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San Carlos City Manager Presents Two Paths to Close Budget Gap.

March 5, 2010 Living in San Carlos, Polls 235 Comments

Two Options Proposed.

Late today, the City of San Carlos issued a press release that outlines the two paths that are now being considered to close the city’s current $3.5M budget gap.   While the two options are quickly outlined in the City Budget Overview from the city website, they will be discussed in much more detail in the upcoming City Council Budget Workshop that will be held next Saturday, March 13 at 12:00 at the San Carlos Library.   But even with few details to draw from, one thing is very evident — both options take radically different approaches to solving the budget deficit.

The City’s “Preferred” Path:  Outsource Fire and Police Services.

You may have heard rumors to the effect that the City was considering outsourcing the Fire Department services to Cal Fire, and the Police Department services to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.  Well, these are no longer rumors —  in today’s press release, City Manager Mark Weiss left no doubt that this is his “preferred path” to closing the budget deficit, since it accounts for $3M-$6M in potential savings.  This proposal also calls for outsourcing park maintenance, and for the installation of parking meters downtown for an additional savings of up to $500K.

The Other Path:  Cuts Across the Board.

The second option that is being considered is essentially an aggregation of the cuts that were proposed earlier in the 10%/20% budget reduction exercises that were conducted a few months back by each of the key departments.   The press release has more details, but some of the major elements of this proposal include:

  • Eliminate 9 full-time City positions.
  • Close Youth Center and Laureola Building.
  • Eliminate 2 full-time police positions, and numerous part-time positions.

The press release is careful to state that this is only a “partial listing of anticipated program impacts”, which implies that more “program impacts” (aka cuts) are possible.

More Questions than Answers.

Obviously, the details of each proposal will be covered in much greater depth at the Budget Workshop on March 13, but the vague nature and notable exceptions of this press release certainly raise more questions than answers.  Here are just a few:

  • Neither proposal mentioned a word about the possible closure of Crestview and Arguello Parks.  Is this now off the table, or are they one of those potential “program impacts” that are referred to above?
  • What happens to the existing Fire and Police personnel?  Are they offered jobs and absorbed into the Sheriff’s Department and Cal Fire, respectively, or will they all lose their jobs?
  • No mention of the closure of Fire Station 16 — what does this mean?

Answers to these questions (and others) will certainly shape the public’s opinion about the proposed options.

What Do You Think?

It’s important to remember that more details on both proposals will (hopefully) be forthcoming in the near future.  But based on what you see so far, what are your thoughts?  While the Fire and Police Departments account for nearly 60% of the total budget, is it fair to pin them with 100% of the responsibility to fix the budget?  How do you feel about outsourcing these vital services?  Do you want the San Mateo County Sheriff’s office to be responsible for the public safety of San Carlos?

Make your opinion heard.  Cast your vote in the poll below…

Should the City of San Carlos outsource its Police and Fire Services to close the budget gap?

View Results

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Currently there are "235 comments" on this Article:

  1. Mary says:

    And this is the same Cal Fire whose trucks get lost around the unincorporated parts of San carlos (devonshire Canyon)? I had to show them a map one day. Heaven help us!

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    • Sam says:

      Remember that Cal fire hires convicts and criminals who will be in your home. They are ran by the state for a reason! When the state can’t afford to open DMV on friday’s. Just think what they will do when you call 911. Will they respond? Does Cal Fire really know your community? Remember…..you pay for what you get!

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  2. Alicia B says:

    ~ Outsourcing Police and Fire is not the way to go.. City of Good Living will change real fast. While I realize that city officials have a real hard job in deciding what to cut but not public safety and the risk of you citizens. One point is that is real easy to out source Public Safety but it is hard to get them back.. positions lost might be lost forever.. If Police goes to County.. then from what I have heard it would mean SC Chief, Captains etc would loose their jobs or they can go to Sheriff dept in a lower capacity.
    ~ Fire .. Can we afford to loose the station on Alameda… would that mean only the station downtown??
    ~ Parking Meters .. I didnt get to vote on this.. but really how many cities around this area have no meters? It was said that it would hurt downtown businesses.. No it won’t RWC downtown needs to bring more businesses in but it is still crowded down there as well as San Mateo, Palo Alto etc. I think the times of free things are gone.. The figures that were posted as of 1999 so $500K in income is probably more than that.

    We need to all go to the meetings, come up with ideas and suggestions to propose to council and City Manager.

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    • Abby says:

      Last I checked, Palo Alto parking is still free!

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      • tess says:

        So is Menlo Park

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        • John says:

          In Menlo Park, their own residents have to buy parking permits from the City in order to park on the street overnight, in any residentail area. That’s actually a great idea!!

          Population is about 28,000. Lets say 10,000 cars parked on the street overnight. An annual permit is $75 per car. That’s $750,000 in revenue for the city each year. Not to mention the City can sell individual permits at $3 a pop when there are overnight visitors. Oh minus a little bit for two part time police employees, probably Community Service Officers, WHO DON’T GET ANY BENEFITS (that part will make Mr Grocott and the “no on measure U’ers happy”, to enforce violations overnight.

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  3. frustrated says:

    From what I am reading and hearing outsourcing may be the only way to keep public safety at its current levels. In reading the staff report I have noticed that by outsourcing we would run a surplus in two years, we could use that surplus to enhance our coverage. If we just cut the 3.5 million (includes adding parking meters) we will begin to run a deficit again in two years. What happens to our public safety then? Outsourcing does not mean less police or closing a fire station. On the contrary, it means the same level of service we currently have or better. Don’t jump to conclusions based on fear. do the reading, and attend the upcoming meetings. I am sure the staff and council will expect and have a lot of questions. I would also like to find out what cities contract out their public safety and how it works for them.

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    • Abby says:

      I agree. Outsourcing seems like the way to go. Unfortunately the BLOATED pensions got us into this mess….we need restructuring. San Carlos is receiving MORE revenue than when we moved here in 97 (increased sales tax from Best Buy, REI, etc and more property tax) the one thing that has tilted the budget is the PENSIONS! Sorry but there is no money in the till!

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      • Pat says:

        Yes, the City is taking in more money than it did in ’97, and everything costs more than it did in ’97. If you make no changes the cost of doing business goes up by 6-7% per year.

        Make no mistake, whatever the City does to close this gap will result in reduced services. If you go to the meeting on Saturday I’m sure they’ll tell you just that.

        The problem is that those of us who have been paying attention have had plenty of warning, while others are just noticing that the Failure of Measure “U” is going to mean changes in the City of Good Living. Cutting park maintenance, public safety, street maintenance will lower property values, which lowers the City’s income, and it’s a downward spiral.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Bloated pensions in no way got us into this mess. Huge capital funding for projects that have no business being done is what got us into this mess. In times of financial prosperity, San Carlos spent spent spent, and did not save. Also, Prop 13 has stalled any sort of money coming in from property. There has to be a way to make up that money somehow. But I will say that the leader of San Carlos, the city manager, is the second top paid city manager in the county. And his troops (cops, public works etc) are the lowest paid. There is a disparity there folks. Maybe he should address HIS salary.

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        • Pat says:

          During the boom times San Carlos was not required to contribute to the pension fund, so it didn’t. Now they have to pay the piper. This seems to have been the philosophy: spend it as it comes in. The did set aside money for capital improvements but they’ve used it to balance the budget for several years now.

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        • Frustrated says:

          The Firefighters should also address their salaries. The past 2 years they have been given a 2.5% raise every 6 months! They will be getting that as well next year! The city is talking about closing a Youth Center, but giving away raises!!!

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          • pat says:

            The Firefighters went without raises, and without an intact department for years before that. While everyone else was getting cost of living raises, the firefighters continued their dedicated work to keep us all alive and well without even knowing whether our fire department would survive.

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        • Pat says:

          At the Council Retreat they decided to have a closed session about replacing the City Manager. It was suggested by Matt and Randy but they didn’t say anything about why because it’s a closed session item.

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    • Frank says:

      Ok, the Sheriff’s Office came in really low with their offer to make the deal look sweet for three years to save our city 3 Million a year and get the deal done. So whats happens in 3 years when the Sheriff’s Office wants more money to provide Public Safety in San Carlos?!?! This is going to happen when the pubic sees the drastic change in crime and public safety respinse. The Sheriff’s Office will require more money and we can’t say no. The Sheriff’s Office knows this. You will be stuck with whatever bill the County gives you in 3 years when the contract is up because they are our only source of Public Safety. What is stopping the Sheriff’s Office from upping the bill in 3 years when in time to renew to contact just because they need more revenue to get them out of their budget deficit. Outsourcing now is only a temporary patch to the budget for years.

      We will lose all control over the public safety in our city. Right now our City Council controls our Cheif. Do you really think our City Council will have any control over the County Sheriff? He has his own County Board to deal with.

      I suggest you take some of your own advise to “read” the proposal the Sheriff’s Office provided to the city before you speak to staffing levels, or quality of services levels remaining the same or higher, because they are definately lower in several ways.

      Did you know that Deputies don’t take traffic collison reports?! They call CHP to take the report, if there is a CHP officer available. Did you know Deputies don’t investigate DUI’s? If they pull over someone and suspect the driver has been drinking they call for a CHP unit to come do the investigation. If there is a CHP officer available, otherwise the driver gets a cab ride home. This is probably not a good thing considering San Carlos has one of the highest alcohol related arrest stats in the county every year.

      I don’t think anyone needs to be reminded of the state budget cuts and how CHP officers are forced to take furlough days and how CHP staffing levels have been greatly reduced.

      The Sheriff’s Office is not even going to provide a shift supervisor for the deputies assisgned to San Carlos. The supervisor will be the “South County” supervisor for all of the Deputies assigned from San Carlos to East Palo Alto. WOW…there are several issues there.

      Look what happen with the Sheriff’s Office and East Palo Alto. They had a contract where the Sheriff’s Office assisted with patrol in East Palo Alto. At the end of the contract, the county wanted more money, East Palo Alto said no, and the Sheriff’s Office pulled their units out of the city.

      These are just a couple examples, not to mention that fact I dont want the leader of my Public Safety to be one who was detained in Las Vegas at a brothel where several arrests were made.

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      • Pat says:

        And the County is facing its own $150 million structural deficit. They have managed their money better than we did, so they have some reserves, but this crisis isn’t going away as long as the State keeps stealing from the cities and counties. This year they will cut 10% across the board, maybe more if things get worse. The more individuals who lose their jobs, health insurance, etc., the more they use County services.

        How long do you think it will take CDF to respond to a medical call in San Carlos? Will they have a Paramedic on the truck, as our department does?

        We were rear-ended in Santa Clara last year and had the CHP. Four officers standing around, but no paramedics and no concern about our well being. I didn’t even get the other guy’s information. The CHP said he’d take care of everything. Yeah, right. It certainly was nothing like the service we get here.

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        • John says:

          Cal Fire has been in San Mateo County for over 20 years staffed with a Paramedic on each engine, every day of the week 24 hours a day. Over 50% of the state is operated by Cal Fire. Riverside County alone is cal fire and has over 90 fire stations all staffed with paramedics on there equipment. Cal Fire also has an out standing training across the state, from there fire academys to there truck academies, they provide a supreme service in all the areas they serve. The same employees in San Carlos would not be not be kicked out. They would be the same employees working as all the days before the only difference would be the uniform they put on.

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          • Kevin says:

            John…Is this the same CalFire that puts two new employees on a fire engine and expect the captain to do his job like Halfmoon Bay or the same CalFire that responds with one person on a fire engine like Riveside Count…

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          • Pat B says:

            The same Cal Fire that provides “cliff rescue” by backing a truck up to the edge of a cliff and throwing a rope down? The same one that hires newly released convicts? The one that can’t keep track of its equipment? The same one….

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  4. Suzanne says:

    No, outsourcing the police department will have detrimental effects on several different things:

    1. Response time- Understand that the county will staff the San Carlos portion of the county with the least amount of deputies/firefighters needed. This will mean delayed response times. This could mean loss of life/property because of the fact that a deputy is coming from the Redwood City area.

    2. Service- SCPD responds on a daily basis to low priority crimes that the citizens of San Carlos expect. Things such as barking dogs, theft of recyclables, cold auto burglaries, identity theft, etc. Understand that the Sheriff’s Office will laugh when you call in to report a barking dog. They will not respond and will not give your problem attention.

    3. Less Proactivity- On a routine basis, SCPD makes car stops, pedestrian stops, etc in an effort to be proactive in the community to PREVENT crime before it happens. Understand that with the Sheriff’s Office there will not be deputies patrolling the streets making these proactive stops.

    Lastly, the Sheriff’s Office is itself facing a budget crisis. As of December 2009, they were facing a 41 million dollar deficit. The Sheriff’s Office will take this money and run, leaving the city of San Carlos high and dry. Their priority will be to county areas, jails, and the courts, not to San Carlos.

    History Lesson
    In 2007, San Carlos Police Department outsourced its dispatch center to the Menlo Park Police Department, in order to save $200,000 a year. As a result, San Carlos went from having one dedicated dispatcher and sometimes two, to one dispatcher that also worked directly on Menlo Park’s calls for service. This was a loss of service to the San Carlos citizens. The effect of outsourcing is evident in this case. A contract out to the Sheriff’s Department will echo the dispatch center.

    Unfortunately, the citizens of San Carlos did not pass Measure U in November 2008. The campaign was not run correctly and many citizens did not understand the full picture of the city’s finances. Also, if the city had installed parking meters downtown five years ago, we would have a budget increase each year of $400,000. Thats a number to think about.

    The city is flourishing. Take a look at Laurel Street on a Friday/Saturday night. It is packed. Also packed with the opportunity of crime. Palo Alto Medical Foundation and In N Out Burger are coming. San Carlos’ calls for service will no doubt increase with the installation of In N Out Burger.

    PLEASE COME TO YOUR CITY COUNCIL MEETING AND SUPPORT YOUR POLICE AND FIRE DEPARTMENT!!!! SCPD was established in 1925. Andy Klein, Randy Royce, Omar Ahmed, Matt Grocott, Bob Grasilli, do you want to be the city council that is responsible for the loss of its police department?? How sad.

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    • new neighbor says:

      I doubt 99% of San Carlos would notice a change.
      The Sheriff already responds to calls on Devonshire Blvd neighborhood. I have no complaints.
      They also respond to some of the higher end spots on the Peninsula including Portola Valley , Woodside, and Los Altos Hills.

      Curious that I see MANY more San Carlos Police on Patrol since Measure U went down….little worried about their jobs….??

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      • JBM says:

        New Neighbor- I do not believe that comparing San Carlos to Woodside, Portola Valley and some parts of Los Altos is a fair comparison. They have populations of roughly 4,000 to 5,000 compared to San Carlos’ 27,000 +. Also, none of those areas have even close to the number of bars/restaurants that San Carlos has. If comparisons are to be made, they should be to cities that have similar demographics.

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      • Suzanne says:

        Not sure why you would see any more police on duty since Measure U. Maybe its because you are now paying attention to the police presence?

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      • John says:

        New Neighbor: And when something urgent happens in the Devonshire Canyon area, the Sheriff’s Office sometimes asks San Carlos PD to resond to help control the situation until other Sheriff’s units can get there to handle their own jurisdiction. They have extended response times.

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      • Mary says:

        Yes, the sheriff responds but not in a timely manner. Maybe they have to stop at AAA and get a map

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  5. JBM says:

    San Carlos citizens have come to expect the high level of service that they receive from both the San Carlos Police Department and the Fire Department. I believe that outsourcing will be the end of that level of service. Do you really want to lose control of your Police and Fire Departments? Do you want important decisions to be in the hands of County officials rather than your own elected leaders? Years down the road, once this mistake has been realized, I’m afraid it will be too late to undo. At the least, this is a massive decision with potentially devastating consequences that should be thought out at great length. Which other cities on the peninsula have done this?? Whom are we modeling ourselves after??This is not something that citizens or City Council members should hastily agree to as a quick fix to the budget problems. These are men and women who put their lives on the line on a daily basis- they are familiar with the problem areas, they know many residents by name and by address and they work so hard because they believe you matter, they believe San Carlos matters. You are not just a number to them. I believe that outsourcing to the Sheriff’s Department and Cal-Fire will be a solution filled with long-lasting regret by all.

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    • John says:

      Outsourcing does not mean a drop in service. As far as police and fire goes, it will be all the same employees. NO ONE would be let go. The difference will be the uniform. If there is a droped level of service, it would be due to the current employees.

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  6. John says:

    If San Carlos PD is outsourced, you will lose the level of service you are used to.

    At any given time San Carlos PD may have between 3 and 5 police officers plus a police sergeant on the street taking calls for service, initiating lots of traffic enforcement and public contacts. During the day time, there are also between 2 and 5 non-sworn employees to help handle non-urgent calls for service and parking enforcement.

    You have a detective division of 2 or 3 officers and a sergeant who follow up and solve the pettiest of crime cases.

    If the Sheriff’s Office were to take over police services, do you really think they will have 4 deputies and a sergeant dedicated to San Carlos? My guess is there will be about two deputies in town. When they have emergency calls for service in the North Fair Oaks area of Redwood City or in the San Mateo highlands or in Woodside, your San Carlos deputies will probably have to respond to help.

    My understanding is that San Carlos residents have always paid less in utility tax and property tax than other Cities, and they get just as much and in most cases more services from the City, especially from the San Carlos Police Department.

    Congratulations Mr. Grocott for voting against the fiscal emergency last year, and congratulations to those residents who voted down Measure U. You still pay less tax than everyone else, but now it’s going to be time for you to lose services.

    I understand that everyone makes embarrassing mistakes in their lifetime, God knows I have. But do you really want Sheriff Munks and Undersheriff Bolanos in charge of your law enforcement? These are the same two men that were detained and questioned by Las Vegas Police during a brothel sting operation a couple of years ago. They were never arrested or charged with anything. I’m sure it was an embarrassing ordeal for them and I hope they learned a lesson.

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    • Pat says:

      I want to know how many of the people who are screaming about loss of parks, street lights, etc. voted against Measure “U”. I have no sympathy for them. They voted for a crippled city and they’re going to get it.

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      • Peter says:

        The same goes for those that didn’t vote. They indirectly voted for a crippled city and they’re going to get it. The irony won’t be lost when the bulldozers arrive at Highlands Park to install artificial turf. Yes, San Carlos really knows its priorities.

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  7. AL B. says:

    I don’t think it’s right to blame the people who voted against measure U for these problems. I see their point. The real blame lies with our elected officials, who over the course of the last 11 YEARS have failed to balanced the city budget and have made thing progressively worse. Now we are all going to pay some how for these mistakes. I don’t want to see Police and Fire services outsources and I don’t want to see cuts to our Parks department. Everyone is going to have to give from residents to employees. However, some tough choice have to be made now.

    I totally disagree with the the City Managers tactics. He is trying to pit employee group against employee group and residents against residents. No one wants to see anything cut or outsourced. The funny thing is that I looked at the City’s proposed cuts and saw NONE from the City Managers’ office. I think the City Manager should start doing his job and MANAGE the city effectively and efficiently, without the scare tactics.

    The outsourcing of Police and Fire would be a disaster. Respond times would be extremely long. Every citizen of San Carlos needs to contact our council members and tell them how we feel. We need to remind them that there FIRST responsibility is protecting the welfare of their residents.

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    • Pat says:

      Scare tactics? Are you kidding? This is reality.

      The City Manager has cut, cut, cut the City staff, unions are negotiating lower pay, more layoffs are coming July 1, programs have been turned over to volunteers, etc.

      We use more help from surrounding Police Departments than we give back. They’re not going to prop us up forever. Do you expect people to work for what they earned 11 years ago?

      I agree that public safety should be the first priority. If people want a Youth Center they’ll have to pay for it. If they want playing fields, they’ll have to pay for it. Home Town Days and the Holiday Tree Lighting are already gone. Summer concerts are on the chopping block. You’re not going to see any of the downtown events that require closing streets because we won’t have the police department to do it.

      Streets maintenance has already been cut and that will catch up with us eventually, though not this year.

      I think we have to give up City support for Parks and Rec unless and until the skinflints in this town are willing to vote for a revenue measure.

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      • Chris says:

        Don’t be surprised if a lot of people start working for what they did 11 years ago. More and more tech companies are hiring in China and India as opposed to here. New college grads in China earn 10k a year as an engineer. There is no money left in the state. Houses are still over priced and beyond what even many middle class families can handle. There is a big crisis going on here and it won’t get better any time too soon. The fundamentals are way out of whack.

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        • Pat says:

          Do you want to live in a city run by a bunch of kids fresh out of college? I don’t. The experienced people we have, most of whom are good, would find other jobs, but we couldn’t replace them with experienced people for less money.

          Where would you want to sacrifice experience and qualifications?

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          • Chris says:

            OK to say it a different way, the economic forces outside of San Carlos are already starting to affect San Carlos. San Carlos is not immune from what is happening around it. Salaries / house prices can’t keep going up when everyone elses salaries are going down or away.

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  8. Pam says:

    The best idea I’ve heard so far is to sell Crestview Park and the Community Center. I’m sure some housing developers would be salivating at the opportunity.It’s quite clear by now that City cannot afford to offer much in services.

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  9. JB says:

    I heard the suggestion of $75/yr to park your car overnight in the street, similar to Menlo. This generates great revenue and also has the side effect of encouraging people to use their driveways and clearing up the our narrow streets. Add this to parking meters downtown and we have the start of a solution.

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    • Pat says:

      Parking permits would be fie with me. I don’t park on the street unless I have a big load of compost or something delivered in my driveway. For those occasions I could get a visitor permit.

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    • Mary says:

      Parking permits, much higher user fees for athletic teams, parking meters, utilities tax, higher building permit fees; why not just have an all encompassing parcel tax? But first, we need to get rid of the incompetent city manager.

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      • Pat says:

        In order to pass a revenue measure it’s not the City Manager you need to get rid of, though I’m not defending him and he’s rumored to be retiring soon anyway.

        I’d be interested in your reasons for saying the City Manager is incompetent. Can you be specific? It seems to me his money-saving ideas have been his best contribution.

        Matt Grocott led the opposition to Measure “U” and blocked an effort to put a revenue measure on the ballot last year. He’s the one you need on your side when you’re trying to pass a revenue measure.

        A Utility User’s Tax, as opposed to a parcel tax, has the advantage of encouraging people to use energy more wisely but I’ll vote for whatever revenue measure comes along. I think the consultants should have educated the public about that option. Talk about incompetent, those consultants were awful!

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    • Anonymous says:

      When I lived in the Midwest, everyone owning a vehicle had to purchase a “city sticker”. In addition to that, if you wanted to park on the street, you need to buy a annual parking permit, and for visitors, you’d need to get them an overnight parking permit (which could be bought in books of 15).

      Don’t know if that idea would work here, but I can see it bringing in money to the city.

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  10. Victor says:

    I like the idea of paid parking to generate revenue.

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  11. All:

    The Daily Journal published an article today that doesn’t have much more in the way of details, but does have some interesting commentary from our City Council and some of the staff.

    Here’s the article: http://whiteoaksblog.com/sd7

    CG

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    • Pat says:

      Thanks for the link. I’m not surprised at Randy’s reaction but it still scares me.

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  12. Frustrated says:

    Outsourcing may be the only way to get these salaries in-line. We have three people in the fire department who make more than the City Manager who runs our entire city. Two employees make more than the Chief of the department. Since when do we need to pay over $200k for a Battalion Chief?

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    • Pat says:

      You didn’t mention how many hours those Battalion Chiefs worked to make that much money. Their basic salaries are in line with other cities in SM County.

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  13. K says:

    Wow…what a predicament! I was one of those who did not support measure U. And I have my strong reasons for that. To close the current budget deficit, I think it is best to reduce services all the while planning an overhaul. We got into this mess, and we will work our way out of it.

    First, I don’t think fire, police and schools should ever, every get their funding cut. These are the only things that keep San Carlos house values up and will cause a death spiral in house prices if not looked after. Take us for example, a dual income family, Master’s for both of us, 1 kid and we choose to move to San Carlos b/c it is safe, has good schools, a nice downtown and proximity to SF and SJ. Other than proximity, we will loose our competitiveness, if we reduce funding to schools and safety. What is the benefit of a family like us moving to San Carlos: about 12X increase in revenue for San Carlos [When we moved in, the tax base for our property went up 12X i.e. the city is getting 12X the revenue from the same house because of us moving in! ].

    Why do I think that outsourcing police and fire is a bad idea. What is the fundamental basis of reducing cost when you outsource: lower wages and/or operational efficiencies. I am assuming that the county wages are in line with San Carlos wages so we will not save there. I don’t buy the argument that there are great operational efficiencies to be had from outsourcing (this is a people job, not an automated job). So, how does the county offer us savings. Well, the only way I can think of is through reduction in services (i.e. having fewer police officers patrol). So, if all we are getting in savings from the county is fewer police officers patrolling, I think the city of San Carlos can do that on its own. Plus, I have some ideas that could work to avoid that from happening. More on that later.

    I believe that we are in this situation because of two main reasons:
    1) The city not being managed appropriately for the last 15 years. Our budget has gone from $13M to $24M and yet, we have had a budget deficit in pretty much every year! Go figure. Seems like the mindset was “the party will never end” so let’s keep spending. To get more insight, I would highly recommend listening to our current mayor’s speech. He is Amazing and has a very solid grasp of all the issues.
    http://www.epackets.net/pubmtgframe.aspx?meetid=1141&doctype=AGENDA
    2) The residents of San Carlos are tired of all the taxes (I know I am) and that is we voted down Measure U. It was a strong emotional reaction than a rational one but nevertheless it is important to understand. We are taxed by the federal govt., have the highest state income tax, pay a lot in property taxes, pay the highest sales tax in the country, have like 5 or 6 parcel tax items which I don’t even know what they are for and then came another bill to increase taxes. Once we see the services cut though, I think we will be willing to pay more but only if we see the city really try (meaning cut services).

    So, what is the path forward. Cut services in San Carlos to meet budget deficit. But do so keeping in mind that the city will be ramping up some of these in a 3-4 years when the San Carlos residents are more willing to pay more. If we outsource today, it will be very hard to bring it back in. But if we reduce today, we can add more in a few years.

    I have full confidence in the mayor and the council and the city that they will put in place the things needed to fix the San Carlos budget in the long term. As that happens, I know San Carlos residents will be more willing to pay more to increase the levels of service at a later time.

    Finally, a few other ideas that I would like to throw out:
    1) San Carlos city parking permits for $30-40 per car
    2) Sponsor an officer (there are 28,000 residents in SC). At $10 per resident, we will raise $280,000.
    3) Get LED bulb companies to replace the light bulbs and let them promote themselves in the city somewhere
    4) Get city volunteers (or one of the church communities) to run the youth center (volunteer programs like that already work very well within the church)

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    • J says:

      You voted No on measure U yet you don’t want Fire/Police/Schools funding ever cut? Did you read Measure U? Wasn’t it for Fire/Police/School funding?

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      • K says:

        “You voted No on measure U yet you don’t want Fire/Police/Schools funding ever cut?”
        Answer: Yes

        “Did you read Measure U?”
        Answer: Yes

        “Wasn’t it for Fire/Police/School funding?”
        Answer: Yes

        Does this make any sense?
        Answer: Yes. Because I want to send a clear signal that raising taxes is not the only answer. In specific, San Carlos city government has made wrong choices in the past and until i see those being fixed, I am not willing to vote for any increase in taxes. At this point, I feel like a piggy bank that the government dips in whenever there is a budget shortfall. i would like to change the budget discussion from

        “We have a budget shortfall, let’s raise taxes”

        to

        “Let’s manage the city in a sustainable way”

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  14. D says:

    I think K has wonderful suggestions, and would like to include the pension problem. I do think the pensions being paid out is far to excessive, moreover, out of line with the private sector. This should be addressed. I think most people would be willing to pay more, but not for the bloated pensions. Whatever percentage is being paid by each city employee into the pension fund needs to be adjusted higher if they want to sustain what is being currenlty paid. With these high salaries, the pension problem will always cause a problem for our City budget. You cannot expect the people of San Carlos to keep sacrificing. We cannot afford the current rate that is being paid for pensions. Let the employees take more of a financial responsibility for their own pensions, maybe then, things will change.

    I am backing our Mayor. Things have to change now.

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  15. Michael says:

    Measure U was not the answer to our financial woes and those who supported it voted for more careless spending. As has been mentioned, a COMPLETE overhaul is needed in how our city spends it money.

    I would like to hear from those that voted for Measure U as to what their reaction would be if we were still having this financial crisis had Measure U passed. I think it is a realistic possibillity and I am glad that the voters said ENOUGH already.

    It will clearly be painful until we get our house in order, but hopefully it will prove a lesson learned and we will not find the city in this same predicament again.

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    • JJ says:

      Michael-

      I’m not following your question for Measure U supporters. Assuming the incremental sales tax revenue from Measure U wasn’t $0, by definition the financial situation of the city would have been different with Measure U than without.

      Was Measure U designed to solve the entire fiscal crisis? No…I think it was pretty clearly communicated that additional sacrifices were necessary (granted, I think this could have been communicated better and with more symbolic skin in the game).

      But it certainly would have helped, and perhaps a more manageable deficit would mean options like mass outsourcing of all police and fire would be off the table.

      There are lots of different justifiable positions in this debate. But I think we need to understand the choices we are making as a community. At the end of the day, San Carlos generates less revenue than its peninsula “peers” (Burlingame, Menlo Park, etc.). If we want comparable services/quality of life of those communities (and home prices), then we have to make smart choices. Yes, that does mean we should examine our expenses and cut the waste. But to presume that’s the sole answer is naive; generating additional revenue is also an important part of the equation. I realize their are inequities in use and contributions; those are challenges everywhere. But at a certain point people have to realize that consistently turning down revenue generating initiatives, be it for schools or the city, is putting city managers in the unrealistic position of creating the Burlingame/Menlo Park environment at a lower cost.

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  16. I have written on numerous occasions about the need to stop run-away government spending.

    If you want to understand why just about every government organziation is going broke, read below:

    Here are some excerpts from a blog The Big Picture by Barry Ritholtz.

    State spending represents 12% of GDP, and over the last 30 years has averaged an annual increase of 6%, adding about .7% to annual GDP. It would be an understatement to say that legislators in state capitols have been living large. Since January 2007 through 2009, total government employment climbed 1.6%, with 355,000 new jobs created. Over that same three year period, private-sector employment dropped by 6.625 million jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, state and local governments paid their workers an average of $39.83 per hour ($26.24 wages and $13.60 for benefits). Private industry workers averaged $27.49 per hour ($19.45 for wages and $8.05 for benefits). Although the compensation of government workers is a paltry pittance, when compared to Wall Street bonuses, government workers make 45% more in total compensation than private sector workers. The generosity of state legislators has also created a $1 trillion funding short fall in public sector retirement benefits, according to a new study by the Pew Center on States. The $1 trillion short fall is about $8,800 for each American household, and will be paid over coming decades by you know who.

    The shambles state budgets are in is nothing when compared to the mammoth mountain of Federal indebtedness that will spiral toward the sky in coming decades. The lack of true leadership from both parties over the last 50 years, and the culpableness of the American people have brought us to the point where there are no painless solutions. In the majority of elections, less than half of eligible voters participate. We may proudly sing the national anthem at sporting events, but can’t be bothered to exercise our freedom to vote. We’ve gotten the government and ‘leaders’ we did and did not vote for, and now the bill is coming due. In recent decades, the approval rating of Congress has generally been below 50%, and often less than 25%, irrespective of which party held the majority. Despite this deep seated dissatisfaction, incumbents are re-elected 97% of the time. How can this be? Although the “We don’t like Congress, but our Representative or Senator is OK” explains a portion of this dichotomy, it glibly overlooks a critical factor. Both political parties have redesigned voting districts to resemble Rohrshock test patterns. The use of computers to custom design voting districts virtually guarantees victory, even the most mediocre incumbent. In this respect, the very foundation of our country, “By the People and For the People” has been bastardized. The illusion that we have free elections persists, though most elections are decided even before the first vote is caste.

    On January 25, President Obama announced he would call for a three year freeze in spending on many domestic programs in an effort to trim our trillion dollar deficits. This bold proposal underscores just how dysfunctional and inflexible the budget process has become. If enacted, this proposal will shave the projected $9 trillion deficit over the next 10 years by $250 billion, or less than 3%. The primary problem with the federal budget is that 85% is mandated by law, with projected baseline increases in spending for the next seven years. In order to avoid the looming catastrophe that will occur, the unfunded guaranteed spending imbedded in Medicare and Social Security programs must be lowered. If our leaders think that we can somehow grow our way out of this, they are delusional, as the nearby graphic clearly illustrates. If our leaders lack the courage to make the necessary changes, the explosion of debt will ultimately lead to a dramatic increase in interest payments on our ballooning debt. Over time, interest expense will consume an ever larger portion of the annual budget, like a flesh eating disease. And if our leaders rely too much on tax increases, they will stifle the very economic growth they need to increase tax receipts. As Winston Churchill said, “For a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”

    WE ARE NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO TALK OUR WAY OUT OF THIS. FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE IS REQUIRED.

    The entire article is available at:

    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/03/welsh-investment-letter-%e2%80%93-february-2010/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheBigPicture+%28The+Big+Picture%29

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  17. Pat says:

    I see a lot here about how the City has been mismanaged over the past 11-15 years, but nothing about the cuts and savings implemented over the past 4-5 years.

    I have asked but have not gotten a response to this: Aside from treating the remaining employees so badly that they will leave, what would you change? What were the wrong choices that you would undo? There are employees who should be replaced, but not with someone cheaper and less qualified.

    Matt suggested a landscaping and lighting district that would tax you separately for those specific items. Would you “No on U” folks go for that? I think that would take a 2/3 vote, so you’d need a lot of the “No on U” people to pass it.

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    • Al B. says:

      The problem Pat is that they have not done enough in the past years. They have never really addressed the core problems, but just keep hoping the economy would change. They have done nothing to generate capital and their cuts and saving have not gone far enough because they keep spending. I think the City Manager has an extremely hard jog, but he has mismanaged this City. For everyone blaming the employee salaries and pensions are the problem, remember that the City Manager and Council AGREED to those contracts. I looked If Measure U would have passed we would still be in this predicament. San Mateo passed two measures L and M and they have not seen what they estimated in the sales and hotel tax generated. They are also looking at cutting Police and Fire spots and consolidating Police services with Burlingame. Measure U was a small band aid and it was not going to fix the real underlying problems.

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  18. Alicia B says:

    I think that once the city make the necessary cuts from the top down and implements some ideas for generating revenue ie: parking meters, volunteer workers for Youth Center. I believe the that if the city put Measure U back on the June Ballot it would probably pass. I believe that the people who were against the measure did so because they wanted to see the city work out some of the problem on their own before taxing everybody. The city needs to run within its means.. just like a family.. if a family member gets laid off then the family has to readjust it finances to make ends meet.. not keep spending like they have two incomes.

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  19. The City of Belmont just announced that they have a $1.3M deficit that will require department budget cuts to close. Welcome to the club…. http://whiteoaksblog.com/6cx

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    • J says:

      We should consider merging more city services with Belmont to save money. How about 1 shared Park/Recs Dept, 1 shared police force rather than outsource the whole thing.

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    • Pat says:

      Belmont is doing what we did years ago. Our police dept is much smaller than it was 5 years ago and all our departments have taken bigger cuts than what Belmont is talking about.

      They’re talking about a revenue measure, as we did when we were in that position. They may even pass one before they get into the shape we’re in. It’s embarrassing that San Carlos voters are so stingy.

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      • sam says:

        Merging services would save alot of money. But nobody wants to deal with San Carlos City Council. They solve and try to disolve the fire dept. every year.

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  20. dirk says:

    I think its time for the citizens of San Carlos to think about outsourcing the current city manager position with a person who knows what they are doing. I bet we can train a chimpanzee to do a better job than he has done and it will save us money to!!!!!!!!

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    • sam says:

      He makes about 14,000 a month plus a company car fund at 250 a month. He also gets a peers retirement of 2.75% at 50. The same retirement that he blames on everyone else. Which means at that rate we can pay two people maybe three to take care of the parks!

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  21. arn cenedellla says:

    Let me give everyone who supports tax increases in San Carlos, some good advice.
    If you want my support and the support of people who think like I do:
    Do not talk down to me. Do not question my intelligence or personal integrity. I know this is standard operating procedure for tax and spend liberals to do. If someone does not agree with the lib PC position, they must be corrupt or stupid.
    You will not get my vote if tax and spenders attack me personally.
    For the record, I am not stingy.
    I am given THOUSANDS of hours of volunteer activity to San Carlos youth. For over 10 years I coached 2 teams in 2 or 3 sports ewvery year. My volunteer efforts probably took a minimum of 10 hours a week 26 weeks a year for 11 and 12 years. Do the math. I headed the major SCLL fundraiser for 9 years. Money went to SCLL and the Youth Center.
    How much time have you given?
    I and others like me are concerned about runaway government spending Massive defecit Bankruptcy.
    Only those wearing blinders fail to understand the dangers to our nation. We are piling up TRILLIONS in debt. Our kids are going to pay for it.
    So do what you want. Say what you want. Just understand your tone does not move people towards your position. I am happy to support my commmunity and nation. Since the pols in Wash DC and Sacramento have no regard on how they waste our tax money, individuals need to get active fighting this scam.
    I am Ok with taxes provided the money is spent wisely and that all efforts to contain costs are investigated. THIS HAS CERTAINLY not been the case on a federal and national level.
    Telling people to PAY UP and calling them STINGY is not the way to win friends and influence people. Trust me on this!

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    • dirk says:

      arn cenedella who???????

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    • JJ says:

      Arn-
      I agree wholeheartedly with your comment to treat the other side with civility. It’s worth noting, however, that labeling folks as “tax and spenders” or “wearing blinders” isn’t exactly following the spirit of your request.

      Regarding the content of the post, we should acknowledge that there are different issues in play at the federal, state, and local levels that are driving deficits.

      At the federal level, there is no question that the long-term solution needs to control entitlement costs, especially for Medicare. This is something both parties have acknowledged but have very different ideas on how to handle. It will get done because it has to; the question is, what will the solution be. In the short-term, however, I believe there has been a lot of misinformation about the national debt. In particular, providing gross numbers (in the trillions) is sensationalism — the important thing is indexing debt to GDP (which has also grown over time). And from that perspective, while the ratio is high, it’s not unprecedented either for our country or European countries. Our emphasis right now has to be getting people back to work so we can increase consumer demand and grow GDP. When interest rates are at a lower bound, basic macro-economic policy demands that the federal government step in. I find it extremely disingenous to see some members of Congress draw a fiscal line in the sand over unemployment benefits (when on average 5 people are applying for every 1 job) and job growth efforts when those same folks got us in huge fiscal trouble through tax cuts, unpaid wars, and greater health care expenses. This is what we have to do now, along with solving the Medicare problem that’s coming up.

      At the state level, I believe the problem is we’ve created a government that can’t act. The people pass propositions that lock-in revenues and expenses. The districting results in extreme candidates on both sides of the aisle. And the super-majority makes any legislation impossible to achieve. California needs to fundamentally change these problems so it can function.

      The local level is the most compelling, because unlike the other two, we can directly impact this. And reading about Belmont, Burlingame, etc. reinforces to me that San Carlos is not alone. So to blame this purely on our city management seems to miss the point. Reading a lot of posts on this blog, I feel like it keeps coming back to the same theme — I want good schools, safe streets, fun events, etc. but at a lower cost. Hey, we all want that. But what’s desired vs. what’s reasonable? I agree pensions need to be revisited and I’m sure they will be in San Carlos and elsewhere. But there is a contractual process for doing so that doesn’t always coincide with when this is needed. Our city is on the cusp of outsourcing all fire and safety to the county!? At what point do people let go of the “ideal” situation (same great stuff for less) and say, while I want and demand that other stuff fixed, but put me down for $50 a year in a special tax to ensure we don’t lose our quality of living.

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  22. D says:

    I agree with Arn. I do not consider myself “stingy”, and don’t appreciate being labeled because I may have a different point of view. I have volunteered in this community for the last 10 years, and my husband coached for many years when our son was young. We have to live within our means. I expect our City government to start making changes, and do the same. I was surprised to hear my neighbors’ opinions that the police departments on the whole peninsula should all be outsourced. They have a point, our City cannot be any worse of than it is now because of the “BIG DIVIDE”, on how to settle this mess.

    I believe there is a silent majority there. This City needs to make changes now

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  23. Marcus says:

    All I can say is view the recent burst in crime people. The cooks look at all of these posts and know what is going on. The crime has increased majorly in the last few months. Spoiled people in this city don’t care about it because it was not happening to them. But when it does, they cry up in arms about why and what. If they outsource Police and FIre, San Carlos will be the next Burlingame, where shootings and more robberies will continue. For residents who have money, and pay the lowest property tax you need to give a little to get a little. Typical rich person attitudes here. Keep a park to become a victim in the future. You residents are pathetic. The police officers make the lowest in the county if not all of northern California. Their pensions are what everyone in the state get and even lowered them in the recent two tier system. But it is never enough. When you call, the police go within seconds. Get the sheriff in their and they will be resonding from who know’s where. Oh ya, no pro-active patrol, which means when you see all of the officers driving around, they actually prevent crime. You will know longer get that. Good luck people. Lock your cars, hide your ipods, gps units and fancy t.v.’s becaus a parolee nearby may be heading to San Carlos.

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  24. j says:

    I do not feel that if someone has a differing opinion about outsourcing that it is a “rich attitude”. It is about being fiscally responsible, nothing else. This blog has been wonderful in allowing differing opinions about the options on the table. From what I understand, outsourcing may be the only way to keep public safety at its best. The staff report indicates that by outsourcing we would run a surplus in two years. The other options would only be a short term fix. We would be running deficits in the future again. Do we want to face this problem again in the future? Outsourcing does not mean less police. It means the same level of service we currently have or better. It is not wise to jump to conclusions based on FEAR. Causing fear without facts won’t help this problem.

    We should all do more studying, and attend the upcoming meetings.

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    • Suzanne says:

      J-
      Outsourcing DEFINITELY means less of a police presence. Do you think that the Sheriff’s Office would take over a city and staff it with the same amount of people as before? No, they are going to try and do more with less. They will spread out their deputies over a larger radius to do the same job. Make no doubt about it that San Carlos will see a reduction in services and response time. Much to the detriment of the citizens.

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      • Pete says:

        Enough already… outsourcing DOES NOT mean a reduction in service. The same amount of staffing will be kept by both fire and law enforcement. The local fire stations will not close but just be staffed with a different uniformed professional. Response times will not increase nor will the level of service change unless for the better. Remember San Carlos will be the ones setting up the contract with the respective organizations and they will get what they contract for. The reason that the Sheriff’s Dept. doesn’t take accident reports is because of an agreement with the CHP in the unicorporated areas it’s responsible for. If San Carlos contracted with the Sheriff’s to be the “San Carlos PD” the deputies assigned to the contract would be responsible for accident reports and anything else a municipal police agency is tasked with doing.

        The public safety employee salaries and shift schedules are where the bulk of the savings will occur. Again.. no changes in response times or level of service.

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        • steve says:

          ya pete! i’m with ya buddy! everyone needs to do some serious research before you jump to conclusions of why it would be a drop in service. It would increase the the level of service it anything. Communications would be better, less overtime would be accrued, there would be better training opertunities across the board, AND response times could potentially be better it the decisions were to be made of staffing a ladder truck and a fire engine at the down town station.

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        • Anonymous says:

          -PETE- I don’t know if you are living in a fantasy world or not, but I really hope you have taken some time to do your research before leaving comments about outsourcing. I appreciate everyone’s input on this issue because it is an important discussion. I just hope that people who take enough time out of their day to view this blog, and post on it, have also taken their time to research the facts. Outsourcing WILL IN FACT leave San Carlos citizens with less service in the public safety field. I know this, because i have lived in cities which were unincorporated, and unfortunately have felt the impact of county services. No knock on the Sheriff’s Office, because they all put their lives on the line and deal with day to day dangers, but they are also overworked, and understaffed, and just don’t have the resources they need to take over cities like San Carlos. There is a reason this city adopted the phrase “The city of good living.” I really wonder if that phrase will continue to stick around in years to come if this proposal goes through. For the sake of this city and it’s citizens, I hope it does.

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        • Al B. says:

          Pete I think you should read the actual proposal from the Sheriff’s Department it actually calls for a reduction in overall staff and staffing levels for the police department.

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    • Pat says:

      Many on this blog blame the City Manager for the predicament we’re in. He’s been pushing outsourcing sine the day he arrived. So far, the people of San Carlos have held him off. I hope we’ll be able to do it this time.

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  25. All:

    Nice op ed piece from Council Member Andy Klein in this morning’s Daily Journal about the budget situation.

    http://whiteoaksblog.com/l7f

    CG

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  26. j says:

    Suzanne,

    Do you know all this for a fact? Once all the FACTS are in, then we can make decision. I just do not think we know all the facts yet. Most people are open minded enough to listen to both sides, and, do not want any option that mitigates the safety to this town.

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  27. d says:

    I highlighted from Andy Klein’s article what I think is a fair assessment. It seems if certain appropriate conditions are not met, then outsourcing will not happen. I am all for that!

    Our town must take a serious and honest look at the opportunity to outsource many of our departments. We must do so without bias and with the belief that the average citizen must be protected. If we are to look at outsourcing, we must require three objectives to be met. First, the level of service must be equal to or greater than our current level of service at a lower cost. Second, we must have an iron-clad, transparent agreement that does not come back to haunt us as the years go by. Lastly, whichever agency or company we retain must be willing to engage with our citizens and be willing to be flexible enough to meet our ever-changing needs. If these three requirements cannot be met, then outsourcing will not be a benefit to our citizenry. If outsourcing is not an option available to us, then we must come to grips with another round of budget cuts and begin to prioritize the services we offer.

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    • JJ says:

      I appreciate Andy’s opinion and am willing to have an open mind on this. Yet I can’t help and be a bit skeptical on his first condition: “the level of service must be equal or greater than our current level of service at a lower cost.”

      Level of service may mean different things to different people, but one would think it involves fast response times and coverage of local “nuisance” issues (dogs barking, door-to-door solicitors, etc.). Maybe there’s some efficient frontier that has yet to be realized, but I just have a hard time envisioning how a county is going to be better at one or both of those service levels.

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      • Pat says:

        I hope you were at the Fire Board meeting tonight to see the aforementioned Andy’s performance. I don’t think many people who know what’s going on hold out much hope for the Belmont San Carlos Fire Department. Having San Carlos represented by Omar and Andy makes it difficult to imagine that we will be able to continue with our current department.

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  28. Arn Cenedella says:

    JJ

    I try and I think I do keep my comments civil.

    There is no big point to argue but I would say calling someone “stingy” is a more kind of personal attack – reflecting on one’s personal character – than saying someone supports “tax and spend” – that seems to me to reflect more on one’s policy position than anything about their personal character.
    Maybe a minor difference.

    In terms of Trillions being sensational….
    Yes we can look at it on a percentage of GDP or net wealth but the fact is the numbers are still staggering. We use to deal with Billions and now we deal with Trillions – there is a difference.
    The reason I choose Trillions is that a recent study has determined that if you add together all 50 state pension obligations to public employees, the pension funds in total are $1Trillion underfunded. One Trillion.

    And see the problem is: these defecits are only going to explode. It is not like they are going to increase marginally. My sense is that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Then let’s add in the underfunding of Social Security, I don’t know but I bet that is in the Trillions too. Anyone concerned about that?

    So from my perspective, I do not believe one can overstate the danger we are in and UNLESS we make radical shift now, we will be buried.

    Unlike you I have NO FAITH in the WASH DC bums – every day they show themselves to be morally corrupt prima donnas. I don’t care if that term is offensive to them, to you, or anyone else. I stand by that. Their actions do not deserve my respect. These people have a sacred duty to do what is best for our country and they don’t and they haven’t. I am sick of them.

    And to be clear this is not a Democrat or Republican issue. In my opinion, most if not all are corrupt. The only difference is who these people get in bed with to the deteriment of our country.

    A Repblican will typically get dirty with a major defense contractor or some other large corporation. Where the Republican votes to authorize the expense of Billions for fighter planes, or Iraq construction projects and $1000 toilets in return for wads of campaign cash.

    A Democrat will typically get dirty with the public employee unions – and grant them ridiculous wage and benefit packages that allow these folks to retire at 80% to 90% of last HIGHEST salary for the rest of their lives. – again in return for wads of campaign cash.

    Does anyone believe this is NOT what is going on?

    Below is a link from the the Big Picture Blog that indicates public employee compesnation is now 45% HIGHER than private employee compensation.

    http://www.google.com/reader/view/?hl=en&tab=wy#stream/feed%2Fhttp%3A%2F%2Fbigpicture.typepad.com%2Fcomments%2Fatom.xml

    I quote:

    State spending represents 12% of GDP, and over the last 30 years has averaged an annual increase of 6%, adding about .7% to annual GDP. It would be an understatement to say that legislators in state capitols have been living large. Since January 2007 through 2009, total government employment climbed 1.6%, with 355,000 new jobs created. Over that same three year period, private-sector employment dropped by 6.625 million jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, state and local governments paid their workers an average of $39.83 per hour ($26.24 wages and $13.60 for benefits). Private industry workers averaged $27.49 per hour ($19.45 for wages and $8.05 for benefits). Although the compensation of government workers is a paltry pittance, when compared to Wall Street bonuses, government workers make 45% more in total compensation than private sector workers. The generosity of state legislators has also created a $1 trillion funding short fall in public sector retirement benefits, according to a new study by the Pew Center on States. The $1 trillion short fall is about $8,800 for each American household, and will be paid over coming decades by you know who.

    While Americans in private industry have lost jobs by the MILLIONS, the number of government jobs has increased!

    Does this sound right to you? It doesn’t to me. It is NOT RIGHT.

    We, the American people, have been sold down the river by BOTH parties.

    It is time that we, the American people, put an end to this rip-off.
    I have no idea how to do it but I am going to start by doing everything I can to stop the money spigot going to Sacramento and Wash DC.
    We cut the money off and CHANGE will occur.

    Locally, I agree it is a different issue and I am willing to take a look.

    Seth from the SCSD Board has sent me a link to their budget calculations. I will review and Seth has graciously offered to meet with me next week to discuss my thoughts, feelings, and ideas. I will of course listen and learn from everything he has to say.

    If it turns out in my opinion that the SCSD has spent our money wisely and carefully, has made every effort to contain costs, and if the Teachers Union does their fair share to minimize expenses; then I believe I could support continuation of the existing tax set to expire.

    Does that make sense? Am I asking too much?
    I will give you my money and I expect you to spend it like it is your own.

    I just want our tax money spent carefully. I want someone to watch how the money is spent and I believe public employee unions need to give back at this time, too.

    I am open to considering supprting a tax for the City too – same crtieria.
    As one commenter wrote: sign me up for an extra $50 a year and I am good.

    In terms of retirement benefits for public employees, I understand the importance of honoring one’s committment.

    I note the committment was not made by me or you but rather by corrupt politicians looking for campaign cash.

    Let’s say for example, 5% of the CA population works for a public agency.
    Maybe the number is 10%, I don’t know.

    It does not make sense for any society and it isn’t fair to the 90% to 95% of private employed Californians to bankrupt our communties, states and nations while honoring these retirement packages. Maybe that makes me a bad guy. But we can’t sacrfice our nation to benefit a few. I will stand by this too.

    Until the money runs short, no one does anything to control costs. Now money is running out. Government is now scrambling to make things work, something thet should have been doing all along.

    PS This is kind of fun – always enjoy a good political debate.

    I believe we are reaching a tipping point.

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    • Pat says:

      Saying only someone wearing blinders would disagree with you is much more personal than a general statement about the stinginess of the San Carlos electorate.

      I see red every time I hear that we have to live within our means. This is a very affluent town, there are plenty of “means” here. The problem is a lack of will to support the city services people expect.

      Police, Fire, and Public Works are core services that we SHOULD expect from our city. All the rest is optional. If we give up all the optional programs, we have enough to support the core services at the level we have now.

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  29. sam says:

    Everyone on here says they volunteer. Volunteer to do what? Coach a soccer game? Really? Fundraisers? The only volunteering you do is to benefit yourself and your kids. You should volunteer to empty the trash cans around the parks, cut the lawn, clean the streets. Volunteer to pave and fix pot holes, clean bathrooms and fight crime, volunteer to stop fights at Carlos Club, put out fires, cut dead body’s out of cars and pick up grandma at 3 in the morning. Not gonna happen! You need people that like working for the town and support San Carlos. Outsource and get a cheaper company to do it? Do you really think it will be cheap forever? Pay someone else to do a job and the cost is a guarantee it will increase every year. Then what? The city tries to bargain again. A few years ago EPA could not pay for sheriffs to protect the city. The county yanked them out so fast and left the city all alone and not protected. Don’t worry though you will have CHP responding from Mountain View though. And during summertime where do you think your Cal Fire engine will be? Not in San Carlos, probably in Redding California for two weeks. But don’t worry they will have an engine from Big Sur on it’s way to your city. Then when they finally arrive they will have no Idea where anything is at? Outsourcing services to private company’s and State departments that have no real ties to the city do not care about the so called CITY OF GOOD LIVING. Let me ask you this. When you build a house. Do you take the lowest bid and the cheapest materials? Pay a bunch of day labor’s to build your house and see the quality you get.

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    • Pat says:

      Andy Klein was talking about preserving some local control within the fire JPA. How much local control will we have when they farm us out to CDF? CDF is not prepared to give us the same service we have now. Even if they were, it would take them awhile to get to know our community. About that time the contract is up and then what do we do? Pay them more? Contract with a neighboring city for more money? Start our own department from scratch?

      It was only a few weeks ago that Brian Moura stood before the Council and said staff would prepare a report comparing the various options for fire service. That never happened. Now we’re down to leave it as is or outsource. Leaving it as is probably won’t be an option if we insist on NOT working with Belmont and instead raise the level of animosity between the two cities.

      If the decision is to outsource, San Carlos would have to give 18 months’ notice to get out of the JPA with Belmont, so we wouldn’t even see any savings for at least that long.

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    • John says:

      The city of san carlos already sends there fire engines to wildland fires across the states fyi. part of the contract could be not to send any more fire engines to wild fires. once again, no public safety personel would be let go. the only way that the employees would change around whether they be on patrol cars or fire engines is if they quit. the only difference would be the uniform they wear.

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  30. JBM says:

    Logically, how would the Sheriff’s Department be able to maintain the same level of service for $3 million dollars less annually? How and why would the Sheriff’s Department (whose deputies make more money than San Carlos officers) be able to provide the same level of staffing and the same level of service?

    Where are they going to make up for the rest of the cost that it takes to run a Police Department for a community of over 27,000 people with numerous bars and restaurants? Additional fees or reductions in service are the only two ways I can think of unless they’re planning bumping everything way higher once the contract is up.

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    • I’m wrestling with that same issue. I attended the Police Town Hall last night (which, by the way, was EXCELLENT) and I raised the question about budget proposal, and whether our current officers would lose their jobs if SM County took over the responsibility. The detailed contract won’t be presented to the City until Friday, but the Sheriff’s Office has already told the SCPD that there will be “NO LAYOFFS”.. (This according to Chief Rothaus last night.) So how can the Sheriff’s office absorb our entire staff and still save that much money??? Like everyone else, I won’t pass judgment until I see the details…but I’m skeptical. And like many of you have said, there’s not a lot of good history to draw from locally.

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      • GPM says:

        And is it just a matter of semantics? The sheriff’s office may say that no police officers will lose their jobs as a result of the takeover. But keep in mind that the County also has a budget deficit and is looking at making cuts. So, will they take all the San Carlos police officers, upholding their agreement that the takeover won’t dump anyone, and then turn around lay them all off (since they’ll be the lowest in seniority) and blame it on the budget cuts instead? Semantics. And it makes me really wonder.

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      • John says:

        I agree with chuck, there would be no lay offs for public service by outsourcing. Lay offs is not the right way to do buisiness. how ever, “some people” like to just eat there young and lay off there employees. by outsourcing, lay offs would be COMPLETLY avoided.

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  31. JBM says:

    On a side note, I keep forgetting to thank you Chuck for this website and trying so hard (and doing a great job) to keep the community informed and interested. No matter which side of this or any other issue you’re on, the worst thing to be is apathetic…I believe that the majority, if not all of the people on this website are concerned about the future of San Carlos and that is something that this website has really brought out in people.

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    • JBM,

      Thank you for the recognition. If a blog could blush, this one would ;-)

      I’m with you — I’m glad to see the spirited debate on this topic. It would scare the daylights out of me if nobody else cared about something so fundamentally important to the City.

      Chuck

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      • Pat says:

        I’ve been meaning to send the same message. As someone who attends most Council meetings, Fire Board meetings, and T&C meetings, and has served on various committees, task forces, etc., I often feel like very few people care. It is encouraging to see that so many people do care. I wish we could maintain this level of engagement between crises and get all neighborhoods engaged in what’s happening in other neighborhoods.

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  32. Arn Cenedella says:

    Sam

    I agree with you that San Carlos should do everything possible to maintain its own Police Dept and leave South County Fire “as is”.
    No argument there.

    Your comment about coaching kids in San Carlos is BS.
    Typically there are 12 to 14 kids on any team.
    So it is not just for the coach and his kid.
    Totally out of line!
    Are you one of those drop and drive parents who use SCLL and SC AYSO as free babysitting services?
    San Carlos Youth sports is one of the best ways we bound as a community.
    Kids and their parents become friends and build life long relationships.
    For you to just dismiss the time and effort of all the parents that make it happen is ABSURD.

    Again, in my opinion, you are totally rude and out of line.
    And I bet many many people in San Carlos will feel the same.

    Arn

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  33. Fran says:

    Arn, please tone down the nastiness. Almost all parents don’t use AYSO and SCLL as a free babysitting service. Organized sports has its role, but not necessarily a prominent one.It’s not the end of the world if those two organizations ceased to exisit. On the other hand safety services………….

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    • Pat says:

      Thanks, Fran. I enjoy a good political debate too, but not the nastiness. Public safety is something everyone needs and should come first.

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  34. One thing I don’t understand — it seems like every other city around us is fighting the same battle as we are. Budget deficits, police and fire layoffs, etc… You can almost write one boilerplate story, and just fill in a different city name and $$ amount, and you wouldn’t be that far off. So why are we not talking with our neighboring cities (Belmont, Redwood City, Menlo Park, San Mateo) about consolidating public safety resources? Why are we only considering “selling off” our most valuable resource to an outside agency?

    I don’t know if it will result in enough savings to close the gap, but I haven’t seen one piece of data that says it won’t.

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    • Al B. says:

      Chuck,

      I agree with you 100 %. We should be looking at sharing and consolidating resources as opposes to outsourcing. I also think that the term “outsourcing'”has a negative condemnation to it. Now is the time to start looking at consolidation not only police and fire but all city services. Some cities already share services like public works and parks and rec. I think its a great way to save money, but also keep the same level of service in all these different areas.

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    • Pat says:

      Unfortunately, I don’t think neighboring cities would be interested in consolidating with us. I don’t think what our Mayor and some Councilmen say publicly about Belmont is lost on our neighbors, and certainly not on Belmont. Mr. Klein reinforced the impression that we are not willing to discuss our differences with our partners at Wednesday’s Fire Board Meeting. We managed to put the Fire JPA back together but it only lasted 4 years. Why would any of our neighbors want to get into that kind of relationship with us?

      Don’t kid yourself, they’re watching what goes on here, and they’re wondering what has happened to San Carlos and its gentlemanly Council meetings. I wonder if that’s why staff hasn’t recommended consolidation. Maybe they have put out feelers and been rebuffed.

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  35. arn cenedellla says:

    wow!
    Where did I ever equate public safety with youth sports?
    There is no connection between the two. My point in bringing up youth sports is that many folks in San Carlos give countless hours to provide our kids the enjoyment of athletic competition.
    Again please show me where I ever said youth sports was as or more important as public safety. Never did so why imply that I did?
    Where did I ever say almost all San Carlos parents use youth sports as a free babysitting?
    I simply asked a question of one individual who was totally dismissive of all the parents who volunteer? I don’t think asking the question is nasty.
    It seems like maybe the question hit too close to home for some.
    I will stand by ny comments about the importance of massive ballooning defecits at the State and Federal. As we see in San Carlos those problems have a direct negative impact on San Carlos.
    So if people don’t like “wearing blinders” may I say they are not paying attention? Does that pass approval?

    In terms of the issue of outsourcing versus cutting, all the data is not in.

    But I will say:

    I am very skeptical about turning police over to County Sherrif . One I believe service will go down nd two I am very skeptical about any costs savings.
    How many times have companies switched vendors with the promise of better service and lower cost and found the new vendor was just fuil of empty promises? Quite often in my expeience.

    If we are going to outsource police fire park and rec which is 70% of city budget, why have a city in the first place? Let’s just disincorporate and go to unincorporated County?
    Now before I get 20 angry responses plesase note I DO NOT SUPPORT THIS IDEA! OK?

    The City Manager has indicated that without outsourcing, budget needs to be cut 10 to 20%.

    I would explore this option fully before givin up the ghost so to speak.

    It seems to me that these cut need to be across the Board in all areas.

    I believe these cuts should start at the TOP – city manager police chief etc.

    There is no justifiable reason to cut Police and leave City Manager exempt from cuts!

    Great leaders need to get in the fox hole with rank and file. It is time for our community leaders to lead by example.

    I suggest consideration of higher percentage cuts the higher up the totem and less for the rank and file.

    Let’s keep our City police departmnent. I believe this is VERY important but we need to find a way to fund the department.

    I think it is very important for folks like me who believe that government spending is out of control to see government employees help meet the defecit.
    Say the City defecit is $2M I would be much more likely to support a tax increase if $1M to $1.5M came from cuts in expenses.

    It just doesn’t seem to me that with unemployemnt at 10% and with many Ameicans in the private sector either losing their jobs and taking paycuts tht public employees including the City Manager should be exempt.

    Does this make sense?
    Does it seem fair?

    Please excuse the typos. Sent from my crackberry and my old eyes have a hard time reading small print.

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    • Pat says:

      “Not paying attention?” I spend my volunteer time attending meetings and reading so that I know what’s going on. I have spent countless hours representing citizens on City committees and task forces; I attend or watch every Council meeting, I’ve only missed a handful of Fire Board meetings in 5 years, and I attend many T&C meetings. I have only missed one Council Retreat since they began. I attend most community meetings. I attend the Board of Supervisors meetings and C/CAG so please don’t accuse me of not paying attention.

      I think larger cuts at higher levels is a good idea. That is what Jerry Brown wants to do at the State level. There are only a couple of department heads that I would not cut because I wouldn’t want to lose them. Unfortunately, that doesn’t save a lot of money because we have so few employees at higher levels. That is a change Mark Weiss made when he first started, consolidating departments and having fewer department heads.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been a fan of either the City Manager or the Asst. City Manager, but I think we have to look at facts.

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      • Al B. says:

        Arn I agree with you 100 %. There are cuts that could be made at the top that would save the City quite a bit of money. One example is the Assistant City Manager. Most cities only have one, San Mateo for example’ which is four times as big as San Carlos. Its time for Mr. Weiss to start doing his job, no one said it would be easy, even if that means cutting out his staff.

        Unfortunately, I think the Fire outsourcing is a done deal, because of the City wanting to get out of the JPA with Belmont. I also think that the police outsourcing is not far behind. It is up to us residents to let Council now how we feel.

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  36. K says:

    I would like to re-iterate JBM’s point. How can we save money by outsourcing without reducing service levels (i.e. fewer cops on the streets)? The sheriff’s dept. does not pay any less. How else do you save money? what magic does the sheriff’s dept. have that the SCPD does not have?

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    • THAT, my friends, is the $64,000 question. And I’d love to see the answer, too.

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    • Pat says:

      In the case of CDF v. our fire dept, CDF not only pays less, the working conditions are much worse. Our firefighters can do better than CDF and they know it. They stuck with us through the threat of losing the department for more than a year and are still there for us, but I wonder how long that will last. Why would they work longer hours for less pay and run the risk of being transferred to Yreka or Southern CA at any time? We have spent a lot of money training them, so they are very employable.

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      • Joe says:

        pat- the only way that a cdf employee could be transfered is if they request a transfer. the only way any fire personnel would make less money by going to CDF (because NO workers would be laid off) would be if the employee quits. The same employees that are on the fire engines now would be the same employees that would be on the fire engines if outsourceing went to CDF. The only difference would be the uniform. SO, if there is a drop of service, it would be a drop in service by the same firefighters that have been with BSCFD for years.

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    • GPM says:

      But cutting services exactly what will happen! San Carlos tries to staff at least 4 officers and one supervisor on the street at all times (sometimes it goes down to 3 officers and a supervisor). The sheriff’s proposal is for 3 deputies at all times, and a “shared” supervisor that is in another part of the county. The proposal indicates that the sheriff would charge San Carlos for 20% of a sergeant. So, by definition, doesn’t that mean that the sergeant would basically be shared by a total geographic and/or staffing size that is 5 times greater? How can that really be effective supervision? And with fewer cops on each team, do you really think they will be responding to all the calls that San Carlos cops currently handle? Car accidents? Petty thefts? Solicitors? Recycle thefts? Harassing phone calls? Neighbor disputes? Loud parties? Basically, we’re talking about ALL the quality of life issues that SC residents have come to expect would be handled by their police force.

      San Carlos currently has 3 detectives and a detective sergeant working on all the cases that are taken, and they all carry a full caseload — there is no sloughing around. The sheriff’s proposal is for 1 — ONE — detective. That’s it. Oh, they do say that the entire complement of the sheriff’s detective unit is available in the event of a major case. But do the numbers — with only one detective, that means only high priority felonies are going to be investigated.

      Knowing all this, don’t you think that things will dramatically change? Not only in service levels, but in the CONDITION of the city. Criminals will be more attracted to come here, knowing that either the case won’t even be looked at, and/or it won’t even be investigated. Crime has a direct impact on everything: home prices, the business district, the appearance (dirty graffiti, etc.).

      The top notch service and thorough job of the cops in San Carlos — from patrol, to taking reports, to investigating cases, to being proactive… in everything from traffic enforcement (I know, nobody likes getting tickets, but face it — traffic enforcement IS important, you have to admit it), to contacting suspicious subjects, to catching criminals of all types — it’s THAT service that truly makes San Carlos “The City of Good Living.” Any lesser service will not live up to that slogan.

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      • GPM says:

        Oh — here’s another service cut that people may not think about. You want a copy of a police report? You want to do a records check on yourself that your employer requires? You want to get a fix-it ticket signed off? You want to do ANY routine business with the police department? For now, you just go down to the PD and are helped immediately. Some people may even walk there since it’s so close. Don’t expect that at the sheriff’s office. You will have drive down to Redwood City, look for parking, pay for parking, walk all the way across the plaza to get to the county administration building, wait in line, go through a metal detector, try to figure out which floor/room you need to go to deal with your issue, and then wait in line again, only to get rushed through because there are plenty of other people waiting behind you. Remember — the Records department at the sheriff’s office handles the whole county. You will have to wait to be served. Take a number, it will probably be a while.

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  37. arn cenedellla says:

    See editorial in todays SF Chron.
    Mayor Newson lays off 17424 unionized workers and will rehire with 6.25% wage cut. No deals, no sweet talk, just action.

    SF Chron goes on even with this action Police fire city lawyers and transit workers will need to pony up. Union need to feel pain too.

    Asking voters to approve revenue raisers can’t happen unless city shows its serious about cutting costs.

    If newson and sf chron feel this is the way to go then maybe my suggestions are not so off base.

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    • k says:

      And here is a report on CNN today about city and local govt’s problems. In summary:

      1) A lot of cities are in trouble and the reason why more have not gone bankrupt is b/c stimulus money has helped keeping cities afloat
      2) Vallejo filed for bankruptcy so that they could get out of union contracts. But it is a costly process
      3) Public sector has been spending beyond their means

      http://money.cnn.com/2010/02/12/news/economy/municipal.stress.fortune/index.htm

      Wow…I keep reading about these union contracts and see how expensive they are. Can someone who was part of the process or followed the process back in 2004 shed some light on what happened. What scenarios were being planned for. What was the worst case scenario considered. Why were these contracts so punitive to the cities.

      I can’t help but think of our local, state and federal governments being like GM and Chrysler. The biggest, the best, the most amazing car companies in the world. Got too arrogant. Continued to spend flagrantly and rack up liabilities for the future. And now….bankrupt! The federal, state and local govt. are the same way. we are the richest, most powerful, highly educated (and the list can go on for miles) country in the world. And we are in a situation today that we have HUGE unfunded liabilities (ss, medicare, pension) which will probably result in benefits being cut (and us not keeping our promise to our citizens) or massive tax increase (and resulting loss in economic power). Counting on growing out of this problem is unwise.

      At the very least, I would want San Carlos to get into a pay as you go model. Look, if there is money, by all means spend it. But if there is no money, don’t keep spending it and borrowing hoping that you will grow out of it.

      Arn, my sentiment is similar to yours regarding the city making the necessary cuts and then SC residents stepping up. I would support a measure that raises additional money if the city approves a budget that I believe is right for the long term.

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    • sam says:

      yes that is called union busting and will cost the city a lot of money in court fees and lawsuits down the road!

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  38. Darryl says:

    Regarding the article from Andy Klein in the paper yesterday;

    In 2006, the city opted to contract out to Menlo Park Police for 9-1-1 dispatching services. At least 90% of the people that live or work in San Carlos have no idea that when they call the police they’re speaking to a dispatcher at the Menlo Park Police Department. They have no idea that the police department no longer has their own police dispatcher that works at their police station. When this change took place several years ago, I felt it was done with very little public awareness. It was approved and implemented by the then City Council with very little input by the residents and business owners of the city. Additionally, Menlo Park was not only willing, but desired to immediately hire the current full time San Carlos police dispatchers not only so they would not lose their jobs, but the Menlo Park Police 9-1-1 center would immediately benefit from their knowledge and experience. Between the cost savings to the city, and the fact that there would be no loss of expertise or service to the citizens of San Carlos, it was a win – win situation. On top of that, there were 4 additional dispatchers already working for Menlo Park Police that had worked previously at San Carlos Police. This provided even more experience and expertise that this city has benefited from since Menlo Park Police began providing 9-1-1 service to San Carlos Police.

    Now we are faced with this potential contracting out to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department, of which as a resident I am strongly opposed to. For those of you that didn’t know, this would also include 9-1-1 dispatching. So what happens to all of that experience you now have as your first point of contact when you dial 9-1-1 for your emergency? Gone. The current 9-1-1 contract with Menlo Park has two additional years before it expires. How about that money? The Sheriff’s Office has their own dispatchers, and wouldn’t utilize the ones from Menlo Park. Well, so much for the “no layoffs” we heard about before. Obviously Menlo Park isn’t going to be able to retain four dispatchers they don’t need.

    Mr. Klein’s article stated that if outsourcing is to be considered, there must be three objectives met. Those were:

    1. The level of service must be equal to or greater than our current level of service at a lower cost.
    2. We must have an iron clad, transparent agreement that does not come back to haunt us as the years go by.
    3. Whichever agency we retain must be willing to engage our citizens and be willing to be flexible enough to meet our ever changing needs.

    Regarding objective one; I don’t believe the sheriff’s office can deliver anywhere near the level of service to our citizens that the current dispatchers and police officers are and have been. After 29 years as a line-level employee in the 9-1-1 system, I can honestly tell you that the sheriff’s office is not known for outstanding one on one customer service. This current police department is, and that has been the case in this city for so long, I fear that most of the residents here think that is the norm. It’s not. The sheriff’s office has the whole county that they are responsible for, with a high volume of calls for service that sometimes require them to immediately go from call to call. Again, that can happen here currently as well, and regularly does. But one of my fears as a resident is that an emergency will occur in the unincorporated areas Redwood City or the East Palo Police will have an emergency request for assistance (as also happens regularly) and the “San Carlos Beat” at the sheriff’s office will immediately be assigned to assist officers in other areas of the county. And we will be left with one or NO deputies in San Carlos, until that situation is over, which is generally hours long. With our crime rate in this town already on the increase regularly, this is not an option that should be considered. Detective Sheppard during her interview spoke of an evening last December where San Carlos endured two armed robberies within the early evening hours on the same night. Additionally, there are many other issues with this option that I believe would not be of any benefit to our city. Don’t forget, we would also be losing our own experienced 9-1-1 dispatchers, and the sheriff’s office has their own communications center. San Mateo County Communications only has one dispatcher working there that has previous full time San Carlos experience. Under the current situation, you have 5 dispatchers out of the 12 at Menlo Park Police that worked for San Carlos Police prior to the 9-1-1 contract with Menlo Park.

    Regarding objective two: I think this “contract” would definitely come back to haunt us years down the road. The County itself is already having their own budget problems. I can’t help but feel that they would love to take us over as a contract city, and offer us a very attractive bid, that would even save us lots of money. And that would be the case, initially. Then 2 or 3 years later, when the first contract expires, they come back, increase the price for whatever reason, and then what choice do we have? At that point we either pay up, or have to start over from scratch, which would be extremely expensive. So if true, at that point, we’re paying close to or as much as we would be if we had our own police department, but without any of the benefits that go along with that.

    Regarding objective three: I don’t think an agency as large as the sheriff’s office is going to be willing to adjust anything that they do on a daily basis to confirm to the needs of one very small city within the whole county. That’s just not something I would see them doing. They are a large law enforcement agency, with policies and procedures that would be implemented across the board, county wide. They’re not going to come up with separate standards as to how San Carlos calls get handled. And that’s where we lose the service.

    Lastly, I’ve also heard that the sheriff’s office would incorporate the current San Carlos officers as deputies patrolling San Carlos. That’s great. Until, a few years down the road, if the economy continues to suffer, they’re faced with potential deputy lays offs and reducing their staff. Who would be the first to go? Of course, that would be the deputies that are lowest in seniority. Who would that be? That would be the San Carlos police officers that became deputies as a result of the contract takeover. So now, at this point, you’ve lost all of the years of expertise and experience of not only your own 9-1-1 dispatchers that are the first to answer your call for help, but now your officers as well. That results in 9-1-1 dispatchers unfamiliar with the city, as well as the deputies on patrol.

    I realize that the city budget is in extremely poor condition. But to consider risking our public safety for the sake of saving money when there are many other viable options available, would be a very poor choice.

    Lastly, if nothing else, consider the parking meter idea. I think it’s safe to say that most cities and towns have parking meters, especially in their downtown areas. I realize the initial cost would be a negative, but once they pay for themselves, it would be a money maker for the city. If we can keep our high quality parks, police department, and other vital and popular venues of this city operating, no one should object to paying for parking. Even consider downtown meters operating in the evening hours as well. The downtown restaurant business is thriving, almost daily. People out for the evening that are willing to put out $100.00 for dinner shouldn’t have an issue with paying even $5.00 for parking for the evening. Our downtown restaurants overall are of very high quality, and attract many customers, from all over the bay area. I would bet that at least 70% of their average customer base do not reside in San Carlos. That provides us an opportunity as a city to receive revenue for parking from mainly non residents. If they were going out to dinner in San Francisco, they would automatically know that parking would be part of that expense, and wouldn’t think twice about it. Yes, I know, initially it would be very unpopular, just like it was in downtown Redwood City. But now, no one really complains anymore about it in Redwood City, they became used to it. Just drive though there on any evening, even with the metered parking it’s still difficult to find a space because of the popularity of the area. We should be taking advantage of the same opportunity for revenue.

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  39. arn cenedellla says:

    Pat

    My comment about “not paying attention” was NOT in regards to any San Carlos issues.

    What I wrote was if people are not concerned about the massive ballooning state and federal debt is “not paying attention”.

    I will stand by that comment to the end.

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    • Pat says:

      Arn,

      I do pay attention to the State and Federal budget problems, but I don’t want to get into that here. I want to stick to our local issues, which are so serious and so immediate.

      Did you go to the meeting today?

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  40. D says:

    In this economy everyone has to give. My husband’s Company reduced salaries by 20%, and everyone was thankful to have kept keep their jobs. This is how the private sector works; this is the real world. No one wants to bust unions, but only to find sensible solutions that would be best for our town. We all have to give. I agree with Arn, most people would vote for a revenue increase, providing the City employees do their share. If not, maybe the Mayor should do what Gavin Newsom did and send the pick slips out. Would people be willing to negotiate then? Is this what it is going to take. We want to keep our services in San Carlos. We need immediate workable solutions so we are not falling farther and farther in debt.

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  41. arn cenedellla says:

    D
    Right on!
    The residents property owners and taxpayers of San Carlos need to act in the brst interests of the entire community. City employees should act in their best interests which given the economy is to keep their jobs even at a reduced salary. No one is holding a gun to any city employee to accept a reduced salary. If any City employee feels they can better than say 90% of their salary, they are free to leave and find better employment, I will thank you for their servicre and wish them Good luck. I guarrantee you for any City employee who leaves there will be 5 people the next day at City Hall begging for that job. Does anyone doubt this?

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  42. Here’s a very interesting perspective on Cal Fire, and how their other municipal contracts throughout the state are faring:

    http://whiteoaksblog.com/3po

    It’s vital that our City Council digs much deeper into this proposal before putting our public safety in the hands of others…

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    • Pat says:

      Thanks to Ken for doing all this research. There’s even more digging to be done to see how much of what’s in the staff report is accurate.

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  43. Pat says:

    At last week’s Council retreat, several Councilmen urged the Mayor to have a less structured meeting today, with more give and take between the Council and the public. The impression at the end of the meeting was that today’s meeting would not limit citizens to two minutes each. The Mayor obviously didn’t do that.

    Today’s meeting is being broadcast, but that wasn’t announced to the public. I would have recorded the whole thing if I had known ahead of time. A letter came in yesterday afternoon from Redwood City expressing interest in contracting for our police and fire services. The public was not notified of that either. We have the eNotify system, so it looks like a lack of will to communicate with the public to me. Mayor Royce likes to hear himself talk, and talk and talk, but he’s not communicating necessary information to the public.

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    • Pat,

      I think there was quite a bit of confusion about whether it was going to be televised or not. I spoke with Mayor Royce on Tuesday, and at that time his understanding was that it was going to be a webcast, but he didn’t know if it was going to be live or recorded and then published at a later time.

      I subscribe to the the city’s feed at http://www.cityofsancarlos.org/custom/whatsnew_rss.asp and something did indeed come across the feed yesterday about the meeting being broadcast on SCTV. But it’s not on the front page of the site (where it should have been) and when you go back and check the feed, that announcement is no longer there. No matter how you look at it, the communication could have been much better on this.

      Let’s hope the meeting on the 22nd will be well attended AND televised!

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  44. Pat says:

    I agree. We should have a really big turnout ono the 22nd. I hope Randy gets around to public comment at a reasonable hour!

    I used to subscribe to the rss feed but got a new computer, signed up, and didn’t get the one that shows up in my email. A citizen shouldn’t have to be a sophisticated computer user in order to know what’s going on. eNotify works for simpletons like me.

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    • No disagreement here. The rss feed on the City website seems to have a mind of its own sometime.

      Speaking of coverage, KTVU (CH 2) is hyping that they’ll have coverage of today’s meeting on their 10 O’clock News tonight. Be sure to check that out.

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  45. arn cenedellla says:

    Nope. I did not attend as I had to work and meet with clients.

    I understand about sticking to local issues.

    I also believe you understand how federal and state fiscal issues effect San Carlos.

    I am trying to seperate my disgust at what has transpired fiscally at the state and federal level with the local issues.

    I believe public personnel costs have gotten out of hand locally and at state and federal issues.

    The entire world economy is deleveraging which has brought down the value of goods products and labor.

    Private sector employees have been dealing with economic realities for several years now. It appears that public employees are finally dealing with what the rest of us have dealt with.

    I strongly feel that public employee compensation packages need to be adjusted just as private have been.

    This is a big big issue for me. The focus has to be on the entire community and on a larger level our entire nation, not on the percentage of our poplulation that works for thw government.

    Our nations future should not be compromised to support a small percentage of our population to the deteriment of the whole.

    I believe we should keep our city structure and police departmnet but only if San Carlos employess share in that effort. If not they xan lose their jobs as we outsource or consolidate. It is up to them to decide what is best for them and then San Carlos will know what we need to do moving forward.

    We may never agree.

    Ultimately the voters in San Carlos California and our nation will decide. I believe we are reaching a tipping point where a majority of Americans will soon see this financial ponzi scheme for what it is.

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    • Pat says:

      It’s really too bad so many people missed the meeting. It was waaaay too long, but you would have learned about all the cuts the City employees have taken already, including the top echelon. They’ve been squeezed and squeezed year after year, they’re all doing more work because they’ve lost co-workers or staff, and the employee appreciation $ was cut from the budget last year.

      Our City Manager is NOT the highest paid in the County and he does NOT have two assistants. There is an Asst. City Manager, Brian Moura, with whom he shares a secretary. If we choose cuts, no more taxes, and no outsourcing, that same secretary will also serve the City Clerk. She’s very good and could make more money in the corporate world or even at another city. How long will she stay, and who would want her job if she left?

      We are losing staff July 1, and you will see the effects shortly thereafter.

      The Police officers will get a raise if they go to the sheriff’s Office. They are looking at the details of the proposal this week, but so far it looks like they would be OK.

      It’s the firefighters who will make less money, work more hours, live with the possibility of being transferred anywhere in the State, and work for an agency that has been slammed by the San Bernardino Grand Jury.

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      • GPM says:

        It’s true that the sheriff’s office pays their deputies more than what the San Carlos officers get. But does that mean they will be ok? With the County’s own budget problems, what is stopping them from laying off all the San Carlos cops that they absorbed? Nothing really. They would be the first to go. (And that brings up, once again, just how the heck the sheriff is going to provide the same level of service at such a reduced cost, especially considering that deputies get paid something like 16-20% more than San Carlos cops, but I digress from what I wanted to say in this message). Also, keep in mind this: San Carlos cops CHOSE to come and work here. Even though they may be among the lowest paid, THIS is where they chose to be. They like the city. They like the work. They like being proactive here. This city is IMPORTANT to them, and it is their home (not just figuratively, but literally as well since many cops live here). If they wanted to work for the sheriff, they could have applied there. But they didn’t — they wanted to be HERE.

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      • Pat,

        You bring up a good point. What is the San Carlos Police Department’s opinion of the outsourcing idea, now that more details are emerging about the contract? Has anyone spoken to a member of the force to get their opinion? I know we ran the interview earlier this week, but I’m curious how others feel. Any feedback anyone has on this would be greatly appreciated..

        Chuck

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        • Pat says:

          The Chief said on Saturday that the Dept. would be going over the proposal this week and have a staff meeting on Weds. I think we’ll have to wait until they’ve really gone through it to get an answer.

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  46. Anonymous says:

    Arn,

    NEWS FLASH!

    San Carlos Police are the lowest paid in the county if not the state. The City Manager is the highest paid in San Mateo County and has two assistants.

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  47. Victor says:

    Arn

    San Carlos Police are the lowest paid in the County. Your City Manager is the highest paid in the County. You do the math.

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  48. Arn Cenedella says:

    To all
    I have consistently stated that reductions in personnel costs should be made ACROSS THE BOARD – ALL City employees that includes City Manager. All departments. All positions. No exceptions.
    I have consistently stated that the impact of financial realities be shared by ALL City employees.
    The wider the distribution of reductions in personnel costs will result in smaller impacts on each City employee.
    In addition, I have suggested that higher percentage cuts be made at the top and smaller percentage cuts for those at lower wage and salary levels.
    I totally agree there is no way from a moral perspective or from a leadership perspective that the City Manager can suggest that City employees suffer a wage or salary reduction and then expect himself to be exempt. The City Manager can not ask City employees to take a cut unless he will take a cut too.
    I believe the City Manager of Burlingame has indicated he will reduce his salary.
    I believe our City Manager shall do the same.
    The City Manager seems to be pushing the outsource option.
    I disagree.
    I believe we should keep our City structure including City Police Department.
    In order to maintain our City structure, we as a City need to lower our expenses and increase taxes.
    Despite my overall opposition to additional taxes, I am willing to consider supporting a tax increase at the local level.
    However, in my opinion, expense reduction needs to be greater than any tax increase.
    I know many City employees may feel under-paid now and with a wage/salary reduction even more so.
    But that is NO DIFFERENT than any private employee whose wage/salary has been reduced 10% to 20%. I am sure those private employees feel under paid too.

    I keep coming back to the same fundamental question to which I have not really received an answer.

    Why should public employees be exempt from the economic realities that private employees face?

    Unemployment in the private sector is like 10%.
    Unemployment in the public sector is like 3%.

    How can any City employee ask a San Carlos resident to pay additional taxes so that City wage and salaries remain fixed when there is a good chance that San Carlos resident or his neighbor or a family member has had a wage or salary decrease?

    Again, I want all City emmployees to make decisions based on what is best for him and his family. In this economy, keeping one’s job is generally a good idea even at a reduced salary level.

    If City personnel costs are not brought down, there seems little chance to keep City intact. If maintaining wage and salary levels is more important to City employees than keeping City intact, that is their choice.

    Again City Manager seems to be pushing out-sourcing.
    I have serious doubts about the wisdon of this.

    San Carlos voted 55% to 45% against Prop U.

    I am trying to find a way to get greater community support for a tax increase which will allow us to maintain City structure.

    I believe for many in the community my position makes sense.
    I believe many in the community are tired of paying ever increasing fees and taxes and want City employees to do their share to eleviate the financial crisis.

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  49. D says:

    It doesn’t matter to me how the reductions are made within our own local government The salary discrepancies(San Carlos vs County salaries) have to be duked out within, but cuts have to be made. I will not support any new taxes, unless cuts are made. The contract for the pensions need to be reviewed. Why should the taxpayers of this town sacrifice with higher taxes for a few who will not sacrifice themselves. These decisions should be made in the best interest for San Carlos. Employees come and go, but this town will be here forever. And, if we don’t do something in the near future, I predict layoffs due to outsourcing. It is better to have a reduced salary then no salary at all.

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  50. Anonymous says:

    I keep hearing how we would like to keep our police department around, but only if “San Carlos employess share in that effort,” Otherwise they can lose their jobs as we outsource or consolidate.

    These comments are obviously from people who don’t know anything about what the San Carlos Police Department has had to endure for several years now. Lowest paid in the county, probably in every county in the Bay Area, now on a 3% of 55 retirement plan, instead of 3% of 50, plan, extremelly reduced staffing levels, (which means, working 2-3x as hard, forced overtime, reduced officer safety, working more holidays, missing out on family gatherings, etc, the list goes on), but WAIT!! The employees at the police department need to do their part too…..how bout the CITY MANAGER and his staff of overpaid employees, how bout you take a look at them instead. By the way, who do you think will be taking a BULLET for you, and your family?? I would say that police officers are worth every penny.

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    • D says:

      I believe we should keep our police locally. I know the job they do, and all the statistics you provided. I don’t know why you think I targeted the police exclusively, because I did not. The police make up one component of our local government. . Yes, Police deserve every penney! I know for a fact that every local government is hurting, and you will see in the near future, that those stats you provided might be in line with what the other counties are proposing. Please do not be hostile, we love our police, but we are in hard times, and if we have to outsource, we will have unhappy citizens along with unhappy police officers.

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  51. Anonymous says:

    “D” -Definitely not trying to be hostile towards anyone on this blog, that was not my intention, but what I am trying to do is point out the reality of the facts & truth.

    and one more thing…….if i had a dime for everytime I heard a resident in San Carlos say “NOTHING EVER HAPPENS HERE,” I could have made a fortune and would have been able to retire several years ago…..but for every resident in San Carlos, here is a quick PSA (Public Service Announcement) or soon to be (“Lack of Public Service” Announcment), let there be no mistake, it HAS BEEN happening, it IS happening, and it IS GOING to be happening, (on a more frequent level) if this proposal is accepted, and the police are outsourced to the county.

    GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE!!!

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    • Toni says:

      I copied this from Bob Bredel’s blog on http://www.sancarlosblog.com. Apparently, there are rumors that there are carjackings in this town. When Bob checked it out, they were false. Instilling fear to the residents of this town is
      unconscionable.

      From Bob’s post:
      The previous post from today regarding the police message has been deleted because of conflicting information. I spoke with the San Carlos Police Department this afternoon and they do not have any record of the message regarding a carjacking in nearby towns under the scenario which was described. Whether the message is a fraud or just someone (falsely claiming to be from the police department) floating incorrect information is unclear. We are continuing to ascertain the origin.

      Thanks for your patience and I will update you as soon as we have more.

      Bob Bredel

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      • D says:

        I wish GOOD LUCK to the residents and employees of this town as well. We all need it during these challenging times. I hope we can all come together in making decisions that will carry us into the future, so we do not have to go through this horrible process three years from now.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Toni- If you really want the facts on what crimes are happening in the city of San Carlos, don’t look to a blog post which can be created by just about anyone, go to the city website and reference the stats from (the San Carlos Police Department) portion of the city website. Just a thought

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  52. Pat says:

    Do you have some data to back up the claim that our City Manager is the highest paid in the County? I don’t think that’s the case.

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    • sal says:

      The Daily Post just ran an article the other day that listed the salaries in Belmont. And that article shows the Belmont City Manager who just retired (Jack Crist) as making $225k. That’s more than what the San Carlos City Manager makes. So he’s obviously not the “highest paid in the County”.

      Also worth a mention – the Daily Post also ran a recent article on salaries at Belmont-San Carlos Fire Department. One of the “Battalion Chiefs” there also makes more than the San Carlos City Manager!

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  53. Pat says:

    I’d like to see a good article in the local papers about the cuts that have been made in San Carlos over the past 5 years. Staff spent a lot of time preparing that list of employee salaries for The Post, I’m sure they could provide the other side of the story. A good reporter could find out how we stack up against neighboring cities who get a greater percentage of their property taxes back from the State (thanks to Prop 13).

    I understand the anger and outrage, and I bet Arn isn’t the only one who’s trying to separate San Carlos from his feelings about the Fed and State budgets. The truth is that San Carlos has been very frugal since I’v been going to budget workshops. I have never been a fan of Mark Weiss or Brian Moura, but let’s get our facts straight. Then if you want to “throw the bums out,” you can.

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  54. All:

    FYI, KPIX also ran a news piece on the outsourcing. The anchor got a little confused on the whole Belmont/San Carlos connection, but it was a fair piece otherwise….Click here for the video: KPIX

    CG

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  55. Anonymous says:

    Let me educate everyone here. DON’T ALWAYS BELIEVE WHAT YOU READ OR HEAR IN THE MEDIA!! They have a very unique way of making people believe things that aren’t always true. Our City Manager is very well paid, if not the top, very close to it in the county. Oh by the way, he will most likely continue to get his health benefits after he retires from San Carlos, after working with the city for only 3 years. and yes….there are assistants to his assistants which are way overpaid, and make up a BIG part of the city budget. Let’s not just direct all of our focus on the Police & Fire Departments, and what their salaries are. Once again let me remind you that the police department is the lowest paid in the county, and oh in many other counties in the Bay Area and throughout CA.

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  56. arn cenedellla says:

    Assuming the Daily Post article this morning is accurate, here are a few random musings.

    City payroll grew 2.4% from 2008 and 2009 – $11.4M to $11.7M.

    I thought City Manager said City has cut expenses for the past 10 years?

    Increases in City pyroll doesn’t semm like cost cutting to me.

    O during a period where many Americans lost their jobs or were forced to take reduced wages and salaries, City personnel costs still increased.

    41 City employees make over $100K per year.

    Anytime a politician (see our Mayor) tells me we need to “move fast”, I dig my heels in. Generally when a politician says we need to move fast, I believe they know the longer we the people look at it, the less likely we are going to like the result. I know this will upset many, but IMHO I see the same thing with ObamaCare.

    I am confused on out-source MR Mayor and City Manager. Let me see if I have this straight:
    All current SCPD will be retained and given salary increases when they move to County and serviced will remain steady and City will save money??????

    Don’t know about the rest of you but doesn’t that sound a little strange?

    Doesn’t make sense to me. I am sure economy of scale may enter into it but still it does not add up.

    Higher pay same service lower cost????

    Seems kind of like magic to me.

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  57. Hello All,

    I just wanted to weigh in for a second on the general “rules of the road” for comments on the site. My intent for this site is to a) bring community issues to light, and b) provide a forum for comment and discussion. Regarding the latter, I try to cut everyone a pretty wide berth on comments and opinions, because it helps foster healthy debate. But lately there have been a number of comments that are just too pointed or inappropriate for me to publish. I appreciate that everyone has strong opinion on these topics — they’re important!! But let’s collectively respect the opinions of others on this site — it’s not wrong to question what someone else says, but let’s do it in a constructive manner.

    Thanks for your understanding.

    The Management ;-)

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  58. Al B. says:

    I watched the budget meeting on Saturday and was trying to figure out how the City’s saves 2-3 million dollars a year without reducing any positions or staffing levels in the Police Department. According to the City Manager the Police Department currently has 23 officers, 6 sergeants, 2 commanders, and a Chief (this does not include any CSO or non-sworn positions). The City Manager said the current staffing levels are one sergeant and three officers per shift (four total) and he “promised” that these levels would be kept at or above the current levels. He also claimed that “no one” would lose there jobs. Well I don’t believe that the City Manager is being forthright with Council and the Citizens of San Carlos. If you look closely at the Sheriff’s Office proposal. It calls for only 19 FTE’s (full time employees this also included non-sworn positions). There will be a Chief (however that position will be a Sherff’s Office Captain). So unless our Chief is planning to step down to become a S.O. Captain, he wil be gone. The proposal does not mention our two Commanders nor does it mention our six sergeants positions. It only mentions 20% of one sergeants position. It calls for 12 deputies (three officers per shift only with NO sergeant), one detective and one motor officer. The other FTE’s will be two office assistants and two CSOs. THIS IS A REDUCTION IN STAFFING from one sergeant and three officers per shift to only three deputies per shift. There also is an issue regarding direct supervision of these deputies with no immediate supervisor specifically in town. These people from our Police Department may not lose their jobs, but according to the proposal they will not be working in San Carlos either. Clearly the City Manager is trying to get this by the Citizens of San Carlos and City Council and I am deeply concerned by his actions and misrepresentations of the facts.

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    • AL B. says:

      I also thought of a few questions that I don’t know if they have been addressed or answered. What happens if this doesn’t work and how, or could, we go back to our old police and Fire agreements? Also, Does the Police and Fire Unions have any recourse against the City when we try to disband their Unions? I believe there has to be some sort of legal issues that may end the City up in court.

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      • Pat B says:

        The City Manager admitted at the meeting that it would be extremely difficult to go back if we don’t like outsourcing.

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  59. Vince says:

    I would like the City Manager to answer a couple of questions;

    1. Will the City of San Carlos have to continue to pay the non-funded liability or will Cal Fire pick up that in there bid?

    2.Will the HAZ-MAT team that was born in San Carlos/Belmont be disbanded?

    3.It has been stated there will be no reduction is services, I beleve Half Moon Bay lost the surf rescue and cliff rescue teams when Cal Fire took over.

    4. Will the City need to contract out for Truck coverage from RWC at a cost of well over $500.000.00 per yr?(in the last proposal RWC turned in the last time we went through this)

    5. Will Cal fire pay rent for Sta. 13 and 16 or will the City retain that bill also. Like Sta 17 and 18 Cal Fire contracts with the County for fire protection in those areas be Cal Fire Dosn’t Pay Rent!!

    A free ride with rent, lower wages, longer work week, (72 hr vs. 52hr) crews unfamilure with the areas. All equate to longer responce time. please show me the real numbers.

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    • Alicia B says:

      Vince ~

      Have you sent your questions to the City Manager & the Council Members? I would email all of them the questions you posed before the meeting on the 22nd

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  60. Suzanne says:

    As the Vice-President of the San Carlos POA, I feel their are some things that need clearing up on this blog. First and foremost,
    San Carlos is normally staffed with four officers and one sergeant per shift. The Sheriff’s Office bid proposes that San Carlos will be staffed with 3 deputies and one south county sergeant. That means that San Carlos will not have a dedicated sergeant. Also, when there are only 3 officers on the shift, that is considered MINIMUM staffing. SCPD does its best to staff the city with four officers every shift. On the weekend night shift, there are five officers on duty.

    I can tell you from experience that 3 officers (deputies) are not enough to staff this city. Let’s take for example a domestic violence or robbery call (which happen frequently in SC). In a domestic violence call, AT LEAST 2 officers are needed to contact both parties. Frequently, there are drugs/alcohol involved so 3 officers are preferred for safety. For a robbery in progress call, officers sometimes need to set up whats called a “perimeter.” This is when the officers set up positions on the outside of the building. It is impossible to set up a proper perimeter on a robbery call with 3 officers( deputies). Suffice it to say, 3 deputies are not going to cut it in this city with the activity level there is. So YES!!!! This would be a loss of service.

    SCPD currently has 3 detectives. Our duties, besides investigating crimes, are to perform probation/parole checks and sex/narcotic registrants. The Sheriff’s proposal calls for 1 detective. Therefore, the only crimes that will be investigated in San Carlos will be persons crimes. That means that all the residential burglaries that are committed in San Carlos will NOT be investigated. That is not an opinion, that is fact.

    SCPD currently has one patrol sergeant per shift. With the Sheriff’s proposal, that sergeant would be in charge of the entire South County. That includes Redwood City and East Palo Alto. Where do you think that sergeant will be 100% of the time? Not in San Carlos.

    SCPD currently has 4 Police Service Technicians and 3 Community Service Officers. These individuals do an outstanding job to assist patrol in day to day activities. SCPD would not be the agency it is without these individuals. The Sheriff’s Office only proposes to keep CSOs, not our highly skilled PSTs.

    SCPD currently has 2 K9 officers. These officers train weekly with their K9s. The Sheriff’s Office bid does not include these K9s.

    The City Manager’s press release states that (consolidation) “It provides for greater officer safety standards” That is a slap to the face of the skilled and experienced officers who put on their uniform and provide police services every single day. The City Manager should be ashamed of this comment.

    The City Manager’s press release states that, “It utilizes the existing San Carlos police employees in providing police services.” Ladies and gentleman, this is absolutely not true. There are 21 officers and 5 sergeants currently. The Sheriff’s Office only provides San Carlos positions to 12 of those individuals. The rest of the employees would be placed in other positions in the Sheriff’s Dept. That is an extreme loss of intelligence and experience to the citizens of San Carlos.

    Lastly, the San Carlos Police Department already has working relationship with NTF (Narcotics Task Force) and GTF (Gang Task Force).

    The residents and business owners of San Carlos should be questioning why their City Manager and Mayor want to move this consolidation process along so quickly. They are looking to slip this by without too much hoopla. It is a mistake to contract with the Sheriff’s Department. There will be so much lost in the process and it would be entirely too expensive to put back together a police department.

    Oh and one more thing, most of the “cities” that the City Manager provides as comparison never had a municipal police department to begin with.

    PLEASE…attend your city council meeting on March 22nd and demand answers to these discrepancies and tell them that you want your police department to stay!

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    • Al B. says:

      Suzanne thanks for all the details. The proposal is even worse then I thought. I agree with you that for same strange reason the mayor and the City Manager what to ram this through quickly. I guess they don’t want everyone to know the real details of the propsal.

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    • Frustrated says:

      Suzanne,
      At a recent City council meeting you threatened to sue the city because they were forcing the POA to take a 3.5% raise. If you wanted the PD to stay so bad you should have accepted the raise and been thaknful to get one in 2010 when so many other people are out of work.

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      • Suzanne says:

        Frustrated-
        Just to clarify, the SCPOA threatened to sue the city because they put forth an illegal last best and final offer. Not because of what they actually offered or what they implemented. Also, the San Carlos Police Officers ARE the lowest paid agency in the county. Wouldn’t you fight for what you believe you are worth? Just a thought…

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      • GPM says:

        The reason the POA wasn’t pleased with the forced contract was not driven by salary. In fact, the city originally offered a contract that would have given the police officers even more money, and that was rejected by the POA. NOT because the POA wanted more money, but because the City tried to “sneak in” (and those are my words) some changes to the contract that significantly affected some benefits — mainly health insurance — and it was done with such confusing language that even the negotiations attorney couldn’t make heads nor tails out of it (the section of original text in the previous contract was about a paragraph long; the new version was about a page and a half of confusing language). When the POA repeatedly asked the City to explain the language and the specifics of those changes they made, the City at first ignored the requests, and then told the POA to “figure it out yourself” (and yes, that’s a quote). Well, if you were given a contract that had confusing language that even an attorney couldn’t decipher, would you be willing to sign it? I hope you would say no. The negotiations team therefore could not in good conscience, representing all the members of the POA, agree to a contract like that. THAT is why the contract was rejected. It was NOT about the wages. The POA was trying in good faith to get explanations and gain understanding of the contract so that they could move forward, but the City refused to meet them even part way, and then decided unilaterally that an impasse was reached (despite the POA’s good faith attempts), so they chose to impose the contract on the POA — including the confusing language that they refused to explain. THAT is the real scoop behind why the contract offer was not accepted by the POA.

        The San Carlos police officers are not a bunch of money-grubbing greedy government employees. If they were, and considering that they are among the lowest paid, then they would have — and perhaps should have — left San Carlos to go to a higher paying agency. Am I saying that the cops wouldn’t be thrilled to get paid a much much higher wage? No, of course not. Anyone in ANY career would be happy to get paid more money. But there is MUCH MORE to a job than the payroll. There is job satisfaction, happiness, being part of a cohesive team of professionals who excel in their job, believing in what you are doing, and doing what feels right, whatever that specific “right” thing may be for each person. THAT is how working in San Carlos feels for each of the officers here, and why they all CHOSE to come — and stay — here. There is a reason that San Carlos is the City of Good Living. I submit to you that the reason is in VERY large part due to the efforts and commitments of the police officers here.

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    • Joe F says:

      Suzanne – Interesting information. I watched the telecast on Saturday and I have questions for you. Q1 – Did the POA officially endorse and/or campaign for Measure U? Q2 – If not, why not? Q3 – How does the POA propose to close the gap, especially when Public Safety is close to 60% (maybe more) of the budget and get the staffing to a recommended level? We value public safety as well, the reality is that the revenue can’t support the expenses.

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    • Pat says:

      Thank you, Suzanne, for all the detail. I’d rather abolish Parks and Rec than cut Public Safety one dime. Unfortunately, I know what’s it’s like to wait for help to arrive (not in SC) and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Well, maybe a few choice people who are pushing outsourcing.

      The night of the armed robbery at Best Buy, and everything else that went on that night, how would we have managed with only 3 officers and a sergeant in EPA? For that matter, how would we have managed this evening on upper Laurel with only three officers.

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  61. Pat says:

    Don’t know what’s going on on Laurel just above Holly but it involves 5 SCPD cars, which means the sergeant is there. If we outsource and the sergeant has to come from EPA, he’ll get there after the fact.

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  62. utr says:

    Cutting police dollars means cutting police services

    Attached is the very vague Sheriffs proposal. As you read into it, you can see the reason they are saving the city 3.5 million dollars, is because they are cutting the police services by almost half. The proposal assigns a total of 14 Deputies to the City of San Carlos. Which is down from the 27 Officers San Carlos now uses to police the city and the City of San Carlos currently has the lowest police officer ratio per capita in San Mateo County and is well below the national average, and the Sheriff’s office is proposing to cut that in half?

    Under the Sheriff’s proposal, they will provide only 12 deputies for patrol, 1 traffic unit and 1 Detective for the entire city. This is compared with San Carlos’s current manning of five Sergeants, three Detectives, one Motorcycle Unit (full time), one Motorcycle Unit (part time), fourteen officers assigned to Patrol, two K-9 Officers assigned to Patrol, two Police Service Techs, three Community Service Officers all assigned to Patrol and two Police Service Techs assigned to Detectives.

    In the Sheriffs plan, there are no Supervisors/Sergeants, one Detective (down from 3.5) and a part time motor unit. They cut all of the PST’s and assigned them to parking enforcement So that is four positions gone along with that service to the citizens.

    They say there will be three deputies in San Carlos at all times. That is a lie, they will dedicate two deputies to San Carlos and the other will be the South County Float car which you will be paying for twice because that position already exists in the Sheriffs Dept The Float Unit already covers the unincorporated areas of San Carlos, Belmont, Redwood, EPA, Menlo, etc. The field supervisor, Sergeant, will be the South County Sergeant that currently exists in their organization. There will not be a Sergeant dedicated for San Carlos.

    Sergeants are vital to every Police Department. They monitor are the field supervisors. They are highly trained in case law and directly responsible for all CRITICAL DECISIONS both routine and emergency. The Sergeants are the primary trainers and mentors for the officers.

    Sergeants are the key link to liability issues that come up on an hourly basis. Without sufficient supervision, lawsuits and citizen complaints are not only inevitable, they will become common. Lack of proper supervision is always a factor in law suits against police departments.

    Just to give you a snapshot of what we are trying to explain; Monday thru Friday during the day, the police department currently staffs one Sergeant, four Officers, one and a half motor units, four Police Service Technicians, two Community Service Officers and two volunteers. This is going to be replaced with three deputies?

    The officers that work in San Carlos applied here to serve here. They are not here because their department is making a profit.

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  63. Darryl says:

    Thank you Suzanne for making some very valid and important points.

    If she truly didn’t care about having a San Carlos Police Department, she would gladly just go to the sheriff’s office with the outsource and take the extra pay. She obviously wants the public here to be informed and I appreciate it.

    I’ve been a 9-1-1 dispatcher for the San Carlos Police since 1982. I come here not only as an employee but also as a resident. I was raised in San Carlos and have lived here in my home since 1993.

    I also want the public to be informed as much as possible about this consolidation. If you haven’t read the proposal yourself, do so. This is important and worth your time.

    The proposal doesn’t address this, so I will. Your first point of contact when you call the police is the dispatcher. Although the police are dispatched through Menlo Park Police, there are many of us here that started or had previous experience dispatching at San Carlos Police when they had their own 9-1-1 center. Currently, the city is paying for one full time dispatcher 24 hours a day at Menlo Park Police. That person is assigned to the San Carlos Police radio channel and handles all of the emergency telephone calls, including 9-1-1 and cellular. During non business hours this also includes business line calls and requests for sewer calls, etc. That’s a lot of responsibility. Fortunately, mainly due to a positive work environment at Menlo Park Police, this one dispatcher is assisted by the remaining two Menlo Park Police dispatchers. We all equally share the workload. So as an example that night in December where there were 2 armed robberies (Best Buy) and other emergency calls all at the same time, the one San Carlos Police dispatcher was assisted by the two Menlo Park Police dispatchers, as much as they could, between the Menlo Park Police calls. This is a benefit that San Carlos Police has had ever since they outsourced to the Menlo Park Police for dispatching services.

    Fast forward to the outsource; if they include the dispatching in this proposal (based on the proposal it appears to be included), you will no longer enjoy your own separate San Carlos Police dispatcher, or actually more than that at Menlo Park Police now. The Sheriff’s Office has their own 9-1-1 Communications Center and their own dispatchers. The process in which your request for police assistance will be different. Currently, if you call the San Carlos Police for an officer response, you’re speaking directly with the San Carlos Police dispatcher or a Menlo Park Police dispatcher that also dispatches for San Carlos. The sheriff’s office communications center is set up with a combination of dispatchers, and a separate classification called a “call taker”. These employees do not dispatch calls on the radio. They answer the phone, and take information, which is inputted into a computer event for the dispatcher to dispatch. As you may have guessed, this can take some time. For routine calls, this process still works fine. They do not have call takers working all the time. There may be a small window of time in the early morning hours where your call could be answered by a dispatcher, but not necessarily the San Carlos dispatcher. For emergency calls, or life threatening calls, our current set up is far superior. Why? Because the person answering the phone ALL THE TIME is actually the person transmitting your emergency over the police radio to the responding units. There can be NO DELAY in this scenario. If your house is being burglarized, you’re speaking directly to the 9-1-1 dispatcher who is also speaking directly to the officers responding and at the scene. If you’ve ever reported an emergency and have been asked to stay on the phone, this is why so that we may continue to get updated information to relay to the officers. This in turn keeps you safe and the officers safe. With the sheriff’s office communications, there can be a delay in this information to the officers responding because the call taker has to type it into the call and then the dispatcher has to read it and then broadcast it to the responding officers. On top of this, the call taker on duty will be responsible for other in coming 9-1-1 calls for other areas of the county as well as San Carlos. You will no longer have your own dispatcher as you currently do. This is obviously a significant change to the current situation, and will result in a lower service level. Andy Klein stated that the outsourcing would only be considered if service levels remained the same or improved. That is not the case in this scenario and many others.

    As a resident, I came to a council meeting about 2 years ago and recommended parking meters to enhance revenue. That was met by a negative response from the council and some of my neighbors. Too bad it wasn’t implemented then as we might be in less of a predicament now. As a resident, I’m suggesting we consider closing the senior center, keeping the youth center open, and changing the name to the San Carlos Community Center. I don’t see any reason why we have to have two separate buildings that basically do the same thing, separated only by someone’s age. Additionally, we should be renting out this facility to the public to increase revenue.

    I was at the meeting on Saturday, and I appreciate and understand the desire to keep the youth center open for our kids. I agree with that, but to a point. If our parents need a place for their kids to go after school and before they get home from work, that’s fine, but that shouldn’t be an expense that the city incurs. Staff the youth center with volunteers only, and charge a small fee to the parents that at least will keep the youth center operating in the black so that it can remain open.

    Lastly, please take the time to come to the meeting on Monday, March 22nd, and take advantage of the opportunity to voice your opinion directly to the council.

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  64. arn cenedellla says:

    SF Chron reports today newly appointed Assembly Speaker John perez in his first day in that position increases the salary for his chief of staff for $125,256 to $190,000.

    Are we CRAZY?

    As my father said 40 years ago: We have too many Chiefs and not enough Indians.

    I understand that this comment may offend some PC thought police but I believe it accurately reflects the truth of our situations.

    No offense meant to any Native Americans.

    Again what goes on in Sacramento goes on in San Carlos.

    I note from the City Web site some City employees have offered to accept a 0% pay increase as their show of concern for our City’s financial condition. Now I am sure that will solve our problems.

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  65. Concerned Citizen2 says:

    I’m a resident in the White Oak area and I have been following the “outsourcing.” Where does the San Carlos Police Chief stand? Is he for or against the outsourcing?

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    • Pat says:

      The Police Chief said at the meeting that he and his staff would be evaluating the proposal this week. He may not take a stand personally. He works for the City Manager. He would also be the person working out the details of the agreement if the Council chooses outsourcing. He has to choose his words carefully when he speaks.

      My bet is that he would support his officers if he could, but he cannot bad-mouth the City Manager or the Sheriff. That would be unprofessional.

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      • Frustrated says:

        Pat,
        I have heard the opposite about the Chief. I hear there are rumors that he thinks the sherriff proposal is the only way to keep his department intact. But since he has not taken a stand professionally we shouldn’t put words in his mouth. I doubt that you have inside info.

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        • Pat B says:

          I did not put words in the Chief’s mouth and I did not say I have inside information. Nor did I quote rumors from unnamed sources.

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  66. Giuseppe says:

    We have too many parks. I agree with those who are suggesting that Crestview Park be sold to a developer. Also, I like Darryl’s idea of closing the senior center and renting out the space.

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  67. Arn Cenedella says:

    This discussion points out another issue in our current political world.

    Trust for government and our political leaders is very low right now.

    Who should the residents of San Carlos believe?
    Who is telling us the truth?

    There are many players in this little dance:
    City Manager
    Mayor
    City Hall employees
    Individuals who appear to be associated with SCPD, or our existing Fire Department, the County Sheriff, and Cal Fire.

    I am sure I have forgotten a few.

    The fact is all of them are telling us something different!
    Who is telling the truth?

    All of these individuals and organizations have a “skin in the game”. It is not a stretch to say that any statements coming from any of these players might be biased.

    When the Mayor and the City Manager says “out-sourcing” will maintain our current service levels at a lower cost?

    Is that the truth?

    When someone from Cal Fire says “don’t worry Cal Fire is great, you will have better service than you do now”.

    Is that the truth?

    When a city employee says “we aren’t paid enough”.

    Is that the truth? How do we know?

    I am skeptical of anything anyone tells me.
    I believe every statement that is made is made with the intent of furthering the speaker’s cause.
    Some of these statements may be true, others may not.

    How are we, the residents of San Carlos, supposed to know?

    Honestly, this is a complex issue. There are many ways to look at it. Numbers are thrown around all over the place. Numbers are massaged. Assumptions are made to calculate the numbers. Which are true? Which are not?

    How do we decide?

    I do not have the time or the expertise to figure this out.
    I doubt any of the other commenters have the time and expertise to figure this out.

    Theorectically, this is why we pay City staff – the professionals in this field – to wade thru all of these numbers and issues – to objectively determine what is best for our City. We trust our firepersons and our Police officers. But we also need to acknowledge that each of these public officials and employees has a skin in the game – that their jobs and incomes are under discussion.

    Do others feel this way?

    Who do we believe?

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    • Pat says:

      Arn,

      The firefighters and police officers in San Carlos could all make more elsewhere. They are here because they are committed to their departments,”

      I am really tired of your attacks on all City employees because you’re mad at Sacramento and DC and you assume that every public employee is up to no good. If you don’t have time to evaluate the issues, how are you so sure you’re right about everything?

      The City Manager, the Mayor, and Andy Klein are in favor of outsourcing. Rant at them if you don’t like their position.

      Public employees make less than people in the same positions in the private sector. Public employees in SC have lost their jobs and more will lose them June 30, just like in the private sector. Employees are doing more work for the same money, with no raises, just like in the private sector.

      Public employees have always had a secure retirement system to compensate them for spending their careers in public service instead of going out and making money in the private sector.

      There’s a lot of good information right here on this blog, which you obviously read, and the original documents are available. If you haven’t figured out what’s going on, stop posting and spend some time reading. We all know what you have to say.

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      • Frustrated says:

        Pat,
        The Fire Department hasn’t seen lay-offs since 2003. They are also not working harder for less money. They have received a 2.5%-3% raise every 6 months for the past two years, and will receive one next year. How is that working for less money? Also, how is getting paid 150k+ and retiring with 90% of their highest salary less than the private sector. People would kill for that gravy train right now.

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  68. Gary Royce says:

    Good read in the Daily Post titled San Carlos, beware of sheriff’s bid.

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    • I went to three different Post stands tonight and they were all gone. I’d love to see that article.

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      • Pat B says:

        It’s a shame that the Post refuses to post their paper online. Once the papers are gone, that’s it. They also miss out on having their articles “go viral,” which I would think would be a plus for them. Maybe someone will tell us what was in the article.

        I have never read the Post because I think they sold the Daily News and then tried to put it out of business.

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        • They have publicly stated that they don’t believe posting their paper online is good business. Too bad – because their topics are usually pretty interesting.

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  69. Pat says:

    Arn not to be harsh but your getting a little off topic.

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    • Pat B says:

      The comment from “Pat” is not from the same Pat who’s been posting to this blog, though I agree that Arn is off topic.

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  70. arn cenedellla says:

    Pat
    Any comment I have made about outsourcing has been in opposition to outsourcing. Please check my comments. Show me one comment from me advocating outsource and I will eat my words. Find it! OK? Earlier today I commented that according to the Post I believe Randy Royce said “we need to move fast” to effect outsourcing. I said when a politician says move fast, I dig my heels in because I suspect they do not want anyone to look at plan. The comment could have been on Bredels blog. Check it out.
    OK?
    Government entities all over the Nation are running into financial problems.
    So one can believe that revenues are too low or expenses are too high.
    I believe objective analysis indicates expenses have increased far faster than revenues. Revenues really have not dropped much at all. The problem is the expenses.
    in terms of public v private compensation I disagree. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate government employees are paid 45% more than private.
    I will post the info when I have time.
    Now these are nationwide stats comparing all jobs in each sector. While perhaps not directly to San Carlos employees, it is enough for me to question the mantra of underpaid public servants.

    I am not against police or fire. If you read my comments I have consistently said all City employees should act in their best interest as they see it. OK?
    From my perspective the primary focus of city residents should be to maintain services in a fiscally viable way. Do you disagree with that? However that can be worked out absent major tax increases is ok with me.
    I will look for the Labor stats now.
    Arn

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    • Pat B says:

      I said nothing about your opinion of outsourcing.

      If we didn’t spend so much on Parks and Rec we could maintain public safety without a major tax increase. I think they should put a revenue measure on the ballot for Parks and Rec. It would pass easily and P&R would be self-supporting.

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  71. Arn Cenedella says:

    Pat

    As promised, please review the two links below.

    These reports were prepared by government employees at the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. OK?
    Government employees reporting on national labor stats, so hopefully you will accept the data.

    http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/print.pl/news.release/ecec.nr0.htm

    http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ebs2.nr0.htm

    Here is a summary:

    Private industry employers paid an average of $27.42 per hour for total employee compensation.
    Total compesnation costs for state and local government workers averaged $39.60 per hour.

    Medical and care benefits were available to 71% of the private industry workers as compared with 88% among state and local government workers.

    Employer share for single insurance coverage was 90% percent for state and local govt workers and 80% for private industry workers.

    99% of state and local govt workers had access to retirement and medical care benefits. In private industry, only 76% had access to retirement benefits and 86% to medical benefits.

    86% of state and local govt workers participate in a retirement plan whereas only 51% of private workers do.

    90% of state and local govt workers had access to paid sick leave. Only 60% of the private workers do.

    So Pat – those are the facts. OK?
    Not my wild assertions.
    Not anything made up by me to attack public employees.
    As a famous police officer in Dragnet (Joe Friday?) said years ago: “just the facts, mam”.

    Anyone looking at this data would say state and local govt workers are doing pretty well.

    Don’t you agree?

    Public employee unions are very powerful within the State.
    Public employees have professional representation in any contract negotiation.
    Anyone remember a few years ago when the Terminator Governor proposed 4 ballot propositions?
    State public employee unions came out against these propositions and the Terminator was buried!

    The purpose of any Union is to represent the interests of their members.
    They should and they do.
    There is nothing wrong with this.

    But please don’t act like public employees are being taken advantage of.

    And I believe Americans are still entitled to their right of free speech so whether you agree with me or not, I have a right to express my opinion.

    Don’t you believe everybody has a right to express their opinion?
    Or does that right only extend to those who agree with you?

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    • Pat B says:

      Arn,

      I have no idea what national statistics have to do with San Carlos.

      You certainly have the right to express your opinion, and I have the right to stop reading your repetitive rants about the State and Federal Governments and your unfair attacks on City employees.

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    • JJ says:

      Arn-

      You have posted the Bureau of Labor and Statistics data several times and concluded public employees have received more favorable treatment than private employees.

      Given the large impact on the San Carlos budget, I have no problem with examining public employee salaries and benefits and evaluating ways to save money — it makes sense to me and I’d prefer that approach than mass outsourcing.

      However, in the interest of full disclouse, people should be aware that you are not fairly representing the BLS data. The BLS itself says public and private data should NOT be compared because they represent different types of jobs. I quote from the technical note on the link you provided (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ecec.tn.htm):

      “Compensation cost levels in state and local government should not be directly compared with levels in private
      industry. Differences between these sectors stem from factors such as variation in work activities and occupational
      structures. Manufacturing and sales, for example, make up a large part of private industry work activities but are
      rare in state and local government. Professional and administrative support occupations (including teachers) account
      for two-thirds of the state and local government workforce, compared with one-half of private industry.”

      I don’t think it benefits this conversation to use statistics that aren’t properly understood or explained.

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      • Pat B says:

        JJ, thanks again for another thoughtful post.. I’ve given up reading all of Arn’s posts, but I appreciate your doing so.

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  72. To “Just Noticed”: I think you have a great point, but I can’t publish the personal email addresses of the Council members If you’d like to rewrite your comment with their city email addresses, I’d be more than happy to post it. thanks for your understanding.

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    • Pat B says:

      I’m dying to know what this great idea is. Please repost! They all read their City emails. If you’re very clever you can collect their personal emails when they’re running for office. They generally use their personal emails on their campaign literature. I have them all but I don’t use them except for the people I know. The City emails work just fine.

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  73. Arn cenedella says:

    Sorry everyone….there is Pat and Pat B. Duh! :-)
    My bad!
    I also understand how my comments might be considered off-topic.
    The post deals with San Carlos budget issues and I do write a lot about State and Federal budger issues.
    I feel they are connected but I can understand how others might feel they are not connected.
    Arn

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    • Pat B says:

      Arn,

      I’m sure the Fed, Stae, and local economies are interrelated but I think we’re facing a local crisis that I can actually do something about, so I don’t want to get bogged down in those larger issues.

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  74. Bobby says:

    Chuck you can pick up the left over news papers down town Laurel usually in the laundry mats or even the coffee shops the next day. This was a worthwhile read and spoke to the hard working cops in SC vs. the Sheriff and his under Sheriff who were caught with their pants down in Vegas. Also we as residents need to stop SC from out sourcing it’s PD because our home values will go down the drain. Do we really want to be the most afluent city in the Bay Area with a unincorporated feel to it.

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  75. Pat says:

    Arn run me some more numbers on the state vs. fedral spending with a comparison to San Carlos. Also my son has a book report due on Gondwanaland that’s due by Thursday. It needs to be no less then ten pages double spaced twelve font.

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  76. Darryl says:

    Chuck, I have an extra copy of the paper, let me know hwere I can leave it for you. Or just email me through the email address I regeistered here with.

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    • Hey Darryl,

      Thanks for the offer — but I had one hand-delivered to my door last night by someone with a very vested interest in this discussion. Very cool! Our police department is the best, bar none.

      CG

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  77. Keep our police! says:

    Tonight (Tuesday) there was a man with a gun at Home Depot. It was pretty spectacular to see 4 San Carlos cars (including the sergeant) arrive all at the same time, from different directions, setting up that perimeter that Suzanne talked about. They got there in time, and very quickly and smoothly arrested the guy with the gun.

    Would the sheriff get there in time? Would the sheriff have enough deputies in San Carlos to handle it? Would the sheriff even have a supervisor on the scene to coordinate everything?

    I was really glad to see the San Carlos police officers get there and deal with that guy so efficiently. It could have been tragic, and I think they did a great job.

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    • Pat B says:

      Thanks for the post. As it turns out, it was paint gun and the guy was looking for a screw to repair it. Your point is still valid. We want that response.

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  78. Arn says:

    Pat and Pat

    I have said my peace on federal and state run-away spending and resulting defecits. No more rants.

    I have discussed these issues ad nauseum according to some of you for two reasons:

    1. State of CA financial problems – ie the inability to pay their bills on time – spending way more money than they are collecting – has resulted in the State of CA reducing (some would say stealing) funding to local governments including the City and the School.
    I believe this has had a big negative impact on the School District and to a lesser degree the City. I believe the biggest revenue loss to both entities has been this reduced State Funding.

    So one of the major causes of distress at least in the School District is that the State is spending too much money. And since personnel costs are the biggest expense in the State of CA, IMHO personnel costs are something that need to be looked at.

    But if the people of San Carlos do not wish to discuss State and Federal budget issues and their impact on local issues, so be it.

    IMHO any discussion of local budget issues without understanding the larger issues and the connection between local and state governments is artificial.

    2. The issues San Carlos faces are the same issues, our state and federal government is facing – how to balance budgets – what services do we want? what are those services worth and how much do they cost?

    I understand many folks will not agree with my positions.

    But please at least state them accurately.

    Pat B, I have not and I quote “unfairly attacked City employees”.
    Please show me one comment where I criticized the performance, importance, or integrity of any City employee.
    Please find one, go right up the comments above.
    My most pointed comments have been addressed to the City Manager and Mayor.

    I have questioned employee compensation and expressed my opinion that at a time when many employees in the private sector have lost their jobs or had their salaries reduced that perhaps City employees need to make some adjustments to their compensation packages to help bridge the defecit the City currently faces. When I have written this, I have also written that City employees should always act in their best interest. I am not asking any City employee to do me or any other San Carlos employee a favor.

    Now if that qualifies as an “attack” then I am guilty as charged.

    I will strongly state that ANY San Carlos resident and taxpayer has an ABSOLUTE right to question City employee compensation and to question how the tax dollars paid by ANY San Carlos resident are spent.
    If City employee compensation is a forbidden topic (except in terms of increasing said compensation) then we have SERIOUS PROBLEMS as a community and I doubt we will ever come tgoether on this issue.

    It is not my decision anyway.

    The City Council, the City Manager and ALL City employees will have to settle this issue amongst themselves.
    Ultimately, I bleieve it will be the City Council that makes the call.

    And if and when a tax issue is placed before San Carlos voters, I will cast my vote as I see fit. Hope that’s OK.

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  79. arn cenedellla says:

    JJ
    I appreciate the time you took to look at the data and you are right. I also appreciate the statement of your position being done in such a way that even though you do not agree with me, you responded to the issues and data only. I understand the data is not apples to apples. I have often stated that statistics can be manipulated to prove whatever one wants to prove.
    I believe the data is useful for the following reason.
    Many people believe that public employee compensation is below private employee compensation. I believe this was true 20 or 30 years ago. I am not so sure this is true any longer. Just my opinion – could be right could
    be wrong.
    So I included the data to at least indicate there is more than one way to look at public employee compensation Just asking for folks to consider the issue

    It appears from Chucks poll, the majority of San Carlos residents support maintaining the City including our own Police Dept.

    I totally agree with thus position.

    Ok that’s the easy part.

    We have say a $2.5M to $$3M projected deficit.

    So if we want to keep City “as is” we must find a way to close that gap.

    The gap can be closed entirely by an increase in taxes.
    The gap can be closed entirely by a reduction in expenses. Of course if the gap is soley made up on expense side city services will decrease significantly.

    Or the gap can be made with a combination of tax increases and spending cuts.

    Does anyone disagree with my assessment so far?

    Have I presented our current situation accurately?

    OK so let’s look at the options.

    I believe most San Carlos residents do not want a cut in services or loss of local control. So the option of eliminating the deficit entirely by spending cuts is not supported by the community. This option is pretty much the outsource option IMHO.
    I do NOT support this position.

    So let’s look at option 1 Tax Increases to make up the entirety of the deficit.

    I do NOT support this position either.

    A majority of San Carlos residents recently voted down Prop U which would have cut the deficit in half I believe. And if I understand the numbers correctly to balance the City
    budget, San Carlos residents would need to support a tax increase twice the size of Prop U.

    Now feelings may have changed as the impacts of the budget problems become more obvious.

    Whether this is enough to obtain a majority in support of tax increase I do not know.

    The middle position is to make up the budget deficit by increased revenues and decreasing expenses.

    This is my position.

    Many label the idea of reducing City personnel costs as attack on City employees. I am sorry but I respectfully disagree.

    So what are we to do?

    If the majority of residents, The City Council, the City Manager and City employees believe no spending cuts should be made then the City Council the City Manager and all City employees and unions should get together – hash out the numbers figure out how and where to increase taxes and present it to the community for a vote. OK?

    Does anyone have a problem with this?

    Have I said anything critical of any City employee? I do not believe I have. I have simply stated the facts as I know. If my facts are wrong, please let me know.

    I believe the majority of the community supports the middle o
    ption – reduced spending and increases taxes.

    If this is true then the open question is how much of the budget deficit is made up from tax increases and how much from spending cuts.

    It is my belief that as spending cuts are made, community support for a tax increase will increase. Just my opinion.

    I believe I have laid out my position thoughtfully, reasonably, and fairly. I am not attacking anyone. I am laying out the issues as I see them.

    Everybody, what is your position? How do YOU suggest we eliminate the budget deficit?

    To those who want to discuss local issues only, what is your position specifically?

    I have stated my position clearly.

    To those that have criticized my comments, I believe it is time to state your position.

    There are only 3 options. Which one do you support?

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  80. Pat says:

    Arn I still want to see the numbers and the book report too please.

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    • Pat B says:

      I love your posts. You might want to shorten the deadline on the book report, you’ll need to edit it after you get it.

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  81. Anonymous says:

    -Arn-

    To the outsiders looking in, the poll does show the majority of San Carlos residents voted in support of maintaining the City including our own Police Dept, but the reality is that a majority of those voters, are police officers, friefighters, and parks employees. A very small percentage were actually made up of TRUE residents of San Carlos.

    This is the SAD TRUTH. We have a city made up of approximately 28,000 residents, and yet a small handfull actually care enough to comment on Chuck’s fantastic blog. (I do mean that in a non-sarcastic way Chuck It is a great blog) I only wish more people cared enough to read and post on it.

    The TRUTH is revealed every time there is a city council meeting, or some type of open forum held at the city, and only 100 residents out of 28,000 show up to voice their opinions, most of them again being made up of city workers. This last meeting held on March 22nd will be the kicker. I keep hearing that people care about saving their public safety services in San Carlos, but so far it has all “bark” and no “bite.”

    I really hate to be pessemistic, but the phrase TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE” keeps popping up in my mind.

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  82. arn cenedellla says:

    Pat

    I thought you wanted to debate the issues.

    And you still have not stated how you want to bridge the budget deficit.

    I have clearly laid out my position that the city should be maintained thru a combination of reduced expenses and higher tax revenue.

    What is your position? You seem to have no trouble attacking me or my position.
    What is your position?

    Your silence is very telling.

    In regards to the prior comment, you are right that we do not know if Chuck’s poll is representative of overall SC opinion. My 55 years of life experience tells me that the people who are most concerned
    with never ending taxation and run-away government spending tend to keep quiet because those that voice their opposition to higher taxes and increased government spending are generally attacked so they learn to keep quiet.

    I guess I have not learned that lesson.

    Let me ask everyone who believes asking a city employee to accept lower compensation is attacking them and something that can not even be discussed the following question.

    I understand that no employee public or private wants to work for less money. I understand that.

    Do those that think I attack City employees understand that I do not want more tax money coming out of my pocket?

    Why is my desire to keep my money “stingy” and somehow ignoble while a public employees desire to maintain his or her income level noble?

    I have no fault with any public or private employee looking after his pocketbook, do I not have the same right?

    Maybe I am stupid but please can someone explain that to me?

    Pat – do you believe different rules should apply to people based on whether they are public or private employees?

    Please state your position clearly. I will not attack you. You are entitled to your opinion.

    Pat D – same questions for you.

    Let’s discuss the issues.

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  83. arn cenedellla says:

    Pat D
    That’s cool. No need to read my posts.
    But can you tell
    everyone what you believe should be done solve San Carlos budget issues?
    That’s all I ask.
    Again your silence is very telling.

    Arn

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  84. Pat B says:

    I think San Carlos voted “No” on “U” without knowing what that would mean, because the truth is that most people don’t pay attention to what their government is doing. They haven’t been to all the Council meetings and the budget study sessions over the past five years, so they don’t know how many cuts and sacrifices the staff has already made. The staff managed to make the cuts without seriously affecting the quality of life of residents. Now there are no more of those cuts to be made and the life style cuts are upon us. There have been warnings about the seriousness of the budget crisis and the dire consequences fo the failure of Measure “U” for more than a year, so no one should be surprised. In fact, Omar Ahmad wanted to make very severe cuts long ago.

    Now that people are beginning to feel the effects of what they did, they’re screaming about street lights, parks, etc. I have a hard time summoning any sympathy for them.

    I am happy to pay for parks, recreation, libraries, schools, etc. that I don’t use, but not if it means giving up top-notch police and fire service. I voted “yes” on Measure “U” and would have continued to pay more for all those things, but public safety comes first..

    I think the City owes us top quality public safety, public works, planning, etc. Those are the services cities were established to provide. Parks and Rec, planted medians, landscaping, and trees, etc. are not core services and will have to go until the citizens are ready to pay for them. Cut the grass once a month, don’t spray the weeds, leave the grass 3″ long so that it doesn’t need to be watered very often. If it’s not good enough for sports teams, so be it. The Library may have to cut its hours further. All community events will have to be run by citizens without help from the City. That means no closed streets, no extra police, etc. because even if they could pay for the overtime, we just don’t have enough cops.

    No matter how the gap is closed, it will affect property values, and the citizens will be outraged about that too. Depressed property values means less property tax paid to the City, which means more service cuts. It’s a downward spiral.

    The truth is that the same services just cost more each year. The same is true of my home budget, because the companies I shop at have to pay their employees more, pay more for their products, etc.

    I think consolidating services with other cities makes sense. I think contracting for services is a mistake. We contracted for our Planning Department for decades, and got criticized by the Grand Jury. It’s a lot easier to set up a Planning Department than to try to reconstruct a police or fire department that has been disbanded. Even Mark Weiss admitted that on Saturday. Outsourcing public safety is a short-sighted solution, and I don’t think the services will be anything like the quality we have now. The fire proposal only covers a portion of what our fire department provides. Then there’s the Riverside Grand Jury report on Cal Fire, which does not inspire confidence, and the State LAO recommendation that Cal Fire go back to fighting wildland fires. If the State decides to pull the plug, where are we then?

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    • Pat,

      Bravo. That is quite simply the most well thought out argument to date against outsourcing. You are absolutely correct about the citizens not knowing what was truly at stake when the Measure U was voted on. I asked that exact question of Andy Klein when I interviewed him, and he agreed. The 10%, 20% cuts, or the idea of outsourcing were NEVER discussed publicly prior to the Measure U vote. Kind of difficult to formulate an opinion when you don’t have most of the facts, isn’t it?

      I don’t think anyone disagrees that something different needs to be done. There’s simply not enough money to continue on the path that we’re on, unfortunately. But outsourcing the two most critical public functions in our City is a grave mistake. Once we head down that path, there is no turning back. You can re-open a park, or turn streetlights back on very easily. It will be almost impossible to re-build a police or fire department once it is disbanded. And what happens in 3 years when the contract is up for renewal, and the inevitable “adjustments” (aka increases) will be requested by the Sheriff’s Dept and Cal Fire? What kind of negotiating leverage will we have? ZERO. Don’t think for a second that both agencies don’t know this already.

      Mark Weiss seems to take the “marry the first girl you meet” approach to solving the budget. Has his staff done ANY investigation in consolidating police and fire resources with surrounding communities? Why is this not being discussed? Sorry if that requires extra “work”, but for a $200K+ salary, forgive me for expecting just a little bit more effort out of our top brass. Another thought– has Mr. Weiss ever lived in one of his “outsourced communities” long enough to feel the long term effects of this approach? I know I’ll be here to see it — I doubt he will.

      Until ALL of the cards are on the table — the REAL numbers on outsourcing, and ALL of the possible options on consolidation — this City Council will be doing the City of San Carlos a grave disservice if we rush to a judgment on May 24.

      I’m more than willing to pay extra to keep our fire and police departments in place. Trust me, that investment will more than pay for itself in the long haul. If that’s what it takes, count me in.

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    • John says:

      Pat,
      Very well said!! I hope you read this at the meeting on Monday night.

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  85. Darryl says:

    This is a copy of a press release from the San Carlos Police Officers Association. I am not a member of this organization, but I do agree with this opinion.

    ********FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE********
    From San Carlos Police Officers Association
    March 19, 2010

    San Carlos Police Officers Association Denounces
    Proposed “Outsourcing” Deal With San Mateo County Sheriff

    At the request of San Carlos City Manager Mark Weiss, the San Mateo County Sheriff has submitted a proposal to take over policing services in San Carlos. It is posted on the City of San Carlos website. As you read into it, you can see they are proposing to save the city 3.5 million dollars by cutting the police services by almost half. The proposal assigns a total of 14 deputies to the City of San Carlos to replace the current 30 officers San Carlos now uses to police the city. At the same time the Sheriff claims that police services will not be reduced. How can anyone even believe that for a minute?

    The bottom line upfront is one of the highest paid city management teams in San Mateo County has failed to do their jobs and now they want a do over, at the expense of the citizens and the dedicated employees of the San Carlos Police Department.

    The San Carlos Police Department has endured budget cuts over the last 10 years that has brought it to its current staffing level of 30, down from 38. San Carlos Police Chief Greg Rothaus was recently asked to propose 10% and 20% cuts for the upcoming budget. The Chief proposed these cuts but also stated that reducing the level of staffing below 25 officers becomes “draconian” and the department could not function. With the current staffing of 30 personnel, the San Carlos Police Department has 1.1 officers per capita, less than half of the national average of 2.4. In a recent report to the city Council “The Dashboard”, Chief Rothaus compared San Carlos against four benchmark cities of comparable size; Belmont, Foster City, Burlingame and Los Gatos. The report, available at the San Carlos Police website, showed that San Carlos Police, although lower in officers per capita and budget then the benchmark cities, outperformed them in property crime clearance rates, burglary clearance rates, and violent crime clearance rates.

    Under the Sheriff’s proposal, they will provide only 12 deputies for patrol, 1 traffic unit and 1 Detective for the entire city. This is compared with San Carlos’s current manning of five Sergeants, three Detectives, one Motorcycle Unit (full time), one Motorcycle Unit (part time), fourteen officers assigned to Patrol, two K-9 Officers assigned to Patrol, two Police Service Techs, three Community Service Officers all assigned to Patrol and two Police Service Techs assigned to Detectives.

    Knowing what we now know, many things become clear. The problem is not the police department’s budget or their performance. Their budget is clearly lower than their counterparts per capita and they still outperform. They have proven they can do more with less. The problem is not the employees of the police department because despite being the lowest paid in the county, the still outperform. The problem is at the top.

    The San Carlos City Management team, has failed to bring the budget challenges of the City of San Carlos under control. They have failed to do their job. How is it that other cities are able to deal with the current recession but San Carlos has not? That is because of leadership.

    The City Manager has now concocted this outsourcing of public safety idea so in his own words, “San Carlos can hit the reset button.” To make it more palatable, he has told the city council and citizens that the only alternative is to make dramatic cuts to parks and other services, which is the part of the city they interact with most. He is using his own version of “fear” to push his outsourcing idea and hit the reset button. For all this, he is one of the highest paid city managers in San Mateo County. Maybe we should look at outsourcing his job?

    Ken Castle, a San Carlos resident, recently submitted a proposal of outsourcing other city services that has been done by several cities successfully, as well as ideas on how to keep parks open. These were not given the time of day because it would have caused somebody to do some work. Instead they have someone call the Sheriff’s office and ask them to submit a proposal. No work involved except a fancy smoke and mirrors PowerPoint presentation for the city council that showed San Carlos is doomed if they do not follow the City Manager’s advice.

    The citizens of San Carlos need to slow down the process so that ALL viable options should be looked at in depth, nothing from the City Manager’s office should be taken at face value. City Manager Weiss and Mayor Randy Royce seem to be in such a big hurry to outsource public safety; that it better make people sit up and wonder why.

    Take the most economical and productive department in the city, in comparison to their counterparts, and outsource it to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s office. Seems like the city manager’s office is trying to take the easy way out and get that do over.

    If City Manager Mark Weiss truly cared about the safety and welfare of the citizens in San Carlos he would be asking “What are the property crime clearance rates, burglary clearance rates and violent crime clearance rates of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s office?”

    According to San Carlos Councilman Andy Klein, the outsourcing of police services will never take place because he places three conditions on it; the level of service must be equal to or greater than our current level of service at a lower cost, we must have an iron clad, transparent agreement that does not come back to haunt us as the years go by and whichever agency we retain must be willing to engage our citizens and be willing to be flexible enough to meet our ever changing needs.

    Just the fact that the level of service must be greater or equal has not yet even been looked into. Just on face value anyone can see that 14 deputies are not going to do the same job as 30 police officers, it is not going to happen. In regards to an ironclad agreement that is transparent, that also needs to be drilled down into. On the cover letter from Undersheriff Carlos Bolanos to San Carlos Administrative Services Director Jeff Maltbie, Bolanos states “Our contract includes cost of living adjustments, which cap any possible increases at 6%.” Possible increases? That means this agreement can go up by 18% over three years? I am not sure but it this what Councilman Klein is referring to when he says transparent? What happens when the first contract year is up, the City of San Carlos no longer has a police department and is dependent on the Sheriff’s office and the Sheriff decides to increase the agreement by 2 million dollars to try and close their budget gap?

    Citizens need to hold the city accountable and ask the right questions. Please join the hardworking police officers and firefighters of San Carlos at the City Council meeting on Monday March 22, 2010 and hold the city leadership and city council accountable. The meeting will take place at the City Council chambers at 600 Elm Street in San Carlos at 6:00pm.

    ********FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE********

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  86. JBM says:

    Pat and Chuck,

    I completely agree with you. Unfortunately the City did not give people all of the information with regard to Measure U and future implications of it not passing. Why wasn’t it put out there to citizens that should this not pass, there would be severe implications such as oustsourcing public safety? Why didn’t the public know that the Youth Center might close? Because the City didn’t want to scare people, but guess what? They had a right to be scared and they had a right to know specifically what those implications would be. In my opinion, the public did not get the chance to properly decide on the future of their City because they didn’t have all of the facts. I have heard from countless people that had they known this is what San Carlos would be facing, they would have voted differently.

    It isn’t too late- come to your council meeting Monday night, email your council members and tell them that they should consider ALL options. Just because the City Manager says this is the right path, doesn’t mean it is- this is a decision that should be made by the citizens, who will have to live with the consequences long after the City Manager is retired and gone…

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  87. Pat B says:

    Thanks, Chuck.

    The Measure “U” campaign could have been run much better than it was. The first public meeting was Randy Royce v. Matt Grocott. Matt came prepared, Randy didn’t. Councilmen said they would be out walking the precincts. If they did, I missed them. It certainly wasn’t run the way they run their own election campaigns.

    I think we need an informed public, and not informed by 4.5 hours of droning on by staff. Mark Weiss gave a very cogent explanation of the City’s financial situation to the General Plan Advisory Committee and convinced even the most die-hard cut-don’t-tax people. I think the way to pass a revenue measure is to start before the campaign developing a cadre of well informed citizens who can educate their neighbors and friends. If people hear from Andy and Randy, who were prominent in the “U” campaign, that we need more money, they distrust them because they are politicians. If they hear from staff, they figure it’s self-serving.

    I suggested long ago that we have a course for citizens to learn about their city, as Redwood City and SM County have. I was told it was a great idea but nothing happened. Maybe we couldn’t afford it.

    The City seems proud that it has removed so many newspaper racks recently. I want more newspaper racks for the free papers, and I want them out in the neighborhoods where people could walk over and pick up the free papers every day. Maybe they’d even discuss the issues with their neighbors!

    When I was a member of SC Together we talked about having neighbors paint the newspaper racks, the way Belmont did its fire hydrants. If you have an involved citizenry, people who are committed to our community, you’re way ahead of the game. San Carlos says it wants a cohesive citizenry who have “town spirit,” but they don’t know how to go about it.

    The White Oaks neighborhood organization is a big step forward, as is this blog. Strong neighborhoods lead to strong cities. GESC is a one-issue group, so White Oaks is the only full-service association in town. There are lots of ideas about how to build a strong community. If what I call “the ruling class” in this town would get behind such activities, it would be a big help.

    Again, thanks for your kind words and for this blog.

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  88. JJ says:

    I’m in total agreement with the posts made by Pat B and Chuck. We need to prioritize the expenses we cut, and as much as I love parks and recreation, those need to go first before outsourcing public safety.

    One additional point I’ll raise though, is why is it too late to write off significant revenue enhancements? As others have mentioned, I suspect if Measure U were voted on today, and it was clear that cuts and sacrifices would still be a part of the solution, there may be a different result.

    What’s preventing this or a similar measure from reappearing on an upcoming ballot? My understanding is that without the council unanimously declaring a fiscal emergency, such a measure would require a super-majority to pass, which doesn’t seem realistic. In addition, my understanding (which could be incorrect), is that Matt Grocott would be the lone vote against declaring a fiscal emergency, as he has been in the past. Seeing that Mr. Grocott has responded to other posts on this blog, I’m curious if his position is the same (he would not declare a fiscal emergency), and if so, if potentially outsourcing all public safety doesn’t constitute a fiscal emergency, what is his definition of a fiscal emergency?

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    • Pat B says:

      Unfortunately, it is too late to put anything on the June ballot. I think a tax for a specific purpose, like parks and rec or Matt’s idea of lighting and landscaping, could be put on the November ballot, but I think it would require a 2/3 vote to pass. I think we, as citizens, need to work on this and be sure we can pass whatever measure we choose.

      There’s also the Utility User’s Tax, which Matt said, after the decision was made and the “U” campaign was underway, he would have supported. The beauty of that is that people could cut their use of energy, which we should all be doing anyway, and neutralize the increase in their utility bills. Matt doesn’t believe in Global Warming, but if he’s for it that’s a big plus.

      The City spent a lot of money on a consultant to advise them on a revenue measure, and look where that got us. I think a citizen-driven campaign, with support from the City, makes a lot more sense. I think when Hometown Days is cut way back, more people will join us.

      Can we put together a group that believes in this and is willing to work with the City to make it happen? I’m in, and I’m guessing Police and Fire would be in.

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  89. arn cenedellla says:

    Lots of GOOD comments this morning.

    I know many don’t care what I think but I want to say that the comments from Daryl JJ Pat B CHuck and JPM are all well reasoned thought out totally legitinmate positions. I may not agree with everything but I can certainly understand why you feel the way you do. Your positions are VALID.

    Again I know you may not care what I think but I think moving forward to the degree positions held by all residents are given consideration and respect it will be a net gain for San Carlos.

    We all appear to agree City including police force should be maintained.

    We all understand that we have a budget deficit that needs to be made up.

    We all understand that this deficit needs to made from spending cuts and increased revenues.

    Our difference is over the amount of the spending cuts and the amount of tax increases. We may also disagree on how and where spending cuts are to be made.

    I believe I have sound justifiable concerns about government spending and I hope others can respect that.

    Have I stated positions accurately? I hope so.

    The comments about the Prop U campaign are correct.

    As Pat B states correctly there is a segment of the population that will just SAY NO to Taxes.
    I understand where these folks are coming from.

    I also believe there is a segment that will just say YES to Taxes I understand where these folks are coming from.

    And then there is everybody in the middle who will support tax increases for needed services provided tax money is spent efficiently.
    This is also a VALID position.

    This is whwere I am – noting my bias right now is toward JUST SAY NO.

    I believe another tax issue can be placed before the voters. This time greater effort needs to be made clearly explaining the need for additional taxes along with demonstrated efforts to reduce costs.

    In this line of thought I would love to have the City Manager prepare a simple chart showing City revenues and City expenses from 2000 to present.

    I believe unless residents have this data, there is no way to determine whether the City has been frugal with our money or not.

    For example if revenues have doubled the past 10 years and we still are short of money then I think most would feel we have an expense problem not a revenue. If on the other hand revenues have increased less than the rate of inflation then clearly we have a revenue problem.

    Let’s look at expenses the same way.

    I believe the data would be instructive,

    Would anyone else like to see the data?

    If your income doubled over 10 years and you still could not pay my bills, would you say you are spending too much money?

    Not saying double is the case. I am sayinng I would like to see the data.

    On a final note I see that Burlingame and San Mateo are merging police forces. My neighbor said he heard that Millbrae and San Bruno.

    Pat D and JJ please don’t jump me. This is not my position. OK?

    Belmont would be our natural partner but I understand relations between the two cities are not too warm.

    Being a San Carlan I am sure this is ALL Belmont’s fault!
    Just teasing :-).
    I don’t want Belmont residents on my case too!

    Arn

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  90. Jonathan says:

    Arn,

    The problem isnot that people do not want to hear what you say Arn. The problem is that you are on sided. You live in San Carlos. If the Sheriff takes over your police, I can’t wait to hear what you have to say in a year. Good Luck!!

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  91. Pat B says:

    The consent agenda for Monday’s meeting includes a cut of more than $101,000 to the management agreement. The staff report is at: http://www.epackets.net/cache/2/44swfne3k4uqkaqkyos2ma45/1028044103192010073747364.PDF

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    • Anonymous says:

      This is actually just a cancellation of upcoming raises that the management group was scheduled to receive. The City won’t be saving any money to help the deficit by them doing this; it simply causes them to not incur any additional expenses when their next raises were scheduled to kick in.

      Consider this: they were going to receive raises of 2.75%. That would supposedly save them $101,000.00. If I am doing my math correctly, that means that the combined management salaries are just under 3.7 MILLION dollars. That’s either a very large management group, or very large salaries. Outsourcing or eliminating some of THOSE positions looks like it would close the budget problem a rather great deal, don’t you think?

      And perhaps that would be more appropriate to do that.

      If the San Carlos police department has less officers and spends less per capita than other similar/benchmark cities, and at the same time they make more arrests and solve more crimes than the others, then perhaps it’s not the police department that is broken — it seems pretty darn efficient as it is. Perhaps it’s the management of the city that is broken, and they should be the ones to be held accountable and make sacrifices. Cancelling a pay raise that they weren’t even scheduled to receive for another 4 months just doesn’t seem like it helps our current situation very much, does it? Just smoke and mirrors to make it look like they’re doing their part.

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      • Pat B says:

        Anon,

        That money IS part of the deficit. All the figures you are hearing relate to the 2010-2011 budget, which goes into effect on July 1, 2010. Those are the cuts that need to be made. No one is saying that we are $3.5 million short this year. They are saying that if everything continued as is we’d have that deficit.

        Which management positions would you eliminate? Planning? Economic Development? Housing? All of those are now in one department. Each used to have a department head, now they’re all under one department head, one of which was contracted out, and there are lower paid managers under him.

        Would you eliminate Public Works? Finance? Building? Parks and Rec? The City Clerk? The Police Chief? The City Manager and Asst. City Manager?

        An operation this size requires management. Do you want inexperienced, unqualified people just spending your tax money willy-nilly? These are very knowledgeable professionals who are serving you well, whether you appreciate it or not. I would replace a few individuals, but I don’t want any of these departments unmanaged.

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  92. arn cenedellla says:

    I wish folks would accurately state what I write.

    I have never supported outsource of police.

    Never.

    Show me a comment. .

    I don’t get it, honestly. What’s the deal?

    Respond to what I write, please.

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  93. Here’s a very well thought-out article about the outsourcing the Police services to the Sheriff’s Dept, and some very pointed questions that I hope the City Manager is prepared to answer….http://www.whiteoaksorg.com/?p=278

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  94. Pat B says:

    Arn,

    Health care reform has passed. How does that affect the San Carlos budget?

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  95. arn cenedellla says:

    Pat B

    Thanks for asking.

    Health care bill includes a tax increase and despite promises that it will cut the deficit, I bet ultimately it will add to the deficit which will lead to more tax increases.

    No direct impact on San Carlos issues other than each of us will have less money to pay higher taxes in San Carlos that will surely be needed if your plans for the City are carried out.

    I would say most San Carlos residents already are in combined 30 to 35% fed and state tax bracket so what is a few more percent here and there???

    How’s that?

    Pretty solid analysis if I do say so myself.
    Be very interesting to see what our City Coincil decides.

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  96. arn cenedellla says:

    PS

    If we keep spending money we don’t have, pretty soon government’s tax bite will approach 50% and then you know what?

    Many Americans will say “why should I work, the government can take care of me?”

    And the Goose that lays Billions of Golden Eggs will be dead!

    Just my humble opinion.

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  97. Pat B says:

    Chuck, was that young Gillooely who spoke tonight related to you?

    Randy always makes a big fuss over the kids, but he doesn’t listen to them either.

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    • Hi Pat,

      Yes, that is my fearless 10-year old son who was in the trio of boys who raised the $101 for the police and fire departments. He and his friends came up with the idea totally on their own, which made it even more amazing. I spoke about 4-5 slots after he did — but with all of the commotion I managed to forget to introduce myself on mic!

      Chuck

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  98. Jason says:

    I think K and D had some good perspective back on March 9th.

    Personally, I want my money back! If we have been overpaying for police and fire service for the past 5 years, that’s my tax money down the drain. That’s services cut for the past 5 years for no good reason other than poor decisions.

    If you had a personal accountant controlling your finances, what would you do if you found out that they have been overpaying by 25%? Wouldn’t you want to correct the problem as soon as possible? I heard the figure of $10,000 per day this is costing us… why are we waiting even another day to start the process of outsourcing or regionalization? This needs to happen NOW, or I want my money back.

    At first, I wondered how this magic of equal or better service was possible and being able to save millions of dollars per year. With the huge showing of the Police Officers Association (POA) at the Council meeting last night, now I have my hunches – this is a union problem. And I say “problem” because it does seem clear that the only way to solve it is to “outsource”… or whatever term is needed to “correct” the salary and benefits overpayment… and to do it relatively quickly with (hopefully) no lawsuits that cost us even more tax dollars.

    Perhaps we pay our managers too much, but if they can do more with less, I suppose they might be worth it. I always figure if I can offset my consulting fees by saving a client that amount of money… then I’m doing a good job. I hope that’s true of our City managers as well – offset their cost by saving us that much money.

    Luckily, I think there is some light at the end of the tunnel regardless of which path we choose:

    1. We are in an historically terrible financial era. The economy will improve. With that improvement, we will see our PERS contributions diminish because the PERS investments will gain so much value. At least that’s my understanding, please correct me if I’m wrong.

    2. With our population aging, presumably, they will be moving out of the single family homes to condos. This increases the property tax for their purchase as well as whoever buys the house they just sold.

    With the increased income, we should be sure we don’t fall into the same trap we did during the dot-com boom. Our decisions today should provide a flexible basis for salary and benefits (and service) adjustments that can better respond to the economy.

    Has our City (and JPA) proven its ability to manage police and fire affordably? It doesn’t seem so. Why “maintain local control” if it hasn’t been working? Especially if it means a reduction in service?

    outsourcing = Maintain Service
    status quo = Reduction in service

    This is a simple decision.

    For the record, I voted “no” on U. Increased taxes are not the answer – we can be smarter than that. More big retail and increased sales tax rate is not the answer – more items are bought online now… and I believe we we only see more of that loss of potential sales tax revenue.

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    • Pat B says:

      I don’t see how going from 5 officers on duty in San Carlos to 3 is “maintaining services.” Is it more important to mow the grass 3 times a week than to have 2 more cops on each shift? Are planted medians more important than public safety?

      I just returned from a Board of Supervisors budget study session where they discussed whether to make cuts to the Sheriff’s Dept. Then what?

      Our JPA has indeed shown an outstanding ability to manage its money, as has our PD.

      Not one citizen spoke in favor of outsourcing last night.

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      • Jason says:

        Pat,
        I won’t argue the details of the proposal with you – because the details don’t have anything to do with the decision – they are just adding fuel to the fires of the argument. I see this decision merely a matter of organization and human resource management. Plus, the details have yet to be established – as far as I know, a formal proposal has not yet been provided.

        I’m sure the numbers of officers on duty is merely a matter of semantics concerning overtime, on-call, or whatever status the officers are. I will rely on staff to create a contract that provides equivalent (or better) service. I’m not a police chief, or enforcement manager, so I don’t know how those details work out. That’s why we hire these department managers, right?

        If you do want to talk about the intent letter from the Sherrif, did you notice the additional services that might be available? 250 volunteers for special events… imagine trying to organize that with the current model!

        How would cuts to the Sherriff’s department have anything to do with the contract our City would put in place? If we are paying for certain services, they have no reason not to provide those services. Maybe I’m naive.

        I thought I did hear at least one citizen speak in favor of outsourcing (I watched from home)… but, you’re right, I should have attended and spoke. Since I didn’t, I thought this is the next best thing. Besides, probably more people read this blog than attended (or watched remotely) last night’s meeting.

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        • Pat B says:

          The details have nothing to do with the decision?! I’m not willing to take the cheapest price without considering the quality and quantity of service that will be provided for that low price. I’m not willing to take outsourcing, especially the proposals that have been presented so far, without looking at other options.

          You’re sure the Sheriff will provide more service than they have proposed? I think you are naive.

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  99. Trina says:

    We may look forward to higher property tax revnues as houses turn, that is true. But San Carlos seems to be a town where a number of parents can afford to bequeath their children with the former family home — whereby the kids are allowed to keep the same property tax rate, due to prop. 13. From what I’ve seen, there are at least some seniors in the community who can afford to move — and have moved — without selling their home, and have transferred title to their adult kids. We have three neighbors in which this is the scenario, right on my street. For example, my property taxes are about $11K, but our neighbors were gifted a home from their dad and pay $2200. So, I’m not sure we can count on a windfall as houses turn.

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  100. Anonymous says:

    -Jason-

    Spoken like a true public defense attorney…..wait that is just a wild guess. You obviously did not care enough to show up at the meeting and speak, and from the sounds of it, you believe you know everything.

    I would really like to see what your opinion will be in the next few years if the police department is contracted out to the Sheriff’s Office. I don’t believe you will be as confident in your analysis of things then. As far as relying on staff to get equal to or greater service, just look what staff has done up to this point. It’s just a matter of semantics you say, well that just let’s me know just proves to me how ignorant you really are.

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  101. Danny says:

    Can anyone provide a summary of what happened at the meeting? Not all of us were able to make it…

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  102. Jason says:

    I certainly don’t know everything. In fact, I’m always trying to learn new things, and maybe someone can help me out with these questions I don’t know the answers to (Mr. or Ms. Anonymous, please only respond if you know for sure – your guessing isn’t too accurate so far :)

    1. What does the San Carlos POA do? I tried googling it, but couldn’t find anything.
    2. If we are to outsource the police, does the SCPOA still exist?

    I appreciate the host of this blog for giving us the opportunity to share information and viewpoints. I don’t intend on changing anyone’s mind – I only intended to represent my viewpoint. I would encourage others to do the same, particularly if they feel their viewpoint hasn’t been represented.

    In response to Danny, and others who may have not seen the meeting on Monday, here’s a link to the video:
    http://www.epackets.net/pubmtgframe.aspx?meetid=1056&doctype=AGENDA

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  103. Ken says:

    This obsession that the city has in outsourcing police and fire as the one-stop solution to the budget deficit overlooks the issue of a “structural deficit” in the way parks and recreation facilities are managed.

    We have lots of things for special interest groups — the Youth Center, the Adult (i.e. senior) Center, the $2 million turf for AYSO teams at Highlands Park. I’d like to know: Where is MY community center? MY fitness center?

    Oops — we don’t have those. And why don’t we?

    Unlike most other cities, which have chosen to build parks and recreation centers that are intended for ALL of their residents, San Carlos has opted to build these expensive amenities for select groups — and have them operated through the general fund that ALL of us pay for.

    Burlingame, where I lived for 18 years, does not have a Youth Center or an Adult Center. It has a community center that everyone uses. In most cities, you would see special interest facilities only in wealthy gated communities such as Blackhawk, or in the retirement developments of Brentwood .

    Why do the people who use these facilities — in a city that clearly cannot afford to subsidize them — feel they have such a “right” of entitlement to them? In Burlingame, when the city built a driving range for golfers, it hired a private concessionaire to run it and charged residents a fee for using it. That’s as it should be.

    So to those parks and recreation advocates who seem so happy that the city council would rather throw our police and fire departments under the bus instead of cutting parks and recreation services, including these lavish facilities, I would suggest that they open up their checkbooks and make these places self-sustaining.

    Taxpayers who cannot use these facilities should not be obliged to subsidize parents with city-supported child-care services. Same with the Adult Center. It’s time to operate these like private clubs, and to charge membership fees.

    And, if this city ever gets more money for capital improvements, let’s do what Menlo Park and Burlingame and other cities have done: provide a real community and fitness center for EVERYONE, not just for the select few.

    These places are wonderful, of course, and that’s not the issue. The issue is that we can’t afford them. It’s time for this city council to have a different mindset on this and to include use fees as an element of resolving our ongoing “structural” budget deficit.

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    • Pat B says:

      Amen!

      I keep saying that I am happy to pay for all the services I don’t use: Parks (which are actually playing fields, not parks), Recreation, Youth Center, Senior Center, Schools, Library, whatever because I think they add to the value of the community. I would happily continue to pay for those things, but not if it means giving up my local Police and Fire services. If outsourcing is the only way to keep all those “frills,” I say get rid of the frills and keep public safety intact.

      Cities are obligated to provide public safety, public works, etc. There is no obligation to provide child care, sports facilities, etc. A city that can afford those things should have them. This city can’t afford them. I voted for Measure “U” and would vote for a Utility Users Tax, which is even better. People who use the fields, the Youth Center, etc. should support them with fees or a foundation or whatever unless and until the whole town is willing to chip in, as I am.

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  104. SCPD Officer says:

    Six injuried in Rodeo Shooting

    The City has no Police presence

    County Sheriff’s Office confirmed several years back, Rodeo lost its assigned Patrol Deputy because of budget cuts.

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