Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Community Post: Goleta the Fleeceable?

This community post is from sa1:
Along with the proposed contract for police services it would appear SB County and Goleta City council have driven a stake into the heart of Goleta . The $5.63 million contract with the county equals 40% of the entire operating budget. ..for 33 policemen. These are the same individuals that are often held up as essential and needing affordable housing. The attorney’s fees were nearly $1 million. The average salary/benefits rates as shown are much higher than California averages. Never thought that a motorcycle cop would make more than a Professor of Physics or that both would claim they can’t afford to live in Goleta without gov’t housing subsidies. Is it time to ask to reassess their demands for absurd salary levels that are far above levels in the private sector? The average salary in the county is $38K and high end is $68K per the CGJ report just issued. Consider that soldiers getting shot at daily earn as little as $2000/month.

17 Deputy $114,209
8 Deputy II $119,882
5 Sergeant $139,651
1 Lieutenant $174,253
1/3 Commander $201,133

Goleta currently is forced by the city incorporation agreement to give the county half of all property and sales taxes, 40% of TOT (hotel bed tax) in addition to 40% of their operating budget for the police services. Additionally $5 million was given to the county for mitigations by the Camino Real Market Place . To date, no mitigations have taken place per the agreements. What has happened to that money? The traffic and street conditions on Storke and Hollister are terrible. UCSB has offered a mere $1.12 million to mitigate nearly 400 condo units soon to be built in this same area. The City Council is now spending tens of thousands to change the general plan from rules to suggestions…

So the question is are we better off now than we were 6 years ago or are the taxpayers getting fleeced?


Anonymous Goleta Girl said...

The question is wheter we are better off prior to those jokers getting elected with developer money last November!

6/09/2007 9:32 AM  
Anonymous uksholo said...

The absorption by the County of the $5 million in mitigation payments by the Camino Real Marketplace without implementation of most of the mandated mitigations is a crime. I hope the City of Goleta sues the County and I hope heads role at the County because of the mishandling of that $5 million.

Does the buck stop with Mike Brown? Brooks Firestone? Who knows, but someone must take responsibility for that $5 million.

6/09/2007 11:14 AM  
Blogger Honor Adams said...

The deputies that patrol our streets 24/7 are worth every penny of the salary they earn. At times, deputies are the only thing that stands (willingly) between the citizens and those that wish to do us harm.

You might also be surprised to learn what it would cost the City to fund its own agency, which would probably be several million more. SBSO is a bargain, and a very good one at that, for the amount of services we receive in Goleta compared to what we are paying.

6/09/2007 12:25 PM  
Blogger Dinah Mason said...

Those Goleta folks love to wield their power and call those sheriff deputies! We had a one-hour rally in the gazebo in front of the community center. We called ahead and got permission from Lois Capps' office to hold the rally. The employee there that day was told that we were authorized to be there, but called the cops anyway. I guess she and the Exec. Director like Bush and Cheney and did not like what we were saying about them.
Well we will see how much they like the ACLU!!
Free Speech is Free Speech is Free Speech!

6/09/2007 1:13 PM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

Posted at noon today in an article on the front page of the LA Times...(wonder if they read Blogabarbara?)

"A 2005 study by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute, a respected Washington, D.C.-based clearinghouse on issues concerning pay and benefits, found that wages for California's state and local government workers overall were 40% higher than those of people in the private sector and fringe benefits were 60% higher"

6/09/2007 1:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The wages listed above might not be so much if it includes the pension, inusurance, etc (law enforcement units hold a lot of sway) it would make the actual wage far less. There is also probably in the over and amount category vehicle use, gas, booking fees, etc. It would cost the city more to outfit there own dept yearly let alone the start up costs of equipping a dept. Not saying the county isnt probably getting a "administrative fee" out of this but the cost dosent really seem that out of line.

As for the other items I cant speak to Im sure the county raided Goleta for some dollars prior to cityhood much like the city of Santa Barbara does to it with airport development.

6/09/2007 2:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI a congresswoman does not hold the power to grant permission or permits to hold a rally on a local city's property? Next time you should get permission from the apporpriate authority to do that which sounds like the city itself. If it had been on a city sidewalk and you marched around that probably would have been fine.

6/09/2007 2:27 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

Not sure I understand the comment by Dinah Mason about how Lois Capps office has any authority to give permission for people to exercise their free speech rights.

The sad dude who manages Goleta Valley Community Center routinely calles the police when the action in front does not fit his personal political beliefs. He did that a few years ago when people who support County Supervisor Rose were there to counter the frothing anti-Rose meeting inside.

He also has posted signs out in front of this Goleta City facility against reproductive rights and pending State legislation, signs installed at a City of Goleta facility and public property.

6/09/2007 3:48 PM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

"SBSO is a bargain, and a very good one at that, for the amount of services we receive in Goleta compared to what we are paying"

You can see the service level by looking up page 30 (of 121) of the Goleta budget report. Five weak bullet points on one page.

-Several new Neighborhood watch programs.
-A line about DUI checkpoints but suspiciously missing the number of them.
-Traffic enforcement.
-Several warrant sweeps.
-Extra city patrols for I.V. Halloween.

Contrast that with multi page informative reports from the other city departments. I guess the good ($174K/yr) Lt. couldn't find the time.

No crime stats of course because all we need to know is to be fearful and appreciative at all times.

So Honor Adams (Sherriff's Blog) do you think these civic minded gentlemen would mind taking a $20% paycut so we can afford to fund Girsch Park or the library or Old Town resoration or traffic mitigation or more city planners to speed the processes or enviro frindly rework of the creeks or open space purchase or street restoration or tree planting or cultural venues or more parades and festivals (wheee) or more support for the chamber of commerce or free laptops for under privileged kids or any number of other items that can be shared by the whole community or should we just continue to put our feet back and spead em?

6/09/2007 4:34 PM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

Anon 2:22 - The wages listed are salary and benefits nothing else. They earn overtime to so it's not even a fixed cost.

My point is that the city cannot afford this much ($$ or people) or we need to get more back from the county. What's the county doing with all the money they collect from the city taxpayers? Spending it in Goleta? I don't think so. Fire guys are and that's cool.

6/09/2007 4:55 PM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

First District Streetfighter:

Does "the sad dude who manages Goleta Valley Community Center" (as you put it) have any free speech rights?

6/09/2007 5:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Public employee unions run this state and this group of tax-payer supported workers are the most coddled and pampered group of "middle class" workers on the planet.

Time to rethink whether we need to "save the middle class" because now we are expected to give them subsidized places to live too, along with life time job security and gold-plated salaries and benefits.

Time to cut the "middle class" loose and let them find their way in the open market place where productivity is rewarded, not union clout.

6/09/2007 5:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The real question, Sara, is: Are Goleta Citizens better off than they were SIX MONTHS AGO-- now that developer/Chamber money has bought and paid for a new majority.....methinks, the answer is NO and many people would RUN BACK TO THE COUNTY if they had that option. Alas, they don't.

6/10/2007 9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to set the record straight on the comment from "uksholo", most of the mitigation funds that the Marketplace set aside were designated for a bike overcrossing over highway 101.

However at the last moment CalTrans insisted that in order for the Marketplace to be built, another lane had to be funded on the southbound entrance ramp to 101 from Storke. The county had 2 choices: 1. Stop the Marketplace from going forward. 2) Take the bike overcrossing funds and use them to add the ramp lane.

The county chose the first so the project could proceed. The county did not take the funds for itself.

And later, when new founds were found for the bike overcrossing, neighbors and red tape scuttled it.

Sadly, the result was more traffic than originally proposed. And even more sadly, the other traffic mitigation measures the Marketplace was supposed to take, it did not. Goleta is now stuck with the unmitigated traffic impacts...think of that as Costco is now proposing to add 16 gasoline pumps while it takes out 88 parking spaces outside its tire store. (sigh)

6/10/2007 9:49 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

9:32 -- I'm not sure if Goletans are better off or not but they made this change with their eyes wide open -- no matter who paid for it. It seems rather predictable that the political pendulum might sway a few times over the course of a few elections before it goes to the middle with a new city. Overall -- representation on the city level will be better in the long run. sa1 -- the writer of this post might differ but that's what I think.

6/10/2007 10:44 AM  
Anonymous uksholo said...

9:49am.... are you saying that widening the southbound 101 onramp from Storke cost $5 million dollars? I think it cost more like $300,000. So, where did the other $4.7 million go?

Would be nice if you could refer me to some sort of news stories or County website documents on that stuff.

I wish someone would file a California Public Records act request with the County to get all documents on where every penny of the $5 million went.

Funny how red tape and community concerns have not prevented 3 or 4 pedestrian crossings on the 101 in Santa Barbara and Montecito.

6/10/2007 11:34 AM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

anon 9:49 - Thanks for the info. A third option was to ask the Marketplace to pay for the additional lane as they were the primary beneficiary of the increased traffic. Prior to them there was no reason to build it. Do you think it's possible that their motivation to donate space and money for a substation was that it's cheaper than implementing the mitigations while currying favor with the council so the contractual mitigations weren't forced on them? Nothing says leave me alone like supporting Law and Order.

6/10/2007 11:57 AM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

The rebuttal to my comment above no doubt is about this: "He also has posted signs out in front of this Goleta City facility against reproductive rights and pending State legislation, signs installed at a City of Goleta facility and public property."

The Sad Dude is essentially a Goleta City employee or representative as the facility manager of the Community Center. He deliberately posted political signs in front of a City facility while a City employee. That is a Big No-No.

Perhaps Don Jose de la Guerra would feel differently if he did not agree with the messages on those signs.

6/10/2007 1:02 PM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

Sara, I agree with you about pendulum politics. I'm concerned that we don't financially capsize the goleta (boat) as we sway from side to side. It's difficult for public rep's to verbalize the outlieing opinions so this is my attempt to help them along with framing the boundries (somebodies got to sound like the grinch).

Recall that the city was incorporated well before the huge runup in real estate prices ('02-'05) which I think generated the affordable housing "crisis". My angst with mixed housing developement is that the prop tax generated gets sucked into the blackhole of admin costs and little is left to improve the city common. The losers being the bulk of the city pop who deal with higher density and degraded services and the winners being a very small group of admins and the the other small group of people who buy the new homes at both market and subsidized rates.

I was hoping for a Goleta with an identity as a destination not just another sea of homes. A place where you didn't feel the need to leave to find entertainment or culture. A place where "Old Town" had a fresh small town charm and was not just a rundown, old town. A place where people from a far point to and say "Now that's how you run a city".

I know it takes time and focus. Let us not be led astray from our nobel goals.

6/10/2007 1:02 PM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

"and "they don't get paid nearly enough to bring in enough decent talent..."

Are you suggesting that the officers we have now aren't decent enough? Would the officers now do a better job if we paid them even more?

"sa1 you obviously have no idea what your talking about when you think the CHP can handle street crimes."

Agreed. I rarely know what I'm talking about. Maybe a better approach is to hire a lower paid civi patrol group to simply photograph traffic offenders and send a ticket in the mail. Works great in Isreal and no wasted time on stops and potetially dangerous confrontations. How about a much lower paid civi group to handle community interaction programs. Why do we need highly paid officers to perform those tasks, just to show the colors? Or do they just not have anything better to do?

Internal examination is what I expect the commanders to do. Be problem solvers, be proactive, be creative...earn their pay. Latest budget has Goleta paying $500,000 more (than '05)) for the same service. What's up with that? Still waiting to see real per capita crime stats to back up the claim of an apparent crime wave in Goleta...

6/10/2007 3:10 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

sa1 -- I agree that the City is between a rock and a hard place with the County. One of the reasons the incumbents lost is because of the sweetheart deal the County got in exchange for cityhood. Unfortunately, these things are pretty ironclad and hard to change. More power to council if they can overcome that...

I want a great Old Town as well and do not want a seas of homes -- even though their will be great pressure to do just that for both housing and that small portion of property taxes the COG will get.

Every agreement should have a sunset clause and the folks that made this one made a critical mistake in not demanding one as part of the deal.

6/10/2007 6:09 PM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

There was a question about how Santa Barbara got those pedestrian overpasses and all that extra stuff while Goleta isn't getting squat. I bet it had something to do with the Storke family and the Newspress. I ask you: What might be accomplished in Goleta if the Newspress was doing it's job? Ward Memorial--the Newspress did it. Santa Ines reservoir (Cachuma Lake) and the tunnel--the Newpress did it. Transformation of the Marine Base into the University, and then gerrymandered into Santa Barbara, hey, it's the Newspress. A good newspaper would tell you about the missing $5,000,000 in mitigation money and all the rest.

But let me not overlook mention that the most important civic job for Goleta is to defend the urban boundary line. No failure on this point can be accepted.

6/10/2007 8:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Considering the cost of housing, I'm surprised at how low those salaries are. I'd be for paying them more for what they do.

6/11/2007 2:04 PM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

Want a new jail? I support that. Try this formula...

56% of $800 million= Salary+Benefits for the county=$448 million

Layoff 10% of the county employees= $45 million freed up per year, get matching funds from the state, (=$90 million)and the jail is paid for in 20 months. Then you have $45 million to spend year after year on all sorts of county projects.

10% Layoffs are very common in the real world of the private sector. Just ask the Raytheon and Delco employees

or give all the employees a 10% paycut...same cashflow savings.

or recognise the Federal opinion that Cal muni employees are overpaid by 40% (60% benefits) and cut the payscales back 8% a year for the next four years that would save over $200 million each and every year by simply realigning municipal pay with the private sector in Cal. Angry employees? Let them think they'll find a better paying job somewhere else? No. The more that do quit, the less you may have to cut the salary levels. $200 million a year and all you're doing is treating county employees equally with the people they serve. Sounds fair to me.

6/11/2007 5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

City and County employess set the standard and are underpaid. Santa Barbara wouldn't be paradise without them!

6/12/2007 8:30 AM  
Anonymous allegro805 said...

or recognise the Federal opinion that Cal muni employees are overpaid by 40% (60% benefits)

Nice spin there, sa1!!

The stats from the Employee Benefit Research Institute you quoted in an earlier comment supposedly stated that CA state/local govt workers earned 40% more salary and 60% more in benefits than the average "private sector" worker. Is that the same as "being overpaid"?

Sure, average in agricultural fieldhands, dishwashers, Walmart stockboys, and everybody making minimum wage, and government workers are sure living high on the hog compared to the "private sector." Everyone I went to college with was falling over themselves competing to get jobs in the public sector because they knew it was such a gold mine!

Maybe you'd like to sit down face to face with one of those police officers over lunch and tell him how "overpaid" he is, and get his opinion on that. Or maybe you could apply for one of those overpaid government jobs yourself, and get more financial remuneration out of your choice of work.

6/12/2007 4:22 PM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

Nice back spin Alle, Doesn't say anything about "average". The presumption is "comparable" (not the first time I've seen that stat) otherwise the whole statement would be pointless, much like your second paragraph. Nice shot from the hip cowboy.

"Maybe you'd like to sit down face to face with one of those police officers over lunch and tell him how "overpaid" he is..."

Are you suggesting I'd be intimidated by some bad ass cop and oh so sorry I impugned him (in your mind?). Maybe you and I should sit down for lunch. I've actually had a very informational and polite discussion with a couple over at the Sherriffs blog for the last few days. By the way, heres the crime stats for Goleta in '05:

Homicide - 0
Rape - 8 (1 per 6.5 weeks)
Robbery - 12 (1/ month)
Assault - 24 (2/ month)
Burglary - 141 (1/ 3 days)
Larceny-Theft - 326 (1/ day)
GTA (what's that?) - 22 (2/ month)
Arson - 2 (1/ six months)

6/12/2007 9:33 PM  
Anonymous allegro805 said...

sa, sorry for having been so snippy, I'm just saying you are seeing what you want to see in that LA Times story (direct link here, by the way). There's nothing in the text that would lead one to assume that they're comparing "equivalent" positions. The quote refers to "wages...overall". Period.

And no, my point was not that you'd be intimidated or threatened by some cop, but that you might learn something about how easy it is to kick back and complain that "government workers are overpaid." Talk to some real people working in the public sector about how "overpaid" they are.

The sad thing about this is that the "retirement envy" they talk about in that article is another case of people being twisted into believing that they should turn some group into the enemy based on some perceived "unfair benefit." Instead of being pissed off that Corporate America has been eviscerating benefits packages and pensions in the name of "streamlining," people are annoyed that anyone out there is still receiving any decent retirement and health benefits. Thus the Ugly Public Sector Worker-Monster with Benefits for Life. Sure, it'd be better if we all had nothing. That level of "misery loves company" namecalling is frankly depressing, unproductive, and misguided.

6/13/2007 6:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They must be doing something right out there in Goleta because they sure don't have the gang problem that Santa Barbara seems to.

How long until the Chamber of Commerce starts pulling the strings of their puppets in City Hall to do something about this?

My hats off to Goleta, at least they try to serve the community, not ignore it.

6/13/2007 9:02 PM  
Anonymous uksholo said...

9:02pm - Goleta has a serious gang problem, centered not far from the News-Press production facility in Goleta Old Town. It is just not reported on by often... a guy got stabbed by the 7-11 in Old Town on Hollister a week or so ago.

Haven't heard back from anyone on how the County allegedly blew all $5 million of Camino Real Marketplace mitigation money. That on-ramp widening was a tiny fraction of the total

6/14/2007 8:15 AM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

"snippy" ? No worries dude...

"Talk to some real people working in the public sector about how "overpaid" they are."

Talk to people in the private sector about how underpaid they are, how tenous their retirement package is and how gov't will ultimately have to severely restrict their SS payments. The average salary in the county is $38K and high end is $68K per the CGJ report just issued. There is a Data Processing Manager job for the county, $83K-$101K +benefits and retirement. 5yrs experience. In the Daily Sound today.

Our founding fathers knew the importance of being able to "Rage Against The Machine", or the machine takes over.

Or how about another famous concept, "Question Authority". I'm simply doing my civic duty as I see it, sorry if it hurts the fatcat's feelings as they mope all the way to the bank.

"Thus the Ugly Public Sector Worker-Monster with Benefits for Life."

I did not use any personally aimed, hyperbolic perjoritives as it would detract from the point I'm trying to I don't know why you are.

"Sure, it'd be better if we all had nothing."

No, It would be better if the underpaid private sector taxpayers were treated with a little fiscal responsibility by their public servants.

All it will take is a continuation of downtrending RE prices, higher interest rates, oil distruption in the ME and/or a mild recession to put the state/county/muni budgets severely in the red.

Then they start raising taxes to cover the shortfall...

6/14/2007 9:43 AM  
Anonymous allegro805 said...

sa1: Last time I checked, being a civil servant wasn't high on doting parents' lists of wild-fantasy aspirations for their progeny. In India, maybe.

I agree with what you write about lots of folks being underpaid with tenuous retirement packages. I just think you're directing your anger at the wrong scapegoat; i.e., people who are slightly less underpaid with slightly better retirement packages.

The problem with this argument is that I can't get beyond you sounding as if you begrudge a whole class of workers their salary & benefits and that you seem to think their work doesn't justify their earnings. Do you have no friends or acquaintances who earn middle-class salaries as public employees? If you do, how do you reconcile your scorn for their careers with your personal relationships with them? I'm just curious.

I now slightly understand why the Truly Rich might get a bit testy sometimes when people complain in their direction about haves and have nots: A lot of it sounds like sour grapes.

In other words, I know that my priority in life wasn't salary, or maybe I would have made my goal something like becoming an investment fund manager. But starting down a road where I'm annoyed at other people's relative "success" seems like it could easily turn into one bitter and possibly endless trip.

6/14/2007 5:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe we should be worried, the State has major budget issues, as does the County. If the City doesn't now, it will. Word on the Street is that City and County Employees are starting to retire in droves.

State's retirement tab nears $50 billion, experts say

by Keith Matheny
The Desert Sun
May 31, 2007

The state has an unfunded liability of nearly $48 billion for its promised healthcare and retirement to state workers over the next 30 years, experts said at a state hearing today in Rancho Cucamonga.

That number, however, almost instantly gets reduced by more than $16 billion if the state switches from its current “pay as you go” method of meeting the obligation to setting aside money and using investment returns similarly to how it handles pensions, witnesses said at the hearing of the governor’s Public Employee Post-Employment Benefits Commission that needs to have a report by the end of the year to the governor and legislature.

They need to outline the full extent of the unfunded liability, explore options and recommend a solution.

California pays $1.36 billion in retiree healthcare obligations for state employees. To fully fund its liabilities over the next three decades would require another $1.2 billion annually, rising with inflation.

“It’s not easy, but it’s not a number that should cause general panic,” said Jason Dickerson, a public employee retirement analyst for the state Legislative Analyst’s Office.

6/14/2007 6:49 PM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

"Blomes", (Bogger+Homeboy...copywrite! I first thought of Blomie but then pronouncing that out loud would lead to a punch in the nose. As in "Hey...Blomie!". However Blogabaristas (copywrite again) may freely use without submitting license fee.)

"I just think you're directing your anger at the wrong scapegoat"

I'm not angry at the personnel. There is a reason why upper management tends not to hang out at the bar with the workers. There's a reason why Officers and Enlisted aren't supposed to fraternize. When it comes to making that tough decision, you don't want to be looking at your good friend across the desk when you fire them. Been there, done that. Like the school board member said, "That Sucks!"

Gov't should be run like a business, lean and mean, not fat and happy.

Ever wonder why gov't employees (especially D.C.) all over this country are not in the Social Security system? Could it be they know something we don't?

At it's root, mine is a question of Keynesian vs laissez-faire and supply side economics in the handling of public funds. Essentially "overpaying" public employees is a form of additional taxation. My specific complaint was more Goleta funds being given to public employees leaving less for public disbursement for the common good. Like creating a more attractive "Old Town" to bring more jobs and taxable income for the city. If Goleta simply fills open space with housing, the income generated for the city is restricted to prop tax that is severly diffused by the time it makes it way back to the city common.

Nothing personal about it...just the facts Ma'am.

"1-Adam12, see the neighbor about a dissedent in the hood"

6/15/2007 3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Camino Real Marketplace paid $5.4 million to the County for traffic mitigation. The County was supposed to use part of the funds they received to fund electric bus shuttles and a bike bridge. Unfortunately, MTD made a decision that they did not want electric shuttles out in Goleta (to far to their charging stations) and the bike bridge went from a cost of $1.2 million to $4.5 million, so the County scrapped it. The extra lane on the freeway was a total waste. The County had a policy that when adding up every potential project that might ever happen in Goleta (Cumulative impacts) the freeway might be impacted. So instead of keeping the money to see if any or all of those potential projects ever happened, they required the Marketplace to widen the freeway with mitigation money instead of just waiting for State money to do it.

6/23/2007 9:55 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home