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Atherton Police Negotiations – Status is right here

Original post made by Wow, Atherton: other, on Apr 11, 2013

Is this "through the looking glass" or what? A letter just received from John Mattes. Cops expect the parcel tax to INCREASE. WOW!!!

April 4, 2013

Dear Atherton Resident,

I am writing to you as the President of the Atherton Police Officers Association (APOA) to call your attention to some important decisions before your Town Council. These decisions may change the way the Town provides your safety and security services. Ultimately, the Council's choices may lead to the outsourcing of the Atherton Police Department to another local agency.

* Staffing

The Police Department is experiencing a staffing crisis. Only 3 of the allotted 5 Sergeant positions are filled. The Town has repeatedly failed to attract qualified candidates to fill open Police Officer positions. Several of our Officers are unable to adequately perform patrol duties due to illness or injury.

Many shifts are being run without a Sergeant and often there are only 2 Officers in the field. This does not allow us to safely provide the services you desire.

This situation will deteriorate if the Town is unable to attract and retain candidates with the proper background, skills, and abilities. The Town must be willing to compensate fairly if it hopes to maintain its Police force.

* Parcel Tax

The Town has no retail businesses providing sales tax income. It relies on property taxes for the majority of its income. Following the implementation of Proposition 13, the Town supplemented this revenue with a Parcel Tax, which expires every 4 years and requires a 2/3 majority for passage.

The Council must soon make a decision about the Parcel Tax. The current Parcel Tax measure expires in July 2014. If it is not renewed, the Town will simply not be able to afford its Police Department.

The Parcel Tax has been $750 per typical parcel and the rate has not been increased in decades. In September 1999, the Atherton Police Department had 31 members. Today the Atherton Police Department has 21 authorized positions, some of which are not filled. Shrinking the organization, not increasing revenue, has accommodated the growth in expenses

Without an increase in the Parcel Tax the Town has seen a shrinking dollar to provide the services the Parcel Tax is supposed to accommodate. Could this be why we have a shrinking Police Department?

* Sworn Police Officer and Dispatcher Contract Negotiations

The APOA has a contract with the Town, called a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The current MOU will expire September 30, 2013. The Town Council has tipped its hand on several occasions in public forums that they will mandate a series of reductions in salaries, pension, and medical benefits.

If the reductions imposed upon the Police Chief and Lieutenant earlier this year is any indication, these cuts will be severe. In fact, if the cuts are similar in scope, many Officers, Sergeants and Dispatchers will find they are unable to
provide for their families. As much as they enjoy working in this town, they may have no choice but to seek other employment opportunities.

In the face of budget cutbacks, other neighboring communities went for years without hiring new Officers. They are now hiring again. They are competing for officers that would consider leaving their agencies saving them a considerable training investment. If Atherton does not compensate at market levels, they will not only be unable to attract officers, they will lose their Officers, Sergeants and Dispatchers to these other agencies.

This has happened before. From 1998 through 2004, there were a series of police layoffs and resignations. They came in the midst of two failed Parcel Tax measures, staff reorganizations and layoffs. The Town reduced compensation to a level where Atherton became non-competitive. Many officers and dispatchers went to work for neighboring jurisdictions. It took several years to rebuild the Police Department.

The San Jose Police Department provides insight into what could await Atherton. SJPD has lost fully a third of their trained and experienced officers. They left SJPD because of severe reductions in compensation and benefits. San Jose Police Department cannot train and replace officers quickly enough, resuhing in a department which is seriously understaffed. Crime has skyrocketed to unprecedented levels.

The Council will need to decide if it will continue to compensate at existing competitive levels or reduce salary and benefits.

* How You Can Help

The Atherton Police Department has been in existence since the founding of the town in 1923. The APOA wants the APD to be one of the best Police Departments on the Peninsula. We are proud to work here and want to continue the tradition of high-quality service. We believe Athertonians share our vision.

These upcoming decisions are now before the Council. It is very important you express your views to the Council. For your convenience, we have enclosed an addressed response card. Please use this card to send your opinion to Mayor Lewis and the rest of your Town Council. Please let them know you support us. Thank you.




Comments (12)

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 11, 2013 at 6:16 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

There is NO way the parcel tax will either be extended or increased if the council does not bring the taxpayers who will pay the bill into the discussions on the forthcoming negotiations and the resultant proposed labor agreement.

From: PETER CARPENTER
Subject: A formal request regarding police contract negotiations - keeping the taxpayers informed
Date: April 11, 2013 5:06:00 PM PDT


Dear Town Council,

This is a formal request that the Town not begin labor negotiations until there has been a public discussion of the " set of objectives for the discussions" that the council has decided in secret and that any proposed agreement resulting from such labor negotiations be made public at least 15 days before that proposed agreement is voted on by the council.

The taxpayers will be required to bear the cost of any proposed agreement and they should be given the opportunity to give you their input BEFORE negotiations begin and BEFORE a proposed agreement is voted on by the council. The labor negotiators will clearly do the same for their membership. Nothing in this request suggests that the negotiations themselves be open to public scrutiny.


Respectfully,

Peter Carpenter


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 11, 2013 at 8:53 pm

" The Town has repeatedly failed to attract qualified candidates to fill open Police Officer positions."

Could it be because most police PROFESSIONALS aren't interested in being glorified security guards? Maybe I'm wrong, but all the real cops I know and have worked with wouldn't work in Atherton to save their souls. There's your problem attracting qualified officers - no one worth a damn wants to be a security guard, they want to be police officers. REAL police officers.

"Many shifts are being run without a Sergeant and often there are only 2 Officers in the field. This does not allow us to safely provide the services you desire."

What services? Picking up your newspapers? Bringing in your mail? Bringing you your key when you lock yourself out of your house? Responding to false alarms?

"This situation will deteriorate if the Town is unable to attract and retain candidates with the proper background, skills, and abilities. "

You mean candidates that wish to be glorified security guards? That shouldn't really be a high bar, should it?

" In fact, if the cuts are similar in scope, many Officers, Sergeants and Dispatchers will find they are unable to


As much as they enjoy working in this town, they may have no choice but to seek other employment opportunities."

Where are they going to find other opportunities to work as glorified security guards at police officer salaries?

"The San Jose Police Department provides insight into what could await Atherton. SJPD has lost fully a third of their trained and experienced officers. They left SJPD because of severe reductions in compensation and benefits."

Sorry, SJPD lost those officers BECAUSE THEY LAID THEM OFF! SJPD wouldn't hire any of the existing security guards from Atherton. They'd have to send them through the police academy all over again.

"The APOA wants the APD to be one of the best Police Departments on the Peninsula."

Then you should refuse to be glorified security guards and start acting like REAL police officers. No more picking up mail. No more watering lawns. No more of the other nonsense BS the town is asking its police officers to do. If you truly want to be PROFESSIONAL POLICE OFFICERS. START ACTING LIKE IT! There isn't a San Jose cop I know that would even consider working in Atherton no matter what the pay. They are PROFESSIONAL Police officers and they do a professional police officer's job.

"These upcoming decisions are now before the Council. It is very important you express your views to the Council."

Yes folks, think long and hard. Is your ability to drive DUI in your town and get away with it really worth the additional 2 million dollars that you don't have to spend if you contract with the SMCSD like your neighbors in Woodside and Portola Valley? They seem quite happy with the service they are provided.




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Posted by Police supporter
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 12, 2013 at 8:33 am

Peter taxpayers were already part of the discussion. It's called the election that took place last November. Two candidates ran on a platform of respecting the will of Atherton residents to keep the police department, and to end the practice of Kathy Mckeithan to disrespect and destroy the morale of these Officers. The residents decided not to shortsightedly look at costs in keeping the police department.

As the letter from Mr. Mattes pointed out, Officers will leave if they are not compensated competitively. I ignore what Menlo Voter says...he obviously couldn't make it as a cop and has axes to grind, but we all know San Jose isn't Atherton.

Restoring competitive compensation is just a first step in trying to repair the many years of damage caused by Kathy Mckeithan. For example, a decision was made by a town manager who just stayed a few months to bring in an outside chief, something totally inappropriate for Atherton in my view. If there are no internal promotion opportunities, Officers are going to look at the here and now, which is current salary and benefits. I say promote an internal candidate to chief. There are several highly qualified ones.

It's going to wind up costing this town tons more money to rehire qualified Officers when the ones we have leave because of compensation, or to reconstitute the police department when outsourcing plans fail.

If you want something, you have to pay for it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 12, 2013 at 8:51 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"If you want something, you have to pay for it."

There is NO way the parcel tax will either be extended or increased if the council does not bring the taxpayers who will pay the bill into the discussions on the forthcoming negotiations and the resultant proposed labor agreement which directly impact Atherton's largest single budget item.


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Posted by Huh?
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 12, 2013 at 9:11 am

Police supporter, you advocate "restoring competitive compensation"? What's not competitive about having a contract that requires compensation at the 70th percentile? What's to "restore"? You guys are already well ABOVE the average. What are you talking about?


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Posted by Process
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 12, 2013 at 10:46 am

Mr Carpenter, While you sit from your lofty perch and pass judgment in you're empirical manner you apparently have missed the process now underway by the Council and Town Manager to commission a survey to discover the preferences and choices to be made by the residents on keeping the parcel tax and increasing it. Maybe you forgot as you already denigrated the survey unless they used your outfit.
To be empirical like you there is NO WAY the residents of Atherton can wade into the details of salary and benefit compensation even if they were interested as they have no standing in the actual process. Yes they pay the bill and they can always express their opinion but in the end the process is in the hands of George Rodericks and our elected representatives.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 12, 2013 at 10:57 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"here is NO WAY the residents of Atherton can wade into the details of salary and benefit compensation even if they were interested as they have no standing in the actual process."

Atherton's residents are a lot smarter than you give them credit for and time and time again citizens in other communities have used the referendum process to directly dictate compensation issues. I understand that this may be beyond some individual's capabilities or interests.

My preference is to rely on our elected council but I believe that that should inform the taxpayers in advance as to what are their objectives and get feedback and then give the taxpayers the opportunity to vet the proposed agreement before it is voted upon.
As for the survey issue - I object to a costly, narrowly focused, unvalidated, unstandardized survey that only deals with the parcel tax question rather than a much broader, standardized and well validated survey that covers taxpayers' assessment of the entire range of Town services. And I have NO relationship or financial interest with the National Citizens Survey.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 12, 2013 at 11:21 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is some information on the National Citizen Survey:

The National Citizen Survey

The first and last measure of good government is citizen satisfaction

WHAT IS THE NATIONAL CITIZEN SURVEY™?



Developed by ICMA and National Research Center, Inc., The National Citizen Survey™ (The NCS) is a low-cost citizen survey service for local governments. Tested, flexible, affordable, and efficient, The NCS lets you survey citizen opinion for
Program Planning
Budgeting
Goal Setting
Performance Measurement.
Staff can use the results of The NCS to improve service delivery. Elected officials can use the results to set spending priorities. The manager can use the results to measure progress and chart future steps.

Since The NCS was introduced in 2001, local governments in over 41 states have participated. The survey process is being continually refined to ensure that your local government receives the best information possible per dollar spent on your citizen survey. Your results can be compared, at your option, with norms based on the results of more than 350 surveys administered throughout the country.
The NCS gives you results with the highest credibility from independent professional survey specialists. You get the satisfaction of personal service, the benefit of comparability with other jurisdictions, and the efficiency of a standardized process.
We are now in more than 40 states and norms are available from over 500 surveys administered throughout the country.

Web Link


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 12, 2013 at 1:19 pm

supporter:

no, Atherton isn't San Jose. Atherton doesn't have a highly trained, professional police force. It has over paid security guards.

No axe grinding here. I just happen to know of what I speak. You are obviously an Atherton cop.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by bread crumb trail
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 12, 2013 at 8:49 pm

Wow!
I know she's the mayor, but I just have to laugh at Mattes' enclosed return envelope addressed to Elizabeth Lewis. Wonder if these materials were already printed up before her election......


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Wow
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 12, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Let's separate Mattes' propaganda from some actual facts.

Percentage of compensation that San Francisco cops contribute to their pension plan? Between 10 and 11%, and going up.

Percentage of compensation that Santa Cruz cops contribute to their pension plan? 20% That's TWENTY PERCENT.

Percentage of compensation that Atherton cops contribute to their pension plan? ZERO. 0%. NADA. NOTHING.

And they're paid at the 70th percentile of the wealthiest county in California.

And they're still complaining they're underpaid.

And the costs are going up 50%.

And their jobs are nowhere close to as dangerous as San Francisco or Santa Cruz cops. Not even in the same universe.

Maybe Menlo Voter can fill us in on what San Jose cops pay towards their pensions. Maybe the Almanac can run a piece on the real economic issues and compare them with other cities in the Bay Area.

This is a ridiculous situation.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 12, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Wow:

I'm not up to date on what SJPD officers contribute, but last I heard it was around 9%. Even with the 70 percentile guaranteed pay and the non contribution toward their retirement, I don't see SJPD officers breaking down the doors to apply with APD. APD has always been viewed as a joke by real police departments.


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