Menlo Park: Council approves union contract


'Twas a long winter's night as the Menlo Park City Council met on Dec. 10, deciding much and debating more. The Almanac will have a more in-depth look at what happened soon, but to tide you over, here's a scorecard:

● Approval of a new contract with salary increases of 4. 5 percent and additional health benefits and other modifications for the approximately 34 city managers and supervisors represented by the American Federation of State, Municipal and City Employees. Vote: 4-1.

According to the staff report, salary ranges for Menlo Park staff rank near the bottom of other Peninsula cities, and the raises would bump them up to mid-range.

While saying he "wholeheartedly agreed" that staff needed raises, Mayor Ray Mueller voted against the proposed contract. He later told the Almanac that the total 7.1 percent compensation increase was larger than he's comfortable with, and he "would have preferred to see the increase staggered over the life of the contract. I also would have preferred more of the increases put into (non-pension related) compensation."

● Salary ranges and compensation policies for approximately 19 non-union employees, mainly department heads, division heads and human resources personnel. Vote: 5-0. The council unanimously agreed to allow City Manager Alex McIntyre to approve raises within a given salary range and allot one-time bonuses of $5,000. However, they also deleted a provision that would have allowed the city manager to revise the compensation system.

● Eliminating street parking on a segment of Laurel Street. Vote: 5-0. The council approved making the east side of Laurel Street between Oak Grove and Glenwood Avenues a "no stopping zone," to be implemented after the current school year ends.

Some changes would also be made to the intersection of Laurel Street and Oak Grove Avenue – pedestrians would have longer to cross the street, and right turns on red would be prohibited while children are present.

Nativity School is also looking at reconfiguring its on-site parking to add up to 14 spaces to compensate for losing street parking, as well as developing a program to encourage alternate transportation.

The changes will be evaluated after the 2014-15 school year starts.

A school representative speaking during Tuesday's meeting asked that the city share the costs with Nativity, which the council encouraged. Transportation Manager Jesse Quirion noted that grant funding may be available to pay for some modifications, such as painting the bike lanes green along certain portions of the street to heighten awareness.

● New city logo probably a "no go." A study session to evaluate four potential replacements for the city's logo, which was designed in the 1960s, ended with council (and public) opinion weighing heavily in favor of sticking with the old logo.

"The one that has the strength of these oak trees is the old one," said Ernst Meissner, resident and city beautification volunteer.

The new designs, all variations on a tree created at a cost of $30,000 to date, are part of a plan the council approved earlier this year to rebrand Menlo Park, staff said, although the council's comments indicated they weren't sure when reinventing the logo became part of the rebranding.

● Homeless shelters and granny units. Menlo Park is deep into a housing plan update for the second time in as many years, this time to develop a framework for housing for 2014 through 2022 in compliance with state law.

As part of this update cycle, the city must provide zoning that allows homeless shelters that provide a total of 16 beds within Menlo Park. The city is also figuring out how to create an amnesty program for existing secondary, or "granny" units, which remains a work in progress.

Of the five sites under consideration for homeless shelter zoning, the council leaned toward the Veteran Affairs campus on Willow Road as the best option.

Click here to review the agenda and associated staff reports.


Like this comment
Posted by Outstanding!
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 11, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Congratulations to our Mayor for a fine showing last night!

Like this comment
Posted by bad faith
a resident of another community
on Dec 11, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Today's Post reported that City Attorney Bill McClure told the council that it had an obligation to approve the raises under the state's open meeting law, known as the Brown Act, if the contract aligned with the direction council members gave in closed session to their negotiators. He said delaying or voting down the contract would be seen by the union as bargaining in bad faith.

This sounds similar to what happened with the fire board six years ago. Hopefully Peter Carpenter can shed some light on what happens when the contract goes to the PERB, how much money that can cost the tax payers, and how this process is supposed to work.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 11, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Peter Carpenter can shed some light on what happens when the contract goes to the PERB, how much money that can cost the tax payers, and how this process is supposed to work."

The ONLY remedy that PERB can impose is to require the parties to negotiate in good faith. PERB cannot order any particular outcome for a labor agreement.

What was bad faith here is giving closed door direction to the staff and then saying that the council had no authority to say no. Even the agreement itself states " after "approval by City Council". The public's business is meant to be done in public!!!

see the other thread for more detail"
Web Link

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