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Living in San Carlos March 19, 2010

San Carlos Police Officers Association Gives Official “Thumbs Down” to Outsourcing.

by Chuck Gillooley

Press Release

In a press release issued this morning, the San Carlos Police Officers Association gave a resounding thumbs-down to the proposal that was submitted by the City Manager of San Carlos that recommends outsourcing the police service in San Carlos to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.  The San Carlos POA has thoroughly reviewed the proposal that was submitted by the Sheriff’s Department before issuing this press release.  To download a copy of this release, click here:  San Carlos POA Press Release, or see the full content of the press release at the bottom of this post.

A Refreshing Perspective.

Now, before everyone jumps on the POA’s position as being self-serving, it’s important to note that these officers are turning down a significant raise in pay and possibly upward career mobility that working for the Sheriff’s Department would provide.  When was the last time you saw a professional athlete turn down more pay and more opportunity to stay with their current team?   Hmmm.

Here’s the press release in its entirety

********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.

Point of Contacts for this Press Release:

San Carlos Police Officers Association President Gil Granado (510) 377-8062

San Carlos Police Officers Association Vice President Suzanne Sheppard (408) 857-1519

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

__________________________________________________________________

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San Carlos Police Officers Association Gives Official "Thumbs Down" to Outsourcing., 2.8 out of 5 based on 10 ratings
Comments 111
  • Was this voted on by the POA membership or do the leadership decide? If the leadership did so without a vote, one might say the leadership does not want to go so they can remain in control. A king with no kingdom is not a king.

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    • Frustrated-
      The POA does not have a say in this matter.

      The City has a legal obligation to “meet and confer” with the POA. But that basically means that they will sit down with us and “ask” us what we would like to see happen with a potential contract with the Sheriff’s Office. They don’t have to implement any of our requests.

      After the “meet and confer” obligations the City council has the right and most likely will vote on this matter in a council meeting.

      As a side note, this week the POA received a request to “meet and confer” with the City negotiatior. The next step for the city is a vote.

      We should be asking the question, “why does the city council want to vote on this so soon?” In my humble opinion, the city manager wants to move on this as quickly as possible to avoid as much exposure as possible.

      Lastly, I have heard some public comment on this site about rising pensions, salaries, etc. Please be aware that when the newspapers post salaries of public employees, this includes EVERYTHING. This includes PERS obligations, Medicare (which we cant collect anyways), Social Security, Medical/dental benefits. So while it looks on the surface like city employees are making a fortune, we really aren’t. To repeat, SCPD is the lowest paid agency in San Mateo County. But you know what???? We chose to be in public safety for other reasons than pay. Personally, I chose my job because I wanted to make a difference (corny I know.) But I also chose my job for the stability. I knew that I would not have to worry about making a living in the future in case the stock market went south.

      I invite questions to the San Carlos Police Officer’s Association via this blog. I will do my best to check this and answer.

      Thanks for reading,
      Suzanne

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      • Suzanna,

        Has your Union spoken to your attorney’s? It sure sounds like its a violation of your contract and a form of Union busting. Usually the only way to void a contract is for the City to file bankruptcy and the City would have to go through many legal procedures before it could even file.

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      • Officer Sheppard and Granado:

        Lets look back at history a little bit.

        http://www.mercurynews.com/peninsula/ci_14268546

        January 26, 2010
        you threatened the city with a “very costly legal battle that would benefit neither group” when the city imposed a 3.5% INCREASE in your pay. The fact that the city council gave ANYONE a raise with a 3.5 million dollar deficit is amazing…. yet police officers got it, and it STILL wasn’t enough.

        http://www.examiner.com/a-1413673~_Dire_financial_situation__results_in_reductions_to_police_benefits.html

        May 29, 2008
        President Granado was quoted saying “said the Police Department will now have a hard time retaining and attracting quality officers. Granado said he doesn’t see why a skilled officer would accept a job in San Carlos when neighboring cities offer better benefits. We will see officers come here for training and then move on or we will have to settle for [hiring] officers that couldn’t get hired elsewhere.”

        And today, once the city “calls your bluff” you tell the citizens that you took this job “to make a difference”. Gone are your arguments that you need more money for a quality department. Gone are your threats of legal action because you want more money. Now when faced with outsourcing you just want to be part of the community. Now it seems you are only fighting to keep your jobs.

        I support public safety, but you are talking out of both sides of your mouth. The San Carlos PD is the poster child for those who cry wolf.

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  • Suzanne,
    Your lack of an answer proves exactly what I was thinking. The rank and file members were not consulted about the POA’s stance on outsourcing. Chuck applauds you for not being self-serving, but it should be mentioned that the POA president is a reserve, and the SC PD reserves are not being folded into the Sherriff’s proposal, so your stance is self-serving.

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    • Frustrated-
      Why don’t you contact me directly and we can speak about this? sancarlosPOA@yahoo.com. I would like to explain things without having such an adversarial email from you.

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    • It is apparent facts are not properly being presented by the SCPOA. Members do not agree with what the SCPOA board is presenting to the public. And why would “adversrial comments” need to be handled away from a public forum like this. Does the SCPOA have good standing?

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      • “Anonymous”
        It seem apparent that you are afraid to speak in person. Please contact me as soon as possible!

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  • A few questions about the Police Department.

    What do you mean that the President of the SCPOA is a Reserve Officer? Is that different than a full time Police Officer?
    When Suzanne said if the Sheriff’s Department were to patrol the city they would not take property crimes? It is odd to think that the Sheriff’s Department does not take property crimes everywhere else they work? It would seem they have more resources than the San Carlos Police Department.

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  • I would recommend that the City Council direct the San Carlos City Manager to follow-up on the letter that was recently submitted by the City of Redwood City to City of San Carlos, proposing the merging of the San Carlos and RWC Police Departments. Why not take RWC up on their offer and check out their thoughts on how the merging of the two Police Agencies could be a benefit to both Cities. The proposal could possibly save both Cities some funds and be a more effective alternative than ccntracting out L/E services to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office. Check it out and find out if it is a viable alternative, what has San Carlos got to loose by inquiring?

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  • FYI
    The Sheriff’s Office provides full service in contract cities, including traffic collision, DUI, property crime reports ect.. The Sheriff’s Office provides
    community based policing and can easily and professionally handle a small city like San Carlos. The notion that an agency 20 times the size of
    SCPD can’t provide personal service is ridiculous.

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    • Bill,

      Thanks for your comment. I don’t think anyone will argue that the Sheriff’s Department can’t do the job. Even Chief Rothaus stated in Monday’s meeting that they have all the training and facilities (and then some) that SCPD has. The big problem I have is that these impressive savings that the City Manager continues to wave in front of us if for LESS service than what we have now — in both the fire and police proposals. Under the current proposal, there will be fewer deputies and one fewer firefighter (among other cuts) that will be protecting San Carlos on a daily basis. How that is “the same or better service” I just don’t know.

      It would be the same thing as you asking me to price out 4BR/3BA homes, and I came back to you with a list of 3BR/2BA homes. It’s not an equivalent comparison. Since the City Council has already committed everyone to the outsourcing path, it will interesting to see what the revised figures will look like once Cal Fire and SM County start adding costs for all of the services that weren’t included on their initial proposal.

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      • Chuck,
        .
        I appreciate what you saying, but I don’t believe there will be less service. It sounds like San Carlos PD was having manpower problems and issues covering shifts. The Sheriff’s Office will never have that issue.(14 full time assigned Deputies with access to a few hundred more when needed)..therefore, I don’t buy the LESS service. If anything, the Sheriff can provide San Carlos with specialized units when needed. I like San Carlos Police and I understand the issue of getting absorbed, but its probably best for the city.

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        • Bill,

          It’s not whether the Sheriff’s office can provide the same level of service, it’s that they have not given us a cost for equivalent service. If they give us equivalent service and it doesn’t save us any money, why do it?

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  • Bill-

    FYI-You will know soon enough what Chuck is referring to if/when the Sheriff’s Office takes over San Carlos. Those services you refer to are spread out over the entire county, and will not be dedicated to San Carlos. Give it a year, and we should revisit some of your comments about the Sheriff’s Office.

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  • Hello San Carlos Officer Sheppard:

    I’m curious as to have you been offered jobs within the Sheriff’s Department or will our San Carlos Officers be unemployed? What have you been told with regards to jobs with the sheriff guys? One thing that seems to be missing from your posts is “we will lose our jobs.”

    I can understand not wanting to lose your job, but times are tough and if you are being offered jobs, you are really asking too much of the taxpayer to keep the department alive.

    As unemployment reaches over 13% in California and shows no sign of getting better, I think your focus should be on having a job, not what uniform you are wearing.

    How much of a pay cut is the police department willing to take to keep the “San Carlos” name? 10%, 20%, 50%?? If you are willing to accept the cuts, then by all means, I think you are doing an honorable job and truly appreciate what you do for me in my city and WOULD NOT support this… But..

    It sounds like you are already low paid… So it I’m guessing you are not willing to accept a 50% pay cut.. and I can’t say I blame you…

    As my wife just got laid off, I hate to admit layoffs are necessary.. But are you willing to lay off 10-15 officers just to keep the San Carlos Police Department alive?

    Can you fill us in?

    As you stated earlier, the SCPD is the lowest paid, so does that mean if you were taken in by the Sheriff’s Office, you will be paid more?

    I fully support my San Carlos Police as I feel they do a good job. That being said, I grew up in southern California and for years was very happy with the police we had. It wasn’t until my son became involved with the local police explorer (cadet) program that I learned our officers were actually deputies. Their cars didn’t say “sheriff” , they had a “police station”, so I never thought about it.

    I always felt safe, and over the 30 years I lived there, they came quickly every time I needed them. In fact, I think they did a better job than some of our surrounding cities that had police departments… They seemed to have newer cars and better equipment… Just my uneducated opinion looking from the outside.

    Over the years I became friends with one of the explorer advisers. I went home last week and we met for dinner. He is in his final years, but plans to retire soon after 30 years as a deputy.

    His opinion is that police services can be delivered more efficiently on a larger scale. He said that some of the smaller cities might have only one or two deputies actually assigned there, but the Sheriff’s could have lots of cops in a city in minutes or seconds, far more than a small city could ever provide. City boundaries were not drawn with the intent of delivering police and fire services efficiently. It makes sense to me that by pooling your resources and ignoring silly city limit signs, you could do the same job cheaper.

    It certainly wouldn’t surprise me that the City Manager may have dropped the ball here. But, if there is a plan to keep everyone in jobs, I really don’t care what your shoulder patch says or what color your police car is and as a public servant, you shouldn’t either.

    Let us know the details!

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  • Jim- I was at the Council meeting and I have talked to Staff about this. The answer to your question is Yes; all full time police department employees will be offered a job with the Sheriff. I know the police officers will make more money as deputies but nothing has been said yet about the employees that arent officers. In addition to that, the Sheriff proposes to make SCPD officers deputies, keep the cars and uniforms the same, and use those officers to patrol San Carlos. My understanding is the sergeants may face a demotion but I was told the proposal isn’t final yet so even that’s not a done deal. If they were demoted, the City has ways to help make that up to them during a negotiation process with the police officer union (POA?).

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  • Ok, You will all have jobs that pay more…. well that answers one question, what about the others?

    *How much of a pay cut is the police department willing to take to keep the “San Carlos” name? 10%, 20%, 50%??

    *are you willing to lay off 10-15 officers just to keep the San Carlos Police Department alive?

    “Concerned” raises some good points too.

    Last year you were saying that the San Carlos low pay will hurt the depatment and only people who can’t get hired anywhere else will be San Carlos cops. What has changed? If you agree to pay cuts, won’t you still have that problem you talked about?

    Now you are all being offered jobs that pay more… It seems to me that if you are that low paid, looking to go lower, and this offer is out there, it is a “no brainer” to become a Deputy.

    I just don’t understand why you would fight against this, I would be fighting for it.

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  • Jim-

    I’m a bit puzzled by your line of questioning. In my opinion, the issue at hand isn’t the employment status of individual members of the San Carlos Police Department; it’s the quality of police services for San Carlos residents. You seem to be evaluating this solely through an employment lens, but that’s really not the key issue here. After all, if there was some sort of program that matched all SCPD officers up with a job in private industry that would ensure full employment but fail miserably at addressing the needs of the community.

    The bottom line is that many residents are understandbly skeptical that turning over control to the county will save money while maintaining service levels. It’s unclear to many how these service levels will be maintained both now and in the future. Perhaps there are some economies of scale in such an arrangement, but people understandably want more details on the service level before being comfortable with a move, especially considering how difficult it would be to reverse course.

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    • JJ,

      Thank you for another well-reasoned post. The economies of scale could probably be achieved by joining with a neighboring city or cities, without giving up our local control. Compared to the Sheriff’s proposal, this would probably not save as much money, but we still haven’t seen what the Sheriff would charge for the service we have now. It would certainly not give us the same savings as their present proposal. Brian Moura keeps saying they could provide this, that, and the other, but he doesn’t say how adding services would affect the cost of the proposal. He does the same when discussing fire.

      If San Carlos could stop insulting Belmont, we might be able to work with them, but that would require a new Council because that’s where some of the nastiness is coming from. Our PD has talked with Belmont about consolidating certain services and they have had a good relationship, but the Belmont City Council is understandably wary of working with us on anything.

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  • I think Fustrated and Arn should get together for a debate on how the state budget is effecting the city of San Carlos.

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  • Just to follow-up on my last post, I think there are two structural issues with the overall approach to this outsourcing:

    1) There should be more options on the table beyond: 1) gut the police department; 2) outsource to the county. Those are two options that have pros and cons, but for something as critical as public safety, a number of different options should also be on the table, including partnerships with other towns (Belmont, Redwood City) and gutting other parts of the city budget (management expenses, parks & rec) with minimal cuts on public safety. If timing is an issue and the reason why we’ve just limited it to a couple of options, then let’s pinch all we can for a year and make a plan so next year we can make an informed decision on how to fundamentally change the cost curve. I’m not a fan of the “there’s no time to consider more options” argument because it can lead to irreversible mistakes.

    2) It’s fine to consider outsourcing as an option. But at least make it an apples to apples comparison between cost and service. Specifically, what will the same service levels cost the county if they do it. If there’s still huge savings controlling for service levels, the natural questions are “why” and “is that sustainable over time”

    I understand that costs are a huge concern…all the more reason to consider a number of options, not just 2. Moreover, I think we also have to recongize that there is value to having control — something that may be sacrificed in an outsourced scenario. How much that control is worth is a tough question — if there’s truly millions to be saved for similar service, then maybe it’s the right thing to sacrifice. But I sure don’t think it’s worth sacrificing local control over a small savings amount, especially given how difficult it will be to change course.

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    • JJ,

      Well stated. I think you have captured what many in the community are feeling right now. Why only 2 options? Why have we not had more in-depth discussions with Belmont and Redwood City? And finally, how about seeing a true apples-apples comparison on service? It’s like the old used-car sales trick — quote you the “bare bones” version to get you hooked, and then slowly add all of the desired features back in.

      And yes, if it needs to take more time than the May deadline, then let’s do it. Great summary of the issues.

      CG

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  • “Control”

    I have heard the term “we will lose control” several times now.

    I’m wondering specifically what “control” you think we will lose?

    And ask yourself, whatever “control” we will lose, why can’t we write that into a contract?

    Want deputies to pick up newspapers and take your dog out for a walk when you are on vacation? I’m sure there is a cost associated, but if it is that important to you, include it in the contract.

    For me, I started out on the fence here but the more I look into it, the better idea outsourcing seems.

    There are 4700 NUMMI workers who lost their jobs today… I’m guessing ALL of them would be very happy if they were offered a job making more money, in the same factory, wearing the same uniform, making boats, motorcycles, ping pong tables… anything….

    I’m sure a good portion of those 4700 NUMMI workers would love to be cops in our city for half of what we pay our current officers. Obviously that isn’t realistic, but I hope you get my point.

    I have never seen times this tough and I think our police officers who apparently have been trying to get every cent out of the city for a few years now, need a reality check.

    Living in a Southern California Sheriff’s Office contract city for over 30 years, we really are creating alot of fuss for nothing.

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    • Jim,

      I don’t think many people believe that outsourcing is a bad idea. The real problem is the initial proposal from the Sheriff’s office which only calls for 12 patrol officers, one traffic officer, one detective, and one captain. The proposal basically calls for over a 50% reduction in staff at the police department. Yes all the current San Carlos Officers will be hired on at the Sheriff’s department, BUT NOT ALL WILL BE WORKING IN SAN CARLOS. If the proposal was anywhere near the current staffing levels, then I believe the Council and citizens would approve of it. But The City Manager does not want to do an apple to apple comparison, because he knows what the City is paying now is cheaper then what it would cost to provide the same level of service via the Sheriff’s department. I am also hearing rumors that the City manager is not interested in merging with other police departments, but only interested in the outsourcing approach. The interesting thing is that the City has had a budget deficit for the last ten years and all of the suddenly the City Manager in in a rush to solve the problem in a week. The bottom line is cuts will be have to be made across the board, employees will need to make concessions, citizens have to be willing to pay (or be taxed) more, and the ideas of outsourcing police and fire need to be thought out and not rushed.

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  • Jim-

    I can’t speak for others, but my definition of “control” includes the ability to locally influence and define:
    1) what the police department focuses on
    2) how the police department decides to focus on it

    And while a contract can address and define some of those concerns, I don’t think it’s the same thing.

    For one thing, a contract may not allow the same flexibility to react to changing conditions. For example, let’s say we decide to outsource and in a year or so an unexpected problem comes up…say there’s drug activity in parks after dark. The process and ability to shift resources to address that problem may be very different in a locally controlled department vs. an outsourced arrangement.

    Moreover, what happens if the contract isn’t followed — what are the consequences? Say the contract calls for coverage of X police each evening in San Carlos, but because of other problems elsewhere, coverage is being diverted to other communities in the county. The contract may stipulate that San Carlos in turn pays less since its getting less service, but that may not be much comfort to the citizens of San Carlos that want the coverage, not money back. What’s the recourse that San Carlos has if service levels aren’t met? Because just voiding the contract and putting a department back together again can’t just happen at the snap of a finger.

    From a different perspective, let me turn the question around — why do some folks think that everything will be the same for a fraction of the price? Is it a reasonable expectation that for a fraction of the price, service levels will be the same or better and local control and oversight will still be strong? Again, I’m willing to believe there are some economies of scale, but the concept that this is all upside with no downside just doesn’t pass the sniff test. There’s no such thing as a free lunch — let’s be clear on what the costs are so we can make an informed decision.

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  • JJ:

    You said “Say the contract calls for coverage of X police each evening in San Carlos, but because of other problems elsewhere, coverage is being diverted to other communities in the county. The contract may stipulate that San Carlos in turn pays less since its getting less service, but that may not be much comfort to the citizens of San Carlos that want the coverage, not money back.”

    If you listen to the interview given by Officer Sheppard, this is already happening. She talks about how Belmont and Redwood City police are covering them on serious calls. She fails to mention that they leave the city to help other cities too. I’ve seen them several times in Belmont and Redwood City.

    That means when big problems happen in other cities, San Carlos sends people to help, leaving less people in our city.. and I’m ok with that. We can’t staff our departments as though they are facing the Watts riots every day. It is common sense really.

    Fire Fighters have seasonal fire fighters to help with the wild fires. We can not afford to have them working all the time.

    Sheppard even talks about how short staffed San Carlos Police and often work with only “two or three” officers. Doesn’t the contract call for 3 deputies?

    A contract means 3 deputies. When someone is hurt or sick, it is no longer the city’s job to find who is going to replace them, it is now the Sheriff’s job…. and of course all costs associated with someone being sick or injured.

    Can we live in a city without parks, garbage men, libraries, sewers, paved roads? … Of course we can. But who would want to?

    If keeping those things the same means changing the uniform and color of the cop in my neighborhood, I support it.

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    • Jim,

      Both police and fire cross city lines as part of mutual aid agreements. However, each department has to do its share. We cannot be so understaffed that we can’t do our fair share. If that becomes a pattern, other departments can, rightfully, complain, or even charge us for the extra help. There goes your savings.

      I want the answer to JJ’s questions as well. What recourse DO we have if the Sheriff doesn’t provide the services we’re paying for? How WILL we be assured of flexibility? Those questions have not been answered, and the cost of four officers and a sergeant on the streets of San Carlos, plus a full compliment of detectives, CSOs, etc., has not yet been calculated.

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      • Pat,
        You are 100% wrong! We currently don’t do our fair share. Belmont and Redwood City give us mutual aid way more than we give it to them. It already is a pattern. Get your facts straight.

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  • Woo Hoo, someone took her cranky pill today! That’s my point. When Suzanne says we’re short-handed, she’s right. We cannot afford further cuts to our PD, whether it’s run by the City of San Carlos or the Sheriff.

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    • But don’t we know that there will be cuts to the PD if the council does not outsource, and the year after that we will lose 5-7 police officers (not vacancies, but actual people). What then? Doesn’t outsourcing atleast let us hold some ground?

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  • Jim-

    I’m not clear how your example of Redwood City or Belmont police currently providing help addresses the concerns about adapting to changing community needs or what recourse there is if the contract isn’t followed. It’s an interesting sidebar but speaks nothing of the ability of the county to adapt as local needs change nor does it address the options San Carlos would have if things don’t go according to plan.

    But instead of dwelling on that, I’d like to return to the question I asked you. You seem to think this change will be cosmetic only — you’ve referenced that all that will change is the name on the sleeves and cars. But as John pointed out, the current proposal is for a far lower level of service. And moreover, does it make sense that the county could do everything at the same level but for millions of $ less?

    I don’t doubt these are very tough decisions. That’s why I’m an advocate of an apples-to-apples comparison of the options and of evaluating more than two options. But the suggestion that a community could save millions in police simply costs by changing the name on a sleeve or police car with no impact on current or future service just defies common sense.

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    • JJ:

      Think of our police departments as cell phone towers….

      If you have several departments servicing the same small area, you need a ton of towers, one for each company….

      But if there was only one cell phone company, one tower would be needed… You could significantly reduce the need for so many cell phone towers.

      I get it… I don’t think I’ve done a good job at getting my point across.

      Drive through Woodside and Portola Valley… Both Sheriff’s department contract areas. Do you feel unsafe there?

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  • What bothers me is the Police Officers were here to answer questions at the beginning of this blog, but when tough questions were asked, they vanished.

    They can’t get their story straight… In one interview they claim they are short staffed and have “only” one or two people working at a time… Then they badmouth a county offer of 3 officers… with 40 others working with a few minutes drive.

    If for whatever reason this contract with the county doesn’t go through, the same cops who are telling us they do this job because they love it, not for the money will be crying how under paid they are and how they need more money. I mean they did that TWO MONTHS AGO.

    Once the outsourcing comes up, not a peep.

    The men and women of the San Carlos Police have lost all credibility in my eyes. They brought this problem on themselves.

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  • Concerned-

    Perhaps I should clarify…I don’t have an issue with outsourcing as a possible solution. What I have a problem with is the process. This is a HUGE decision that will potentially impact the lives and home values of all residents of San Carlos and will be difficult to reverse.

    Given that, I think we need and deserve stronger reasons for why outsourcing is the right solution for our community. Stating than it works with cell phone towers or other generic examples or that other towns with less than 20% of our population and no downtown have had success with it just isn’t sufficient IMO. This is a serious question that requires serious analysis, not shortcuts.

    As I mentioned earlier, it’s very discouraging to see this thing apparently fast tracked without a clear apples-to-apples comparison of costs, a comprehensive list of immediate and long-term costs/benefits, and other options brought to the table and being investigated. If it’s an issue of time, then make cuts in other areas in the short-term and get the analysis for the long-term. Don’t get me wrong, I love parks/recreation and all the other parts of this town — that’s why I supported and voted for Measure U. But closing a park is something that can be reversed in a year…I can’t say the same about outsourcing a police department.

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  • JJ,
    What if we close all the parks, the Youth and Adult Center. That is a viable option. The Chief of police has said himself, doing that will cause crime, especially juvenille crime, to go up. So we will need more police officers. Then next year comes, we have a rise in crime, and a budget defecit. But we have cut Parks and Rec so the only place to cut is public safety. So we don’t outsource and we cut public safety, and crime continues to rise.

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  • JJ:

    Outsourcing works. It works with big cities… It works with small cities.

    Alameda County Sheriff’s Office
    Oakland International Airport
    Peralta Community College
    A.C. Transit (in Alameda County)
    Dublin

    Brea Police Department
    Yorba Linda

    Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department
    Orinda
    Oakley
    Lafayette
    San Ramon (for radio dispatch only)
    Danville
    Pittsburg (for radio dispatch only)
    Moraga (for radio dispatch only)
    Rio Vista (a city in Solano County near Antioch/ radio dispatch only)
    Contra Costa County Housing Authority
    Contra Costa County Animal Control
    AC Transit Bus System

    Kern County Sheriff’s Department
    City of McFarland
    City of Wasco
    City of Taft

    Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
    City of Agoura Hills
    City of Artesia
    City of Avalon
    City of Bellflower
    City of Bradbury
    City of Calabasas
    City of Carson
    City of Cerritos
    City of Commerce
    City of Compton
    City of Diamond Bar
    City of Duarte
    City of Hawaiian Gardens
    City of Hidden Hills
    City of Industry
    City of La Canada Flintridge
    City of La Habra Heights
    City of Lakewood
    City of La Mirada
    City of Lancaster
    City of La Puente
    City of Lawndale
    City of Lomita
    City of Lynwood
    City of Malibu
    City of Norwalk
    City of Palmdale
    City of Paramount
    City of Pico Rivera
    City of Rancho Palos Verdes
    City of Rolling Hills
    City of Rolling Hills Estates
    City of Rosemead
    City of San Dimas
    City of Santa Clarita
    City of South El Monte
    City of Temple City
    City of Walnut
    City of West Hollywood
    City of Westlake Village
    Los Angeles MTA (Light Rail/Subway)
    Metrolink (Commuter Rail)
    Los Angeles Community College District
    The former L.A. County Marshal’s Office(the now-disbanded Municipal Courts’ own “police force”, independent of the LASD)

    Maywood Police Department
    Cudahy(once contracted w/ the neighboring Bell Police Department for many years, then attempted to contract out w/ the L.A. Sheriff’s Department, before reluctantly agreeing to use the Maywood Police)

    Marin County Sheriff’s Department
    Marin City

    Napa County Sheriff’s Department
    American Canyon (American Canyon Police Department)
    Yountville

    Orange County Sheriff’s Department
    Aliso Viejo
    Dana Point
    Laguna Hills
    Laguna Niguel
    Laguna Woods
    Lake Forest
    Mission Viejo
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    San Clemente
    San Juan Capistrano
    Stanton
    Villa Park
    John Wayne Airport

    Placer County Sheriff
    Colfax
    Loomis

    Riverside County Sheriff’s Department
    Calimesa
    Canyon Lake
    Coachella
    Indian Wells
    Lake Elsinore
    La Quinta
    Menifee
    Moreno Valley
    Norco
    Palm Desert
    Perris
    Rancho Mirage
    San Jacinto
    Southern Coachella Valley CSD
    Temecula
    Wildomar

    Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department
    Rancho Cordova

    San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department
    Adelanto Police Department
    Apple Valley Police Department
    Big Bear Lake Police Department
    Chino Hills Police Department
    Fontana Station
    Grand Terrace Police Department
    Hesperia Police Department
    Highland Police Department
    Loma Linda Police Department
    Needles Police Department
    Rancho Cucamonga Police Department
    Twentynine Palms Police Department
    Victorville Police Department
    Yucaipa Police Department
    Yucca Valley Police Department

    San Diego County Sheriff’s Department
    City of Del Mar
    City of Encinitas
    City of Imperial Beach
    City of Lemon Grove
    City of Poway
    City of San Marcos
    City of Santee
    City of Solana Beach
    City of Vista

    San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department
    City of Lathrop

    San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department
    Town of Portola Valley
    Town of Woodside
    Parts of the City of San Mateo
    Caltrain (Commuter Rail)
    SamTrans (Bus)

    Santa Barbara County Sheriff
    Buellton
    Carpinteria
    Goleta
    Santa Ynez
    Solvang

    Santa Clara County Sheriff
    Saratoga
    Cupertino
    Los Altos Hills
    Valley Transportation Authority (Bus/Light Rail)

    Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department
    Sonoma
    Windsor

    Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department
    Hughson
    Patterson
    Riverbank
    Waterford

    Ventura County Sheriff’s Department
    Camarillo
    Fillmore
    Moorpark
    Ojai
    Thousand Oaks

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  • Concerned-

    That’s an impressive list and would be a fine answer if I asked “does outsourcing exist”…however, that’s not what I asked. I’m asking if it’s the right solution for us, and I think that requires a bit more analysis than saying “everyone else is doing it, why can’t we.”

    I’m a bit astonished that a seemingly simple request to do an apples-to-apples comparison of cost/service and consider other options (like partnering with Belomt and RWC) is so controversial.

    Again, I’m not denying that outsourcing is currently done or could be a viable solution. But let’s do it for the right reasons…if this is such a no-brainer there has to be a better rationale than Woodside, Oakland Airport, Compton, etc. do it.

    Anonymous-

    My point on closing some (not all) parks and youth center isn’t that it wouldn’t cause problems and I think that’s the ideal long-term situation. It’s simply that if time is a factor, then I would prefer to make those short-term sacrifices for a year before making a long-term decision than make a rushed decision. I’m presuming a year is adequate time to come to a resolution on outsourcing or whatever long-term alternative makes sense to hep the budget in future years, so this wouldn’t be a solution in perpetuity. It would just allow more time and be reversible (you can reopen these things in a year; you can’t reopen a police department in a year).

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    • JJ,

      Once again, I agree. Unfortunately, Mayor Royce said this morning that consolidation is not an option, we have to outsource. It seems to me he looks at everything from the standpoint of saving money, without considering other factors. He said he wants to make changes this year that will affect San Carlos for 10 years or more. I think it’s a mistake to rush into anything that important, but he and Andy have both come out in favor of outsourcing and Omar won’t say anything. I’ll be amazed if he doesn’t vote for outsourcing ASAP, which makes three votes.

      End of story; never mind what the citizens of San Carlos think.

      I don’t know what the rest of you do for a living. I’m not a public employee. I’m a “well-known city activist” according to the Daily Journal and I’m in no one’s pocket. I speak my own mind.

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      • Pat,
        Do you feel that you speak for the Citizen’s of San Carlos? Then why is it that you are the only one who gets up and talks on every subject at the Council Meetings? No one else seems to back you up.

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        • An,

          Why don’t you come out of the closet and take responsibility for your sniping?

          BTW, re “the Citizen’s of San Carlos” The Citizen’s [sic] what? I don’t know which citizen you’re referring to or what of his you think I think I’m representing.

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  • It seems to me some people on this board are San Carlos Officers, although they may not come out and say it.

    My question is, how many San Carlos Officers actually live in San Carlos?

    My guess is many of the San Carlos Officers do not live in the city. This would explain why closing down all other city services would be more acceptable to them.

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  • Concerned:

    You say that “The men and women of the San Carlos Police have lost all credibility in my eyes. They brought this problem on themselves. ”

    How exactly did the lowest paid officers in this county that put their lives on the line on a daily basis for you and your family bring this 3.5+ million dollar problem on themselves? It seems like you hold a lot of anger and resentment towards the Police Department and it’s officers and this really isn’t about outsourcing or not outsourcing.

    I think you would have a point if they were the highest paid officers or even middle of the road asking for higher wages, but the fact is that they are the lowest paid CITY employees when compared to equivalent counterparts from other cities and they were merely asking to be treated fairly.

    If you want to place blame on this budget “problem”, I suspect you’ll need to look elsewhere.

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  • Mayor Royce made the Chronicle today, dressed up as the Easter Bunny, on the back page of the “Insight” section. Here’s the link: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/04/04/EDMEYER.DTL

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    • From what I understand, as part of the new budget Easter will now be outsourced to the Tooth Fairy. She obviously has cash….

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      • But does she have a solid business model? It’s all about the business model, right?

        For all we know, she may be mortgaging the future of generations to come of tooth fairies!

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  • Wow,

    Things are getting heated.

    Where is our hero Matt Grocott? He was instrumental in getting us into this mess. What is his solution?

    Matt Grocott – what ideas do you have to offer?

    Matt Grocott how are we going to balance the budget?

    Come on Matt, what ideas do you have to offer?

    You opposed raising revenues Matt Grocott; how should this budget be balanced?

    You’ve been awfully quite Matt Grocott – are you waiting for us to go the route of Vallejo so you can buy in?

    Where is Matt Grocott? What are his ideas? Does he have any?

    Scott

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    • Don’t mistake me for a Grocott apologist, but he did offer his solution at the end of the last budget meeting. It starts with about 18% salary cuts for upper management and lower cuts for lower paid employees. He eliminates the Asst. City Manager, which he’s suggested before, and the housing and economic development manager (which I think is a mistake). He combines that with some of the cuts proposed in the City Manager’s “other path.”

      I’d like to know whether he’d be willing to vote yes on a fiscal emergency so we could put a general tax measure on the November ballot. He refused two years ago, which is why Measure “U” had to wait until ’09. I don’t know whether things are bad enough now to qualify as a fiscal emergency in his book.

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  • Supreme Court won’t toss case against San Carlos cops

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/04/05/BAOP1CPVKV.DTL&tsp=1

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  • For those of you who are absolutely for outsourcing your PD, without wanting to explore other viable options: “Be careful what you wish for.”

    For those of you who have the smarts enough to realize what outsourcing could potentially mean for the citizens of San Carlos, and are opposed to it: “Fight the good fight, because you know what is at stake.”

    That’s all I have to say about that…….

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    • Other viable options? I hope everyone who wants us to consolidate read the paper this morning. Burlingame residents came out and adamantly oppossed a merger with San Mateo.

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      • I saw that. If the POA doesn’t want outsourcing or consolidation, I’d like to know what they propose. I don’t like the idea of more cuts to the SCPD, and I’m sure they don’t want to take a pay cut.

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        • That’s the thing. What does the POA want? If it is not consolidation or outsourcing, would they be willing to accept a 10-20% pay-cut? I highly doubt it. They are already the lowest paid in the county, and have told the coucil that they will not be able to be retained at that low pay scale.

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      • Yes, I saw that article too. Interesting reaction from the Burlingame PD. I posted the link to that article over on the White Oaks Blog page on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/WhiteOaksBlogcom/182856554258

        Important to note that Burlingame is only looking at 2 options — consolidate or cut. Outsourcing to the Sheriff’s dept doesn’t seem to be on the table right now. Perhaps if it were, the reaction to consolidation might be different?

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        • Maybe San Mateo will be more interested in partnering with us if they get snubbed by Burlingame.

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          • Truly…San Mateo County should have one metro police department. What…770k population, with 23 different agencies. These small cities can’t afford to provide their citizens with a fully staffed police department. Blame whoever you want, but having a large metro agency would safe the tax payers in all of San Mateo County MILLIONS of dollars. PS: Those who think it would not work….check out other large metropolitan areas around the United States. OUTSOURCE….it works….its cheaper!

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  • Anonymous,

    I read somewhere recently that the “sweet spot” for economies of scale is a population of around 100,000. I think consolidation should be carefully considered, but I’m wary of a county-wide department. I know there are very large departments elsewhere but I’m not convinced it’s the best solution.

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    • Pat,

      What are wary about? Is the best solution a tiny department that can’t run full staff and is constantly looking for ways to cut corners….? Set it up like Clark County, NV. The Las Vegas Metro is a fine organization that handles a large resident population and a huge transient population. I just believe a large police agency would benefit the citizens of the county. I have yet to hear an argument that has swayed me to believe that tiny departments provide better service. They just don’t have the resources. A large Metro in San Mateo County would consolidate the best of the best of every department, all while saving MILLIONS of tax dollars.

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  • Why on earth would any other city in this county want to “partner” with us? I can see a partnership with San Mateo or Redwood City working if they were in the same financial position as us… Massive cuts or lose your department…. But as bad as things are for them, they are nowhere near as bad off as San Carlos is.

    If we partnered with ANY other city, we would be a financial drain on their department as we can not support our own… IF this ficticious city were as bad off as we are, that would mean major layoffs….

    I think Anonymous might be right… As cuts get tougher and tougher, one big department would make sense. But I don’t think we should stop with police or fire. Why does this county need 23 city managers… all making well over 200K a year??

    As yourself this question, if you were a San Mateo or Redwood City resident, would you want your city partnering with a city that according to our Police Officers has been so badly managed they caused this major financial disaster?

    NOT ME!

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    • Jim,

      If residents won’t tolerate consolidating one or two departments, how do you think they’d feel about merging with another city? Too many San Carlans think we’re better than everyone else. They sneer at Belmont and Redwood City, our closest neighbors.

      I think there is reluctance on the part of other cities to get involved with San Carlos. I wonder what makes us so attractive to the Sheriff.

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      • Pat,
        It is obvious what makes us attractive to the sherriff. We are a very whitebread town. If he comes in a does a good job here, he will be able to sell outsourcing to other agencies.

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        • Some of us wonder whether he’d wait until he’s done a good job to go after other city PDs.

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  • Pat:

    NO NEW TAXES!

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    • Jim,

      That’s what we’ve been doing at the Federal, State, and local levels for years. Look where that got us.

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  • There have been some good posts here, especially from J.J. and Pat. Here are the problems I see with outsourcing:

    1) With both the Sheriff’s Department and CalFire, we would be asking two agencies to change the fundamental dynamics of their operating structures to accommodate a city service model. These agencies were created to patrol rural areas and fight wildland fires. Their staffing and equipment are commensurate to those tasks. They are not going to realign their basic operating procedures or command structure just to provide contract services to a city such as San Carlos, as much as they might promise to do so.

    2) Once you’ve dismantled city police and fire services, there is no leverage to enforce any actual or perceived breaches in the contract. Mayor Royce has talked abourt setting benchmarks and performance standards, but those aren’t realistic. When you’ve surrendered control, and you have no other options, you have also surrendered any ability to demand or request the agreed-upon service levels. Outsourcing isn’t like shutting down a park, because you can always reopen the park. But it’s pretty hard to reform a police or fire department. These agencies will end up telling us, like CalFire told the Riverside County Grand Jury: our way or the highway.

    3) This city seems to think that outsourcing is convenient path to avoid the CalPERS juggernaut — the retirement payments to the state fund that San Carlos had deferred for many years and now has an obligation to play catch up, which is causing some of the budget increases. Neither the Sheriff’s Department nor CalFire are immune from those obligations as well, and we could easily see, in a year or so, a big increase in our contract fees should there be any crisis in the budgets of those agencies. And has anyone checked the news lately on the budget deficits in San Mateo County and the State of California? I rest my case.

    4) There is plenty of evidence that CalFire has unhappy clients. From Riverside County in Southern California — our city manager’s former haunt — to Half Moon Bay, local agencies are regretting their deals with CalFire. Aside from service and operational issues, which are not insignificant, CalFire has been raising its fees substantially to those agencies. CalFire’s budget has tripled in 10 years.

    5) Our city staff likes to point to all of those cities and towns that have sheriff’s departments acting as city police. What they are not saying is that the overwhelming majority of these arrangements were not the result of outsourcing as we are defining it. They were pre-existing conditions. They were rural areas that always had sheriff’s patrols, or rural areas that grew into incorporated cities and decided to keep the sheriff’s model as their law enforcement agency. It’s one thing for that model to grow organically in those communities, and something else to fold a city police department into a sheriff’s department. The issue is really whether this outsourcing to a specific agency — San Mateo County Sheriff — will deliver the services that we in San Carlos should expect and demand of our city government.

    6) While it might be argued that incorporating all of our police personnel into the Sheriff’s Department would save jobs and, perhaps not incidentally, increase the quality of the Sheriff’s Department, the odds are high that we would see very few of our original officers left on San Carlos streets, if not in Year 1 then certainly in Year 2. Maybe it’s hard for people to grasp the impact of that, but the loss of that knowledge is tremendous. Even keeping the same number of patrol vehicles on our streets would be regressive if they are mostly strangers. The problem is that the Sheriff’s Department covers widely separated areas and also runs the county jail, so it has to deploy people based on the needs of its overall organization, not on the requests of one lowly city. We cannot expect the leopard to change its spots.

    I think many of us concur that the “Two Paths” approach of our city manager is highly flawed. Look at San Jose — that city is shutting down recreation facilities like mad, including swimming pools, and cutting library hours, to deal with something like a $150 million budget deficit. How do we get off cutting public safety with no “pain” anywhere else? Why shouldn’t we have user fees for every recreational facility? People rant about the problems that closing the Youth Center might cause, but have they paused to consider that other cities in this county, including Burlingame, do not have country-club style youth centers? I’m still smarting over the biggest omission in this city — a “community center” with a pool and fitness facilities. Where is it? It’s pretty hard for me to shed any tears over special interest groups paying their way when the city has not provided the basics for the majority of our residents.

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    • Bravo! Well said.

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      • Ken,
        A couple problems with your argument. The Sherriff and Cal-Fire will not be changing their model, since they already cover cities. They would just be extending what they already do. Another thing to point out is that the city will be laying off 7 more officers next year, where does that knowledge base go then? Also, many Sherriff’s Deputies live in San Carlos, so maybe we will see a patrol force made up of more people who actually live here. Third, Half Moon Bay is upset about going to Cal-Fire because the local union has three members on that Fire Board. They want Cal-Fire out, not because of the service, but because they want their guys in. Use your head Ken, don’t believe all the rhetoric. Lastly, those special interests have built a great deal of this community. Of course you have no problem cutting something that you have not helped build.
        Get a clue.

        P.S. The San Jose proposal also calls for laying off over a hundred firefighters/police officers. Way to pull what you want from the story, but not the actual facts.

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    • Ken,

      True, the Sheriff’s Office patrols rural neighborhoods, but don’t they also handle the North Fair Oaks area of the county and other urban neighborhoods? I don’t know how often you get down there, but it’s not very RURAL. San Mateo County has a lot of Deputies who were previously city cops in the county. I’m sure, the experience level is far greater working in larger busier cities than a small city like San Carlos. In other words, the Sheriff’s Office seems professional enough to serve the citizens of San Carlos.. I have had positive experiences with Deputies and San Carlos Cops alike….it’s just a uniform. Just my thoughts…….

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      • We lived in North Fair Oaks for 10 years. It is not rural, and it’s not safe. I had positive experiences with deputies there, but we did not go outside at night as we can here.

        When the boy across the street saw kids stealing my mail, the deputy said he would not drive the boy around the neighborhood to see if he could identify the thieves because that would put the boy at risk of serious harm. Can you imagine that in your neighborhood?

        When I reported a group of kids beating up another kid, a very nice deputy came out and said he wished he could really intervene in these kids’ lives but he just didn’t have the resources.

        When I contacted the County drug task force to tell them that a one-eyed drug dealer was visiting my neighbors every day when the neighbors got home from work, they told me to go out and write down his license plate number then they’d look into it. I chose not to risk my life to do their job. The neighbors had been arrested for drugs; there was no doubt what was going on. The dealer was very distinctive looking so they would not have mistaken him for anyone else. They just couldn’t be bothered to come out and sit across the street at 5:15 pm to write down his plate number themselves.

        Can you imagine that lack of response from our small town police force? I can’t.

        We have at least one officer who came to San Carlos to get away from that kind of policing. Maybe that’s why our officers don’t want to go to the Sheriff’s office event though they would make more money.

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        • Pat,

          You have absolutely no idea what your talking about! The Sheriff’s Office handles neighborhood issues that a person in San Carlos could not even imagine. Secondly, to say the San Mateo County Task Force doesn’t perform at a high level is another example of you not getting your facts straight. Recent article in the San Mateo Daily reported how effective the narcotics task force performs. I’ve lived in San Carlos for 44 years and have had the same issues with San Carlos police. One, they are so understaffed and unable to cover shifts. Second, if the $$%%%** hits the fan, they have to call for mutual aid. If you truly live here, you would know. Your losing your credibility in this blog.

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          • John,

            More ad hominem, a very immature tactic. Putting that aside, if you have lived in San Carlos for 44 years, how can you tell me I didn’t experience what I experienced in North Fair Oaks?

            Do you think that outsourcing to the Sheriff, with fewer officers on the streets of San Carlos is an answer to understaffing? Do you think that with
            fewer officers here and no sergeant on site, there wouldn’t be calls for help from elsewhere?

            Is understaffing the fault of the police officers or is it the result of cutting positions year after year to meet budget cuts?

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          • How many cops do you we really think San Carlos has been putting out on the street? Someone said they run 2 cops and a supervisor…..That’s it! That wouldn’t make me feel safe. If the Sheriff puts three cops and a supervisor….so be it. Seems that the Sheriff can tap other resources when needed. It also seems that this post tends to bash Cal Fire and the Sheriff’s Office, when in fact they are only trying to help a dire situation. It’s unfortunate, but San Carlos needs to get itself in order from the top down, and it won’t be able to provide basic services when attempting to get it’s house in order.

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  • Well said Pat. I feel bad for people like you, who really know what’s going on, and will be affected by the change, even when you fought your hardest to keep it from happening.

    You deserve the best service, and it is a shame you will get something entirely different.

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  • Well, Anonymous, where to start?

    First, I would suggest that you also check your facts on CalFire. Reading the Riverside County Grand Jury Report would be a good beginning, since Riverside County is CalFire’s single largest “client” in the State. There’s plenty in that report about operations and services, and I doubt if the grand jury is stacked with union reps.

    Also, reading the California Legislative Analyst’s Report on CalFire — the Analyst in an independent, non-partisan entity, by the way — would be instructive. You would see the horrendous increase in its budget, its inability to fully account for some of its expenses, and its “mission creep” away from its priority objective of fighting wildland fires.

    Further, the point I was making about San Jose cutting into recreation services is that this city is not trying to offset its entire budget deficit on public safety, as San Carlos is trying to do through the recommended option that our city manager has made.

    What our city management is trying to do is essentially “save” parks and recreation while throwing police and fire out the window. Indeed, San Jose is looking at major cuts to police and fire as well, but the city’s cuts are distributed throughout the agency and all departments are getting hit. Also, San Jose is clearly a much larger city than San Carlos and it’s not down to the last three patrol officers as we are.

    Also, you seem to have forgotten that while this city has been spending lavishly for years on special interest recreation facilities — leaving out the one thing that I as a taxpayer might be able to use, which is a community center — it has been slashing and burning the police and fire departments to unacceptably low levels. That’s come over 7-8 years. But, gosh, it’s OK to move forward with a $2 million artificial turf project at Highlands before our budget “woes” are resolved, right?

    Let me be clear on my position:

    I AM against outsourcing to the sheriff and CalFire, which are not the logical first options for our city.

    I am NOT against regionalization of public safety when it is done in a measured, organic way as other cities in San Mateo County are pursuing.

    I AM against this current rush effort to push the police department out the door by May, which is unconscionable and imprudent.

    I am NOT against having rational discussions with neighboring cities, which have more common interests with us than with CalFire or the County Sheriff’s Department.

    I AM for making cuts across the board, as needed, for this next fiscal year, and I think the police department — and maybe the fire department — can handle them. That would buy us some time to look, if necessary, at other options: another revenue measure, or a well-thought-out merger with one or more cities. Haste makes waste!

    If a CalFire deal didn’t work out, do you want to go running to Sacramento to lodge a complaint? Or lobby local state legislators to come to our rescue?

    Lastly, it’s odd that this city council majority does not seem to have the moxie to impose parks and recreation user fees or establish a parking fee system for downtown. And that puts this council outside the mainstream of best practices from its counterparts in the rest of San Mateo County.

    Nor does the council seem to have the will to look at “outsourcing” entire city departments other than police and fire. It wants to save Shangri-la and the illusion of “most livable city” by truncating the public safety foundations that have made it so. That’s poor public policy, plain and simple.

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  • Ken- Very well stated and I completely agree. I hope that the City Council considers ALL options – even those that aren’t on the table right now. Perhaps implementing some of the 10% or 20% budget cuts as proposed initially along with developing some much needed Parks and Rec fees and asking employees to give up something can allow us to put this HUGE decision off for a year while all options are considered and reviewed by unbiased consultants…

    It is beyond me why anyone feels they are entitled to a completely free “daycare” program in this economy while core services are being cut and outsourced. The youth center needs to at the least pay for itself in these times. Charge something to those using it to help offset the cost of staff that have to be there to supervise. I pay hundreds of dollars a month to have my child supervised after school. People adore the youth center, so I believe that they’ll be willing to pay a price to have such a luxury in these times. I think we should look at fees for the Senior Center as well and any other service that is being offered as a “want” and not a “need”.

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  • J and Ken,

    Thanks to both of you for laying this out so clearly. If just one more Councilman would slow down and consider the options, all the options, carefully instead of giving the PD the boot ASAP and giving notice to Belmont that we’ll be out of the Belmont San Carlos Fire Department as soon as we legally can (even though we don’t know where we’ll get fire service) we might have a chance at a reasonable solution to this problem. Two have already declared their need for speed. “Poor public policy” is putting it very diplomatically.

    There’s really no hurry to give notice to Belmont. If San Carlos “freezes” its contribution to the fire dept we’ve violated the JPA agreement. We then discuss with Belmont how to resolve the problem. If Andy’s performance at recent Fire Board meetings is any indication of future events, that would be a very short discussion. The next step is for Belmont to sue us, which eats up any savings we might have expected.

    San Carlos spends way too much defending lawsuits that could be avoided, and we’re headed for another one.

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  • J:

    That’s sounds like a perfectly rational approach to solving our problems. We’ve all seen how willing San Carlos residents are to step up, write checks, do volunteer work and anything else necessary to support their favorite programs. But, no, our council majority doesn’t want to give them the opportunity to do that — it wants a quick-fix solution that “saves the day”. Except that it doesn’t when public safety is further diminished or removed from local control.

    For inspiration, our council might consider looking at what Burlingame and other cities north of us are doing. The city manager there is personally volunteering a major pay cut. The city is working with San Mateo, which has an excellent police chief, to merge police services. Burlingame has already merged fire services with Hillsborough. Further, Millbrae and San Bruno are talking about a merged police department, and have already hired a consultant in that regard. I speak to some of those council members from time to time and I can assure you that a tieup with CalFire or the Sheriff’s Department is the furthest thing from their minds.

    Yes, even in those places there is resistance to change, especially to regionalization, which is a bitter pill to swallow. But, in all honestly, I think those transitions will have minimal impact on real-world services to the residents of those communities. They will retain most of their public safety personnel who have the engagement and knowledge of their cities. And most public officials in those places realize that these are steps in what could be an expanding consolidation process, depending on future economic conditions.

    Those city managers and city councils have been responsible, methodical, diplomatic and logical. They do not feud with each other, as San Carlos does with Belmont over our fire services. And even though Burlingame had revenue measures that passed, the city planned ahead, knowing that those measures might not be enough to offset their budget deficits. So they had Plan B in the wings.

    Here in San Carlos, it looks like our city decided to start with Plan 9 From Outer Space.

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    • Ken,

      I couldn’t agree more.

      I think we would have had a good chance of consolidating with the Belmont PD, by far the most logical choice, if our Council, and maybe staff, hadn’t been so disrespectful of Belmont and the fire department..

      I remember the Police Chief reporting to the Council some time ago that the two departments were working together and considering what they could share in order to achieve economies of scale. Consolidation is only a short step from there, but we’ve burned that bridge.

      I don’t think there’s any chance of consolidating anything with Belmont as long as this Council is in power. The City Manager is expected to leave by the end of the year, but his replacement will be hired by this Council, which is really scary.

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  • So, Anonymous, The Sheriff and CalFire are just doing this out of the goodness of their hearts because they know we’re in a bind?

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    • Didn’t San Carlos reach out to these organizations?

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      • There seems to be a lot of effort being put into these blogs by conspiracy theorists who think the Sheriff’s Office and Cal Fire have this “plan” to rule the world.

        First, most of these questions posted on this board could have been answered if you would have actually sat through the entire City Council meeting last month.

        Cal Fire and the Sheriff’s Department was ASKED to provide a bid. They did it. There is nothing more to it.

        Both agencies have their own budget concerns, so you can hint about some black helicopter plot to take down the city of San Carlos by saying “doing this out of the goodness of their hearts”. I think they are simply “they are doing their job.” They WERE ASKED. Do you really think Arnold is sitting in Sacramento telling his staff that before he leaves office, he wants Cal Fire to take over services to the City of San Carlos? Come on… get real.

        If they can provide the services cheaper, then there is a flaw in the San Carlos model.

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      • That’s correct.

        At the December City Council meeting in San Carlos, the Council authorized the City Manager and City Staff to contact neighboring Police Departments (Redwood City, Belmont, San Mateo, County Sheriff) and neighboring Fire Departments (Redwood City, CalFire, San Mateo, Menlo Park Fire) to explore outsourcing, regionalization and related options. Check the City’s “epackets.net” web site for a copy of the Council Reports for those agenda items.

        The discussions among those agencies and San Carlos began in December. To date, only the County Sheriff and Cal Fire have submitted proposals.

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  • The City Manager and CalFire have been very friendly for years. I don’t know who reached out to whom; the City Manager didn’t make that clear. I was responding to:

    “this post tends to bash Cal Fire and the Sheriff’s Office, when in fact they are only trying to help a dire situation.”

    I don’t believe that for a minute.

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  • I haven’t seen any conspiracy theories on this blog.

    I did sit through all of BOTH Council budget study sessions. I also sat through all the Fire Board and City Council meetings for the past 5 years. It is because of that experience that I don’t believe everything I hear.

    Is it so far fetched to think that either the Sheriff or CalFire would promise more than it could deliver in order to get the contract? As for cost savings, neither proposal gives the price for services equal to what we have now. They have all painted a very rosy picture. If you look carefully at that picture, you will see serious problems. You need to be willing to take less service if you want to save the kind of money they’re talking about.

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    • Pat,

      You seem to be the resident expert. Please tell us how many cops San Carlos has on the street during a shift? (How many more than the Sheriff’s Department proposal?) We’re led to believe there is San Carlos cops everywhere…It’s just not true. Furthermore, if you have your way, there will be another 9-10 officers off the roster. Remember, don’t believe everything you hear…..I think the Sheriff’s Office will provide consistent FULL STAFF service.

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      • Ken is actually the expert on Police.

        How do you figure that “my way” will result in 9-10 officers off the roster?

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      • Anonymous,

        I hear, and I could be wrong, that the PD’s current staffing is one sergeant and usually four officers per shift. The MINIMUM is one sergeant and three officers. I am not against Sheriff’s Deputies patroling in our town, but its the lack of staffing in the initial proposal that have me concerned. The initial proposal from the Sheriff’s office only calls for 12 patrol officers (three per shift), one traffic officer, one detective, and one captain (15 total sworn). The proposal calls for no Sergeants. The proposal basically calls for over a 50% reduction in staff at the police department. I am hearing that if we went with the City Managers other approach there would be seven officers let go from the department. The department currently had a total of 31 officers (including Chief, Cammanders, sergeants, and officers). So if we take seven from 31 one then we would still have about 24 total sworn, STILL MORE THEN THE SHERIFF”S OFFICE PROPOSAL.

        As a resident, I would want at least four officers and a sergeant on each shift. If you add the traffic officer, detective, and Captain to that you have a grand total of 23 total sworn. I would also demand that the Sheriff’s department agree that theses deputies and Sergeants remain in the City unless called upon for mutal aid.

        The City manager wants to balance the City’s budget by slashing the two biggest, and expensive, untis in the City. He wants to Cut Police and Fire by 50 % and sparing public works, parks and rec, and his own office. The City manager and Mayor do not want to merge with another police department because they do not want to continue to pay the current employee benifits and retirements to safety personnel. If they outsource they just pay for the services.

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        • John,

          Thank you for your post.

          What the City has not said is that the costs for the Sheriff are going to increase, which will increase the cost of the contract. Then we are again faced with the choice of coming up with more money or making do with less service.

          They did admit that they want to move the PD to the Sheriff’s office as quickly as possible so that when the Sheriff has to cut his force he will already have absorbed our officers. That way the City Manager doesn’t have to take responsibility for cutting those officers.

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  • Pat – You talked about your experience in Fair Oaks as if the problems would have been solved by San Carlos PD. It’s not who was policing you; it’s the neighborhood demographics. It’s an area with poverty level income, a high level of parolees and probationers, and numerous socio-economic factors that contribute the problems in that area.

    Chuck – Burlingame can take a more measured approach because their problem is about 1/2 the size of ours. Look how twisted they are now over their budget wows; they should be. But they can’t compare to what we’re going through.

    Ken – You’re a smart dude and I like reading your posts. I disagree with a lot of the things you say but I think you’re pretty sharp. But, please don’t talk about a tax measure anymore…please. We tried more times than Larry King tried marriage and, just like him, they all failed. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “maybe now that people REALLY realize how bad it is and we may lose police and fire they’ll vote for it.” Sorry…ain’t gonna happen. San Carlos won’t tax themselves for this or virtually anything else. They want solutions; not taxes. Regionalizing public safety is a big step in the right direction.

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    • Hank,

      I was responding to a post on 4/7 from anonymous about what a great job the Sheriff does in North Fair Oaks as proof that they’d do a good job here..

      I can’t wait to see Ken’s response.

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      • Pat:

        Are you suggesting that the only difference between North Fair Oaks and San Carlos is the quality of police officer patroling the streets?

        So if the Sheriff hired all the San Carlos officers to patrol the streets of North Fair Oaks, it would quickly turn into another White Oaks?

        Get real.

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  • The issue is not with the Sheriff’s Dept. They are a fine agency with some great attributes. The issue is with the City manager and city council’s inability to see any other option other than outsourcing. The city manager is going to leave this city within the next year. He has no vested interest in the city anymore because he is done with it! And he and city staff have done a fine job in pulling the wool over the city council’s eyes. Plenty of cities run with a city manager and staff, not a city manager, asst city manager and administrative services director. The City of San Carlos would do just fine with just a city manager running the show.

    Also, SCPD runs with four officers and a sergeant per shift. If an officer is on vacation, sick, or in training, the PD will run with 3 officers and a sergeant. However, the option for overtime will be posted in the event an off duty officer wants to sign up for it. And most of the time, there is an officer that will work the overtime. But, the PD will NOT run below three officers and a sergeant. Three officers and a sergeant is MINIMUM staffing. But, recently the chief just mandated that the fourth body overtime on any shift will be eliminated. This move was made to “show” that the PD operates at a 3/1 staffing. Its a cover up. Any officer will tell you that San Carlos needs four officers on a shift at one time, to effectively handle more than one call at a time.

    Here is an interesting scenario that all the “pension reformers” might want to look at. The chief stands to make upwards of $280,000 in this “outsourcing.” He will retire from SCPD and will be “hired” with the Sheriff’s Dept as a captain and double dip. Do you think that the Chief of San Carlos Police Department is objective in this situation? I think not.

    While it is true that SC officers will stand to make more with the Sheriff’s Dept, there is more than just money on the line here. SC officers chose to work in this city and have pride in their organization. SC officers have worked hard for their seniority, vacation time, sick time, specialty assignments and their reputation. Sometimes its not all just about money. There is an entire organization on the line. An organization that is a family. One that we do not want to divide up any time soon.

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  • Hank:

    Thanks for your comments. I do think that we can have intelligent debates on issues that affect us, and I wish more people would engage in the process.

    To follow up on a few points:

    — With regard to another ballot measure, you may be right that any new revenue measure would fail. However, when I lived in Burlingame, the school districts routinely had to try two or three times to get bond measures passed. The seniors routinely voted them down — until the demographics began turning over. In that sense, San Carlos is a lot like Burlingame was 20 years ago — a city in transition. Each year, as retirees move out, young families move in and the median age of the electorate drops. Then voters start approving all sorts of measures for schools, as well as city initiatives — IF THEY TRUST THEIR CITY GOVERNMENT.

    — Also, keep in mind that one of the oft-quoted ballot “failures” here was on a fire services measure that failed to reach two-thirds — it got something like 63 percent. In my book, that doesn’t say a majority of voters don’t want to support public safety. That’s why we continue to see statewide initiatives designed to eliminate the two-thirds vote, which is so difficult to reach and absolutely hobbles local government. PG & E knows this, and that’s why it’s backing a measure requiring cities and other public agencies to get a two-thirds approval from voters before attempting to establish local government-run power agencies. And we know that PG & E is ALWAYS looking out for the interests of its customers, right?

    — Unless residents want this city to be hopelessly dysfunctional, we should institute user fees for recreational facilities throughout the city. I don’t sense any Tea Party uprising against that idea. I would rather see the council have the guts to do that and call a one-year timeout on dismantling the police department so that whatever we do won’t be rushed. Why do you think the JPA fire services agreement with Belmont stipulates a year-plus advance notice requirement for either party to withdraw? And why aren’t we spending the same amount of time to figure out a solution to police services rather than doing a “dump and run” of a department that has been around for 85 years? Come on, guys, there’s no rationale for this kind of behavior. We can do one more year with everything in place, with across-the-board budget cuts and with new fees, while we work out a methodical, intelligent solution on public safety.

    — About the “size” of sheriff’s patrols, you and Anonymous miss the point. First, if you read the sheriff’s proposal. it’s like getting a lowball offer for your house. There are so many questions — because it appears to have been thrown together rather hastily — that the idea of going to the sheriff for the kind of savings that our city manager has trumpeted like manna from Heaven is, for now, an illusion. Just one component — the presence or absence of patrol sergeants on all shifts — can make a $700,000 or more difference. If you know anything about police work, the last thing you want is an absence of supervisors. Remember that shootout in Oakland that left four officers dead? What was missing? YES, a supervisor!

    — Pat is correct that our city manager has a past affinity for the sheriff’s department and CalFire, since he worked with those agencies in Riverside County. Big difference is that in SoCal the agencies had provided service to the desert towns long before those places were incorporated. It wasn’t like they were “outsourcing” police and fire services like we’re trying to do.

    — Maybe it’s time we settle, once and for all, with a public records request, exactly how and when our city management “asked” the other cities for proposals. Let’s get the letters, the records of phone calls, etc. Understand that, first of all, San Carlos has a credibility problem because of its feud with Belmont. Second, it seems there were conversations along these lines in years past but nothing moved forward. So naturally other cities might want to have clear signals from the our city council — the real decision-makers — on whether we are truly serious before they put much effort into a “bid.”

    — But the larger question is whether partnering is best done as a bidding process, as if you were looking to issue a contract for collecting garbage. ‘Scuse me? That isn’t how it was done in Burlingame, where the managers of that city and San Mateo clearly got together to come up with a workable transition to a merged police department. Ditto with Millbrae and San Bruno. You do this kind of thing as a dedicated outreach to your neighbor, IF you have good relations. You don’t toss it over the fence like a carcass of meat to see who comes running first. That makes this so-called outreach here seem less credible — just for someone to say they were “covering the bases.” Gosh darn, says our city staff, we put this out there and those other cities just didn’t have any interest in December. Why are THEY coming forward now? Scratch of the head. Why, indeed?

    — Well, one reason they might be coming forward now is they have passed most of their revenue measures and they have been constantly recalculating — as we have — the “hits” to their budgets from the state, and likely other revenue declines. Example: Burlingame passes an increase in TOT taxes in the November election. Wonderful, right? Except one problem: Hotel occupancies are still weak, and so the revenue they might have been anticipating from that channel isn’t going to happen. Also, when you get TOT taxes well above the 10 percent mark the meeting planners who bring in large conferences simply go elsewhere, or negotiate that amount out of their contracts with hotels, which often end up eating the tax increase. That was the shortcoming of the TOT idea — bad call in this economy. Visitors don’t like to be dumped on by cash-strapped cities.

    So here in San Carlos the issue is not whether the sheriff’s department and CalFire can provide some kind of service. Of course they can. It’s whether they were the most appropriate agencies to approach FIRST, given the inherent differences in operations, command structure and equipment. If we tossed this idea over the fence and they came running — maybe with a glint of empire building, perhaps — then they aren’t exactly looking to “help out” poor little destitute San Carlos, are they?

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  • San Carlos Officer “S”:

    If you listen to the audio interview given by POA Vice President Sheppard, she specifically talks about how sometimes you are so short staffed, you work with as little as two or three officers.

    With what you just wrote, and what she said, either she is lying or you are!

    While you say “Sometimes it’s not just about the money”, it certainly was in January of this year!

    http://www.mercurynews.com/peninsula/ci_14268546

    I believe Officer Sheppard threatened the city council with a “very costly legal battle that would benefit neither group”…. This is when the city council imposed a RAISE.

    Then in 2008, when the retirement was changed, your president said “San Carlos will see officers come here for training and then more on … or we will have to settle for hiring officers that couldn’t get hired elsewhere.”

    http://www.examiner.com/a-1413673~_Dire_financial_situation__results_in_reductions_to_police_benefits.html

    That was two years ago….

    Was he wrong? If so, just another example of unions crying wolf… and why should we believe you this time?

    And if he was correct, are you now telling us that San Carlos PD is staffed with people who can’t get hired anywhere else? This might explain your hesitation to work for the Sheriff!

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  • The City Council will be reviewing the performance of our City Manager, Mark Weiss, on Monday night in closed session before the general meeting.

    If you have strong feelings about his performance, you might want to write to the Council. Their email addresses are:

    Andy Klein: aklein@cityofsancarlos.org
    Omar Ahmad:oahmad@cityofsancarlos.org
    Randy Royce: rroyce@cityofsancarlos.org
    Bob Grassilli: bgrassilli@cityofsancarlos.org
    Matt Grocott: mgrocott@cityofsancarlos.org

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    • Pat,
      Will the results of their discussion in closed session ever be made public? I hope so. I hope they give Mark Weiss a public pat on the back for actually having the guts to confront our budget issues head on.

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      • The only time I’ve heard them report on his performance review is when they gave him a raise. I don’t think you’ll hear that this year.

        There’s one Councilman who evidently wants to get rid of him, but last I heard he had no support.

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  • Anonymous- I hope they give him (Mark Weiss) a pat on the back for actually having the guts to confront this budget issues head on. ARE YOU KIDDING ME???

    What do you think he get’s paid $215,000 a year for???? THAT IS HIS JOB!! How bout a push on the back, to get him the heck out of San Carlos for doing a below average job at best.

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  • From the beautiful view on Crestview to the chic shops of Laurel Street we all have reasons
    to love and protect San Carlos, but the time has come to realize that for the foreseeable
    future, outsourcing to the Sheriff’s Department is one of the best ways to reduce the deficit.
    Let’s also talk about the pink elephant in the room, do we really need the amount of officers
    that are currently on the force? There are those that compare San Carlos to other cities and
    say we have less officers per capita, but those other cities have managed their finances
    better to be able to maintain the staffing levels they want. Not need, but want.
    Outsourcing also will not leave our officers without a job, they wil be hired by the
    Sheriff’s Department, true they may not work in San Carlos. Also, the Sheriff’s Office has more
    resources it can bring to the city. The city council had years to make the police and fire
    staffing levels a priority by making deeper and deeper cuts everywhere and either by want or
    neglect it didn’t do enough.

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  • I totally agree with comments by Iguana above. the public does not recognize
    the potential added value of the outsourcing of police service to the Sheriff’s department, some of which include:

    1. wider range of vehicles, such as SUV’s, ATV’s, motorcycles, and a dedicated helicopter which will probably expedite rather than hinder response times.

    2. the ability to rapidly mobilize extra resources and personnel from the Sheriff’s dept since they have a very large force, as opposed to our current need to obtain backup from police officers in other cities via “mutual aid agreements”.

    these are key benefits to outsourcing that have not been mentioned in the debate thus far.

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    • Chuck,
      I am glad that you have pulled your support from this initiative. I was deeply concerned when I heard you were one of the three signatures. Unfortunately after speaking to a Councilman yesterday, the first initiative has not been withdrawn, a second one has been filed and both are going through the certification process. There was a great editorial written by former Chamber President Ron Collins in the Daily News:

      Union selling cops down the river

      Dear Editor: It is with shock and amazement that I read The Daily News article June 11 on the ballot measure being proposed by the San Carlos Police Officers’ Association to prohibit our city from outsourcing police services. This initiative would also require that the city return police department staffing to 2002 levels and increase their pay to the county average. This is a prescription for one thing: bankruptcy.

      Are these people even sane? I’m also not too sure about Ken Castle, one of my fellow White Oaks residents, who seems to be in complete denial about our city’s finances. What the POA is proposing would cost San Carlos between $3.5 million and $5 million a year, on top of an existing $3.5 million budget deficit. There is no funding mechanism even proposed, so I can only assume they think we will pass some sort a tax increase (right!) to pay for it.

      So, a note to my fellow San Carlans. If you want us to become the unincorporated Village of San Carlos, with no police, fire, parks, sewer or maintenance services, sign their petition now.

      How ironic that an organization that claims to represent our finest is so willing to sell their dues-paying members down the river with such a proposal. It has been shown that moving our policing services to the county sheriff’s office would not only help eliminate the deficit, but also save every officer’s job on the force. If this measure passes, none of them will have a job.

      Ron Collins

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      • The first initiative has not been formally withdrawn because Chuck is on vacation and his signature is required to withdraw it. Gil Granado made it very at the council meeting that it is being replaced by the revised initiative. Your councilman should have known that; the City Clerk does.

        So the letter to the editor is a rant about something that doesn’t exist. The sanity question applies to councilmen as well. I have serious questions about the sanity of some councilment.

        Andy made a comment Monday night, illegally, that there would be no point in his sitting up there if the citizens took over such decision making. Others have said there’s no need for a city council if they’re just going to do what the City Manager tells them to do.

        It has also been suggested that the city’s administration be outsourced in order to save money. If decisions about services are going to be made exclusively on the basis of the almighty dollar, we might as well outsource administration. There are companies that will come in and take over the jobs of the City Manager, Assistant City Manager, Admin. Services Director, and even Planning, etc. They are very efficient, just the kind of operation the Mayor approves of.

        I didn’t hear any shock about the fact that unions have offered to take pay cuts and been turned down by the city, so maybe the council already knew about that. The council has refused to even consider the research that shows parking meters down town would increase business as well as bringing in revenue.

        The State, the County, and many cities have realized that pension reform is necessary in order to have sustainable budgets. Why hasn’t our City Manager, who is about to retire at 55 with a nice pension and lifetime medical care, paid for by us, discussed that option? Why should someone who sits at a desk retire at 55 then go on to another career and another pension? They are not being shot at or running into burning buildings, they are pushing pencils. If they retired at 67, when they’re eligible for Medicare, we would only have to pay for a medigap policy, not full health care for 30 years. If they retired at 67 we’d save 12 years of pension payments as well.

        The truth is that the city is not even trying to solve the budget problem with any measures other than getting rid of our police and fire departments. They insist on using figures that do not include all the services we have now in order to show a huge saving, while other cities have found that they actually ended up paying more after outsourcing. The two councilmen who actually know something about public safety are not nearly as quick to outsource.

        If being outsourced to the Sheriff is such a good deal for police officers, why did the POA hire an attorney to defend them against such a plan? There are several citizens who say we should outsource so that they’ll all have jobs. They obviously don’t want those jobs!

        Ken Castle is more than capable of defending himself, so I won’t comment on that.

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        • Not taking other measures? I watched the meeting Pat.
          Outsourcing maintenence is nothing?
          10 years of cuts is nothing?

          The police union saying they were going to take a pay cut? Sheppers (is that her name) was ready to close parks to get a pay raise.
          I KNOW the firefighters are getting raises every 6 months for the last few years. Didn’t hear them talk about give-backs when others are…

          Admit it pat – aside from police and fire you have nothing good to say about San Carlos

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          • Outsourcing maintenance is part of Mark Weiss’s Outsourcing Path, not an alternative.

            There has been no analysis of alternative “paths,” other overall plans to close the budget gap.

            Where are you getting your information about unions and their stances on pay cuts? Or are you assuming police and fire would not consider pay cuts?

            I have publicly and repeatedly praised various city employees. I object to the “hands-off” attitude of the City Council. They should be taking more responsibility, not following the City Manager. No other level of government operates that way. They are elected to represent the citizens and should not abdicate that responsibility to the manager.

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  • Pat,
    It appears as if even the SM Daily Journal thinks your initiative is wrong.

    Police contracting ballot measure is wrong step
    June 18, 2010, 01:06 AM Editorial
    It is understandable that the idea of contracting police services is worrisome and it is a decision not to take lightly. But the fact of the matter is that the city of San Carlos is facing a $3.5 million deficit in its $28 million budget and has faced a structural budget deficit for 10 years.

    The city attempted to stem the flow with Measure U — a six-year half-cent sales tax increase that would have raised approximately $2 million a year. But voters said no with the measure only able to get 43 percent. Since then, the city has enacted a series of plans for cuts — some palatable, some not. Just this week, the City Council voted to outsource its parks maintenance to two landscape companies to save approximately $400,000 a year. That is not a large amount, but it is an earnest and difficult step toward bridging the budget gap.

    A more weighty decision now centers on the city’s police force and whether it should entertain the idea of contracting it out to either Redwood City or the Sheriff’s Office.

    Both would save the city approximately $2 million but vary in the details. The Sheriff’s Office proposal would staff a San Carlos bureau with 23 full-time employees, four part-time employees and 20 percent of a sergeant’s positions. Salaries and benefits are calculated at $6,030,000.

    The total price tag, including vehicles and associated costs, is $6,772,000, although it does not include overtime for special details or communications.

    Redwood City offered San Carlos two options, one a base staffed up to the sergeant level and another that adds in a dedicated captain and administrative support. Officers would be assigned exclusively to San Carlos but Redwood City resources could be shifted in emergency situations. The proposals calls for 22.8 full-time employees under option one and 24.8 employees under the enhanced option. The first carries a price tag of $5,966,744 while the second is $6,409,313.

    The Redwood City proposal is a two-year contract with a 5 percent annual increase, but both aspects are negotiable.

    Both are slated for discussion during a June 28 meeting. In the meantime, a group of residents and the Police Officers Association began the first steps in placing a measure on the ballot that would tie the hands of the council when it comes to contracting police services. Doing so would limit the City Council’s ability to find revenue savings and would further hamstring the urgent effort to balance the city’s budget. It could also spoil the city’s ability to take advantage of the Sheriff’s Office proposal since Sheriff Greg Munks said he has held open vacant spots in his department in anticipation of the agreement and will have to fill them if the San Carlos decision is delayed.

    The sentiment behind the measure is valid. It is a frightening proposition to have a significant portion of your city staff — particularly one with the sole responsibility of keeping residents safe — contracted out to another agency. But these are desperate times and the city must remain solvent. Going to voters for more taxes already failed and the only other option would be to drastically cut workers including police personnel. This alternative would have too much harm.

    This is not the only reason why moving forward with this ballot measure is wrong. The timeline is extremely tight if not impossible, it will prove to a tremendous distraction for the city when keen focus is necessary and, if it passes, would run rough-shod over the city’s budget since it would require the city to rescind any decision it might make this summer regarding police contracting and force cuts to other departments to make up the imposed shortfall. And it runs against the premise of representative government. There is a simple way to remove councilmembers who make choices residents do not like — the ballot box. New councilman Andy Klein walked into the job unopposed in November. The residents who want to place this measure on the ballot knew the city was going to face tough choices and they should have stepped to the plate in November and ran for City Council instead of second-guessing the group of people elected to make those decisions.

    Ballot box budgeting is no way to run a government. We’ve seen attempts at the state level fail miserably and there is no reason to bring that type of dysfunction to the city level — tough choices or not.

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  • Pat,
    The DJ article was about ballot box budgeting. Not outsourcing. My point was that your initiative is a joke, and shows how little you understand the current situation. I watched the meeting last monday and you mentioned how you would gladly pay all the taxes in the world if we would fully fund our Police and Fire. It should be noticed that you don’t pay property tax, like most of us. There are also 2 councilmembers who are not homeowners in our city. I can understand why Andy Klein is not one, he is in his 20s and probably will buy in the future. Mr. Grocott who wants no new taxes doesn’t even pay property taxes either. You should leave the complaining and decisions up to those of us who pay for the services.

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