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Council members slam Civil Grand Jury reports

Original post made on Sep 16, 2011

City Council members felt that three grand jury reports critical of the city's practices were not worthy of much discussion Tuesday night, and several members had some harsh comments.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, September 16, 2011, 10:10 AM

Comments (33)

Posted by James Hall, a resident of another community
on Sep 16, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Seems to me that 27 retirees still working for the city is way too high a number. I agree, lots of other folks are looking for work, and should have a shot at these positions. The argument that they are especially skilled and/or temporarily invaluable seems specious at best. If they haven't had time during their pre-retirement employment to train a qualified replacement, perhaps they should have left some time ago. The saga of the "Director of Libraries" is a wonderful example.
Of course the Council members reject change unless they think of it during their election campaigns. The nature of the beast.

Posted by jupiterk, a resident of Gemello
on Sep 16, 2011 at 2:25 pm

This shows how arrogant how our city council members and how little respect for the jury. Only the corrupt and crooked will exhibit this kind of behavior and our city council members act like none of laws and ethics apply to them. We sure are fast becoming 3rd world country and our dumb voters who elected these officials are worthless piece of **it.

Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 16, 2011 at 3:18 pm

This comes as no surprise. The city is corrupt through and through. It's just a clean looking type of corruption.

Posted by Hmm, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 16, 2011 at 3:24 pm

THREE Grand Jury reports. Not one, not two, but three!. And low and behold, Abe-Koga is the one protesting the loudest...we know why Margaret and me thinks thou doth protest too much.

Posted by Thom, a resident of Jackson Park
on Sep 16, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Shocker? I don't think so. Hard to believe the little place of Mountain View has taken a turn for the worse in the last few years. They don't ever seem to listen to the citizens that live here. And retire at 55? Where do I sign up? Oh that's right...I don't qualify because I'm not related to someone working for the City.

Posted by Doug Pearson, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 16, 2011 at 5:12 pm

I do not understand the extreme vitriol here. First, I do not agree that the city is "corrupt through and through"; second, I do not agree that the City Council is unworthy.

As for the city (and state) pensions, I agree they are too generous and the pension system should be revised. I do not agree pensions should be revoked retroactively, however. As for double-dipping, there are reasons why, on a case-by-case basis, it might be justified, but I agree it should not be a general rule. But then, I don't think it is.

Posted by Smart Observer, a resident of Whisman Station
on Sep 16, 2011 at 7:33 pm


"The city is corrupt through and through". Provide proof, not noise. And identify yourself rather than hiding through anonymity.

Posted by Elaine, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 16, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Real funny Smart Observer.

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

The city is corrupt. It's just a clean looking, white color corruption.

Posted by Background, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 16, 2011 at 11:28 pm

I'm not going to weigh in on whether the City is right or wrong.

But, Civil Grand Jury reports are a joke. The Civil Grand Jury has an important sounding name (which dupes the public into thinking they're some austere, learned group), but they're just a bunch of ordinary citizens with no particular expertise. I believe they're appointed for a year or two, and it's likely (not absolutely sure on this) they aren't working or they wouldn't have time for this role. They choose their topics for investigation, sometimes because someone has an axe to grind. Their "research" is frequently 6th grade level, and goes into absolutely no depth. (Think about writing a 12 person group paper with a bunch of partners you don't know)

Again, I'm not stating an opinion one way or another with regard to the City of MV on these particular topics. But it's important for the public to realize that these reports get WAY more play in the press than they're worth. It's almost criminal that these reports get so much press, considering the qualification of those that write them. I'm very serious that a high school student could (and would be expected to) write a much more thorough report.

Really...any paper that chooses to promote Grand Jury findings should do a story on who these people are, what their qualifications are, and how they choose their topics.

Posted by Ian, a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Sep 17, 2011 at 5:18 am

That is simply not true. I suggest you visit the website of the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury before spouting such elitist nonsense.

Posted by Old Ben, a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 17, 2011 at 11:01 am

Raise the retirement age for city employees to 70. Vote out all incumbents.

Posted by carl, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 17, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Yea..that's it Ben....have a bunch of 70 yr old parks workers and utility workers and steert crew and tree crew do hard manual labor at that age. One of the reasons the age to retire is 55 is because these people work 30yrs digging trimming lifting bending and basically abuse their bodies over that period of time. All these cry babies that sit at desks and whine cuz they have to work till their 65 with their soft hands and no back couldn't hack it out in the "field". Don't be jealous cuz someone is making a living and putting in 30yrs and gets a good retirement. You all could do the same....contribute more to YOUR retirement fund.

Posted by lou, a resident of Gemello
on Sep 17, 2011 at 8:20 pm

And why isn't anyone talking about how fire and pd get 3% at 50 ?? That take from the city and don't give anything back when the city budget is hurting. Some of them make 30-40k in OT alone !!!

Posted by Devyn, a resident of Castro City
on Sep 17, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Really Lou? People like you love to talk about other people's pension without getting the facts. It true PD and FD employees get to retire at 50. A lot of them don't because they get a late start in their career so they have to work well past 50 to get the full benefit. They also contribute a large percentage of their salary to their retirement so they can retire early. You can do the same thing with your retirement. It's like Carl stated do you want a 60/65 year old firefighter or police officer showing up at your house to handle your emergency? These are highly stressful jobs that take a toll on the mind and body and personal relationships. More then 50% of police officers marriage end in divorce? That's a staggering statistic and a lot of broken families.

Posted by Old Ben, a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 18, 2011 at 2:21 am

People in private industry have to work just as hard, I know I do. Retirement at 55 on the pensions these tax parasites get is ridiculous.

Posted by Navy Vet, a resident of Cuernavaca
on Sep 18, 2011 at 7:03 am

Hey Carl:

The US military retirement age is 58-60 at maximum 75% of pay. No presumptive disability. You've got some more 'splaining and rationalizing to do! The city is corrupt!

Posted by carl, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 18, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Hey Navy guy...
I doubt there is 58 yr olds on the flight deck or 60 yr olds on the front lines. So what's ur point? Their all sitting at desks at age 45 winding down their careers. Must be nice to just milk the last 15 yrs of their career. And what city isn't corrupt. The entire system is corrupt from the top all the way down. And that is not going to change ever.

Posted by Navy Vet, a resident of Cuernavaca
on Sep 18, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Hey Carl:

You just proved you have no idea what you're talking about if that's what you think goes on in the military.

Posted by carl, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 18, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Listen up you ole sailor....
U put in 4 yrs u get access to bases, discounts, programs that no one else gets. So who is getting over on the tax payer ?? Come on medical for life after 20yrs ?! Really the military gets the same perks as municipalitys get ...just in a different way. But let me guess Ensign....I still don't know what I'm talking bout.

Posted by Navy Vet, a resident of Cuernavaca
on Sep 18, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Again, you don't know what you're talking about. You have to put in 20 years to get such access beyond what you get during the four years you serve. Otherwise, you lose it all. 20 years service does not get you the 75% retirement either. Barely 50% and you lose all BAH and COLA which makes up for about 30% of your income in California. So you are right. You still don't know what you are talking about.

Posted by Army Vet, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 18, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Navy Vet....Carl kinda hit it on the military button...once u text past basic and your in for 4...the rest is a breeze. We did have it good.

Posted by Old Ben, a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 19, 2011 at 8:07 am

Salaries and benefits for all "public servants" should be pegged to the median of the community which they serve, from Congress down to the local city council. This would provide them with an incentive to improve the lives of those that they ostensibly serve.

Posted by Steve, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 19, 2011 at 8:08 am

Refreshing to find I'm not the only one thinking our city government stinks. Still hoping our new city manager focuses on the needs of the citizens instead of the power goals of city staff.

Posted by James Hall, a resident of another community
on Sep 19, 2011 at 11:09 am

Not that I suppose anyone really cares, but I need to clarify the comments on here about Civil Grand Juries. The idea goes back through English Common Law all the way to 400 years before common era (450 bc or so. The Athenian democracy based itself on the idea that all full citizens were equal (obviously a select group). 500 citizens were chosen at random to serve for a year, and 50 as a kind of administrative council. The idea was that all citizens could, and often did, differentiate truth from fiction. Not individually, but collectively. Then as now, the concept of skilled and specialized leaders was suspect (viz our current crop of "leaders"). Military commanders were a different question of course. This idea of the value of the common man lives on today in the belief that "petite" juries can distinguish the difference between truth and falsehood.
Years ago I watched a documentary on elective government coming to tribesmen in central New Guinea. After a visit by helicopter of a hopeful political leader, as that worthy was flying off, two guys in loin cloths were standing there holding their spears. They commented (with captions)..."well, he just wants to get elected leader and then he'll do whatever he wants." I don't think they had any postgraduate degrees.

Posted by Old Ben, a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 19, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Thank you for that post, Mr. Hall.

Posted by Hardin, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 19, 2011 at 4:10 pm

The effectiveness of Civil Grand Juries rests on the them doing proper research with reliable data. This requires an educated team, that will draw conclusions with a minimal amount of bias.

Judging from the partisanship and the dumbing down level of discourse when it comes to discussions of politics, its seems that modern day politics is rife with sound bites, emotionalism, and prejudice, all which cloud the effectiveness of civil grand juries.

Let's remember that the definition of a "full" citizen in Athenian democracy was of alot different caliber than what we call a citizen today.

I think its true that a democracy can only work well with an educated electorate. That's where we are going to find answers to the challenges we face, by being more educated/nuanced citizens.

Posted by Hardin, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 19, 2011 at 4:18 pm

"City staff members say retirees are hired only when necessary, on a temporary basis to finish a project or investigation, do seasonal work or fill a position until a replacement can be found. The Grand Jury report admits that "there are situations that warrant re-hiring pensioners and often it make good business sense." The pensioners do not require benefits and work for an hourly rate, saving the city money. The problem is "one of public perception," said Mayor Jac Siegel."


This justification for using retirees needs to be fleshed out and clarified. How much are the cost savings? From my experience, although you don't pay for benefits for retirees, because they are considered consultants, they can charge consultant level hourly rates for their services and/or knowledge, which can be much higher than the salaries paid to city employees.

Also, there is something to be said about bringing back people with "old" ideas. The individuals I've seen that get hired back as consultants are brought back because the organization has done a poor job in documenting the policies and procedures that now only exist in this consultant's head. They don't bring anything new or visionary to the table, they just have the institutional experience of how "things have always been done".

Posted by Corruption abounds, a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 19, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Pension and double dipping are just the tip of the iceberg where
gov corruption is concerned. Lets face it if you were a government employee, would you vote for anything that would diminish your comfy settings? Of course not.

Someone asked for proof on the corruptions, how about the 500k severance paid to school council member that the rest of the consul want to see gone. How about paying 500k for art work at a local school and art for the water sewer buildings in Santa Clara. Here is one that was just in the newspaper, how the Bay Area Air Quality Management District plans to pay Ex president Clinton 150k to talk to an elite group. These corruption may not have happen in a Mt. View, but how do we know if we don't have reports like this. Like someone said, "It's just a clean looking, white color corruption". It's all these things that added up will be the down fall of America.

It seems a bit odd that the counsel leaders so vehemently oppose this grand jury report.

Because of these type of corruption, we are laying off massive amounts of government employees, not from the top down, but from the bottom up, where the losses matter the most.

What do your elected officials do to answer there waste, ask for more money. That's the Democratic way, throw more money at the problem, at the taxpayers expense. Like if life isn't tough enough for use as it is.

Interesting enough, the Mt. View Voice doesn't bring this up in there next day town square section the following day. They rather have something that no one writes about there.

This will probably get deleted.

Posted by Steve, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 20, 2011 at 12:33 pm

It IS a little odd how vigorously the council denounced the report. As if they had any control of the city and Saint Duggan.

Posted by James Hall, a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Well this thread seems to have a life of its own. One final (from me) comment about the report of the council and the Grand Jury Report. Let's recall that last year our stellar Editor of the Voice denounced the whole issue by saying that "Grand Jury Reports are a dime a dozen" but finding a skilled superintendent of schools was directly related to paying whatever the going rate might be. To coin a phrase (ha) its all about Class Warfare I suppose; the elite, educated and financially "successful" versus the rest of us poor slobs who work hard for a living and hate to see the cream being licked off the top by our eminent leaders.

Posted by Hardin, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 21, 2011 at 9:49 am

"Class warfare" is really a strawman argument that tends to get pulled out whenever we try to frame an argument as black/white or good/evil.

The measure of success any group of people have as a team, like a Civil Grand Jury, is primarily dependent on the caliber of people who compose it. Having all blue collar stiffs in the grand jury would be just as bad as having only white collar CEO's.

And its not so much about balancing the team to cancel out bias, as much as it is including people who can effectively manage their bias and concentrate on the facts and what is best for society as a whole, and not a special interest group.

By concentrating too much on the "us vs. them" argument, we leave little time and energy to focus on the actual problems before us. For instance, aside from the name calling, I've seen little in this discussion that focus on the actual merits of Grand Jury findings, like rehiring of retirees, or consolidation of our police and/or fire departments. These issues are much more important for us to discuss and take action on, than the finger pointing.

Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 21, 2011 at 11:03 am

That's almost like saying we need a Civil Grand Jury to judge the findings of a Civil Grand Jury. When does it ever end? The Civil Grand Jury has a pretty good record of exposing waste. Governments have a pretty good record of wasting. Mountain View also has some of the highest public salaries around for upper management. Mountain View has more retiree re-hires than other cities in the area. What's there to question about that? And you've already made a pretty good argument in an earlier post against such a practice. And I agree. The point of this thread seems more about how the City Council just dismissed the report outright. Of course they would. It flies in the face of their interests. Just like when the Civil Grand Jury reported how the school districts would be better off consolidated. Same with emergency services. In the end it's all about local control and redundant forms of government. The same tired old argument is that it can't be done. Maybe it's time to try.

Posted by shaggnasty, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 28, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Theyre all crooks from the meter maid to the whitehouse !

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