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Atherton: Danielson still in charge despite expired contract

Original post made on Jan 5, 2012

Although his one-year contract expired Jan. 2, Interim City Manager John Danielson is still in the driver's seat at Atherton Town Hall, receiving his $15,000 monthly pay and continuing to chisel away at a to-do list that includes finding his replacement.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, January 5, 2012, 1:11 PM

Comments (21)

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Posted by Redfield Flash
a resident of another community
on Jan 5, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Wow! What a sweet gig for Mr. Danielson. Steps into a job with a large salary as well as double dipping in the retirement system; manages to have fired almost all general employees and outsources two major city departments, resulting in who knows how many lost jobs. Then, at the end of the term of his employment, he just keeps right on drawing the salary and working away at who knows what until someone turns off the money spigot. This guy is amazing and I bet all the people that lost their jobs think so too!


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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 5, 2012 at 6:48 pm

$15k a month?

He is making out like a bandit!


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Posted by clairvoyant
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 5, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Please add to the above list of multiple paychecks: After firing everyone, Danialson then filled all Town positions with cronies he's been affiliated with for many years.
So that even when or if Atherton does finally ever replace him, he will still be collecting residuals from his buddies for years to come.


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Posted by Menlo Res
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 5, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Hopefully he applied for the Menlo Park City Manager position. We can use someone like him.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 5, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Any city would be lucky to have Danielson with his experience and fiscal discipline.


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Posted by Central Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 6, 2012 at 12:29 pm

...let's bend the rules for those who are qualified. Really?

"the town awaits word from the state's public employee retirement agency as to whether the agency will exempt Mr. Danielson from a crucial rule. That rule prohibits Mr. Danielson, the retired city manager of Elk Grove, from working for a single employer for more than one year if he is to receive his pension."

"Any city would be lucky to have Danielson with his experience and fiscal discipline." This may be true. But I for one, expect there may be good reason to discourage retired public employees from collection pension as well as a long-term consulting salary. It seems that this ought to be enforced rigorously (just as we rigorously support sunshine laws and open meetings).

I bet there's another qualified candidate out there somewhere. And that's one more person employed!


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Posted by Interested
a resident of another community
on Jan 6, 2012 at 2:46 pm

It would be so nice if the people commented on this knew what they were talking about, that includes Almanac reporters.

A retired CalPers employee can work for a CalPers employer for no more than approximately six months out of twelve. They can work for a private employee for as long as they choose....

The solution. The acting Manager should form his own consulting company and sell its services to Atherton. Problem solved


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Posted by not a solution
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 9, 2012 at 11:08 am

Interested, so your solution is for the council to construct a facade that would allow Danielson to continue double-dipping to his heart's (and his bank account's) delight. And you call that a solution to the problem? I call that disgusting and irresponsible.

By the way, the Almanac has reported several times that there was a cap on the number of hours Danielson could work, so he wasn't allowed to work full time if the council wanted to keep him on a full year. I'd just like to know why the council was asleep on the job in not realizing his contract was almost up so they could have started looking for a new manager sooner. Very puzzling and troubling. This seems like a crisis that could easily have been avoided if someone was paying attention.


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Posted by Interested
a resident of another community
on Jan 9, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I never said it was right. I said it was a solution


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 9, 2012 at 1:08 pm

" I'd just like to know why the council was asleep on the job in not realizing his contract was almost up so they could have started looking for a new manager sooner. "

I believe that the Council was entirely aware of these facts but also realized that even starting a search for a permanent Town Manager should not start until the turnaround and stabilization efforts being undertaken by Danielson were closer to completion.

Looking for a Town Manager to come in and run a stabilized organization attracts a much different pool of candidates than doing a search to bring someone in right in the middle of a turnaround.


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Posted by not a solution
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 9, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Peter, What you say makes sense, but it doesn't explain why they didn't start the process to appeal to Calpers sooner. Instead, they had to hit the panic button, and now Danielson is working beyond what his contract allowed. And, this, except for the appeals letter, was all done out of the public view, with the town attorney telling -- who? -- that it's okay.

The double-dipping aspect of it all really bothers me too, even for the first year, which apparently was legal. But to ask for more time beyond what the rules allow to double-dip really is quite galling, in my book.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 9, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" why they didn't start the process to appeal to Calpers sooner."

I suspect that they were hoping that the situation would have been stabilized by the end of the year - an unrealistic and false hope as it turns out.

"The double-dipping aspect of it all really bothers me too,"

Well it dosen't bother me at all - if we can get someone to do quality work without having to contribute benefits and pensions I think that is a good deal for the Town. I would not feel the same if we were talking about reemploying someone who had retired from the Town. Just my opinion.


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Posted by Interested
a resident of another community
on Jan 9, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Peter. How is Atherton getting around the Metropolitan Water District/Cargill decision when it comes to the Acting Managers pension?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 9, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"How is Atherton getting around the Metropolitan Water District/Cargill decision when it comes to the Acting Managers pension?"

I have no idea what that decision was nor how it applies.


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Posted by Park Income
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 10, 2012 at 8:49 am

With the town so short of cash, why did the council give up $80,000 a year and stop renting out the park?


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Posted by Central Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 10, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Let's support paying pension and contractor wages both (double-dipping)...in particular, for the most talented workers. Our hard-working public service employees have received sub-industry pay for may years, in exchange for a comfortable (if not healthy) retirement package. This is really good way for taxpayers to reward the best employees...compensate them with two incomes, for a year, or longer! This is the gift that keeps on giving (it keeps the unworthy, among the unemployed, out of a job for some time longer). Best of all worlds? Mr. Danielson is paid consulting wages and his pension is suspended for the interim (as the pension guidelines were intended).


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Posted by Central Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 10, 2012 at 12:16 pm

...in this case, everyone wins. The town has benefit of a very experienced, well-respected City Manager, the City Manager is compensated appropriately, taxpayers save (by not paying two ways) and when Mr. Danielson actually retires, someone else gets a job.


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 10, 2012 at 2:51 pm

who cares, just something for people to B---h about. I agree with Peter.


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Posted by Central Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 11, 2012 at 12:06 pm

...I'd care if I lived in Atherton. I sure don't want my tax dollars being double-dipped to pay contractor wages + the pension (and pension reform is another issue).

Beyond that, I agree, who cares? ...except maybe those who believe in following the rules and guidelines, as outline by the public employee pension plans.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 11, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Anyone who bothers to read the entire article knows that Atherton is scrupulously following the rules in seeking an exemption and Danielson is voluntarily placing himself at financial risk by continuing to work while the exemption request is being considered - a lesser person would simply stay home.


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Posted by Central Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 12, 2012 at 7:38 pm

The issue seems to be whether taxpayers are willing to pay for double-dipping. Mr. Danielson certainly understands the risk that he might not be compensated for both his pension and consulting wages. As a taxpayer I certainly don't want to encourage [or pay for] our public sector employees to have the incentive to retire early, with knowledge their retirement benefit includes the right double-dip. That said, it certainly isn't a secret.

Many public sector employees do just this...retire, with the intent to re-employ for contract wages. My neighbor does this. My old roommate does this. It's particularly common - and in both of these cases, they retired early with the intent to double-dip. It's Epidemic!

ps This isn't about lesser people though (I'm sure there are few employees who wouldn't seek work because they are convinced that they are lesser and should stay home : ).


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