http://mv-voice.com/square/print/2010/01/06/city-retirees-collect-pensions-return-to-work


Town Square

City retirees collect pensions, return to work

Original post made on Jan 6, 2010

The cost of city employee pensions has long been a subject of controversy, and that debate was given new life recently after three city department heads retired last month — then returned to work part-time while still receiving their pensions.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, January 6, 2010, 5:03 PM

Comments

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Posted by Just Go
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 6, 2010 at 7:13 pm

"City Council members had mixed opinions about city manager Kevin Duggan's decision to bring back Farrar and Burnett for part-time work." One thing everyone should remember in government....the work will still continue when you're gone. Everyone can be replaced. We don't need to hire someone back to do "critical work." The new person can pick up where the other left off. If you want to double dip go elsewhere but City Manager just needs to have the new people in place just like Abe-Koga said..."Abe-Koga said she had hoped to have replacements for Burnett and Farrar already in place since the council budgeted $150,000 for "succession planning." That is a lot of funds to put people back doing what they did. I hope they didn't give them a going away party. Kind of like that oximoron..."Semiretired."


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Posted by dfb
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 6, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Thank you for tracking down all the facts and bringing this issue to the city council. This is the kind of dialog I was hoping to start when I posted my town hall comment. I guess I was wrong about Martello's pension.

I disagree with the following: "She said nothing could be done to lower the pensions already agreed upon for existing employees, as 'those are contractual obligations.'"

That comment is not technically correct. Promises to existing employees about what pensions to expect may be modified as part of the collective bargaining agreement. It is very difficult to do because employees will not like to see their pensions decrease but it is technically possible. The collective bargaining agreement is a term contract and must be renegotiated at the end of each term. At that time, the city and unions negotiate about changes to the terms of the contract and can decide to change most terms including pension rates.


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Posted by dfb
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 6, 2010 at 11:25 pm

I would like to highlight two items that were mentioned in this article but glossed over, likely because they are extraneous but do not add anything to the article, but are important details to have in considering Mountain View's future and whether the pensions will be a burden the city can handle.

First is that CALPERS has some serious financial issues.
1) First, it is cooking the books and does not show its true gains or losses

CALPERS "has been reporting an expected rate of return of 7.75 percent for the past eight years, and 8 percent before that…. Its annual return during the decade from Dec. 31, 1998, to Dec. 31, 2008, has been 3.32 percent, and last year, when markets tanked, it lost 27 percent." David Evans, Hidden Pension Fiasco May Foment Another $1 Trillion Bailout, Bloomberg NewsService (March 3, 2009).

Web Link

2) Second, CALPERS is set to face an imminent explosion in the number of retirees it must pay.

Shortfalls will be covered by the state treasury and governments that contribute to the system. As Insider said in the other thread: PERS does not care what cities offer, they just adjust their premiums to cover future benefits. Current public safety premiums are over 30% and for other employees are expected to rise to over 25%. PERS is not bankrupt, they just expect cities to pay higher premiums. For state workers this will not be much of a problem because most rates are still 2 @ 55.




BTW: the townhall thread I started was at: Web Link


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Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 7, 2010 at 7:52 am

Thank you for the excellent article. However, it left me feeling sick and abused as a taxpayer. I realize people are entitled to a healthy salary, but it seems wrong when a retiree makes $113 a day totaling (the proportionate equivalent of a 235,000 salary). I would guess Duggan would support it since he's probably next in line to take advantage of it. With so many talented younger, and even older, people who want to work, it seems selfish of these people to game the system this way.

HOW CAN THE CITY COUNCIL HAVE MIXED OPINIONS ON THIS ISSUE??? THIS IS ALL SO WRONG AND I HOLD THE CITY COUNCIL RESPONSIBLE!!!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 7, 2010 at 8:20 am

This obscene situation will correct itself when California goes bankrupt later this year.


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Posted by reader
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jan 7, 2010 at 8:56 am

"....but it seems wrong when a retiree makes $113 a day...."

Observer,

I think you meant to say $113 an HOUR.

$113 a DAY is about how much a college grad like me could earn as a substitute teacher.


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Posted by King Leo
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 7, 2010 at 9:44 am

We complain about dope dealers and criminals overtaking our neighborhoods, but this goes way beyond such trivial offenses. For example if someone works at the same job for 38 years rising to the top position without doing any financial planning for their retirement is utterly ridiculous. We allow them to be city workers only to rob each and every taxpayer in the city as a retirement "BONUS." What level will we lower ourselves to next? This type of cancer will eventually kill us all, and at what fault or place do the innocent have to continue to suffer for the greedy, selfish, self-centered, egotistical, people working for the city of Mountain View. And the band plays on............


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Posted by Jack
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 7, 2010 at 10:28 am

It is so true that ignorance is bliss....

There is so much uninformed opinions on these threads.

Tyranny of the majority in effect!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by can read
a resident of another community
on Jan 7, 2010 at 11:07 am

Even more blissful is congratulating yourself for being so smart while everyone else is so stupid ... and not even explaining why.


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Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 7, 2010 at 12:27 pm

These tax parasites had better get a grip on reality before reality gets a grip on them.


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Posted by Job Lopez
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 7, 2010 at 2:06 pm

I am chocked to learn about those two city retirees Kathy Farrar and Karen Burnett that were brought to work doing "critical work" for $110.00 and $113.00 an hour!. Long before they retired things should had been in place so that their replacements could had taken over where the they left off. This is totally unacceptable specially when the city faces big financial dificulties in many other areas responsible for the well being of the Mtn View commnunity. What is happening seems almost inmoral. What those 2 women should do, in vew of their hefty pensions -thanks to our tax dollars- is to perform that "critical work" donating their time and experience as a service back to the city and the community.


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Posted by kanank
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 7, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Wow. How corrupt and crooked are these people are to pay all these money? do these people have any shame? Looks like Mountain View is run a little Kingdoms in the Middle east? I didn't realize we have so many princes and princess? And it seems lot of these employees are getting paid like Wall Street Execs and Bank Execs. What is next? Nobel prize and Congressional medal of honor for these employees? Is this legal in a democracy? or Are common folks like me just too dumb to let things like this happen. I am so outraged. While so many people are suffering , these people are stuffing themselves with bags of money.


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Posted by Kathy
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jan 7, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Wow, imagine how long the line would be outside city hall if they advertised contract positions for 50 or 60 bucks and hour (even without benefits!!)

I do not begrudge someone a pension if they have put in their time but this is ridiculous.


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Posted by DonaM
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 7, 2010 at 3:06 pm

This is a shame...there are countless talented, well educated folks out here who would gladly do the job for half the hourly wage. Come on now City of MV, why can't you seem to help out those really in need and really competent to do the "critical work". EVERYONE can be replaced. Help out the community and the economy!


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Posted by the299crew
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 7, 2010 at 3:07 pm

I have got to say that the good news is that the taxpayers are becoming more aware of all of this payola. I doubt we can stop it until Mountain View goes belly up. That won't take too long. Maybe the folks like me can push for a formal bankruptcy declaration from our city council this year. There are a lot of private sector retireees nationwide who have had their promised pensions cut or eliminated.

Make no mistake about it, there are several "classes" of city retirees and employees here. My opinion of the police and fire fighters is that they have earned every penny of their pay and pension. Regular city desk jockeys, well, they have earned a pension, but it is definitely not untouchable. MV needs to stop writing checks to the state pension agency. That might fix a few things very quickly. I have been helped a few times by the librarian in this discussion; nice lady, but $176 grand a year - give me a break. I guess I was in the wrong line of work.


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Posted by KLR
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 7, 2010 at 3:44 pm

As a Human Resources Director, working in High-Tech, I manage Compensation and Benefit Programs and have access to data on local high tech salaries and benefits. I can assure you, the amounts these city workers make, is more than an average Director in High Tech. And guess what - high tech workers do not have pension plans. We fund our own retirement through our wages and put this into 401k plans. If we are lucky, and the market hasn't totally tanked, we may have some funds which last into our retirement years.

Why am I funding local city employees' pay and benefit plans, which are greater than what I get? Is this a serfdom? I thought that Governments are meant to serve the public -


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Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jan 7, 2010 at 3:56 pm

We griped about the pension and the double dipping. That's not the real problem because it's all legal - thanks to the mobster like UNION. For city, states, and the USA, we need to get rid of the unions! This is the reason we will continue to have tax increase, and lower standard of living.

I thank the honest firefighters and police officers that actually "retire" instead of claiming disability. They're the ones that really know how the game the money system.


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Posted by Nell
a resident of another community
on Jan 7, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Some work, some pray, others steal... this would be called corruption in any other place, but it's all been lawyered up. How do these people look in the mirror and justify this to themselves? We must turn now to the City Council and vote everyone of them out of office.


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Posted by Ned
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 7, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Greed, pure and simple. And poor morals, if any at all. Nothing else can explain it. That will be their legacy.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by ALR
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 7, 2010 at 5:54 pm

My opinion of living in MV has now plummeted, knowing that my taxes are supporting this blatant theft. In the normal business world, retirement produces pension only, with no possibility of double-dipping, and succession planning precedes (not follows) retirement.


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Posted by dfb
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 7, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Folks, let's not gripe without coming up with constructive ideas on how to fix what we see is wrong with the system. Griping does nothing but make you angry and bitter. Constructively working to a reasonable compromise will make you feel better about yourselves and provide the civic participation the Internet is designed to promote.

First, let's cut out unreasonable and/or nearly impossible ideas. Unions will not go away and still serve valuable purposes. They are not as corrupt or contemptable as one comment would have us think. Discarding retirement benefits completly also will not happen.

Second, although we're talking about Mountain View, the pension system is a statewide concern and many of the issues are with that statewide system. We need to break out the things that can be handled locally from the statewide issues.

Local:
1) Pension rates:
2) Length of service:
3) Age of retirement:
4) Employee salaries: are the base for pension payments
5) Type of retirement package provided: Pension, 401(k), other.


Statewide:
1) Pension payment formulas:
2) Control:
3) Burden of meeting shortfalls: Currently rests on the contributing governments, not employees/retirees.
4) Accounting standards:

I am personally not asking or advocating that we abandon the pension system. I am supportive of the idea of providing pensions. I only ask that pensions be reasonable and the system made sustainable. I still consider the pensions offered to the four retiring city execs offensive and an abuse of public resources.

Local:
The city should ensure that its pension rate and obligations are reasonable and sustainable. The current rates appear to be neither. Moreover, civil servants should be required to work for 35 years in public service and until at least 65. I know the pension rate is set differently, so 2@65 seems more reasonable to me in the short run until the final pay rule is discarded, which is something that appears part of the calpers formula.

Statewide:
The pension system should be managed by an independent agency/group that answers to the employees, not government officials. In that regard, shortfalls in the pension system should be born more by the employees rather than governments. The final paycheck rule should be discarded in favor of a graduated percentage that ensures low paid workers can still live off their pension and highly paid workers get enough to live off but not live high on the hog, as Mountain View's execs will. Moreover, the accounting practices used by CALPERS need to be standardized and made less misleading. Otherwise, it will continue to say it has gains during times of losses.

Feel free to disagree and provide your constructive commentary about why I'm full of it, and why. In addition, correct mistakes any of us make in our posts, and in misconceptions on how the system works. As I said, the idea is to work toward reasonable and workable solution. :-)


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Posted by outraged42
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 7, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Outrageous is an understatment when it comes to compensating the city manager,attorneys,library officials,city council members,etc..sweet heart deals to everyone to ripoff bigtime from the common folks. incredible, what a blatant grand theft this is. unethical of the worst kind what palo alto,mountain view,oakland,sunnvale and all these other cities indulge on a day to day basis. make sure your voice is heard in the next election..vote out every one of the current council members.


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Posted by This is too much
a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 7, 2010 at 6:05 pm

As a retired government employee, I'm shocked and embarrassed. This kind of rip-off makes all of us look bad. If there is "critical work" and nobody else can do it, then they shouldn't be collecting a pension while staying on the job. Even for the 4 months. (The situation with Martello is different since he's working for another city.) I hope this doesn't turn people against pensions, which are disappearing from private employment. Pensions let people retire with security, which we know now 401Ks do not, giving younger people more job and promotional opportunities. And everyone with half a brain "games the system" to get as much money as possible. I actually don't blame the employees. The system must be changed to protect the taxpayers.


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Posted by Average Sam
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 7, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Unions and government workers have an incredible retirement plan. Collecting 80% of your highest salary in retirement and it is guaranteed until you die is incredible. Those of us in the private sector do not have any guarantees. Most 401k plans tanked the last two years. Collecting 80% of our pay in retirement will never happen. I would love to work for the city and "game the system."


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Posted by reader
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jan 7, 2010 at 11:10 pm

How a person can receive one paycheck for not (no longer) coming to work, and at the same time receive another paycheck for coming (back) to work....

...the only explanation for this kind of logic has to be plain old greed. How else could one possibly justify this?


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Posted by Mary
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 8, 2010 at 8:03 am

Oink, oink... could this be why we have a budget crisis?


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Posted by govt-worker
a resident of another community
on Jan 8, 2010 at 10:54 am

Average Sam wrote: Those of us in the private sector do not have any guarantees. Most 401k plans tanked the last two years. Collecting 80% of our pay in retirement will never happen. I would love to work for the city and "game the system."

Reply: Maybe you should apply then? There have been plenty of jobs available at cities/counties in the past few years.

Maybe you should also read carefully and see that city employees DO pay toward the pension plan out of our salaries just like you pay to your 401k. The pension plan IS our 401k, it just happens to provide better returns due to its size and scope (CalPers). All of you need to realize that public workers, unlike the private sector, recieve NO bonuses of any kind, EVER. NO big raises during the good times. NO stock options. Just a steady salary and modest cost of living adjustments. Along this same line, we get few promotional opportunities to advance and often do boring methodical work using older technologies etc. The positions in this article are at the TOP of the salary food chain in government, not the norm. I do agree with you all that double-dipping is wrong and frown on the cities for practicing this. If you compare ALL aspects of public/private employment, they are fairly balanced in most cases.


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Posted by Another govt-worker
a resident of another community
on Jan 8, 2010 at 11:36 am

Thank you, govt-worker, for that balanced commentary.

I would simply like to add that in most city govts there are only five steps of merit increases. This means that after 5-6 years you NEVER receive a merit increase ever again. I work with literally dozens of people who have not had a merit increase in 15-25 years.

We chose security over the big money.

And like you, I agree that this double-dipping is completely wrong.


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Posted by the299crew
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 8, 2010 at 2:03 pm

"We chose security over the big money."

I repeat my mention of the librarian who made $176 grand a year. You go gal.

The government payrole is too many, too generous, too big, and too far gone to save. Let's just tank now and start the rebuilding process.


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Posted by Another govt-worker
a resident of another community
on Jan 8, 2010 at 2:36 pm

the 299crew,

I would remind you of what govt-worker said:

"The positions in this article are at the TOP of the salary food chain in government, not the norm."

Many of us have master's degrees and are getting far, far less than others with master's degrees; including those with the same degrees but working in the corporate world. They got the bonuses, the stock options, the 401k, and the bigger bucks.

For us it is 'security over the big money.'


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Posted by Judge for Yourself
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 8, 2010 at 3:27 pm

2009-2010 Salary Schedule

Web Link

For the record, for those in private industry, bonuses are not gauranteed, stock options are not free money, we've established the 401K is no better than the retirement package of a government employee, and the salaries for the average worker are not as great as they're made out to be.

For many people, it's not a matter of making "big bucks", it's a matter of finding employment. And there are more jobs in the private sector.


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Posted by Marian
a resident of another community
on Jan 8, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Regarding "I repeat my mention of the librarian who made $176 grand a year." There is no one with that classification making any where near that amount of money.

Someone who is a manager or director of a library does manages major projects - technology implementation, building or remodelling a building, developing policy, restructuring the organization, etc. In addition, a Library Director manages the budget and staff, makes policy decisions, handles customer issues, and works with the Library Board and other community groups. It's a multi-faceted, high level, high stress position with many responsibilities. Salary and benefits are set to be in line with the market and with job duties.


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Posted by John
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 8, 2010 at 4:37 pm

And out come the minions to justify the pillaging of the public trust.

Another Govt. Worker:

"Many of us have master's degrees and are getting far, far less than others with master's degrees." Of course, your presumption is you're qualified to work in the private sector for the more pay by your logic. My experience is the private sector demands far more skill and hours, in spite of a degree. And MAs are a dime a dozen around here. My experience working with the federal government is that public employees produce far, far less that contracted employess and the public ones are nearly impossible to fire.

Marian:

"Salary and benefits are set to be in line with the market and with job duties." No one really disputes that. It's that the money keeps flowing after they stop working in the form of ridiculously generous retirement package! Try your argument again addressing the retirement aspect!


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Posted by janelle
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jan 8, 2010 at 5:57 pm


Greed is a funny thing. People will come up anything to call it something else.

And what a sense of entitlement from these so-called public servants. Who says these pension contracts can't be re-written. Look to the airlines for a great example. The city can declare bankruptcy and renege on its commitments. Companies do it. Banks do it. Individuals do it. Let's get on with it.


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Posted by Another govt-worker
a resident of another community
on Jan 8, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Hi John,

Actually I based 'my presumption' on several job offers.

Not all govt workers are slackers. Many are incredibly dedicated people who work very hard. Please try not to paint us all with same brush.

Thanks!


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Posted by Former Mountain View Worker
a resident of North Whisman
on Jan 8, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Dear fellow and lady citizens and tax payers:

We the citizens of Mountain View, California are facing some of the most dire economic times in the history of our city, state and nation. Teachers are being layed off. We spend more tax payer money on prisoners than we do on college and other students. Public "service" employees and their unions are legally stealing our general funds for their retirement pensions as if such general fund money is being printed 24 hours a day , seven days a week. If the California Public Employees Retirement Fund goes broke, we the tax payers are required to pay the greedy retired workers.

It is time to ban the practice of "double dipping, " where an employee, such as Mountain View, Human Resources Director, Kathy Farrer, retires at $187,000.00 per year and returns to work at a pro rated salary of over $100,000.00 per year. Her retirement alone will cost over $5,000,000.00 if she lives 30 more years. She and City Manager Kevin Duggan have cut dozens of City jobs and services, but not their own pay and retirement benefits. Citizens are ultimately responsible for paying the "unfunded liabilities" associated with paying a retiree over the life of that retiree's receipt of benefits. If the Mountain View "One Hundred Thousand Dollar Retiree Club" of about 30 people collect $110,000.00/year/each/30 years, the total City tax payer unfunded liability comes in at about NINETY- NINE MILLION DOLLARS over a thirty year period. This cost increases significantly when automatic annual cost-of living increases are factored in.

I seriously doubt that there is one Silicon Valley private sector Human Resources Director, who can look to retiring at a CEO/President/Owner/ Fat-cat pension of almost 200k/year for life.

Public employee retirement should be reformatted to allow only a maximum of 75 percent of the final salary of an employee, averaged for the final 36 months of pay, maximum retirement benefits, payed out for a maximum of 30 years and no longer than an employee is in the CALPERS system, which ever is less. "Golden Spikes," where a worker cashes in sick leave, vacation, comp time, etc, for increased benefits needs to be outlawed. The practice of police officers and fire fighters routinely taking early disability retirement to avoid taxes and increase pensions needs to be treated as criminal acts. Annual "cost of living" adjustments for CALPERS retirees needs tied to the expected return on investments of CALPERS portfolios, and should not be automatic.

Most people are not aware that most of the City's general fund goes toward wages and benifits and 90 percent for life retirment packages to fire fighters and police officers.(See the Contra Costa Times article on the San Ramon Valley Fire District retired Fire Chiefs). If the City cuts the PD and FD pay and benifits, the effected employees will leave.

Demand change! It's your tax money.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Former Mountain View Worker
a resident of North Whisman
on Jan 8, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Dear fellow and lady citizens and tax payers:

We the citizens of Mountain View, California are facing some of the most dire economic times in the history of our city, state and nation. Teachers are being layed off. We spend more tax payer money on prisoners than we do on college and other students. Public "service" employees and their unions are legally stealing our general funds for their retirement pensions as if such general fund money is being printed 24 hours a day , seven days a week. If the California Public Employees Retirement Fund goes broke, we the tax payers are required to pay the greedy retired workers.

It is time to ban the practice of "double dipping, " where an employee, such as Mountain View, Human Resources Director, Kathy Farrer, retires at $187,000.00 per year and returns to work at a pro rated salary of over $100,000.00 per year. Her retirement alone will cost over $5,000,000.00 if she lives 30 more years. She and City Manager Kevin Duggan have cut dozens of City jobs and services, but not their own pay and retirement benefits. Citizens are ultimately responsible for paying the "unfunded liabilities" associated with paying a retiree over the life of that retiree's receipt of benefits. If the Mountain View "One Hundred Thousand Dollar Retiree Club" of about 30 people collect $110,000.00/year/each/30 years, the total City tax payer unfunded liability comes in at about NINETY- NINE MILLION DOLLARS over a thirty year period. This cost increases significantly when automatic annual cost-of living increases are factored in.

I seriously doubt that there is one Silicon Valley private sector Human Resources Director, who can look to retiring at a CEO/President/Owner/ Fat-cat pension of almost 200k/year for life.

Public employee retirement should be reformatted to allow only a maximum of 75 percent of the final salary of an employee, averaged for the final 36 months of pay, maximum retirement benefits, payed out for a maximum of 30 years and no longer than an employee is in the CALPERS system, which ever is less. "Golden Spikes," where a worker cashes in sick leave, vacation, comp time, etc, for increased benefits needs to be outlawed. The practice of police officers and fire fighters routinely taking early disability retirement to avoid taxes and increase pensions needs to be treated as criminal acts. Annual "cost of living" adjustments for CALPERS retirees needs tied to the expected return on investments of CALPERS portfolios, and should not be automatic.

Most people are not aware that most of the City's general fund goes toward wages and benifits and 90 percent for life retirment packages to fire fighters and police officers.(See the Contra Costa Times article on the San Ramon Valley Fire District retired Fire Chiefs). If the City cuts the PD and FD pay and benifits, the effected employees will leave.

Demand change! It's your tax money.


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Posted by BeReal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 9, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Just because some top-level city retirees are "double-dipping" to augment their already high pensions, doesn't mean that all city employees are greedy. AGAIN, the article is talking about department HEADS, most of whom have decades on the job.

What about the father who sweeps our streets and mows our parks to support his family? The young woman who puts herself through college because she loves children and wants to be a librarian? The folks who work hard to provide our elders with a top-rate senior center? Are these people greedy? News flash: any one of you complainers could have applied for these-- and other city jobs-- if you felt they were the key to a lifetime of riches.

Compare our downtown area and our civic center with Sunnyvale, Cupertino, etc. Look at our parks-- ever notice how quickly things get fixed? You do not get this quality of service unless you are willing to pay good people a good wage, so that they'll be enthusiastic about their jobs and stick around.

You all are sounding like the kind of people who want a Mary Poppins-type nanny for their children, but are only willing to pay $9 an hour with no benefits and no time off.


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Posted by Leonide
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jan 9, 2010 at 5:42 pm

BeReal:

The state of California is going bankrupt. And guess what? What you see that makes Mt View so wonderful has come at a very high price tag that cannot be sustained. Those at the top making so much money should have been saving for retirement like the rest of us. Those in the middle, and those at the bottom as well. And then you have social security as a safety net. You ignore and dismiss the real arguments above by resorting to some pretty simplistic reasoning that doesn't address a very real financial crisis. EVEN STATE WORKERS OF LOW INCOME are being laid off to alleviate the strain of these liabilities of exboritant retirements.


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Posted by Gov't Hypocrisy
a resident of another community
on Jan 9, 2010 at 6:41 pm

It may be legal but is it ETHICAL?


[cut and paste from City of MV's website]


PURCHASING CODE OF ETHICS

INTRODUCTION

The City of Mountain View's professional procurement staff adheres to the City's Organizational Values of:

* Provide Exceptional Service
* Act with Integrity
Maintaining an unimpeachable standard of integrity in all business relationships with both internal City customers (staff) and external customers (vendors and other agencies)
* Treat others with Respect


In addition to the above, Purchasing staff operate in accordance with the VALUES AND NORMS OF ETHICAL BEHAVIOR

A. Values
Conduct, decisions and actions based on the following values:

1. Honesty
Maintaining an unimpeachable standard of integrity in all business relationships both inside and outside the City.
2. Professionalism
Fostering the highest standards of professional competence
3. Responsible Management
Optimizing the use of resources for which they are responsible so as to provide the maximum benefit to internal and external customers
4. Serving the Public Interest
Not using procurement authority of office for personal benefit, rejecting and denouncing any business practice that is improper;
5. Conformity to the Procurement Policy

In Terms of:
A. City Charter
B. Purchasing Policy and Procedures

B. Norms of Ethical Behavior

1. Declaration of Interest.
Any personal interest which may impinge or might reasonably be deemed by others to impinge on your impartiality in any procurement matter should be immediately reported to the Purchasing and Support Services Manager
2. Confidentiality and Accuracy of Information.
The confidentiality of information received in the course of duty must be respected and should not be used for personal gain; information given in the course of duty should be true and fair and not designed to mislead.
3. Competition.
Any arrangement which might prevent the effective operation of fair and open competition should be avoided.
4. Gifts
Procurement staff shall not accept any gifts from vendors either currently conducting business with the City or seeking to conduct business with the City.


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Posted by Gov't Hypocrisy
a resident of another community
on Jan 9, 2010 at 6:45 pm

[More from website:]

City Council Personal Code of Conduct


Adopted November 19, 2002; Revised July 6, 2004

PREAMBLE
The residents and businesses of Mountain View are entitled to have fair, ethical and accountable local government. Such a government requires that public officials:

* Comply with both the letter and the spirit of the laws and policies affecting operations of the government.
* Be independent, impartial and fair in their judgment and actions.
* Use their public office for the public good, not for personal gain.
* Conduct public deliberations and processes openly, unless legally confidential, in an atmosphere of respect and civility.

To this end, the Mountain View City Council has adopted this Code of Ethics to encourage public confidence in the integrity of local government and its fair and effective operation.

City Councilmembers shall sign this personal code of conduct at the first Council meeting in January each year when the Council elects the Mayor and Vice Mayor as a symbol of each Councilmember's continuing commitment to abide by the principles of this code.

1. Act in the Public Interest

Recognizing that stewardship of the public interest must be their primary concern, Councilmembers shall work for the common good of the people of Mountain View and not for any private or personal interest, and they will endeavor to treat all persons, claims and transactions in a fair and equitable manner.

2. Comply with the Law

Councilmembers shall comply with the laws of the nation, the State of California and the City in the performance of their public duties. These laws include, but are not limited to: the United States and California constitutions; the Mountain View City Charter; laws pertaining to conflicts of interest, election campaigns, financial disclosures, employer responsibilities and open processes of government; and City ordinances and policies.

3. Conduct of Members

Councilmembers shall refrain from abusive conduct, personal charges or verbal attacks upon the character or motives of other members of the City Council, boards, commissions, committees, staff or the public.

4. Respect for Process

Councilmember duties shall be performed in accordance with the processes and rules of order established by the City Council.

5. Conduct of Public Meetings

Councilmembers shall inform themselves of public issues, listen attentively to public discussions before the body and focus on the business at hand.

6. Decisions Based on Merit

Council decisions shall be based upon the merits and substance of the matter at hand.

7. Communication

It is the responsibility of Councilmembers to publicly share substantive information that is relevant to a matter under consideration that they have received from sources outside of the public decision-making process with all other Councilmembers.

8. Coordination with City Staff

Appropriate City staff should be involved when Councilmembers meet with officials from other agencies and jurisdictions to ensure proper staff support as needed and to keep staff informed.

9. Disclosure of Corruption

All City officials shall take an oath upon assuming office, pledging to uphold the constitution and laws of the City, the State and the Federal government. As part of this oath, officials commit to disclosing to the appropriate authorities and/or to the City Council any behavior or activity that may qualify as corruption, abuse, fraud, bribery or other violation of the law.

10. Conflict of Interest

In order to assure their independence and impartiality on behalf of the public good, Councilmembers shall not use their official positions to influence government decisions in which they have a financial interest or where they have an organizational responsibility or a personal relationship that would present a conflict of interest under applicable State law.

In accordance with the law, members shall file written disclosures of their economic interest and if they have a conflict of interest regarding a particular decision, refrain from participating in that decision unless otherwise permitted by law.

11. Gifts and Favors

Councilmembers shall not take advantage of services or opportunities for personal gain by virtue of their public office that are not available to the public in general. They shall refrain from accepting gifts, favors or promises of future benefits that might compromise their independence of judgment or action or give the appearance of being compromised.

12. Confidential Information

Councilmembers shall respect and preserve the confidentiality of information provided to them concerning the confidential matters of the City. They shall neither disclose confidential information without proper legal authorization nor use such information to advance their personal, financial or private interests.

13. Use of Public Resources

Public resources not available to the general public (e.g., City staff time, equipment, supplies or facilities) shall not be used by Councilmembers for private gain or personal purposes.

14. Representation of Private Interests

In keeping with their role as stewards of the public trust, Councilmembers shall not appear on behalf of the private interests of a third-party before the City Council or any board, commission or committee or proceeding of the City.

15. Advocacy

To the best of their ability, Councilmembers shall represent the official policies and positions of the City Council. When presenting their personal opinions or positions, members shall explicitly state that they do not represent the Council or the City.

16. Improper Influence

Councilmembers shall refrain from using their position to improperly influence the deliberations or decisions of City staff, boards, commissions or committees.

17. Policy Role of Members

Councilmembers shall respect and adhere to the Council-Manager structure of Mountain View City government as provided in State law and the City Charter.

18. Positive Work Environment

Councilmembers shall support the maintenance of a positive and constructive environment for residents, businesses and City employees.

19. Implementation

Ethics standards shall be included in the regular orientations for City Council candidates. Councilmembers entering office shall sign a statement affirming they read and understood the City of Mountain View's City Council Code of Ethics.

20. Compliance and Enforcement

Councilmembers themselves have the primary responsibility to assure that ethical standards are understood and met and that the public can continue to have full confidence in the integrity of City government.

This personal code of conduct shall be considered to be a summary of the longer City Council Code of Conduct document. The City Council Code of Conduct document shall be considered to be the definitive document relating to ethical conduct by Mountain View City Councilmembers.

I affirm that I have read and understand the City of Mountain View City Council Personal Code of Conduct.
________________________________
Signature ____________________
Date


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 +   Like this comment
Posted by Gov't Hypocrisy
a resident of another community
on Jan 9, 2010 at 6:48 pm

Oops! I stand corrected the first post is from their Purchasing Dept and the second post is from 2004. I guess neither of my previous posts apply. Mmmm...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Gov't Hypocrisy
a resident of another community
on Jan 9, 2010 at 6:51 pm

Continued correction:

2nd post is for Council members but hey?!!! Didn't they approve THIS?!!!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joe V
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jan 12, 2010 at 9:50 am

I am disgusted embarrassed by the irresponsible decisions being made and approved, at the highest levels of our City Government. These people, and their SHADY little Payola Scam...oops, I mean Hiring Policies, need to be replaced by people and policy which is absolutely accountable to higher ethical and professional standards.

It comes down to this, What did you know, When did you know it, and What did you DO about it??

Don't let this drop by the side of the Hog Trough. Keep Blogging, talking to your neighbors and trusted friends and co-workers about it. Make sure you speak up, speak clearly and Speak often.

And to you there in the tool shed that need sharpening, this isn't about unions, or organized labor!

As a proud, active member of the nations largest Building Trades Union Local, I would like to say that NOW more than ever is the time to Organize, and bargain COLLECTIVELY regardless of industry.

UNITED WE BARGAIN; Divided we BEG....



.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hello?
a resident of another community
on Jan 12, 2010 at 12:36 pm

If you're so worried about what we are paying our public employees, let's start with the police and fire employees. Their compensation and benefits package is blown way out of proportion and I guarantee you they are not working as hard as you think they are.

Why didn't any of you apply for and work in these jobs? Cause you were too busy applying for the hi-tech dot-com jobs hoping to get stock and a big cash-out. Now who's the pig at the trough? At least public sector employees put in 30 years before getting a payout and not just a few years.

Yes, there needs to be reform because it's unsustainable. However, our entire country needs to be reformed. We have all been living beyond our means for years, so back off of the Mtn. View folks and focus on the other problems we have to fix.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by JB
a resident of another community
on Jan 13, 2010 at 10:24 am

There is a lot of misinformation being reported on public pensions.
1) The average monthly pension for miscellaneous employees from CalPERS is $2,396 after an average of 22.9 years. Many of these employees are not eligible for social security.
2) Many of the employees that are in miscellaneous classifications work in jobs requiring a lot of physcial agility such as street and sewer maintenance and tree trimming, etc. Doing that kind of work beyond age 55 to 60 comes with other costly ramifications related to workers' compensation and injuries.
3) A City Council CANNOT take away pension benefits from active employees in collective bargaining. CalPERS is governed by state law and the state law does not allow pension reductions for active employees once the agency has contracted for those benefits. State law trumps the collective bargaining process.
4) The above is an example of the kind of complexities that make working in HR in public sector more difficult than HR in the private sector. I have worked in both the public and private sector, and HR is much more complex, difficult and political in a public sector setting. There are more unions, laws and a political aspect that you just don't have to deal with in private sector HR. Comparing HR IT personnel to that in the public sector is not a fair comparsion in terms of the skills, talents, competencies and well, and professional saavy it takes to get to the top levels. When I hire for public sector HR, the private sector candidates have no understanding of the differences and are rarely qualified to perform any of the HR disciplines (except for OD/Training) in the public sector.

I believe that pension benefits have gotten too generous in the public sector but I don't believe we should throw the baby out with the bath water. Many agencies are working with their unions to reduce pension benefits for future hires. There were several years that the benefits were not costing anything for many agencies and when you examine the 20 year average of benefit costs in public v private, there is not much of a difference. Some reform is needed now but it should not be a result of bad information and it clearly should not be done by villifying public sector workers.

Another obeservation, why are we having a debate on who gets pensions instead of debating why those in the private sector don't? It was once part of the "social contract" in the employer/employee relationship and now it seems the only individuals that walk away with any real pension income in the private sector are the CEO's that typically wiped the company & left their workers with worthless 401 plans. Shouldn't we look at a new system in the private sector and the public sector? At this point, those in the private sector are going to have to work until they're close to 80 to afford to retire. Is that what we want in our society? Why aren't we having that discussion? For all of you that work for companies that make you sock away so much in 401 plans only to see if it crumble with the stock market, why aren't you talking to your employers about better ways and alternatives for future, replacement income? Your plans hardly offer a reasonable alternative so why would public employees jump on your sinking ship? If you settle for the current situtation with your employer, don't begrudge others that have managed it another way. Why don't you ask questions about how you can change your situation and make new arrangements with your employers? I would rather pay more for goods and services to private organizations if they would provide pensions benefits to their workers. Then our ageing society can have choices as to work/play and leisure in their golden years.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sue
a resident of another community
on Jan 13, 2010 at 10:52 am

Just lower the hourly wage to something manageable like $25/hr, and then hire someone who is qualified and needs a job. Have they ever heard of training?

That's why the CA economy and the economy in general is devasted. Decisions like this defy simple common sense,logic, and sound business practices.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ted
a resident of Jackson Park
on Jan 13, 2010 at 4:26 pm

What can I say, JB, you totally missed the boat here. I agree that the system should be primarily for the lower end of the wage scale. It's the high end that's spoiling it for everyone. It's called greed, just like the type you find on Wall Street and in the banking sector. These few selfish big wigs will bring the entire system to its knees. If you think it won't, just take a hard look at this last year.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Marian
a resident of another community
on Jan 13, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Regarding "Posted by John, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on Jan 8, 2010 at 4:37 pm

And out come the minions to justify the pillaging of the public trust.
Marian:
"Salary and benefits are set to be in line with the market and with job duties." No one really disputes that. It's that the money keeps flowing after they stop working in the form of ridiculously generous retirement package! Try your argument again addressing the retirement aspect!"

As far as the double dipping I agree with you 100%, as do a lot of other people!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by JB
a resident of another community
on Jan 13, 2010 at 11:13 pm

The system should not be just for the lower wage earner. I never said that. The system should provide stable and secure replacent income for retirees, which is usually a percentage of salary. In the public sector the lion share of pension expenses are for public safety employees where the contribution is 20-30% of payroll. What you won't see in the public sector are the top levels retiring or exiting with huge bonuses or multi-million stock options or buyouts. In both the private and public sector when a dept head leaves reorg or restructure is examined and positions held open while part-time help or consultants are brought in to keep things moving and options analyzed for the operation. Govt agencies are huge complex organizations that require leadership by educated, analytical and politically astute people. Those skills come with a price tag. The cities in the area are managing this crisis much better than most in the state and country and that is because of the exceptional skills and talents of our councils and employees - at all levels. They are not greedy or unethical and by and large the executives in these agencies would make more in the private sector.


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Posted by alan
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jan 14, 2010 at 4:28 pm

"They are not greedy or unethical and by and large the executives in these agencies would make more in the private sector."

Then they should do exactly as you say and go out into the pubic sector and do just that instead of double-dipping. Ha! But they don't.


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Posted by Activist
a resident of another community
on Jan 18, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Here's a Plan of Action
[1] Get permission from the author and/or publisher to print copies of this article (Must comply with copyright laws, etc.).
[2] Take those copies to the local foodbank
[3] Give those copies to the unemployed engineers, PhD's, etc. that are begging the foodbank for leftovers.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by abass
a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Its all about chasing shadows.
By that I mean latching on to this or that latest,
most innovative idea that some self styled money making
guru has put out in the hope it'll go viral and make them
a lot of money off the backs of all the headless chickens
who will follow them blindly down a blind alley. Its a shame
but a truism nonetheless that people will follow where someone
they see as an expert leads. Even if they lead them to certain
disaster, which is what most of the gurus tend to do to their flocks.
The trick is to recognize a shadow when you see it!
www.onlineuniversalwork.com


 +   Like this comment
Posted by jimmy
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 2, 2010 at 5:06 am

The best place for freelance projects is freelancing sites. Freelancing sites are the best option for part time home based business and freelance jobs. There are many types of work available at freelancing sites.