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County workers to get 'hero pay' for pandemic work

Original post made on Oct 6, 2021

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors has approved the allocation of American Rescue Plan Act stimulus funds to provide bonuses of up to $2,500 to county employees for their work during the pandemic.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, October 6, 2021, 2:43 AM

Comments (17)

Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2021 at 8:12 am

Jennifer is a registered user.

I would feel uncomfortable receiving this money, even if I really needed it. I would opt out or donate to the food bank. Going to work during a pandemic doesn't make you a "hero." It means you're gainfully employed, and you're doing what you were hired to do, even during a pandemic. A lot of us have "values." Self respect will get you through life, not participation trophies.

Posted by eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 6, 2021 at 8:30 am

eileen is a registered user.

I agree with Jennifer. There were so many people affected by job loss. Donating money to food banks and homeless shelters would be the best use of some of that money.

Posted by Just Sayin'
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2021 at 10:55 am

Just Sayin' is a registered user.

I agree w/Jennifer, too, but just not 'accepting' the payment is not the way to go. Take it and donate it yo a homeless shelter or food bank, or a friend who is unemployed. Leaving the use of the money up to someone else isn't going to help anyone. Also, why would anyone making over $100,000, not to mention $3-400,000 even qualify for such a stipend? It makes my heart cold.

Posted by R. Cavendish
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 6, 2021 at 11:33 am

R. Cavendish is a registered user.

Concurring with the other posters...the higher salaried county employees should have been excluded from receiving such a stipend & the Supervisors (along with the County Executive) did the right thing in declining it.

And while $2,500.00 doesn't go very far these days, the cumulative amount could go a long ways towards alleviating various hardships endured by less fortunate county residents during the pandemic.

But being a natural cynic, I imagine that most of the county employees (including the higher paid ones) will accept the money no questions asked.

After all, one should not look a 'gift horse in the mouth' or so they say.

Posted by Julian Guiterrez
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2021 at 12:32 pm

Julian Guiterrez is a registered user.

During the 2020 pandemic restricted & stay at home mandates, grocery store workers, pharmacy employees, and gas station attendants were required to work to ensure that basic consumer needs were met.

Many of the county employees were able to work remotely from the safety and convenience of their own homes.

They were paid more than a measly $15.00 per hour and receive a bountiful benefits/retirement package.

They are not heroes by any sense of the word.

Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 6, 2021 at 2:22 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

The commenters above laid bare how the system works. They are the real 'heros' for being brave enough to speak up and expose what happened. The Feds give away money, our money (taxpayer money), then the recipients of that money (governing bodies of various kinds and at various levels) are free to spend it as they loosely interpret how the money was intended to be spent...ergo, all those people working in government positions will be the first ones to the trough. Smith made a feeble attempt at describing the thought process that went into making the decision.

The commenters were spot on...the money should be used for the real needy in our communities. I hope some, actually many, of the recipients of this gift who know, or should feel and know, they don't really deserve it or need it, do the right thing...donate it to those agencies that are taking care of the homeless, hungry, and unemployed people in our local communities.

Smith took the easy way out, not wanting to risk offending anybody by divvying it up by the amount of time, risk, and effort involved. I'm sure the spectrum of 'worthy' to 'not worthy' is
broad. A simple solution to avoid that. Don't give it to the employed county workers...give it to the unemployed, homeless and hungry people in our communities.

Posted by M
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 6, 2021 at 3:13 pm

M is a registered user.

I firmly agree with the comments above. Stimulus given to those who enjoyed a guaranteed stable paycheck, and whose union is highly influential in local elections, is a slap in the face to those displaced or most affected by the pandemic, many permanently. And, being someone who has had significant business with county during the pandemic, everything I needed to get done was completely shut down -- not operated from home, shut down -- for almost a year. To me this is French Laundry level tone deaf on the part of the Supervisors.

Posted by Old Steve
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Oct 6, 2021 at 3:19 pm

Old Steve is a registered user.

I'm not sure why folks in Palo Alto begrudge civil servants a decent living. Many of the folks who might have been lucky enough to work from home during pandemic, normally might have long commutes, since they can't afford to live here. Yes, some rents have recently gone down, but 25% of median income does not buy much housing around here. Why would the County want to create division in the ranks, not to mention fights with a number of unions, over who gets and who doesn't. If the big corporate grocery chains can't offer hazard pay, that should be shareholders, not taxpayers.

Posted by Julian Guiterrez
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2021 at 4:01 pm

Julian Guiterrez is a registered user.

Though they are Federal employees, the USPS mail clerks & carriers should also be eligible for a $25,000.00 stimulus given their efforts & energies towards processing & delivering the mail during this pandemic.

County social workers and other administrative employees who were telecommuting from home during the pandemic should also be excluded from the stimulus payments. Paper pushers are not bonafide coronavirus heroes either.

On the other hand, all hospital employees at Valley Med County Hospital should most certainly receive this stimulus payment for their continued sacrifices while risking their personal health & safety during the 2020 pandemic on a daily basis.

Posted by Old Steve
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Oct 6, 2021 at 4:23 pm

Old Steve is a registered user.

Mr. Guiterrez: I agree about letter carriers, although not subject of the article. What about other USPS employees? If all administrative classifications at the County were to be excluded, that would likely impact some Valley Med employees and other health care types who had to work on-site.

To add to my response to Mr. Johnson above, I believe another story covers investments the County is making in housing for the homeless. In general, I am not a fan of the affluent and or retired in our wealthiest communities taking shots at civil servants. If we want less government and fewer government services, that can certainly be arranged. If you don't think most civil servants earn their compensation, try a day shadowing somebody as a volunteer for a day.

Posted by Julian Guiterrez
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2021 at 4:34 pm

Julian Guiterrez is a registered user.

Of note: I entered one to many zeroes in my earlier post...meant to type in $2,500.00 rather than $25.000.00!

>> "If you don't think most civil servants earn their compensation, try a day shadowing somebody as a volunteer for a day."

^ I did once (at the former MV County Social Services Agency as part of an internship.

The case workers are amongst the laziest employees I have ever encountered.

They would often play telephone-tag by re-routing incoming calls to each other's voice mail resulting in long hold periods for the caller.

More time for coffee, chit chat and extended lunch hours.

Your county tax dollars at work.

Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 6, 2021 at 4:35 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

I'm not sure how the discussion got derailed from focusing on the real issue and got diverted into the cost and affordability of housing. I think anyone who reads, and reads the news in all it's forms (print copy or online), or hears and sees it on local network TV, knows about the housing crisis. Of course it affects the employed that have to commute, but what about the unemployed and needy. Some of them haven't lived in sheltered housing, excluding cars, in a long time. Lucky them, they don't have a commute problem. Pick who you want to feel more sorry for. QED.

Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 6, 2021 at 5:44 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Why pick on us Palo Altans, Ole Steve? First of all I don't think your statement is accurate (no polls or surveys to prove your point), and I don't think we should be singled out because I don't think we would be alone in refuting what you said, if it were true.

Now, I just feel compelled to share this with all our fellow commenters...something they would never know or expect...Ole Steve and I are friends, long time friends, friends with different backgrounds and opinions on many things, but still friends. Let's keep the 1st Amendment with it's freedom of expression clause alive. That's why we can do this!

Posted by Annies biped
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 6, 2021 at 6:27 pm

Annies biped is a registered user.

Bravo to our County Supervisors for recognizing the work the county civil servants have done (are doing) during this pandemic! The Senior Nutrition Program has stepped up and helped the county nutrition sites pivot from congregate dining to a take out experience. The program in Palo Alto, La Comida, has seen a huge growth in the need for meals and the county Senior Nutrition Program has helped enormously. How wonderful to be able to reward these employees with a bonus - well deserved and unexpected. Let the County Executive do his job and work out the details, perhaps even including salary thresholds. Throwing out the possibility of rewarding county employees earning over $300,000/year is simply specious. Thank you to the Supervisors for recognizing that so many civil servants have gone the extra mile under difficult circumstances.

Posted by MBoots
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 6, 2021 at 9:09 pm

MBoots is a registered user.

During the early days of the pandemic, the county's animal shelters were closed. No adoptions, no spay/neuters at all, using Covid as an excuse. It was ridiculous, as veterinarians and some other shelters found ways to stay open with covid protection measures. These closures led, for example, to an explosion of homeless cats and kittens because no spay/ neuter programs were available. These county facilities managed to avoid a lot of their normal responsibilities and work by citing the pandemic...but they still collected their full salaries and benefits. Now, giving these employees "hero" bonuses is quite obscene. I am sure the same is true of other county departments. Disgusting. And yet another reason for people to turn anti-tax and anti-government.

Posted by Mallory Duncan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 7, 2021 at 10:43 am

Mallory Duncan is a registered user.

COVID has also become an easy excuse for all of the delays in superior court proceedings.

The court clerks and examiners exploited the coronavirus as a reason for the backlog and let various key documents accumulate with minimal attention to timeliness.

These individuals are not heroes and should not be receiving any bonuses either.

Posted by Julian Guiterrez
a resident of another community
on Oct 7, 2021 at 12:41 pm

Julian Guiterrez is a registered user.

Slow-moving and lazy county administrative 'paper-pushers' are not heroes in any sense of the word, regardless of the coronavirus.

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