair,
And we're still there.
The thought of us you cannot bear.

You'd rather sell some cars
Upon the space we occupy,

But you will go to Mars

Before you ever get to us,
Though you've got us in the Sink.

You think you can wear us out?

You've got another think.


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Posted by John Burrows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 14, 2013 at 9:33 am

This all is just yet another example of the "Do as I say, not as I do" attitude prevalent at the top in City Hall.

EXACTLy...which group received raises again while everyone else took pay cuts... the MANAGERS

The higher ups in our local governments seem to be patterning like our federal government. Apply rules to the working class but not to yourself. Maybe they can even come up with a great retirement for themselves and then impose some trash scheme on everyone else...

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Posted by not a resident
a resident of another community
on Oct 14, 2013 at 10:39 am

Sneakiness is a pattern for Jim Keene. Read this article from August 2000...

Web Link

Palo Alto should have never hired him, and will be better off when he leaves.

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Posted by Sniggler
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 14, 2013 at 12:17 pm

What in Sam Hill did this guy do do deserve this? he certainly did not end world hunger, or even homelessness in Palo Alto. All he ever did was make Palo Alto a less and less desirable place to live, and increase the ugly factor. he is as useless as the proverbial t--- on a bull, and should get the boot, along with the corrupt city council.

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Posted by AR
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2013 at 3:40 pm

To S. Coen: I wouldn't read too much into a lack of responses on this b/c people are pretty busy these days responding to problems created and/or exacerbated by City Hall and City Council.

The article "Not A Resident" posted certainly hints at why Keene has moved around. The last couple of city manager packages suggest that getting that post in this city is probably considered a coup! I am not a fan of carpetbaggers but one can hardly blame the man for saying yes to what City Council offered. They hired him. They approved the package. We all need to keep this in mind next time we vote for council members.

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Posted by Kat Brennan
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 29, 2014 at 10:20 am

I would think that would be good for Palo Alto City. My grandma lives in the Downtown North area and I would think that it would be an improvement for her. I guess we will see how it works in the long run. Kat Brennan | Web Link

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Posted by Keene's background
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 30, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Keene was recommended to the city by former CM Frank Benest. And the Council went along with it.
What else do you need to know?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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