Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Friday, March 27, 2009

City Workers "Fall Guy" for Economy?

Council Member Iya Falcone heard it from Mayor Marty Blum this week on what must have been a tough decision to switch her vote on the city contract from one week to the next (Santa Barbara Independent). Admitting that the Service Employees union had become the "fall guy", Falcone and Council Member Francisco had moved to block SEIU's modest 5% over two years contract. Falcone had both voted for and spoken in favor of the contract the week before. Does this make them the "big heavy" as they are telling us what we don't want to hear?

These kind of votes so close to an election cycle bother me as they are so prone to political maneuvering. Falcone has enjoyed the support of the police officer's and firefighters union...both of whom received a more than 20% increase over three years fairly recently. Council Members Schneider, WIlliams and Blum have all enjoyed support from the SEIU, who has not only asked for a modest increase but had made $600,000 in concessions in the contract.

Add on top of that how we now have a mayoral campaign landscape where there is one to the left and at least two in the center of the political spectrum -- and candidates have to find some way to distinguish themselves. This may mean running to the right of center on some issues. Unfortunately, city workers are a convenient target for many -- like they are living off of some kind of largesse? Most I know are just like you and me -- struggling to make it in Santa Barbara and save a little money for a rainy day.

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Anonymous Omissions speak louder than words said...

Sara---not surprising, but rather odd that you would discuss the impact of the upcoming election on Council votes--yet fail to mention Helene's about-face on the height ordinance amendment that she actually helped to craft in the first place?!?!

3/27/2009 7:15 AM  
Anonymous patrick said...

I think the new contract is a mistake. In these times, with nearly everyone in the private sector suffering, a salary freeze would have been more appropriate. This new contract just drives one more wedge between City employees and the public's perception of them. I am not getting a raise, I get less than half the holidays that a City worker gets, I perceive that I work harder than many of them, etc, etc -- this contract is really bad PR and bad business sense. Sometimes you just gotta say "no".

3/27/2009 7:24 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Hmmm, didn't have my chart comparison out this morning. I actually didn't know about but now I do. Thanks.

3/27/2009 7:53 AM  
Anonymous You dont need a weatherman to know which way the winds blows...... said...


Contrary to Helene's comments the other day, the POA and Firefighters are looking at their contracts. And Fire has been offering cost saving suggestions for over a month. I also find it inteesting that Helene referred not to the Firefighters Association in her comments but to Firefighters for Better Government, the PAC that didn't support her. All politics, all the time. As for Marty, please, just go away.

3/27/2009 8:07 AM  
Blogger Not a Fan said...

This blog should be reported as an inkind contribution to the Helene Schneider campaign.

Your facts are wrong. Francisco moved, and Falcone seconded a motion to delay a vote on the item for two weeks because they wanted to talk about new economic data that came out since the contract vote.

The bed tax is down 20%. Sales taxes are way down.

3/27/2009 8:27 AM  
Anonymous crb said...

Helene helped craft the competing alternative height amendment? Not likely. She's not on the Ordinance comm. and what was there before the C.C. was the work of staff working with Das and Grant, especially Das, since Grant's version was rejected a week or so before.

3/27/2009 8:51 AM  
Blogger Don McDermott said...

Oh Yes, Let us have some of those popular Carter era Price and Wage Freeze policies to help the economy along. Later, we'll get back to some of those Reagan era "trickle down" voodoo economic policies, fire some striking employees (fall guys,) while creating a few more corporate tax loopholes to benefit the top 1 or 2 %, again.

3/27/2009 9:26 AM  
Anonymous Vallejo South said...

There is no point painting city workers with their lavish benefits, paid days off, iron-clad job security and gold-plated retirement locked in as "struggling" just like a lot of other people in this town.

If they are "struggling" with all those lavish benefits, they are failing to manage their own resources and making choices to live beyond their means. No one is forcing them to work for the city and "struggle". And no one is feeling sorry for them, particularly now.

Their jobs are secure until their insatiable demands and bad morale pouts drive this city into bankruptcy, and this will be of their own doing. Hello Vallejo.

Plus, are you saying they are now also entitled not to 'struggle" like the rest of us? They are paid well, little is asked of them and well-treated.

We don't even notice when they don't show up for work every other Friday. Their "work" is that meaningless to us. They need to step back a bit and appreciate the handouts they are already getting.

3/27/2009 9:41 AM  
Anonymous Cautious Observer said...

I agree with Patrick above, in these times, everybody needs to be willing to sacrifice, or at least delay grubbing for new benefits and perks.

With that said, I agree that City workers, at least the ones I deal with regularly, aren't "fat cats" sitting around enjoying their luxury lifestyles. Generally they are hard-working, middle class people that I suspect are dealing with most of the same economic problems that I am right now.

I think that any criticisms of the SEIU-negotiated contract should be strictly focused on the contract itself. No need to lob attacks at City workers.

3/27/2009 10:13 AM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

Santa Barbara Bank and Trust (for example) announced lay-offs during the same time-frame that the City announced pay raises for government employees.

This is not rocket science. There is something wrong with the logic coming out of City Hall.

***And, Das, please stop spinning this as a cost saver. In a three-year contract, one down year and two up years equals a pay RAISE.

3/27/2009 1:47 PM  
Anonymous City workers still cushy said...

City workers are not worrying about health insurance payments or retirement benefits. Or being outsourced or fired. This makes them very different from other hard-working middle class workers.

3/27/2009 6:06 PM  
Blogger local said...

The police and firefighters union received more than 20% increase over three years fairly recently?
They use “public safety” to rob us blind don’t they? And SEIU's taken 5% over two years? I did not know this.

We need SEIU, police and fire unions to all come up with concessions.

The only thing Iya did on Tuesday was to make nice with Travis Armstrong. I’m shocked at how pro-union that man is sounding lately. And no mention of the money Iya has taken in the past from SEIU?

I maintain that Steve Cushman is the best choice. But if not him the City would be better off with Helene. Police and fire need some time off without pay increases.

3/27/2009 10:17 PM  
Anonymous City workers chose SEIU for themselves said...

City workers could choose not to be members of SEIU. But they have not. City workers and SEIU are one and the same.

They need to stop pretending they are merely SEIU victims. They feed and encourage SEIU and reap the union bosses thugging benefits.

It is all about "employee free choice", is it not? As long as city workers chose this vile union representation and pay their SEIU dues with our tax dollars, they are one and the same.

SEIU is riddled with corruption charges and fiscal mismangagement. Google them and learn who they are. And this is the group city workers chose to represent them, against us. Nice choice. Don't be surprised when we say no more.

3/28/2009 9:14 AM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

The envy is thick on this string and the other one about City worker compensation. This appears to be a very emotional subject for some folks. I guess that is normal when people perceive some sort of fundamental unfairness. However, emotional modes are seldom well suited to analyze or develop public policy. All of the services that are provided by civil servants are services that people (i.e., voters) have asked for. Not everyone thinks all services provided are needed or even desirable, but without majority support, any particular service would not exist. Determining the compensation for any particular public sector employee is a complex exercise and it includes factors like the availability of public funds and negotiations with unions. If you look at the data (even that data provided by Joe Armendariz) it appears that total compensation packages in the public and private sectors for comparable jobs are very close (within 10% + or -). So all this emotion and recrimination is really unwarranted. Everyone gets to influence this stuff at the ballot box. If you feel strongly, vote your interest. There is no need to villify hard working people.

3/28/2009 11:15 AM  
Anonymous can't blow whistle said...

Many city employees get paid for 40 hours per week but actually work much less. Many average more like 30, while putting 40 on their time sheet and getting paid for 40.

I am a city employee and have been for 30 years, and having worked in half dozen departments over this time i can comment from actual observation .

The reasons are many:

1. Many commute from Ventura and many arrive 30 minutes late on a regular basis.
But the put don an extra half hour on their time card as if the had shown up 20 minutes earlier. Some leave a little earl to beat the freeway rush hour traffic home.

2. A very many drop off kids at school or day care at 8:00 and come rolling into work around 8:30

3. Many have to pick up their kids after school or day care and leave at 4;30.

4. Many put down a 30 minute lunch but actually take 60. Many put down 60 minutes lunch but take an hour and a half! If its someone’s birthday ( and its always someone’s birthday ) a bunch of them take a 2 hour lunch together.

5. If a child is sick the parent takes the day off with pay and puts it down on their time card as THEIR being sick and their sick leave..

6. Many many spend time surfing the internet during work hours or sending and receiving personal text messages.

7. But he worst of all is when the city gave most all workers every other friday off with pay under the understanding that they had to make up this 8 hours during the other 9 days of the pay period. This means they agreed to either come in at 7;30 or take a half hour lunch. Yes, thats what they put down on their time card, and a few do that, but the vast majority just kept working the same 8 hour day as the had before for the 9 days and got every other friday off with pay without making up the time.

Based on my 30 years experience, and viewing hundreds of different employees in different department and different locations over the years, my best guess is that the typical and average for all city employes is that they actually spend about 30 hours per week in the office but put down in their time sheet and get paid for 40.

I can guarantee you that every city employees has witnessed this common behavior but nobody ever turns anyone in as they all do it and the supervisors have made it clear that nobody is to “make waves”. If I officially blew the whistle on this on this I would be fired in a heartbeat!.

It is a fact that the City could save millions and millions of dollars if the simply installed a time clock in each city office where city employees had to punch a time card in and punch a time card out .

But the union would never stand for it because if all the city employees worked 40 hours a week so much work would get done that the City could get rid of half the city employees.
And the managers would not want it as they are just as bad as the staff if not worse. most of them take a 2 hour lunch on a regular basis, but put down 1 on their own time card.

3/28/2009 12:24 PM  
Anonymous Wolf Whistle said...

Whistleblower, we long suspected everything you wrote about, plus you forgot to mention the infamous 90 minute shuffle city/county workers would do to go out and move their car on company time.

Anyone who tries to do business with the city or county invariably finds the person "not at their desk", out sick, at a meeting or just about anywhere other than being on the job.

Thank you for laying it out so clearly. Supervision is totally lax and this is a prime example of how bad unions make things for the taxpayers when they keep protecting malingering employee behavior.

This should be something the Grand Jury looks into - how much effective work time is actually undertaken during the average week.

And the time sucking done on the internet for personal use and now twitter and cell phones needs to be deducted from their paychecks.

Lack of management accountability is behind this and this puts it back on the clueless council who does not ask management to be accountable.

3/28/2009 11:05 PM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

Good morning...

'Can't blow the whistle': Hmmmm. You don't sound like you were a very happy city employee. Did you every have to work off the clock? You don't sound like the many fine congenial city workers I met.

When I was working with city staff...I noted in my department that the staff's keyboards were clicking away at 7:30 AM, and I was amazed at the energy...yes impressed...that they were this mode despite being tired after all those multifarious daily meetings that come at you morning, noon and night, ...yet, there they were, reporting for duty. And what a pleasure it must have been to work with overheated citizens and council. And why not note while we're at it, that steady pressure to finish those time critical reports that never stop, week in and week out. I frankly don't see how many survive thirty years in the daily grind...

But I DO know why! I am sure that their primary motivation was their love for Santa Barbara--just as great as any citizen's and boy do they appreciate their opportunity to make a difference.

Being caught everyday between a sometimes irate public and a political council is no garden party, I can assure you! Do you even know how many public meetings there are? And how much preparation--both for the short and the long term projects?

And then there is that constant hum of angry fictitious second-guessing coming out of that tower of publishing respectability at the bottom of the loop of Plaza de la Guerra.

Santa Barbara is very lucky to have such a fine City Staff...God bless them! And so unlucky to have a meddling, needling, non-cooperative rag that's not following the Storke dictum: "...of all the news that's fit to print--without fear or favor..."

We should thank the City Staff, and be thankful for our motivated and informed citizenry, and yes, pray for a redo of our old newspaper...

3/29/2009 7:22 AM  
Anonymous City workers need time clocks said...

Make our beloved and hard working city staff punch in time clocks. There should be NO opposition to this suggestion. None. In fact it is derelict not to do this. This is taxpayer money and we need far stricter accounting for it.

Don Jose, you describe many jobs around town that deal with incredible stress daily. There is nothing special or noteworthy about city jobs.

This is the bubble city employees work in. They think they are special and entitled, yet they do little that compares to the pressures found on most jobs in the private sector.

No, they do not deserve our thanks. They need to thank us for allowing them such lax working conditions, no accountability for product and job benefits most could only dream about.

3/29/2009 9:30 AM  
Anonymous just a city employee said...

I find it so disheartening that people can be so demeaning and point fingers so easily when behind the anonymity of a blog identity.

I am a City employee and everyone in my office works their butts off to get our jobs done. We ALL work the extra hour daily to take the flex Friday off and none of us feel the sense of entitlement so often mentioned in this thread and others.

We are just people who applied for a job that interested us and got it. We are not out to rob the City blind or laugh all the way to the bank.

Like I said, it is so easy to point a finger in order to make yourself feel better.

3/30/2009 8:40 AM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

Good morning again.

Don Jose has a lot of different experiences. He organized and ran an international business in Santa Barbara for a dozen years, paid the bills, hired and managed his staff, and did what he could to make the community better. I have fond memories of the experience.

Don Jose has also worked in the non-profit world and at a big corporation with zillions of employees.

I am sticking to my evaluation of city employees as a fine example of what's good around here...

On the other hand, I stand bedazzled at the absurd corporate behavior of the Newsuppress...

3/30/2009 9:06 AM  
Anonymous Temps et fugit said...

To "just a city employee", if you know what is going on at every hour with every employee, you are not doing your own job.

Get over that you work harder or better than any employee in this town who have jobs a lot harder and more stressful than yours, with a lot fewer benefits, days off (like today), job security and secure retirement.

Still think whistle-blower has the real story. Plus, "city employee" a time clock would solve this matter in an instant. Start punching that time clock and let the public know without a doubt about your virtuous efforts.

In fact, it you are such a conscientious hard-working employee, you should demand the city put in time clocks so you can prove to the taxpayers they are getting their monies worth.

But I would want some sort of employee ID associated with that time clock punch because just like all the time wasted doing the 90 minute parking shuffle on company time, my guess is even a time clock could be circumvented by conspiring employees duped into covering for each other.

3/31/2009 10:08 AM  
Anonymous Alter Ego said...

Don Jose, don't be bedazzled in your snarky way about the NewsPress "corporate" behavior. There is nothing absurd at all about an owner and her shareholders delivering a product over which they retain primary control.

You might not like the owner personally, but if you are not a shareholder and you refuse to be a customer, you have voted yourself off that particular island.

Wow, and what company might that be with "zillions of employees"? Is it is too big to fail or did it fail after you took your talents away from its job pool.

One can easily go one for one on your list of experiences, and add even more and come to the exact opposite conclusion. City staff and their unions need a severe hair-cutting. And their customer service is non-existent.

I put my money on time clocks and saying no to any further city union demands until a clear in depth program audit is done and mutual goals are set with clear ties to increased results and productivity.

3/31/2009 10:15 AM  
Anonymous City worker said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/31/2009 9:18 PM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

"Honda Motor Co. will cut North American production by another 62,000 units, reduce pay of its salaried employees in North America, and force its hourly workers to take unpaid leave as car sales continue to plunge..."

Replace car sales with tax revenue and one can see that SB City handles their union run biz just like the real world...uhh or not.

But that's ok the city gov't is here to provide a fine living for the employees right?

"You can't do anything about it."

Thanks for proving our point City Worker. What's relevant about identifying oneself? It doesn't change the facts.

4/01/2009 12:54 AM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

Dear One of many, 'Alter Egos'...if you don't mind let's put an emphasis on that EGO part...

Good morning.

Just for clarification the company with zillions of employees was McDonnell-Douglas and I worked on the S-IV B stage of the Saturn Moon Rocket as well as the Spartan anti-missile while serving in the Vibration, Shock, and Acoustics Department. The company wasn't to big to fail. It's no longer with us. May it rest in Peace...

Regarding my remarks about the Newsuppress...I started my comments on the paper here in the blog of my niece sometime ago in a positive mode. Let us note, that I remain mystified by the 'combat' tactics of the owner of the Newspress. I see a community responsibility dimension for anyone in the newspaper business. I have studied in depth the shananigans of William Randolph Hearst and published a book with his son, head of the Hearst Corporation. Let me say, your corporate strategy is bizarre, very bizarre.

Let me take this opportunity to express my support the City Staff yet again. I found throughout my personal experience with them--that they were very dedicated to the community.

Thank you for this opportunity to clear up a few things that were puzzling you.

4/01/2009 7:35 AM  
Anonymous 8 page list of city salary greed said...

No April Fools day joke, Travis lists by name and job description all the city workers making over $90,000 a year. Said the list of all those making over $60,000 was eight pages long.

The list is huge. And some huge surprises if you ever had to deal with some of these people. City workers are extremely well-paid. Nothing like shedding light on this topic with names and numbers.

And on top of this, we are asked to thank them for working for us? Think again.

4/01/2009 9:10 AM  
Anonymous Thank you, city workers! said...

Freedom of Information request information for city salaries over $60,000 a year found in NewsPress:

David McDermott, asst city attorney: $146,029
Nina Johnson, city admin asst: $111,127
Danny Kato: senior planner: $101,585
William Goodnick, landscape arch: $96,643
Karen Ramsdell, airport director: $157,560
Marcelo Lopez, Admin director: $149,149

4/01/2009 9:17 AM  
Anonymous Here's looking at you said...

SDLG, does "city worker's" 9:18PM posts exceeds your guidelines with his graphic anatomical expression?

Glad to see Travis answered "city worker's" question with today's editorial listing exactly who gets what money from the city, for those at least getting over $90,000 a year.

Perhaps, his graphic anatomical representation is most appropriate as this is how the city and their attitude looks to us taxpayers. Disgusting.

4/01/2009 9:21 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

here's looking at you -- I've never had to delete for emoticon use and perhaps I should edit the community guidelines now. Wikipedia didn't even have the translation for it although it is pretty easily understood.

City Worker -- I'm deleting it on general principles....

Thanks for catching that..I've only been texting for a few years otherwise I would have known :)

4/01/2009 1:59 PM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

Just wondering:

Does anybody know the salary and benefits of Travis?

4/01/2009 4:41 PM  
Anonymous freedom of info said...

county management salaries have been online for a few weeks now too--

4/01/2009 6:22 PM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

"Most I know are just like you and me -- struggling to make it in Santa Barbara and save a little money for a rainy day."

Right, we should all have to struggle so hard....

If you really want to make yourself sick, check out the salaries on this page:

Did you know there are over a dozen dentists in the prison system that are pulling down $330,000-$400,000?

How about it local dentists.... Are you making $400,000 a year pulling teeth out of an illegal immigrant gang banger's mouth?

What's it take to change things?

Do we have to start rioting in the streets to stop this ruiness taking from the public funds?

My first suggestion is that we should outlaw all union endorsements so the politician have no reason to suck up to them for votes. Right Ilya?

Here's just an example of the highest UC jobs

First Last Department Job Title TotalPay

4/01/2009 7:42 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

SA1 -- the comment was about city workers, most of whom do not make what the executives make. City executives, unlike their corporate counterparts, don't make that much money considering the budgets they are administering. I hope people like Travis also go after the corporate CEOs that are making 10x as much as the highest paid city workers -- who, by the way, are not SEIU members. Can't blame the union on that one.

As for state high paid workers - - I'd be careful -- often athletic directors, for instance, are paid based on how much they are bringing in. Grants, sponsorships, television contracts, etc -- push their pay higher and pay for the programs they support.

4/01/2009 9:00 PM  
Anonymous Non-starter said...

It is unresponsiv to claim because private industry CEO's can make money in what you call a negative ratio to their employees, public employee unions who produce nothing other should get a pass?

CEO's can make as much as they want in private industry. That is up to shareholers and customers. Their employees have the choice to work for that company or not.

But in the public arena, the shareholders and customers are the taxpayers, and we have the final word in how much of our taxdollars we want to put out for this group of workers. And they have the choice to work for this amount or not.

Unions have nothing to say about how taxpayers want to spend their money. Taxpayers have the final say and they say it with their votes. It is time to throw all the bums out because they have badly abused the taxpayers.

Thank you Travis for publishing this list. Let's see who is on the rest of the 8 pages. Remember how all the "progressives" cheered when ACORN ran busses past the AIG executive homes. Think about how you would feel if they did this to the top salary employees in the city?

In this era of Obama transparency, SEIU should conduct a homes tour of their city employees so we can all see the benefits they procured for their members. Think about this, folks. Stupid ideas have to work both ways in America, not just against your self-proclaimed "enemies".

4/01/2009 11:22 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Saying public employees produce nothing is unresponsive and irresponsible considering the benefits you receive from the city by simply walking down the street, going to the library or gaining protection from our police and fire department.

CEO pay is clearly not up to shareholders -- witness Notorious AIG. They just don't care if they are making money and aren't paying attention if they are not outraged today.

How are customers involved in CEO pay when you cannot buy much today without supporting an outrageous CEO salary? This is a real fault with the otherwise philosophically sound libertarian point of view. You act as if we have choice?

I never said unions have a say in how taxpayers spend their money -- where did you get that? They also are taxpayers and customers that are organized to their own benefit -- something Ayn Rand would not be able to ignore. There is nothing inherently wrong with taxpayers other than how you want or don't want them to influence the process. If you wanted to organize otherwise -- you'd create a tea party or something (more on that later).

Travis is not some kind of hero for publishing the list that is already public -- he's just making a mountain out of a mole hill. Compare those salaries to executives in companies with like duties and you will find a disparity. Why should similar jobs receive dissimilar pay? If taxpayers are shareholders -- they have every right to not see multi-million dollar bonuses among city employees -- oh, I guess they don't. What's the problem here?

Finally -- you listen to Rush too much. AIG executives have nothing to do with city executives -- and you should call them executives since you are so quick to compare executives at AIG to "top salary employees" at the city. A few million dollars is the I wrong?

Finally, SEIU isn't the evil group you make it out to be. Please don't compare top salaried non-union city "employees" to SEIU city employees -- that's not a fair or real-life comparison at all. Think about it.

4/01/2009 11:57 PM  
Anonymous Shareholder Votes said...

One thing SDLG left out is that votes for public officials are different than shareholder votes. Your vote for Mayor, for instance, is not diluted by multi-million dollar shareholders that hold the majority of stock in a company and have more say than the 401(k) of the majority of shareholders. The percentages don't match and to imply otherwise is misleading. If I'm a CEO even with large stock options -- I likely have a lot more say than someone with a 401(k) where there money is distributed across dozens of companies. That CEOs as salary, in relationship to the company budget, is much greater than what Travis shows outrage for among city executives (non-union members).

4/02/2009 12:13 AM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

I think most of us would agree that "performance" is the criteria for employees and management that are the most important to consider. Performance based employee review has been going on at the City for some time. Perhaps someone could speak to the value and results of this process at the City.
In the same manner, the cost of living index has been an interesting factor in negotiations for pay in Santa Barbara. Some of you might remember the heated discussions about a living wage. Have the realities of the cost of living in Santa Barbara changed? Can a policeman, fireman, city planner, or teacher afford to live here?

I think the tone of public dialogue is starting to sound like Paris in 1789 when we talk about people who are making out well. I note that Proudhon's "Property is theft" as pithy remark is a prominent placard and feature in the London protests for G20. French workers now are even kidnapping for ransom failing company directors who close plants and lay off workers.

On the matter of Travis and the Newpress and their drumbeat of critism about City government: May we see some facts and figures about the Newspress and its performance to justify Travis's and Wendy's performance based expertise to criticize the performance of City Staff. Would Travis do a better job as a planner? Would Wendy make a good budget administrator? Would either make good City Council persons?

I think it's a basic fact of life that in general there is no "free lunch" and that it's bad policy to throw 'babies out with the bathwater."

What areas of City Staff performance are not up to snuff? Let's take up some particular cases...the size of someone's salary is not per se a crime...

Tax supported employement is not necessarily theft.

4/02/2009 8:42 AM  
Anonymous City workers paid to work said...

City workers produce nothing that generates income. They provide service, for which they are hired and paid handsomely.

Do I thank them for keeping streets clean? No, that is what I hired them and paid them handsomely to do.

Do they thank me for hiring them and paying them handsomely? Never. All they do is stick their hands out and demand I pay them more, feel sorry for them, and sit in union protected jobs where I am unable to fire them for lack of productivity.

City workers are not "public servents". Get over this idea they work for love and not pay for our benefit. They don't. They take jobs and they are paid for those jobs, and that includes police and fire workers too.

If they don't like their jobs, there are plenty of other people who would line up to take them. Which is why they bargained so hard to get the brickwall job protections that put them beyond accountability.

If you don't like calling SEIU evil, will you settle for corrupt? (Google the list of misfeasance associated with this particular union).

Local Santa Barbara city employees do NOT need a national union for collective bargaining. Think about this for a minute.

4/02/2009 11:41 AM  
Anonymous Do your dligence said...

A 401K is a self-directed retirement account.

The owner of this account makes investment decisions. If the owner chooses to gamble with his or her investments, no one other than the owner of the account can feel sorry for the choices they made. It does not take rocket science to learn any investment outside guaranteed and insured instruments carry risks.

Some time you win and some time you lose. You get no more protections if you gamble your retirement money and lose than they take it away from you if you win.

If you did not want to gamble, you could have always put it into a CD.

In fact, you need to go back and recalculate your retirement account if you had put it into CDs originally and see if you came out ahead or not with your equity investments. That can put a healthier perspective on your "losses"

4/02/2009 11:46 AM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

"It does not take rocket science to learn any investment outside guaranteed and insured instruments carry risks."

Indeed. Are the defined benefit plans for gov't workers indexed for inflation and gauranteed by the gov't? Mere savings account interest is a losing proposition as even the gov't doesn't invest that way. Unlike us unprivledged folks, gov't pensions carry no risk as if the gov't loses, the workers still get their payout...Once again our taxes bail them out. It's called unfunded liability.

If your company goes bankrupt, your 401 may in fact not be funded and you lose. Just ask the 60 year old United Airlines employees that suddenly found out their benefits were cut more than half what they had planned on for years.

Isn't time we start exploring two tier wage systems to beat the union at their own game?

If we even accept the fact that the city/county/state pays comparable wages (which I don't) what value do you place on peace of mind and the ability to plan an invest knowing you'll never fail to have a generous income for the rest of your life?

That's huge leverage! I'm ok today but I live in fear that I may end up on the steet when I'm 80 because my funds got wiped out by yet another fraud induced market selloff due to investing or my "risk-free" dollar denominated savings account gets totally devalued by high (or hyper)inflation. Were you counting on you home equity to help you through it? How's that working out for ya?

This is why the public has such a sour opinion about how the gov't takes care of their own first. By my SWAG, the gov't workers could take a 30% paycut and still make out better in the long run.

So Sara and Eckerbloke, this is why I belive that, although smaller in dollar value, the public union employee deals are by design, no different than the arrogant greed of the the wall street crowd and fat cat CEOs.

The one thing you can say about the commercial guys is at least they have something at risk...there's no free lunch unless you're a gov't worker or on welfare.

So ciity/county/state workers, Like The Man just said..."The only thing between you and the pitchforks is..." well I don't know what's between you and the pitchforks.

Tread lightly and carefully Marty B. and crowd... we still can afford to build a Guillotine. (To divide our last loaf of bread, of course)

Hot off the press...

 The Social Security Surplus is already gone…fini…no more. “Expected” to last through 2017, thanks to rosy estimates from the bean-counters in Washington, the surplus was annihilated in last year’s stock market crash…meaning the U.S. government will likely need to raise hundreds of billions more in Treasury sales in the coming years…aside from the trillions already scheduled, of course.

 Apparently dissatisfied with only causing the biggest bankruptcy in recorded history, a former Lehman Exec decided to gamble with 44 million American pensions. Former Lehman Managing Director Charles Millard - acting as head of the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. (PBGC, the federal government’s safety net for pensions) - boldly moved a substantial portion of the PBGC’s funds out of “boring” bonds and into promising stocks…all in hopes of avoiding a future government bailout. Unfortunately, he started this plan mid last-year, and his picks were already down by 23% at the end of September ‘08. Oh yeah, and he was almost a trillion in deficit when he started.

 Obama says Detroit Bankruptcy Restructuring is “inevitable,” after the latest round of media back-and-forth that pushed Waggoner out the door with a US$20 Million+ retirement package. I can’t tell you how glad I am that we gave these yahoos US$17 Billion last year just to stall the bankruptcy process for a few months. What a great investment that was.

4/04/2009 12:48 AM  
Anonymous Union Rules said...

The only reason Obama pushed out Waggoner at GM who was actually restoring some lost profitability to the car maker, was to install a more union friendly CEO. Such is the leadership of Barack Huessein Obama - as he is now fondly calling himself in Europe.

4/04/2009 10:02 AM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

I can only assume LA Times reads Blogabarbara:

The budget gap would more than double in the next year because of the city's troubled pension systems, which, like pension systems across the country, have suffered enormous investment losses in the spiraling recession.

So Nick Welsh, why don't you do some of that investigative stuff you haven't done in a while and let us know what the unfunded liability is for SB city/county pensions so I can save up for the bailout $$ I know they are going to ask us to pay for...

Along with Arnie and Brobama, the LAT knows where to go for the truth... sa1's EIB (Excellence in Blogcasting)bwahaha hee hee

The city is legally obligated to keep the pension systems afloat, which could cost $458 million in 2010-11 and $663 million in 2011-12. That expense would be in addition to the city's expected budget shortfall, forecast to be $525 million in 2010-11. (No updated forecast for the 2011-12 budget shortfall has been provided.)

4/04/2009 12:31 PM  
Anonymous Remember to Use Name/URL said...

City workers are not only lazy, as a rule not an exception, but over indulged as well. Depite the cushy schedules they keep the complaining is non stop. The comment above regarding coming in early or taking a half hour lunch to make up lost time is completely accurate. This NEVER happens and everyone knows it. The hours these people actually work are probably half of what they report. Oh and lets not get started on their vacation schedules, especially supervisors, which is obscene and unheard of in the private sector.

I am generally supportive of unions but the SEIU be abolished. The public would be shocked at the abuse of taxpayer dollars by these so called "hard workers trying to scrape out a living"

Many of them spend their days internet shopping during work hours, getting massages and hanging out at downtown cafes (I can name names but of course I won't) which is probably why many can't afford homes in SB since many of them have lived here and worked for the City for years and years.

Unfortunately, one of the problems is that this behavior is endorsed and engaged in by dept heads and the City Council endorses it as well, especially Williams, Blum (that sorry excuse for a leader who can barely form a cohesive sentence and who is an embarassment to our City ) and really all of the Council - except, it appears, for Francisco who hasn't been corrupted yet.

Cronyism and favors for special interests are the name of the game, especially in the Community Development Department. And don't forget - it comes from the top down. I would guess another very corrupt city dept starts with the letter "P"

Sorry , I know this sounds like an overly harsh, reactionary post, but its true, as are the similar comments above, and the people of SB need to do something about it.

I used support these people, as you do Sarah, but things have spiraled out of control and something needs to change. Thanks for providing us with this forum.

4/05/2009 6:31 PM  
Anonymous Pee Doppel-fau said...

I'll take your "P" and add a "W" and bingo, I think we have another department as bad as Community Development.

Thanks for your input, we can tell you know of what you speak because those of us trying to get service out of the city on any level runs into the same unresponsive mess. And have to listen to all the howls about being over-worked, under-paid and most of all under-appreciated.

Then being told we are supposed to thank them if they actually show up for their jobs and do what we pay them so handsomely to do.

There is no reason on earth to allow this misuse of tax dollars to continue. No union is that powerful they can protect incompetence and waste of public money.

A new city council will demand performance audits of every single department and actually read the findings and put 2 + 2 together and stop this nonsense gravy train.

If any more "feel-gooders" are elected who can't even balance their own checkbooks and think their election means they can run their own personal social agenda at public expense, we deserve what we get.

This time we have choices. The homogeneity of these current socialist feel-gooders and fiscal irresponsible incompetents is over.

Time for a lot more mental and philosophical diversity on this city council and that means people who know how to read a balance sheet before they vote to spend more money.

Besides Dale, not a single council person elected in the past too may years has had a lick of common sense, including Roger Horton who should have with his finance background. He needed a flackjacket when he took his oath office but he refused. Our loss.

4/05/2009 7:13 PM  

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