How We Got Here

the-truthLast week, the council candidates were asked what choices by the Davis City Council put the city into the position it’s in.  There is the tendency to blame the decline of the national economy.  However, that misses the key context that in 2007 and 2008, before the collapse of the economy, there was an active debate over whether benefit levels, especially PERS and OPEB, were sustainable.  As one observer noted at the time, “3% at 50 is in my opinion an unsustainable pension benefit. It threatens to undermine the pension system for everyone else in public service.”

That warning would prove to be true.  The collapse of the national economy should not be seen as the cause, but rather the catalyst for the city crisis.

What follows is a comprehensive look at critical dates and decisions that either contributed to the crisis or sought to extricate the city from that crisis.

May 22, 1999 – City implements four on an engine

Julie Partansky, Stan Forbes, Ken Wagstaff, Susie Boyd, and Sheryl Freeman voted unanimously to hire six additional firefighters and put four firefighters on every engine.

November 15, 2000 – Council Votes to implement 3% at 50

City Council, comprised of Susie Boyd, Sheryl Freeman, Sue Greenwald, Michael Harrington and Mayor Ken Wagstaff and led by Interim City Manager Jeanie Hippler, who took over for John Meyer, would approve a contract amendment to grant the firefighters 3% at 50 pension compensation.

March 2004 – Voters Approve Measure P, Half-Cent Sales Tax

According to the staff report, the tax would generate $2.9 million in annual revenues, which represents around 8% of the City’s overall General Fund Revenues. Supervisor Helen Thomson and Mayor Susie Boyd argued, ““The City faces increasing costs.  We will face higher expenditures if we are to provide the additional police protection and meet park and recreation and open space commitments we have made to our citizens.” They added, “Without Measure P revenue, given the uncertain state support to the General Fund, we would be faced with very deep service cuts in police, fire, and parks.”

2005-2006 – Council Gives Bargaining Groups Large Salary Increases

The firefighters in 2005 agreed to a four-year MOU that would give them salary increases starting on June 20, 2005 of: 10% in 2005, 8% in 2006, 8% in 2007, and 6% in 2008 before expiring June 30, 2009. All told, their salaries increased 36% over a four-year period. Police received smaller increases starting in 2006-07 fiscal year of 6%, 3%, 4% and 3% for a total of 16% pay increase. Other bargaining units received between a 15 and 20 percent pay increase a year after council put the tax measure on the ballot.

2008 – Council Election

Don Saylor and Stephen Souza ran for reelection on the basis that the budget is balanced with a 15% reserve. Sue Greenwald countered, “Our revenues have increased a healthy 60 percent in seven years. Our problem is that expenditures have risen faster.” She added, “We’re not in better shape than we’ve been in years. That’s just not true. We are locked into a 3% at 50 retirement for the next 70 years for public safety employees and now 2.5% at 55, early retirement for all miscellaneous employees. That’s got to affect our longterm budget situation. We have a $42 million post-retirement, unfunded employee retiree health liability. That’s huge. That’s coming due in only 15 or 20 years…” As one observer noted at the time, “3% at 50 is in my opinion an unsustainable pension benefit. It threatens to undermine the pension system for everyone else in public service.” Don Saylor and Stephen Souza backed by the firefighters along win reelection with Sue Greenwald.

June 30, 2008 – Grand Jury Report on the Firefighters

The Grand Jury found the following after an extensive two-year investigation: “Misuse of a DFD facility; inappropriate relationships between the Union’s Board of Directors and DFD management; and inconsistencies in promotional opportunities.” The most explosive of these complaints were that firefighters were getting drunk in downtown Davis and sleeping it off at the fire station. By July 14, 2008, the city would name Police Ombudsman Bob Aaronson as Independent Investigator.

September 15, 2008 – Lehman Brothers File for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

The filing remains the largest bankruptcy filing in US history, the entire western financial system nearly collapses and the US moves into its deepest and longest lasting recession since the Great Depression.

November 11, 2008 – City Manager Memo Warns That City Projects Revenue Shortfall

City Manager Bill Emlen in his first memo established five cost control measures for the remainder of 2008-09 fiscal year: hiring freeze, monitoring overtime use, controls on travel reimbursement, all services not currently under contract to be approved by city manager, and limitations on non-essential discretionary spending.

December 9, 2008 – City Reports a $1.2 million budget deficit

The economic crisis deepened and Davis faced a $1.2 million budget deficit for 2008-09 and a $3 million budget deficit for the following year. Paul Navazio, the city’s finance director, believed time cost savings could save up to $900,000 which would require the city to eat up to $330,000 from their reserves.

December 10, 2008 – Council “Votes” 3-2 Not to Read the Full Independent Report on Fire Department

Both councilmembers Sue Greenwald and Lamar Heystek were adamant about seeing the full version. Councilmember Greenwald: “I’d like to get a council consensus that we have access to all the information. The way our form of government works is that we’re responsible when we’re elected. Whereas on the phone you told me that we’re not responsible for personnel, we are ultimately, the buck stops with us. We’re responsible through you, but we can’t evaluate how well you’re doing your job with personnel if we don’t have access to all the information.” She continued: “I just think we should as a matter of principle, as a matter of procedure. It’s a matter of accountability in government.” Councilmember Heystek requested of City Attorney Harriet Steiner that she explain any legal grounds for withholding of information from the council in writing. “I do agree with Councilmember Greenwald, it is important for us to see the work product of the Ombudsman, this is the first major test of our Ombudsman and we’ve paid over $35,000 I believe for this work product, and I believe I deserve to see as a councilmember the contents. No one is wanting to pry or to be nosy, I think we want to know the quality of the report. It is important that we have the fullest context possible to be able to make decisions or give direction. I’m equally interested in hearing what the city manager’s interpretation of the findings are. But if there is some legal grounds by which we cannot view this information or not be privy to the report that was prepared at our behest, I would like to see a justification of that in writing. I really believe that as a councilmember I need to know why it is that information is being withheld from me and in writing.” However, both Mayor Pro Tem Don Saylor and Councilmember Stephen Souza disagreed. “I think that it’s reasonable to make another point of view known here. That is to the degree that materials and information comes to the City Manager that is personnel related, we don’t look at the personnel files of every employee in the city.” Councilmember Stephen Souza agreed. “I don’t need all fifty pages, I just don’t.”

January 13, 2009 – City Faces Crisis of Unmet Needs

City staff: “While the growing list of unmet needs – both one-time and recurring – remains a significant concern, current economic and budgetary realities suggest that emphasis should be placed on securing existing revenues over seeking new revenue sources that could, potentially, jeopardize revenues relied upon to provide existing City services.”

January 14, 2009 – City Manager and Investigator Disagree on Substance and Tone of Findings

The Davis City Council very late on Tuesday night and early on Wednesday morning finally got to ask key questions of investigator Bob Aaronson, who was charged with the duty of conducting an independent investigation into a series of findings by the Yolo County Grand Jury that was released in June. The hearing did not begin until 12:30 am. Bob Aaronson disagreed with the findings in a nuanced way upon questioning, which meant that the city council was left reading a redacted report and the public was left to read only the city manager’s summary of the issue. As Mr. Aaronson put it at the onset: “Bill is sort of a glass half full sort of guy when it comes to city operations, it’s my impression, and I tend to a glass half empty sort of guy.” It would not be until four and a half years later that the public got to read the report.

March 10, 2009 – Street Maintenance Report to Council

In a budget report, street maintenance was currently being funded at a traditional $800,000 baseline level.  Finance Director Paul Navazio stated, “The current funding level is insufficient and it leads to the deterioration of street conditions.”  The funding to address the current backlog would require an increase to $2.8 million per year, and full funding to maintain the desired pavement index is in excess of $3 million per year.

June 9, 2009 – Councilmember Lamar Heystek Proposes an Alternative Budget

During the Davis City Council meeting, Councilmember Lamar Heystek, instead of merely opposing the current proposals laid out by finance director Paul Navazio boldly proposed his own alternative. There are two key planks to the alternative budget as laid forth by Mr. Heystek.  First, the belief that the current 850,000 dollar reduction in salary compensation, which represented perhaps a little over 3% of their total budget, was insufficient.  Councilmember Heystek instead proposed a 5% reduction in total compensation for employees. Second, $1.5 million in savings was wrapped up in the tier reductions, which were basically the cutting of programs and service to the public.  Mr. Heystek’s budget began to address these cuts, removing some of them from the cut list.

June 16, 2009 – The Apology: Citygate Scrubs the Deck on Fire Staffing Issue

The city uses a $15,000 study to justify current staffing levels and support the implementation of a battalion chief model. In addition, the study recommended against a fourth fire station and instead recommended joint operations with the UC Davis fire department. They also recommended an expansion of the response time.

June 23, 2009 – Council Fails to Deal With Structural Issues As Budget Pictures Comes Into Focus

While the efforts of Councilmember Lamar Heystek to introduce an alternative budget two weeks prior gained some concessions from the council majority, Councilmember Heystek and Councilmember Sue Greenwald found themselves on the short of end of 3-2 votes on the key issues. The bottom line was the failure of the Davis City Council to adequately address the looming structural issues of employee compensation at this meeting.  The short-term budget remained to be balanced through cutbacks to programs rather than changes to the way the city funds employee compensation.

December 12, 2009 – City and Firefighter Local Reach Agreement on New Contract

The city of Davis announced that the city had reached a tentative agreement on a three-year labor contract with the firefighters’ union, Local 3494. The proposed contract was on the city council’s agenda for ratification on December 15. The contract included a decrease in salary over the next three years, including a 6% decrease over the REMAINDER of the current fiscal year, with, in July of 2010, the salaries to be reduced by 4% over the current salary and, in July 2011, a 3% reduction from current salaries. Vanguard analysis determined the contract fell well short of the savings needed and allowed for no period for public vetting.

December 16, 2009 – Mayor and Council Cut Off Debate on Fire Contract

Councilmember Sue Greenwald, while pressing on the failure of the firefighters’ contract to address the city’s structural problem, was cut off in debate. In a heated discussion, Councilmember Sue Greenwald pressed the finance director to explain where the inflated savings figures came from. During the course of that discussion, Councilmember Greenwald demonstrated that the level of savings was actually considerably less in year three than the 3.6 percent trumpeted by city staff. The council voted 3-2, with Councilmembers Greenwald and Lamar Heystek dissenting, to pass the contract.

December 18, 2009 – Councilmember Heystek Speaks Out About Fire Contract

The Vanguard’s phone interview with Councilmember Lamar Heystek on the 3-2 vote that passed the fire MOU. Mr. Heystek told the Vanguard, “The biggest problem that I have with the contract is that it does very little to address our structural challenges in any meaningful way and it sets the tone for the contracts that we are poised to consider and adopt in the very near future.”

January 13, 2010 – Council Majority in Need of a Math Lesson on MOU

There was the use of new math as the council majority again attempted to justify another passage of an MOU by a 3-2 vote, again with Councilmembers Greenwald and Heystek dissenting. The council majority essentially made three points. First they argued that this contract represents a savings of $744,000. Second, they argued that, while not as much as they might have liked, this contract marks the first time that the council has decreased the size of contracts. Finally, they argued that this contract began to deal with the structural issues.

February 27, 2010 – Vanguard Firefighter Brochure Hits Davis Mailboxes

The Vanguard mailed out a brochure that informed citizens about issues involving the Davis Fire Department and the fiscal challenges facing the city as a the result of overly generous fire contracts and the purchase of influence by the Davis Firefighters Union, Local 3499. Click here to see the brochure.

May 25, 2010 – Council Votes to Impose Impasse on DCEA

The Davis City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to impose the City’s last, best and final offer to the city’s largest bargaining unit, the Davis City Employee’s Association (DCEA).  Dozens of the members of DCEA showed up at the council meeting, there were accusations leveled toward the city about unfair labor practices, and accusations leveled that the city was bent on imposing this. From the city’s perspective, DCEA was simply unwilling to go to the bargaining table and negotiate in good faith. However, the city failed to follow proper procedures and the imposition was overturned in late 2011.

June 8, 2010 – Joe Krovoza and Rochelle Swanson Elected To The Davis City Council

Joe Krovoza and Rochelle Swanson were elected to council, pledging fiscal reform and independence, having not accepted firefighter money.

February 23, 2011 – Dan Wolk Chosen to Fill Council Vacancy

Don Saylor spent six months as mayor of Davis. He was elected to the Yolo County Board of Supervisors in June 2010 and resigned from the council in January to take that seat. The council acted quickly to fill the vacancy, ultimately appointing Dan Wolk to fill the seat.

June 28, 2011 – Council Passes Historic Budget, Sets Aside $2.5 Million in Personnel Costs to Put Towards Roads and Unfunded Liabilities

Council had to stare down, the week before, 150 employees in a stifling 90-degree council chambers. Stephen Souza and Sue Greenwald argued against the sweeping reforms. Stephen Souza was arguing that the city council was going about this budget in the wrong way. He argued against restoring the reserve immediately.  He argued that he wanted the entire community involved in the process – but those in the room and those not in the room.  In a theme of his for the day, he argued that the process “just doesn’t feel right” and he said that he wanted to “do it in a way that we can feel good about it at the end of the day.” Sue Greenwald said that it needs to be coordinated with the labor contracts situation.  “We need to make these cuts, but the process and timing is everything,” she said.  She added, “If we implement this tonight, we are on a course of layoffs, mass layoffs.” Ultimately, they would not prevail. However, the cuts were not implemented.

July 26, 2011 – Davis Hires Steve Pinkerton as new City Manager

Manteca’s City Manager Steve Pinkerton was unanimously selected by the Davis City Council in closed session, and his first meeting would be the infamous September 6, 2011 in which the water project was approved at 3 am, only to be rescinded two months later.

September 27, 2011 – Unfunded Liabilities Workshop

City Manager Pinkerton laid out underfunded elements of the budget including at that time Pensions ($1 million), OPEB ($2.4 million), Street Maintenance $2.5 million, Sidewalks $430,000; Parks facilities and City facilities. They also set a framework for implementing the $2.5 million in budget savings, however, this was never implemented.

November 3, 2011 – PERB to Disallow Davis Imposition of Impasse on DCEA and Orders Backpay for Employees

In a tentative ruling handed down by the Public Employment Relations Board, they ruled that the city improperly canceled fact-finding and imposed the last, best and final offer on DCEA. PERB ruled: “It has been found that the City violated MMBA sections 3503, 3505, 3506, and 3509(b) and PERB Regulation 32603(a), (b), (c), and (g) when it passed Resolution 10-070 on May 25, 2010, before exhausting the fact-finding process set forth in its local rules. They continued: “It is therefore appropriate to order the City to cease and desist from such activities in the future. Additionally, if the City wants to proceed through its impasse procedures, it must provide adequate time to complete the fact-finding process as set forth in its local rules.”

May 21, 2012 – Vanguard Obtains Critical New Portions of Davis Fire Department Investigation in Settlement with City

The Vanguard sued the city of Davis to release the 2008 Fire Staffing Report by Bob Aaronson after nearly three and a half years.  The City of Davis had been unlawfully withholding records that should have long before been made public, exposing the depths of their collusion with the firefighters’ union to suppress damaging portions of the Davis Fire Department Investigation written by the city’s Ombudsman Robert Aaronson in response to findings in the 2008 Yolo County Grand Jury Report. In newly-released segments of a 2008 report, the Vanguard has learned that Bobby Weist, the long-time union president and arguably one of the most powerful public figures in city government, received preferential treatment in his 2007 promotion to fire captain. In April of 2007, then Chief Rose Conroy of the Davis Fire Department promoted Mr. Weist, over “at least one of the candidates [who] was demonstrably and significantly more qualified for and deserving of the promotion than [Bobby Weist] promoted by Chief Conroy.”

June 5, 2012 – Lucas Frerichs and Brett Lee in, Souza and Greenwald Out; Wolk Finishes First

Voters apparently had enough of the incumbents, voting challengers Lucas Frerichs and Brett Lee into office, while voting out three-term councilmember Sue Greenwald and two-term councilmember Stephen Souza.

June 7, 2012 – City Issues Layoff Notices to Nine Employees

The day after the election, the city laid down the first gauntlet in what has been described by both sides as increasingly contentious discussion on new labor contracts across the board. The layoffs involved nine positions within DCEA (Davis City Employee’s Association), the bargaining unit that the city originally declared impasse on in the winter of 2010 but had that impasse overturned by a state board (PERB) the previous November. The firing triggered angry responses in the community after tree trimmers were laid off and replaced with contract employees.

November 13, 2012 – Fire Audit

Interim Fire Chief Scott Kenley presented the fire audit to council.

December 14, 2012 – City Reaches Agreement with Three Bargaining Units

The city, in announcing agreement with DPOA (Davis Police Officers Association), Management and PASEA (Program, Administrative and Support Employees Association) has reached agreement with five of the seven bargaining units. The contracts dealt with exploring a second tier benefit, employees to pick up their full PERS share by 2014, and a larger pick up of retiree medical by employees, reduction of cafeteria cash out.

December 18, 2012 – Fire Audit Recommendations

Interim Fire Chief Scott Kenley presented the fire audit to council. Union President Bobby Weist misled the council, stating that the firefighters had not been not involved in process.

January 29, 2013 – Fire Round Table

The fire audit recommendations were reviewed in great detail by the city council.  In an unprecedented move, the city council literally sat at the table with the fire union to discuss the findings. The fire union demonstrated an incredible lack of respect for council and city staff while objecting to every single recommendation in the report.  The city would meet again in March 5, 2013. Ultimately, all of the report’s recommendations were approved.

February 5, 2013 – Council Stunned by Magnitude of Road Problem

The council would learn that years of spending almost no general fund money on roads meant huge deferred maintenance costs. At current levels of funding, half the streets would fail by 2032 and costs would increase to over $400 million. To bring the PCI to 70, the city would have to pay $8 million per year. Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wolk felt like, and quite reasonably, that he had already cast one tough vote on this. “We knew at the time it was a very difficult vote to basically move $1 million into the roads and $200,000 into the bike paths,” he said.  “That was a difficult vote and we knew at the time… that that really wasn’t going to solve the problem by any means.” “But seeing this report shows you how really a drop in the bucket it really is,” he said.  “It’s very daunting and sobering to realize and think about where we’re going to find this $150 million.” Then there was Councilmember Brett Lee who said, “I must admit I was surprised and also saddened by it.  We come to this job and we know we have to make hard decisions and I was thinking we would get the labor in order, we’re going to do certain things and then it’s the nice time when we get to make the parks nice and keep the pools open longer and this is like a bucket of cold water.” “But it’s the reality that we’re faced with,” he said.

April 30, 2013 – Fire staffing Reduced to 11

In a 3-2 vote with Brett Lee, Joe Krovoza and Rochelle Swanson voting in the majority and Lucas Frerichs and Dan Wolk dissenting, the city council voted to reduce overall staffing to 11 firefighters on duty.

June 21, 2013 – City Releases Full Unredacted Fire Report After Four and a Half Years

On Wednesday morning Judge Dan Maguire issued a tentative ruling, ruling that former Davis Fire Chief Rose Conroy’s request for a preliminary injunction was denied on the grounds that she had not been able “to demonstrate that she is likely to prevail on the merits of her claims at trial.” Newly released were rants by the former fire chief Rose Conroy, who stated, “From my perspective, the people that are – that have gripes and things like, that are the people that are narcissistic. That it’s about them and they don’t like it if it’s not about them and they don’t look good in front of other people …. The problem employees are the employees who don’t get their way …. These others are people that don’t fit well in a team game.”

June 26, 2013 – New Structural Deficit for City of Davis

As Davis passed the 2013-2014 budget, the city reported it will end the year with a negative cash flow of $1.62 million, but the real problems would start the next year when the city’s deficit would balloon to $3.77 million.  From 2012-13 to 2017-18, revenues grew from $41.55 million out to $45.19 million.  The problem is that costs increased from $41.7 million that year out to $50.14 million by 2017-18. By the end of this five-year period, the yearly deficit was expected to hit $5 million, with the overall deficit over the entire period at $15 million. “We have an uphill battle in the future if we want to balance our budget and address our unmet needs,” City Manager Steve Pinkerton told the council.  “It’s frankly not incredibly difficult to balance the budget if you’re putting off costs into the future.” The idea was floated to look into new revenue sources, but not addressed again until December.

November 19, 2013 – Last, Best and Final Offer to DCEA

The Davis City Council unanimously voted to impose the last, best, and final officer on DCEA. This left firefighters as the last unresolved contracted group.

November 26, 2013 – Two Attempt to Fire City Manager Pinkerton

We learned that there was an active effort underway to terminate the contract of City Manager Steve Pinkerton before the December 1 deadline, after which would enable him to receive nine months of severance for early termination. Council called a special closed session meeting two days prior to Thanksgiving; however, they emerged with no reportable action.

December 3, 2013 – Council Approves Shared Management

The Davis City Council addressed some of the concerns from the firefighters and their fellow councilmembers about the language in the JPA agreement, including getting rid of all reference to the term, Joint Powers Agreement itself in an effort to assuage concerns about the process. Despite their efforts to address his concerns, Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wolk went from supporting the proposed Shared Management Model in October to opposing it on Tuesday. Lucas Frerichs remained in opposition. Two weeks before, the council received a letter from Senator Lois Wolk, Assemblymember Mariko Yamada, Supervisors Don Saylor and Jim Provenza and former Supervisor Helen Thomson that urged “the Davis City Council to take another look at the serious long-range consequences of this proposal before contracting out any of these core municipal functions. There is a key difference between sharing or coordinating services and merging governance with the constitutionally separate and unelected Regents and Chancellor.”

December 18, 2013 – Council Imposes Contract on Firefighters

All of the city’s bargaining groups are under the new terms and conditions.  It took a year and a half from the expiration of the old contracts on June 30, but finally the council imposed the last, best, and final offer on DCEA and last night, they voted to do the same with fire.  Both votes were 5-0. Mr. Yeung noted that the firefighters were unwilling to go there or consider any second-tier benefit, so “without that savings we couldn’t fund the pay increases for the other parts of the of the deal.” Speaking during public comment, union president Bobby Weist told the council that the firefighters’ union is very “disappointed in the factfinder’s decision.”

December 18, 2013 – City Braces For New $5.1 Million Structural Deficit

The city will look to revenue measure in June, City Manager Steve Pinkerton reported in his 2014-15 Budget Preview. He said that the city will be facing a new “a structural imbalance of up to $5.1 million in the General Fund.” “Difficult decisions are ahead concerning how to balance funding ongoing programs vis-à-vis service-level expectations in the community,” he writes. “Davis is justly proud of the amenities it offers to residents. However, expenditures continue to grow faster than revenues, despite all the changes the City has made to date.” He argued, “Largely these increases are outside the City’s control. This funding gap makes it difficult to continue to provide the current level of services to residents.”

February 11, 2014 – Council Puts Half-Cent Sales Tax on Ballot in June

The item did not end until well after 1 am on Wednesday morning.  Just as it appeared that the council had an agreement, they decided to take one last break to think about it.  When they returned, Lucas Frerichs announced that they had decided to go back to a half-cent sales tax from the three-quarters that had been recommended by a focus group and that had seemed to be a consensus moments earlier. The measure would set the sales tax rate at 8.5% for six years.  The term would mean that the previous tax measure, renewed in 2010, would no longer sunset in 2016, but would rather extend until 2020 with the rest of the ordinance. Click here to see the list of programs the tax addresses.

February 12, 2014 – Pinkerton Agrees to Terms with Incline Village

City Manager Steve Pinkerton and the Incline Village Board of Trustees have agreed to a negotiated employment agreement. It was announced his final day with the city of Davis would be April 25, 2014. The city council hired Gene Rogers as interim until they can find a permanent city manager.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. D.D.

    Help the readers understand 3% at 50 years old, please. I understand my own state of CA calculations for age 55, but I do not understand wat “3% at 50” really means And, do the firefighters have a choice, as I did, to pick Tier One or Tier Two? Because I set aside my own money, out of my paycheck, so that I could retire at 55 with 25 years of service.
    It would also be fair to have a workers compensation specialist explain to the public some of the high cost medical bills and shorter life span of firefighters and police officers, so readers understand a firefighter is giving more to Davis than, for example, a person crunching numbers in city hall. Not that the accountant is without stress, just that the firefighters and police face more potential hysical challenges.
    I still believe that many PHD minded Davis citizens are jealous that a firefighter or cop can out-earn someone with a fancy degree. Same goes with a business owner. Someitmes a high school graduate, with a keen business sense, can out earn a very well educated person. And sometimes people are jealous of other people’s wages. I appreciate the firefighters who saved my home in South Davis.

    1. David Greenwald

      It means that at the retirement age of 50, you get 3% of your final salary for each year that you worked.

      So let’s say you started working at 25, retired at 50 with a final salary of $100,000.
      That means you get $3000 * 25 = $75,000 in pensions from the time you are fifty until you die. These days that could be 25, 30, 50 or even more years.

      1. D.D.

        Interesting. My state of CA contract did not let me calculate my overttime into the final wage calculation when I retired. Only “straight” time, not O.T.
        O.T. was part of my job, it was not voluntary. I chose to miss my son’s only soccer goal and his unbelievable catch in the outfield, in Little League, because I chose to work for CA. and work mandatory O.T. (And a very few wealthy Davis moms made sure they shamed me about that…. Other Moms were very nice, and cheered my son.)

      2. South of Davis

        David wrote:

        > That means you get $3000 * 25 = $75,000 in pensions from the time
        > you are fifty until you die.

        You get $75K the first year they you get COLA increases until you die.

        Someone that retired with a $75K/year pension in 1984 would be getting about $175K/yr today (+ Health Care worth about $25K/year)

        This is not a union problem or a pension problem it is a math problem. Almost every pension in CA is underfunded and we have had ~30% growth (much more in Davis) over the past 30 years. Unless we can grow the population of CA to about 80 Million (and Davis to about 120K) in the next 30 years the Ponzi will collapse…

    2. Frankly

      Help the readers understand 3% at 50 years old, please


      You get to retire as early as age 50 and you get 3% of your salary (the average of the last 3 years I think) per year of service.

      So, if you become a firefighter at age 20 and work for 30 years, and your average salary over the last 3 years before retirement is $125,000 per year, then you get $112,500 per year for the rest of your life. And that amount will also be adjusted upwards for cost of living inflation.

      And you also get full healthcare benefits for you and your spouse for the rest of your life.

      If you live to life expectancy of 90, you will have 40 years of this millionaire retirement compared to the 30 years you worked.

      Nice gig if we can afford it.

      We could never afford it.

      1. D.D.

        I did workers comp claims years ago; unfortunately, many cops and firefighters have a shorter life expectancy than a college professor or a city accountant. Maybe nowadays, their odds are better. But their backs, knees , necks, psyches, lungs and hearts take a beating.

        1. South of Davis

          D.D. wrote:

          > I did workers comp claims years ago; unfortunately, many cops and
          > firefighters have a shorter life expectancy than a college professor
          > or a city accountant.

          You may have been looking at a small sample size, but based on data from CalPERS (that sends a LOT of checks to a LOT of people) the cops and firefighters get the checks for LONGER than most others getting checks from CalPERS.

          1. David Greenwald

            CalPERS did a study a few years ago and they found that firefighters and police live as long as anyone else.

          2. Rich RifkinWDE 73

            Cops and firefighters may live as long, but they are about 10 times as likely to retire early due to injury on the job.

            Also, keep in mind that with 3% at 50, you don’t have to be 50 to retire. You can be, say, 48, and with a combination of unused sickness and vacation leave, you can purchase two years of “air time,” which makes you officially 50, even if you are 48.

            Additionally, CalPERS allows you to retire early at a lesser rate. For example, Steve Pinkerton was on 2.5% at 55. He retired when he was (I think) 53.75. Because of that, he won’t get 2.5% for each year he worked in the CalPERS system; instead, he will get (approximately) 2.375% per year. If he worked 30 years in CalPERS, his pension would start at 71.25% of his final salary.

          1. D.D.

            I’m glad to hear their life expectancy is equivalent. I hope their quality of life, with back, neck, knee, psyche, and heart ailments, has improved? Now I’m thinking about boxers and football players now. If their life expectancy is long, but their quality of life in old age suffers, maybe they deserve higher wages.
            Thank you for providing additional stats. I’m still glad a firefighter saved my home. I do not recall any other professions saving my home and my beloved labrador. Of course I am biased, due to these events.

          2. Davis Progressive

            you are biased. but the real question you could ask yourself objectively – would you have been just as safe had the city squared away its labor issues?

          3. D.D.

            “would you have been just as safe had the city squared away its labor issues?”
            Coulda, shoulda, woulda. Your question doesn’t seem to help. The past is the past, and hindsight is 20/20.

      2. WesC

        The maximum base annual salary for a firefighter II in Davis in $90,187. CALPERS uses the average of the highest 36 months of base salary when calculating pensions, not base salary plus overtime/unused sick/unused vacation, etc… So retiring at age 50 as a FF II with 30 yrs service will yield a pension of $81,168. Very generous by any measure, but not quite $112,500.

        1. South of Davis

          WesC wrote:

          > So retiring at age 50 as a FF II with 30 yrs service will yield a
          > pension of $81,168. Very generous by any measure, but not
          > quite $112,500.

          Remember the “pension” amount does not include health, vision and dental (costing taxpayers ~$24K/year on average).

          Here is the Davis “top 5” from the web site below (most can only dream of making that much money working full time and can’t even comprehend making that much in their 50’s without any work at all):

          Rose Conroy $122,090/yr
          Robert Weir $120,436/yr
          Gary So $119,175/yr
          Martin Ruiz $113,399/yr
          Patrick Fitzsimmons $109,457/yr

          The above numbers don’t include heath care and also don’t include any other income they may make if they decide that they want to work a little and not just sit at home (All my “retired” firefighter and cop friends in their 50’s work full time in addition to their $10K/month pensions working to build a second pension that they will get when they decide to really retire (well in to the “top 1%) in their 60’s.

          1. D.D.

            I did not get vision insurance when I retired. The VSP plan was not much better than Lenscrafters coupons, anyway,

          2. D.D.

            South of D
            Why print their names? You use “South f Davis” as your name, yet, you dig up public employees’ names and out them here? Why? Your arguments would be just as compelling if you merely printed their job classification. Tacky.
            Just because something is public record does not mean you have to use it to out people and invade their precious privacy.

        2. South of Davis

          Here is the “top 5” from the Davis Unified School district:

          David Murphy $161,827/yr
          Marilyn Mansfield $115,488/yr
          Mary Pitalo $97,909/yr
          Consuelo Coughran $95,198/yr
          Judy Davis $94,531/yr

          Remember these are “retired” people making this much (+ Heath Care). The only way to (mathematically) pay what was promised is to either double the tax rolls (hello development) or double the taxes (parcel tax and sales tax increases every few years)…

          1. Frankly

            The only way to (mathematically) pay what was promised is to either double the tax rolls (hello development) or double the taxes (parcel tax and sales tax increases every few years)…


          2. wdf1

            SoD: Remember these are “retired” people making this much (+ Heath Care). The only way to (mathematically) pay what was promised is to either double the tax rolls (hello development) or double the taxes (parcel tax and sales tax increases every few years)…

            Cities and counties may operate differently, but individual schools districts have no direct liability for its retirees. The retirement payments come directly from the State system. DJUSD pays into the STRS state level retirement pool at the statewide rate.

          3. Davis Progressive

            you don’t seem to understand the issues here.

            there is a collective bargaining agreement every three or four years, where the two sides sit down and decide what the salary, benefits, etc. are to be. so what does it mean in your world to pay what was promised?

          4. D.D.

            Dear Davis Progressive, Please do not tell me I do not understand the issues. Please just tell the reader your opinion of the issues. I sincerely believe that I really do have an understanding of the issues. I try very hard to educate myself before I post comments. I have different life experiences than you do. Therefore, my “understanding” of issues is probably different from your own “understanding”. That does not give you the right to tell me I do not comprehend, or understand. Thank you , in advance, for taking the time to read this.

          5. Davis Progressive

            it’s not a matter of experiences, it is a matter of understanding how the collective bargaining process work. you didn’t respond to the second half of my post that laid it out for you. when you say pay what was promised, what is promised is only for a finite period of time and then it’s about coming up with a new agreement. no one is suggesting not to pay what was promised.

          6. Davis Progressive

            calstrs and calpers run differently. for calstrs there is a collective pot and its handled at the state level. calpers is administered locally.

    1. David Greenwald

      THat’s unfortunate. The question is whether we can afford the compensation package that was given to the firefighters and other city employees over the last 15 years.

      1. D.D.

        I heard that CA state workers can voluntarily get a pay deduction for an added vacation day. Maybe the city should consider that for its employees. Some city workers are “comfortable”, financially, and may jump at the chance to have an extra day off, every month, in exchange for a reduced paycheck.

        1. Frankly

          D.D. With this comment it appears that you are out of your element.

          Paid vacation is more expensive than is pay because you have to pay another worker to cover for those on vacation.

          We could save the city money by cutting the vacation and sick leave benefits, and the number of paid holidays to be in line with the averages for these things provided in the private sector.

          Remember, 90% of US workers are in the private sector. The public sector workers are the privileged few. But the problem is that there are no reasonable justifications for why public sector workers get higher pay and benefits. There are actually more reasonable justifications for why public sector workers should make less than their private sector peers.

          1. D.D.

            The public sector sets an example. Weekends off, flexible time, paternity, maternity leave. Overttime. A workplace free of sexual harrassment and nepotism. Workers compensation. A sanitary, private place to pump breastmilk. These concepts are often due to a union representing its workers. Often, the union is a public employees union.

          2. Frankly

            D.D., none of that is true. For professional class workers the private sector is by far the most progressive when it comes to employee well-being.

            You also keep bringing up this “free from sexual harassment” point. You do know that sexual harassment and sexual discrimination is against the law in the private sector, right?

            The public sector really does not set any example except the example for how to grossly over-pay for needed labor.

          3. wdf1

            Frankly: The public sector really does not set any example except the example for how to grossly over-pay for needed labor.

            And the private sector sets appropriate examples for how to pay top CEO’s?

          4. wdf1

            The 157,800 teachers of America’s little people (kindergarten students), the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us, together make about $8.34 billion a year. Hedge fund America’s top four earners alone last year grabbed $10.4 billion.


    2. South of Davis


      > I have heard Davis people with fancy degrees make comments about
      > firefighters’ intelligence, and the comments are not nice. And not fair.

      I have never heard anyone make negative about a firefighters “intelligence”, but many people (including me) have pointed out that firefighters don’t need a lot of “higher education”.

      My best friend is a firefighter who as a two year fire science degree from a California JC and makes more per year than the husband of my wife’s best friend who has an Ivy League undergrad degree, a masters from a major east coast public school and an MD from an Ivy league school.

      My best friend works 10-11 days a month and has no student loan debt. The husband of my wife’s best friend works 6 days a week long hours and is still working to pay down his student loan debt. Based on how things have worked out I would say that becoming a firefighter was a very “intelligent” decision…

      1. D.D.

        I have a friend who was oncall at a very large private company in Portland, Oregon. She was nicely rewarded for being oncall for their computer dept. She did sleep, but she woke up often with manager’s computer questions, and she had to drive to the office to fix computer issues at all hours of the day and night. Her sleep hyiene suffered tremendously, but she was rewarded financially. I believe it was a fair tradeoff.

      2. D.D.

        Perhaps your friend’s husband with the M.D. from an Ivy League school freely chose that lifestyle, and that student loan burden. Perhaps he really wanted the fancy degree. That’s his choice. As an M.D., he will surely have tough decisions to make about his patient’s health, and he’ll probably experience unhealthy stress, and injury to his sleep hygiene. Perhaps he’s in the private sector and can choose whether or not to accept patients who have no insurance? Firefighters do not get to choose which house they save. They serve all citizens, regardless of financial status. They deserve to be well compensated, especially if a written contract promised it to them. New hires are different.

  2. Frankly

    This is a great chronology. Unfortunately it misses the Mace 391 decision. That was a milestone for the council related to our city budget problems. They essentially gave away a city asset valued at over $100 million for a $500,000 loss. And they did this for dubious political reasons. It is yet another instance of council’s gross fiscal irresponsibility. It belongs in this list.

    1. David Greenwald

      I was just trying to capture straight fiscal calculations that didn’t bleed onto land use decisions. As it was, it took most of yesterday to compile.

      1. Frankly

        I understand and appreciate the work.

        But my point is that the Mace 391 wasn’t just a land-use decision. It was another of many poor financial decisions made for political reasons.

        1. David Greenwald

          I don’t necessarily disagree with you on that point. I guess I see that discussion slightly differently and really believe that we needed to go through that to get to a point where a business park was even in the realm of possibility.

          1. Frankly

            I would strip it down to a more fundamental financial consideration. It was a tremendous opportunity cost for a city lacking options.

          2. Don Shor

            Of course you would. But it was primarily a land use decision. And of course, the city doesn’t lack options.

          3. Rich RifkinWDE 73

            In that case, I don’t think it was any ordinary land use decision, because of the city’s ownership of the land. The decision made by the Council came with a huge opportunity cost for the City of Davis that other land use decisions never come with and likely won’t come again any time soon.

            I honestly do not recall the market value of the land with Mace 391. Was it $50 million? Some large amount was effectively (though not literally) thrown away by the ag easement deal.

          4. Frankly

            I understand that the 10-year full built-out opportunity was estimated to be $100 million. That is the number I use and it seems very reasonable to me. The valuation included the value of the land sold as a business park and the tax revenue that would derive from the business that would locate there.

            And I also understand that we purchased the property for $3.5MM and sold it for $3M.

          5. Don Shor

            Then just imagine how much Howatt Ranch is worth! Let’s put a racetrack there. And perhaps we can revisit the old proposal for retail on the Arden-Mayfair lot.

          6. Rich RifkinWDE 73

            That is a poor argument which is off-point, Don.

            In this case, the question is, if the Mace 391 property had been annexed and rezoned to “business park” usage, and the voters approved the annexation and rezoning, which I think they might have*, how much could the City sell the land to for to a private business park developer?

            *You say below you think there was a 0% chance of passing a Measure R vote on the land use change. I think you are quite wrong on that. I explain below why I think it would have been nearly a 50% chance of getting 50% plus 1 of the voters to vote yes.

            Keep in mind that, although we have had 2 Measure J/R votes and each failed miserably, the logic would have been different. If Covell Village had passed, most voters did not think its construction would benefit them personally. So they preferred to stand pat. Same with WHR. But with Mace 391, the city, and collectively the citizenry, would have been monetarily better off by $50 million or so. In the other two votes, where the city did not own the land, the city and the general citizenry had no stake in the rezoning, which largely just enriches the land owners.

          7. Don Shor

            There’s plenty of other land available. The folks who had been planning and proceeding with the ag conservation easement proposal were blindsided by the proposal for Mace 391. They would have been vocal and well organized in their opposition to that particular proposal. Meanwhile other sites are being discussed and moving forward, none of which generates any natural opposition yet. And at least one, Mace 200, is much, much more likely to proceed now that Mace 391 is protected from development.
            Given the importance ag land preservation holds in the general plan documents I’ve cited, I would say any annexation is a major uphill battle politically.

      1. South of Davis


        > Maybe Davis needs to figure out a legal way to sell one or
        > two of its DACHA homes. They are worth a lot of money.

        And as long as they are owned by the city they are not paying any property taxes to the state or parcel taxes to the schools…

      2. Davis Progressive

        will you stop making that recommendation. any sale of property is one-time money and right now low income people are living in those homes.

        1. South of Davis

          David wrote:

          > any sale of property is one-time money and right now
          > low income people are living in those homes.

          As I pointed out if the homes are sold the property tax and parcel taxes will come in EVERY YEAR. I’ve paid more in Property Taxes and Parcel taxes in the last few years than my old neighbor paid to BUY their Davis home in the 70’s. Not only that the expenses (of thousands per home per year to manage, insure and maintain them will also end). I would like to know if the financial statements for the DACHA homes are public, but I have seen statements for homes run by other cities and in EVERY case just (not including any tax revenue) the saving from the cost of operating the properties would be enough for the city to give even MORE poor people money to rent NICER and BIGGER homes.

    2. Rich RifkinWDE 73

      “It is yet another instance of council’s gross fiscal irresponsibility.”

      Are any other candidates now running for CC holding that against Rochelle, who seems to be running on the idea that she has been a beacon for fiscal responsibility? If they are, I have not heard it. Further, I don’t think more than a dozen people (out of 65,000) hold it against her as a member of the Council which made that decision. Several score probably feel the opposite–that the decision to waste all that money was smart. The other 64,823 people in Davis are trying to figure out what CBFR stands for, and if it is contagious.

      Until the voters care, it’s hard to expect the Council to do the right thing.

      1. Frankly

        Until the voters care, it’s hard to expect the Council to do the right thing.

        I would add to the front of that…

        Until the voters know, they won’t care.

        When I explain the complete transaction including the opportunity cost to my neighbor along with the extent of our city’s fiscal problems and the reasons for them, the best way to explain the response is a furrowed brow and shaking head indicating a level of disgust for what the council did.

        But I certainly agree with you that many Davis voters have their head in the sand or are chasing rainbows.

        I will keep doing my best to help educate more people on this.

        Basically, the council gave away a $100 million revenue producer at a very, very bad time. And now they are telling us they are going broke and need us to tax ourselves more.

        Funny story. We had some good friends over last night visiting from North Dakota. He is an avid hunter (retired 57 year old federal employee) started talking about the drop in deer population in ND because NRCS money has fallen off and grass land is being developed and farmed. I went off on NRCS telling him about the woman that stood up in front of Council pretty much lying about the impact to the Yolo Land Trust should the Council decide to forgo the Mace 391 grant. There was something weird about the look on his face. Then I remembered… he retired as the ND state deputy chief of NRCS. My foot was far down my throat by then! We moved on to talking about whiskey.

        1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

          I would estimate it higher, especially in light of the current fiscal crisis.

          Say it were presented thusly: If approved, the city gets $50 million in revenues (or $80 million or whatever the real number is) for the sale of the land; $50 million is enough to cover 10 years of $5 million GF shortfalls; if it fails, we have to raise taxes by $5 million per year or we drastically cut police, fire, roads and parks.

          Given that sales pitch, I’d say it’s got a 48.23% chance of passing.

          1. Don Shor

            Given the active disparagement of the open space community by the chief proponents of the proposal, as evidenced on this blog, there would have been well-organized and quite visceral opposition to the proposal. The gentleman who was pushing it was never vetted as to his financial capabilities. We don’t even know if he could afford to pay for the election. We learned, late in the game, that he was getting cash advances from the Cannery project developers. We know that he was not a developer and was not acting on behalf of any developers. The entire proceeding was thoroughly tainted by lack of transparency by the time the council took its final action.
            Murky proposal put forth under questionable premise, violating basic tenets of the Davis General Plan and the Yolo County General Plan?
            I would say your estimate is 48.22% too high. I’ll give you 0.01%.
            Especially in view of the fact that there are several hundred other developable acres under discussion.

          2. Frankly

            As the dire financial circumstances of this city become more and more clear, I will be sure to remind everyone of this logic you post.

            I think this Council will have a permanent stain of being a party to one of the most costly and damaging politically-motivated single decisions ever in the history of Davis. We spent $500,000 to give away an asset worth $100 million for what?

            The open space community is a bunch of extremists. We already had 5000 acres of open space preserved in and around Davis… about the size of the city of Davis. And all they want is more, more, more, more… they are fanatical and extreme and greedy. They are not the majority. They are just a loud minority. They win because everyone else is asleep thinking we have a Council and city staff looking out for their best interest. But as the word of this decisions spreads at the same time disgust over the financial situation of the city spreads… there will be hell to pay.

          3. Don Shor

            The open space community is a bunch of extremists….And all they want is more, more, more, more… they are fanatical and extreme and greedy. They are not the majority. They are just a loud minority. They win because everyone else is asleep

            Rich: I rest my case. Frankly and his friends were their own worst enemies on this issue.

          4. Rich RifkinWDE 73

            “Given the active disparagement of the open space community …”

            How big is that “community?” 40 people? 50? 75? 100?

            Ultimately, these activists (regardless of pro or con) are a tiny share of the citizens. They can win at a CC meeting, because no one else cares enough to show up. But it is certainly not the case that more than half the voters in Davis are so hung-ho about “open space” that they would prefer to forgo a land sale which could cover 10 or years of city budget deficits. The vote to deny WHR and CV had very little with “open space” or even “ag preservation.” The voters were voting their own selfish interests, and they didn’t see any benefit to them to have more housing built in Davis which comes with more auto traffic and so on.

          5. Rich RifkinWDE 73

            “I’ll give you 0.01%. Especially in view of the fact that there are several hundred other developable acres under discussion.”

            Again, Don, Mace 391 was different than all the others, because it would have benefitted everyone in Davis with real money. In the case of other possibilities, where Davis does not own the land, it’s really unclear how much the creation of a business park would bring to the city of Davis. For that reason, I think those will be much, much harder to get approved. Again, it’s all about voters voting self interest, and that is far less clear in all other cases but Mace 391.

          6. Don Shor

            I completely disagree with your political assessment. I guess we’ll have to leave it at that.

          7. Frankly

            At least your are consistent in the use of ear plugs and blinders.

            You can leave it at that, but Rich is absolutely correct. Big difference between land we own and land we don’t own.

          8. Rich RifkinWDE 73

            By the way … if it is legal, I would favor charging any land owner a “giving” tax, if he requests a zoning change on his property, and the change in designation results in a large windfall in property value. The idea is just the opposite of a “taking,” where government is required to compensate a land owner if a new zoning regulation (put in place after he purchased the land) makes his land worth less money.

            If we had a substantial “taking” fee, then the citizenry in Davis would actually have a positive stake in all peripheral development proposals. But as it stands, the main winner from any zoning change is just the owner of the land asking for it. Con Agra’s land is worth what, 5 times as much today as it was worth one year ago? And Davis citizens got how much for changing the zoning?

          9. Don Shor

            then the citizenry in Davis would actually have a positive stake in all peripheral development proposals. But as it stands, the main winner from any zoning change is just the owner of the land asking for it.

            I think Rob White can give you some reasonable estimates, at least a range, for the likely city revenues deriving from development of sites like Mace 200, Nishi, and property in the Northwest Quadrant.

          10. South of Davis

            Rich wrote:

            > I would favor charging any land owner
            > a “giving” tax, if he requests a zoning
            > change on his property, and the change
            > in designation results in a large windfall
            > in property value.

            We already have the capital gains tax that the owner pays when they sell off lots and the increased property taxes that the new lot owners will pay to the state and new parcel taxes that will go to the schools. Do you want ANOTHER tax?

  3. Don Shor

    The decision to continue the process of an ag conservation easement on Mace 391 certainly can be included in the context of the ongoing discussion of ‘innovation park’ or business park sites:
    — the city council established the Innovation Park Task Force, report issued in 2012 that called for a Dispersed Innovation Strategy;
    — various sites were reviewed;
    — an independent proposal from an outside agent was made to stop the conservation easement process and, instead, to develop the site known as Mace 391;
    — council decided to continue that site as an ag preserve property;
    — August 2013: Innovation Task Force was reconstituted to assess other sites;
    — city has put forth a request for proposals to develop some specific sites for innovation/business parks.
    This process has led to a greater likelihood of annexation and development of three peripheral properties.

    1. Don Shor

      I would also add the city council decision to proceed with housing on the Cannery site, which was not zoned for that purpose. Prior discussions all involved business or commercial development to some degree (greater than the current residential development) on that site. The refusal of the landowner to consider anything other than housing was a factor in that decision.

      1. Frankly

        Welcome to economic development where the land is not owned by the city.

        Contrast that to a situation where Mace 391 could have been developed. Since the city owned that parcel, we could have made it exactly what we wanted for a business park. It could have been the business park that got national attention just like Village Homes did decades ago.

        But that opportunity was squandered due to the open space zealots and a council running afraid of them.

        Now we have to deal with Ramos for Mace 200.

        Good luck getting all the goodies that Davisites believe they are entitled to.

    1. David Greenwald

      Old hires get what was promised that’s the idea behind a two-tiered system, but within that is some flexibility in terms of how much of the employee share of the pension obligations gets picked up by the city, the structure of retiree health, how we fund those, how much money people can cache out if they don’t need full health coverage, etc.

    2. Sam

      With CALPERS funded at about 55% of what it should be chances are that nobody is going to get what they are promised. Unfortunately, the paying of public employees WAY beyond the money available is not going to end anytime soon and the reality is that payments will be eventually cut in bankruptcy court at some point.

      1. D.D.

        Scare tactics, at best. California will always be a highly desirable place to live and work. Ebb and flow. Some people move away, other wealthy people move in. I doubt if CALPERS will go broke.

          1. South of Davis

            It was just a year ago when the Detroit Unions were telling their members, the city will not cut pensions.

            Yesterday the NYT wrote:

            “Detroit dropped tens of thousands of ballots in the mail on Monday, initiating a crucial stage in the city’s bankruptcy case that allows retirees, employees and bondholders to cast votes on a painful debt-shedding plan. The vote, to be conducted over two months, amounts to a gamble for many of the city’s 32,000 pension recipients: Support proposed cuts to their checks, or leave it up to a federal bankruptcy judge and risk losing more.”

        1. Sam

          Go tell the CALPERS lawyers that are trying to convince a judge today that the Stockton pensions should not be included in that cities bankruptcy that it is just a “scare tactic”. Also, San Bernardino who did not make their pension payments last year and is negotiating with them in bankruptcy.
          Yes people are always going to live in California, but how are you going to come up with the $250,000,000,000 CALPERS needs to pay for the pensions that are promised? How about a one time tax of $6,500 for every man, woman and child currently living in California? That would work.

          1. Sam

            I forgot, we would also need everyone to kick in at least another $2,000 each for CALSTRS. So $8,500 from each person currently living in the State today would fix the pension problem we have.

          2. South of Davis

            Sam wrote:

            > I forgot, we would also need everyone to kick
            > in at least another $2,000 each for CALSTRS

            You also forgot that most people (not paid by the unions to be overly optimistic and keep the shortfalls low) think that we will need at least double that number…

  4. Davis Progressive

    the idea is being put forward by defenders of the status quo that the problme with davis is that the economy collapsed. those people ignore that many were warning that the city’s fiscal situation was unsustainable. the reality is no one wants to call the people out who perpetrated this.

  5. Davis Progressive

    “Don Saylor and Stephen Souza ran for reelection on the basis that the budget is balanced with a 15% reserve.”

    that was the most fraudulent statement in the history of the city. the reserve was a mirage propped up by the failure to fully fund roads, pensions, and opeb.

  6. hpierce

    Not quite accurate. CALPERS is administrated by the STATE. Unlike STRS, PERS has employer and individual employee “accounts”. If an employee leaves service without retiring within a relatvely short period of time after separation, the employee may withdraw from the “employee” account, and the accumulated employer share goes back into use for any of the City’s other PERS pension liability. If an employee dies shortly after retirement, the employee (unless they picked an option, and ‘pay’ for it) share is the “estate”,and the accumulated employer’s
    share goes either to PERS, and may go back to the emploer account. Not sure how ALL of the accounting works, but the emplyer either gets a direct credit, or at least an actuarial reduction in rates, over time.

  7. Tia Will


    Thanks for posting this. I had no idea about this aspect of the accounting issues. For me this may shed new light on the actions taken by previous councils.

    On this blog, there have been some very harsh criticisms of former council decisions and it has been pointed out repeatedly that these individual’s were warned. When it turns out that a warning is correct, it is very easy to cite stupidity or even worse “fraudulent” statements and or intent. When the warning turns out to be wrong and all is well, the actions of the council would be praised as having been steadfast for holding their course under criticism.
    Could it not be possible that perhaps these individuals were not “in the pocket” of an interest group, or willfully
    thoughtless, but perhaps did not understand the full ramifications of their actions, or were resisting what they saw as “fear tactics” ?

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