Commentary: Council Passes MOUs Without a Word

City Hall
Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis cast the only dissenting vote to the MOUs
Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis cast the only dissenting vote on the MOUs

The Davis City Council’s biggest decision on Tuesday night, with the deepest ramifications for the future of the city, came and went without a single comment by the council other than Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis recording a no vote for the new MOUs which will provide four bargaining units with a 3 percent COLA (Cost-of-Living Adjustment) over the next seven months.

Not one of the five councilmembers pulled the consent item to explain or discuss their vote.

That contrasts from the series of MOUs passed in 2009-10 where the council openly discussed the issues facing the city. In fact, it was the contract for PASEA (Program, Administrative and Support Employees Association) where Mayor Ruth Asmundson cut off debate on an MOU for a second time, where the infamous blow up occurred between the mayor and Councilmember Sue Greenwald.

A month before that blow up, the mayor along, with Councilmembers Don Saylor and Stephen Souza, were successful in cutting off the debate and passing the MOU by a 3-2 vote. Part of the issue was the degree of savings that the city would derive from those contracts and, 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.

As Councilmember Lamar Heystek pointed out at the time, “This is not about what dollar amount certain employees may or may not deserve.  This is about what we as a city can afford to pay and we have a responsibility to get the best deal for the taxpayers and the community as a whole.”

Councilmembers Sue Greenwald and Lamar Heystek turned out to be correct back in 2009 and 2010, and the council in the next round of MOUs was forced to make far deeper cuts.

The most interesting thing is that Councilmember Lamar Heystek’s comment from 2009 rings just as true six years later – the issue is not what the employees deserve, it is what we can afford to pay.

While some councilmembers may maintain that these issues were discussed during their closed session meetings, we never got to hear them publicly justify this raise that not only adds $1.1 million to the budget but also adds between 5 and 8 percent to the city’s contributions to CalPERS (California Public Employees’ Retirement System).

By failing to pull the item off consent, we never got to hear, on the record and in public, answers to important questions.

The biggest question that remains unanswered is where the city is going to get the money to pay for the additional $1.1 million being added to the budget – does that mean we cut programs? Does that mean we cut employees that run those programs? Is council planning to use some of the money from a proposed tax measure?

The council still has not figured out how it will pay for approximately $10 million in annual road maintenance needs. Currently, the council has carved out about $4 million in both road impact fees as well as general fund money.

Council is set to discuss a tax measure at its December 15 meeting, but already some councilmembers have told the Vanguard that the utility user tax is off the table.

In an email from Assistant Manager Kelly Stachowicz, the Vanguard learned that, while not completely off the table, there is no clear consensus about what the public will or will not support. This is a picture that has been made much murkier by the council’s actions adding to their payroll.

In the meantime, the Vanguard has heard from two councilmembers off the record that the MOU actions were about the need to recruit new police officers, while at the same time rewarding those employees who worked with the city during the budget crisis.

As we noted yesterday, City Manager Dirk Brazil seems to have a different take on the need to increase salary.

He noted in an email that, since 2009, take-home pay for the average city employee has dropped by 7 percent. At the same time, these employees have been asked to pay an increased share of their benefit costs (i.e. pay the employee share which the city had previously paid), among other cost increases.

According to the city manager’s view, “The 3% over two years agreed to between management and the employee groups that is before the City Council Tuesday night for consideration is an incremental move to improve overall compensation for our employees after a very difficult few years.”

But that brings us back to Councilmember Lamar Heystek’s comment that the issue is not what employees deserve, it is about what the city can afford to pay – and be responsible into the future.

Right now this deal looks completely irresponsible. The Vanguard on Monday showed city projections for how even a modest $1.1 million increase to employee compensation will impact the budget down the line.

Just a $1.1 million increase will push the city into the red, according to current projections, in 2019-20.

Maybe the council has a plan to deal with that – but because no one from the council bothered to pull the item and put the comments on the record, the public has no idea.

One councilmember suggested that they had almost no emails on the subject. Is there any wonder? The staff report came out on Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The Vanguard did not even cover the issue until Monday and the Enterprise made note of it on Tuesday – when was the public going to learn about this agreement in order to weigh in?

We are not suggesting anything nefarious in this, however, there are reasons why the public was not engaged.

The Vanguard, however, received at least ten emails, text messages, and other instant communications from people angry about not only the MOUs but the failure of the council to pull the item from consent and publish it.

Councilmember Rochelle Swanson has agreed to speak with the Vanguard on the record later today, but three councilmembers – Dan Wolk, Brett Lee, and Lucas Frerichs, all of whom will be on the ballot in June, have said nothing publicly on this issue.

The Vanguard was extremely critical of the 2009-10 city council’s handling of the budget and the MOU process. That handling exploded in January 2010 with the showdown between Ruth Asmundson and Sue Greenwald.

But, at least in 2009 and 2010, the discussion took place on the record, in public, and Sue Greenwald and Lamar Heystek had an opportunity to explain their dissent.

Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis did the right thing in opposing the COLAs that appear to us to be fiscally irresponsible. We commend Robb Davis for standing up for principle, both in the hiring of the city manager and now in the MOUs.

That said, it is perplexing as to why he would not publicly argue his case or explain his vote. This is for the public’s need to know and the benefit of the community. Moreover, it would have forced or compelled his colleagues to explain or defend their actions.

That is now twice that Robb Davis has taken a different approach from his colleagues but didn’t wish to publicly explain it. He did it on Dirk Brazil’s hire as city manager, and he now has done it on the MOUs. As much as I respect Mr. Davis, the public deserves to understand his reasoning – simply arguing his case in closed session is not sufficient for the public’s needs.

However, it is far more disappointing to see the actions of Councilmembers Brett Lee and Rochelle Swanson. Both have exemplary records on issues of fiscal responsibility. Rochelle Swanson teamed with Joe Krovoza and Dan Wolk in 2011 to push the city in a new fiscal direction. She continued that work with the former mayor and Brett Lee by helping to push through the fire reforms – critical measures occurring on 3-2 votes.

This needed to be a public discussion and we need to understand how the city plans to make fiscal ends meet. Rochelle Swanson and Brett Lee failed to explain their rationale. They failed to do what Sue Greenwald and Lamar Heystek did, or even what Don Saylor and Stephen Souza did – which was to defend their vote. Maybe in the end they would have won us over, but now we’ll never know.

The bottom line: the public deserved a discussion last night and got silence. That will not soon be forgotten.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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112 Comments

  1. SODA

    from the other thread before you posted this; thanks for this article. I would add, I am sure if some of us thought the CC would not pull the item, there would have been discussion in public comment about it.

    I am appalled that the CC would not at least pull the item for discussion last night. At least in the spirit of transparency if nothing else.  I hope Robb will weigh in and I encourage Brett to give his explanation.
    I realize DV readers/commenters are a slice of the our town but the overwhelming comments on this article have been for a questioning if not negative vote and to not even pull for discussion strikes me as dismissive.

    1. Misanthrop

      Brett is a huge supporter of the cops. Go back and see his comments on the MRAP. Why you think he would make a big deal out of this is beyond me.

      This deal was negotiated by the CM and its totally reasonable to give the cops a little raise for living cost increases. Did anybody raise it at public comment? If not all this chest pounding about 3% for the cops without the council pulling it is petty.

      Yesterday I said Davis can afford this. Its not a question of not having the money its a question of whether we are willing to do what we need to do to increase revenue. If we allow the city to grow revenue streams we can increase revenue without raising taxes. If we don’t allow the city to grow then we will need to pay more taxes. The one thing we can’t do is nothing, only then is the fiscal situation in trouble going forward.

      The last sales tax increase was supposed to be a bridge to economic development. That is what people and the council need to be reminded of.

      1. Barack Palin

        Are all these supposed qualified and “Davis values” cops going to come running to our DPD over a 3% raise?  Smoke is being blown up all our collective Davis city butts.

      2. Tia Will

        This deal was negotiated by the CM and its totally reasonable to give the cops a little raise for living cost increases”

        I agree with your conclusion that it is reasonable to increase compensation for some of our public employees. I do have a problem with their being no public discussion at all when public employee wages have been such a contentious issue  in the recent past with folks having very strong feelings both for and against. I see this as a process and transparency issue rather than a right or wrong decision as there are a number of valid arguments both for and against this raise.

  2. Tia Will

    the public deserved a discussion last night and got silence.”

    I was amazed by the fact that this item was not pulled from consent. While there were a number of issues addressed by members of the public which were important to me, I was unable to attend last night, but was watching from home. I fully anticipated that the item would be pulled from the consent calendar and that a discussion would ensue.

    We have a very thoughtful and diligent city council at present. I have been impressed by the willingness of city council members to engage with the community on the individual, group, and public level and to operate more openly than has sometimes been the case.

    Given the potentially far reaching implications of this decision with many potential impacts on our entire community, I am surprised that this was decided with a minimum of public discussion and transparency. I am hoping that there will be a well thought through explanation forthcoming about why this is the case and that we will be hearing that explanation in a timely manner.

     

  3. Tia Will

    SODA

    I am sure if some of us thought the CC would not pull the item, there would have been discussion in public comment about it.”

    This is accurate. Had I perceived any possibility that this would not have been pulled from the consent calendar, I would have rearranged my schedule so as to at least have the issue raised publicly. And this from someone who is very ambivalent about the merits of the proposal itself, but feels strongly about its importance to the entire community.

  4. Barack Palin

    I can’t believe the council went ahead and rubber stamped this employee raise.  Here we go again, our recent sales tax increase will have a big chunk taken out of it for employee raises and not what we thought it was needed or asked for.  I remember the discussion, people were leery of giving more money to the city out of caution that they in turn could give it to city employees just like happened before.  Anyone who votes for future tax measures in this city gets what they deserve.

    Fool us once shame on you, fool us twice……

    Well, we got played for being the fools we are.

    Good article David, you’re getting your spunk back.  This is like the Vanguard of old, not the newer softened down version.

  5. hpierce

    OK… a basic “civics lesson”.

    If you are interested in something that you know is going to be considered by the CC, go to the City website, look at the agenda, and read the staff report.  I did as soon as I knew it was coming up.

    If you do that, and it says something is on the “consent calendar”, rather than being on the “regular” portion of the agenda, it means the Mayor and CM (at the least) have determined that there will be no strong opposition by the CC, nor the public.

    In this case, where the CC has been discussing the progress of the negotiations for months (in closed session), and the fact that it was placed on the consent calendar, I am not at all surprised that there was no discussion, and that it was not “pulled”.  SOP.

    Anyone seeing that an item is on the consent calendar can ask any CC member to pull it, prior to or at the meeting.  I see no report that this was done.

    Stop whining.  If you wanted a full discussion and did nothing to trigger it, you do not have a sympathetic ear here.

      1. Davis Progressive

        first of all, i don’t think this should be about the vanguard wanting discussion.  a lot of us wanted discussion, we expect discussion, we should not have to go down to council and demand discussion.  but obviously we do.

        second of all, how do you know if david went down there and made a public comment, the mayor wouldn’t have simply thanked him and taken a motion.  you can’t demand the council actually discuss the item – if they didn’t want to discuss it, nothing forced them to do it.

        1. Anon

          Did the Vanguard ask the item be pulled off consent to be discussed?  If not, why not, if the Vanguard was that concerned about it?

          Secondly, as hpierce pointed out, the MOUs have been discussed for months.  Did the Vanguard raise any issues over those months at CC meetings during public comment, giving an opinion that no COLAs should be given out bc the city cannot afford it? If not, why not?

           

        2. Davis Progressive

          the vanguard has certainly raised the issues on here.  if the davis enterprise wrote an op-ed on this, would you make a similar demand that debbie davis address the council and ask the item be pulled off consent?

        3. Barack Palin

          Don’t tell me that the council doesn’t read the Vanguard where this issue has been a hot button for years.  They chose to sidestep the backlash they knew was coming.

        4. Anon

          To Barack Palin: I am not telling you the City Council doesn’t read the Vanguard (altho some CC members may not/may not on a regular basis).  That is not the point.  If the Vanguard felt so strongly about the MOUs, then it had a vehicle with which to voice a complaint, and it didn’t avail itself of it.  Why not?  Simple question.

      2. SODA

        Point taken and although was obvious to you, not to me. I had thought of emailing a CC member about my thoughts prior to meeting, but never thought it would not be pulled. I will not be so naive in the future.

    1. Mark West

      re: civic’s lesson

      Unanimous consent calendar is the list of business awaiting a deliberative assembly’s vote that is not expected to be substantially opposed. These businesses are therefore scheduled for a vote without debate or for automatic adoption unless a member objects. Such action may be taken when matters are not controversial or are of minor importance to the assembly. This helps to dispose of a great deal of the agenda confronting the assembly quickly and efficiently.

      http://definitions.uslegal.com/u/unanimous-consent-calendar/

      And to repeat:

      “when matters are not controversial or are of minor importance….”

      No one can honestly make the claim that this matter was either non-controversial or of minor importance.  No citizen of Davis should have needed to request this item be taken off the consent calendar because no elected official representing those citizens should have allowed it to be put there in the first place.  This was a cowardly act, taken by a Council looking to avoid public accountability.

      I give Robb an ‘A’ for voting against the action, but I give them all an ‘F’ in civic responsibility and leadership.

       

  6. Cecilia EscamillaGreenwald

    Tia – I too was surprised that an item estimated to cost the CITY OF DAVIS approximately $1.1 million dollars was pulled from the Consent Calendar.  I was there to speak on 3 issues, plus thank Chief Landy Black and wish him a happy retirement.  Before I realized it I saw the vote take place to accept the Consent Calendar as is and I wondered if I had missed something when I took one of our kids to the restroom.  “There is no way that they would pass such an issue on consent, would they?” I thought to myself.  Then I realized shortly thereafter what had happened.

    I have full respect for all of our council members and understand they have a very challenging job. On such an important issue there should have been an opportunity for the public to speak and this should not have been on consent.  This is very disappointing.  I say this as  someone who has always been supportive and been a member of unions.  I have the same view now as I did when I ran for council years ago and that is, “We cannot continue to have unfunded liabilities.”  We need to look at the big picture and make sure that we do not have unfunded liabilities.  When the voting public is asked to support a tax in the next election on the heels of having passed 3 MOUs that cost the city approx. $1.1 million dollars it tells us that this should have been more carefully reviewed and discussed so the public could understand why this was needed.

    I hope the council talks about this openly now that it has passed.  I support this council and think they have done a good job being transparent with the public, but this vote took me and many others by surprise last night.

    1. hpierce

      Any member of the voting majority of the CC can offer a motion (Robb cannot) for “re-consideration”.  .  Am assuming Robb would provide the third vote necessary.  make all the phone calls, e-mail, public comments, letters to the editor you desire to have a public discussion on you want to influence at least two other CC members to at least back a motion to reconsider and have that matter brought back.

      You can tell them that voting for reconsideration does not negate, nor suspend their previous action (95% sure), nor obligate them to change the votes they cast Tuesday… might even result in a 5-0 vote (am guessing about a 5% chance of that).

      Anyone who feels adamantly upset of the lack of public discussion as a regular CC item, who doesn’t AT LEAST TRY TO get two yeses from CC members to move for reconsider, please save us your whining.

  7. Jim Gray

    Fiscal responsibility is a cornerstone of good governance.  That said it is important that City Management and the City Council should be able to acknowledge and enhance the compensation of valuable City Employees.  If you consider the macro perspective our overall number of employees within the city is down.

    Employment in Local and State Government is still at pre-great recession levels.  The demands on the Staff are many and varied and we should be encouraging closer working relationships between the staff, management, and the City Council

    You cant just “cut” your way to fiscal responsibility.  The City needs growth in revenue as well as  enhanced productivity.  It seems to me that the public debate and scrutiny needs to be on the overall Budget Process and not trying to micro-manage the compensation of employees and with bargaining units.

    Clearly we should look at our priorities and where we are spending money within the community.  But this drum beat of “bashing staff” and and implying conspiracies of silence is not where the focus should be in my opinion.

    I served for more than a year — almost two decades ago now –on the City Budget Advisory Committee. It was hard work with lots of give and take. The hardest challenge is prioritizing what roles and functions we as citizens expect from local government — and which services should be close to self supporting.

    We need a healthy City Budget… Making modest pay increases and modest benefit increases is not going to make or break the City.  Enhancing morale and allowing our Council to be encouraging and supportive of City Staff is very important I feel. We have a bit of a recovery underway.  We should be making modest increases in compensation during these times.  Rehashing old news and old battles  — regarding historic decisions by another council to make large pay and benefit increases as we were plunging into a deep recession is old news and is an effort to fight “old wars”.  Let’s focus on the here and now and the entire budget and not get lost in squabbling about 3% staff pay increases.

    1. Davis Progressive

      you’re downplaying the impact of a $1.1 million budget hit when our general fund will go into the red in two years without cuts or another tax hike.  in the meantime we owe $150 million over the next 20 years for roads and have no solution for that.  and when you talk about revenue growth, you’re looking down the line at innovation parks (if we pass them) and more taxes (if we aren’t fed up about the mismanagement of the budget).  i respect your view, but the city budget is teetering on the brink at best right now.

      1. Barack Palin

        Correct me if I’m wrong but weren’t we reassured that the half cent sales tax that we recently voted for wouldn’t be used for employee raises?  I thought that was one of the reasons an “advisory” vote was discussed but later scuttled?

        1. Davis Progressive

          you are correct.  the vanguard asks the important question – where is the money to pay this coming from?  i’ve never voted against a tax, but unless we get satisfactory answers here, there will be a first time.

        2. Anon

          To Barack Palin:  Below is the argument in favor of the sales tax increase.  So please explain where the City Council has failed in its promises specifically…

           

          ARGUMENT IN FAVOR MEASURE O

          Measure O proposes to increase our community’s sales tax to 8.5 percent until 2020. This repre- sents a one-half cent increase now, and will continue until 2020 an existing one-half cent tax due to expire in 2016. This modest increase in our sales tax rate will fund essential community needs that shouldn’t be delayed further, including:

          Road, sidewalk, bike path, streetlight repairs
          Parks, landscaping, street tree maintenance

          Revenue from this sales tax increase will provide $3.6 million per year toward our current $5.1 million structural budget deficit. With passage, Davis must still cut $1.5 million to balance its 2014-15 budget. Without this measures approval, basic services (including police, fire, parks, recreation) will suffer severe cuts, up to 12.5 percent. Davis will become a less safe and less pleasant place to live.

          The City Council has recently restructured labor contracts for major cost savings and long-term fiscal sustainability, with employees paying significantly more toward their retirement. Davis has decreased its workforce by 22 percent, or 103 full-time employees.

          The longer Davis defers major road repairs, parks maintenance, and water conservation projects, the costlier they become. Davis is aggressively moving forward with economic development to generate additional tax revenue as a longer-term solution to the city’s budget challenges.

          Many cities have implemented similar local sales tax measures: Sacramento’s sales tax is 8.5 percent; San Francisco and Berkeley have higher rates. The economic recession has resulted in major declines in local tax revenue. Also, the state’s ongoing shift of responsibilities to local governments, concurrent with shifting property tax revenues away from cities, makes it crucial to increase local funding for core city functions through sales tax.

          Please help us protect the quality of life we all enjoy. Please vote “Yes” on Measure O.

          /S/

          Dan Wolk, Mayor Pro Tem
          Lucas Frerichs, Councilmember Joseph Krovoza, Mayor
          Brett Lee, Councilmember Rochelle Swanson, Councilmember 

           

        3. Davis Progressive

          anon – the promises were not made in the language there.

          however, here is from the vanguard’s commentary when the council declined to put an advisory vote on the ballot:

          There is a history here as I have recounted many times – in 2004 the council passed a half-cent sales tax that was supposed to keep parks open and prevent the city from having to lay off city employees.  Somehow, though, the council turned around in 2005 and gave away the store.  The firefighters got a 36% salary increase and other bargaining units got 15 to 18%.
          The city has limitations on what they can do with a general use tax.  The city cannot bind itself to spend the money a certain way, because that would require that the vote be two-thirds.
          One councilmember suggested that times have changed and that the council could not get away with turning around and giving away the store again.  But they seem to forget that, in two years, we will likely have a different council.
          The councilmember illustrated that what this means is that it is important to select the right council to lead the city.  While that is undoubtedly true, it is not a very reassuring thought.
          Another councilmember suggested that the half-cent sales tax and $3.6 million in revenue is small and therefore will preclude it being used for salary increases as it will go to pay for the city’s increasing water bill, PERS contributions and retiree health costs.  They argued, “There was no point in an advisory measure for the smaller amount.”
           
          Moreover, as they pointed out, trying to create an advisory measure that was specific enough to be meaningful and not specific enough to convert it from a general use tax was very tricky.

        4. Davis Progressive

          here is an op-ed in the enterprise:

          By Lucas Frerichs, Brett Lee, Elaine Roberts Musser, Dan Carson and Ken Wagstaff

          Measure O proposes to increase our community’s sales tax from 8 percent to 8.5 percent until 2020. This represents a one-half-percent increase now, and extends an existing one-half-percent tax due to expire in 2016. This modest increase in our sales tax rate will go into the city’s general fund to help pay for essential community needs that will be far more costly if further delayed.

          These include repair of roads, sidewalks, bike paths and street lights; parks and landscaping projects; and water conservation projects.

          Revenue from this modest increase will provide a crucial $3.6 million per year toward our current $5.1 million structural budget deficit. Even with the passage of this increase, the 2014-15-budget plan now being drafted includes an additional $1.2 million in budget reductions, with likely further cuts yet to be determined.

          http://www.davisenterprise.com/forum/opinion-columns/keep-davis-running-vote-yes-on-measure-o/

        5. Barack Palin

          Yes DP, that’s how the sales tax was represented to us and I remember the community being very skeptical that the money would be used for pay raises.  Well the chickens have come home to roost.

    2. Anon

      To segue onto Jim Gray’s comment, the city asked the police and other city staff to hold the line on salaries, and to take a cut in cafeteria cashouts, if I remember correctly (please let me know if that isn’t right).  Except for the firefighters and DCEA, police and city staff agreed to these concessions when times were tough during the recession.  Now that the city is doing better fiscally, does it really seem unreasonable to give a small COLA to these cooperating employees as a reward for cooperating in good faith during tough times?

      Let me give an analogy.  Remember some time ago when an airline (cannot remember which one) was having a tough time fiscally, and the pilots and stewards agreed to a pay cut to keep the airline afloat fiscally?  Time went by, the airline got out of the red, and was doing much better.  But it didn’t pass that good fortune on to the pilots or stewards, but kept their salaries the same.  Then word got out that the top administrators had gotten huge raises as the company’s fiscal picture improved.  The pilots and stewards were furious, and demanded pay increases and got them, because of the terrible publicity surrounding the bonuses paid to top administrators.  Bottom line (pun intended), the airline should have been fair, and when times got better, given the pilots and stewards COLAs at the very least.

      1. Anon

        I think one of the things I am struggling with in this article is whether it is about the fact that this decision was on consent, or if the Vanguard truly disagrees with the COLAs.

        1. Michelle Millet

          I don’t have a problem with the vote, as much as how it was made. It would have been nice if they had been willing to discuss their decision in open session if only to foster community engagement. I’m always skeptical when decisions like these are made behind closed doors, it does not foster an atmosphere of trust with voters.

      2. Paul Thober

        Anon: “Now that the city is doing better fiscally, does it really seem unreasonable to give a small COLA to these cooperating employees as a reward for cooperating in good faith during tough times?”

        A couple of points: Our city is doing better fiscally, but that does not mean that we are operating with a truly and honestly balanced budget what with the huge unaccounted for infrastructure maintenance backlog and predictable future pension and healthcare cost increases. Secondly the answer to the looming gap is going to be a parcel tax, a utility tax, a sales tax or some combination of those. These are all regressive taxes which I philosophically oppose.

        1. Anon

          I agree that the budget is not truly balanced.  So my question to you would be: When are you willing to give city employees a COLA?  When the budget is truly balanced?  If yes, then I suspect city employees would never receive a COLA!  And then my next question is: What incentive would there be for the employees to cooperate in labor negotiations when times get fiscally tough again, if they never get a COLA until the city budget is truly “balanced”?

          1. Don Shor

            So my question to you would be: When are you willing to give city employees a COLA?

            That is precisely the context that the council majority needs to explain. The city under Pinkerton substantially reduced the number of full-time equivalent employees, something like a 20%+ reduction in FTE’s. Yet, the last time I checked the numbers, the cost of payroll had continued to increase. And the cost of payroll continued to increase faster than the city’s revenues were increasing. To give a COLA in the absence of any discussion of the bigger budget issue implies a lack of commitment to budget sustainability.

            My answer is that the council should give the city manager budget goals, whether based on revenue increases that are not reliant on a ‘temporary’ tax increase, or somehow pegging the payroll costs as a percentage of the budget, or showing how the city can achieve and maintain a certain level of surplus for future recessionary periods. Any business owner knows that payroll is the major expense and the one that needs to be managed most carefully. I get the sense that there is an attempt here to reward employees for having been cooperative, but that can’t be done in the absence of an overall plan for fiscal sustainability. We don’t see evidence of the latter.

        2. Matt Williams

          Don Shor said … “The city under Pinkerton substantially reduced the number of full-time equivalent employees, something like a 20%+ reduction in FTE’s. Yet, the last time I checked the numbers, the cost of payroll had continued to increase.”

          The Transparency Subcommittee of the Finance and Budget Commission is currently looking into this very issue. The graphic below shows the trends in Total Employee Compensation, Total Number of Employees, and Total Compensation per Employee. The numbers speak for themselves. We have a long way to go before we achieve Fiscal Responsibility.

    3. Tia Will

      Jim Gray

      Let’s focus on the here and now and the entire budget and not get lost in squabbling about 3% staff pay increases.”

      I largely agree with your post. And if any of the CC members had said even this much as their rationale, I probably would not have posted anything at all. It was the silence, not the action that was troubling to me. However, now I have been schooled by hpierce and Anon and will be more proactive, even when I do not perceive it as necessary.

      1. Michelle Millet

        Yeah, that guy is  a class act. We need more Lamars in public office.

        Respect to Robb, it is hard to cast a sole dissenting vote, not many public officials have the courage to do it. Has anyone on our current council besides Robb done it?

  8. Anon

    Barack Palin: “Anon, I must of missed it, where does it say that the sales tax will be used for employee raises?

    Here is the problem I am having with your question, so bear with me.  The sales tax is a general tax, and goes into the general fund.  With general fund money we are fixing the roads (remember all the recent complaints about it being done all at once?), albeit not at the level needed to get the RPI to the level we want it.  Street lights have in fact been replaced with new energy saving ones.  And trees and parks are being maintained by a paid private service.  So the promises of Measure O have been kept.  So I am baffled by your statement.  Help me understand.

    1. Barack Palin

      Have we not just taken a huge chunk out of the general fund that will be used for pay raises?  Did we not just find out that we need $10 million a year to fund road repairs?  Where does it say that the sales tax would also be used to fund pay raises?  Do you think that they maybe knew that would cause the tax to be defeated?  We’re you not upset that the prior sales tax went to firefighter salaries?

    2. Michelle Millet

      It’s a shell game. While no out right lies were told, the public was mislead. I had ethical issues with this while working on the Measure O Campaign.

      The reason we needed to pass Measure O was because the rising costs of employee compensation left insufficient funds to pay for basic infrastructure costs. That is not the argument that was presented to the public. I wish the supporters of Measure O had been more honest about his in the literature (that was in a large part paid for by the Firefighter Union.).

    3. Mark West

      ‘So the promises of Measure O have been kept.’

      Measure O was sold to the public as a measure to help shore up the City’s fiscal position in the short term by covering existing unfunded expenses, such as pension obligations and OPEB, plus $1-1.5 million towards the infrastructure backlog.  The discussion from the Dais by the Council at the time explicitly stated that the money would not be used for new payroll increases. The discussion about the potential advisory measure confirms the importance that both the Council and the public placed on this issue.  The tax increase was intended to help cover our backlog of expenses, not provide funding for new ones.

  9. Don Shor

    Rich Rifkin, on the sales tax, Davis Enterprise March 05 2014:

    What I would like, if they want a yes vote, is for the people on the Davis City Council to explain two things: Tell us what mistakes they and past councils made that got us in this predicament, and what exactly they will do to fix the problem they have identified.

    If they don’t understand what they did to put us in this crisis and they don’t know how to prevent it from recurring or getting worse, why should we trust them with even more tax money?

    http://www.davisenterprise.com/forum/opinion-columns/why-trust-them-with-more-money/

  10. davisite4

    Very simply, I am appalled and disgusted.  The CC owed us an explanation.  It will be difficult for me to trust them or to go along with any of their initiatives in the future.

  11. Robb Davis

    I will acknowledge that I was quite frustrated with David’s framing of this article this morning (and told him so), but I will also acknowledge that the concerns over the way this issue was dealt with last night have merit.

    By now (1.5 years into my 4-year term) I should more fully understand how to bring my concerns forward from the dais but I have constantly struggled (and struggle still) to know how best to deal with issues that were discussed in closed session.  I have erred on the side of caution and have been called to account for that and I must accept that.  Laying out the reasons I voted as I did would have been helpful.  I failed to provide something I committed to when I ran for office: providing justifications for my votes.

    My only (meager) defense to the VG reader is that I have tried to lay out my concerns in this space concerning cost escalation and cost containment (especially as it relates to compensation).  I will not go back through every comment I have made on this subject but any (reasonable) reader will confirm that I have raised concerns about these things many times over.  I have closely followed recent CALPers decision making on lowering their rate of return and raised the concern that it would mean higher costs for the City.  In other words, at least as it concerns this space, I have tried to speak out.

    And so I will state (too late perhaps) here that I do not support this move.  I do support certain longevity bonuses (especially for police) to try to keep mature, experienced workers in a competitive environment for such workers.  There is a cost to such bonuses but I believe they are a worthy investment.

    I have taken great care to analyze staff salaries across the board and can see, conclusively, that the vast majority of staff have taken nominal and real pay cuts over the past several bargaining rounds.  These, I believe, were necessary.

    However, even as I appreciate the willingness of staff to accept these changes, I do not believe we can provide COLAs at this time.  In a real sense, I believe we are all involved in a kind of “Faustian” bargain: creating certainty in the future (defined benefit pension) requires a trade off in the present (no COLAs).

    Thus, despite real reductions in the “take home” pay of staff, I believe we must hold the line on present compensation to allow us to cover the (ever increasing) cost of guaranteeing a future payout AND deal with other needs including things we already know about (pavement condition) and things we have not yet fully counted the cost of (building and parks backlogs).  In the end this view did not prevail.

      1. Barack Palin

        Thanks Robb, I know we buck heads sometimes but when it comes to fiscal responsibility I do trust you.  I thought I could trust Lee and Swanson too, but alas.  The other two are are well…….if you can’t say anything good then…….

        1. Michelle Millet

          Given that both Brett Lee and Rochelle Swanson ran campaigns based on fiscal responsibility I’m surprised and disappointed that they voted the way they did, especially when neither were willing to pull the item off consent and give any public explanation for their votes. Again this does not instill voter trust.

      2. Mark West

        MM:  “Given that both Brett Lee and Rochelle Swanson ran campaigns based on fiscal responsibility I’m surprised and disappointed that they voted the way they did”

        I voted for both.  Disappointed?  Yes, Surprised? No.

        Politician’s say what they need to to get elected. The proof is in their actions.

    1. davisite4

      Likewise, thank you, Robb.  I appreciate both your explanation and your willingness to be the lone “no” vote.  Too often people just go along with majority.  I think it is important to express dissent even when it won’t change the outcome.

      1. Davis Progressive

        people are smart enough to figure out who is the good guy and the back guy. robb is the good guy, the only question is how he should have gone about things.  but i think most here appreciate robb’s tenacity on this.

    2. SODA

      Thank you Robb. My only addition is that DV is a slice of our town and probably a skewed slice and we commenters have been vocal on this issue and the process….and probably much more than the average Davisite who may not have even realized this was happening until last night’s paper. that is WHY I would have wished there be discussion of the item or at least your reasons for opposing the COLA. You would have informed the majority of Davis who doesn’t read the DV. My fear is that now when the other MOUs come to be, there will be little in the way of general pushback…..because the majority did not understand or was informed about last night’s increases. If some of us had asked you to pull the item, would you have? We have been taken to task by not asking or pulling it ourselves; would it have made a difference? Could the police union have been given a COLA increase without the others last night?

      Thanks Robb.

    3. Tia Will

      Robb

      Your comments are greatly appreciated. You are in a very difficult position ( as are all the CC members) and as I stated previously, I am grateful not to have to make these decisions myself. I do not believe that there is anyone who does not believe in your personal integrity and hard work to arrive at the best decisions that you possibly can.  My thanks to you for your diligence in this very challenging position you have taken on.

       

  12. Davis Progressive

    mark west: completely agree with your assessment.

    paul thober: i agree with yours as well. we may be doing better, but we don’t have a balanced budget nor do we have the fund balance even with sales tax to stay in the red with this increase.

    what i am confused about is anon’s position – it seems like they were admonishing david that we don’t have a real balanced budget and have now changed their tune.

    1. Anon

      DP: “what i am confused about is anon’s position – it seems like they were admonishing david that we don’t have a real balanced budget and have now changed their tune.

      Huh?  I have no idea what point you were trying to say here – please explain.  Secondly, you don’t know my position on this issue bc I have stated no particular position.  In point of fact, I am conflicted.  On the one hand, the city doesn’t have a balanced budget.  There are a myriad of things in the city that need basic repair/maintenance.  Additionally, different people will interpret differently when a budget is “balanced”.  Shall we use RPI as an indicator of a balanced budget?  If not, then what should be the indicator of a balanced budget?  However, having said that, the other side of the coin is when do you give cooperative employees a COLA to reward good faith labor negotiations in tough times?  How do you keep good employees from jumping ship and leaving for fiscally greener pastures?  There are no easy answers here.

      As for process, the Vanguard had the opportunity to pull this item from consent.  If the Vanguard was so concerned about this issue, why did the Vanguard say nothing during public comment?

  13. Davis Progressive

    robb – i honestly don’t see your beef with this article.  it is clear that the vanguard wanted a public discussion and hoped you would take the fight publicly.  you seem to acknowledge things should have been handled differently.  we all knowwhere you stand on the budget  and are all feeling a bit betrayed by brett and rochelle on this.  but i have to agree with david, this needed to be a pulic discussion on the dais and disagree with anon that the vanguard can or should be the one calling for that.  so it falls on you – fair?  no.  but the way it is.

    1. Tia Will

      DP

      and are all feeling a bit betrayed by brett and rochelle on this.”

      Hold on there. We certainly do not “all” feel that way. I personally feel that this was a difficult call and do not feel “betrayed” by  anyone. My only problem is with the vote being on the consent calendar and not open to public discussion. I thought as Michelle did that only a CC member could pull an item from consent and had no idea that one could ask for that to happen.

      1. Michelle Millet

        I feel a little betrayed. Brett and Rochelle both made campaign promises, and earned votes because of those promises. If they need to break them, I think they owe the public an explanation. Without that it just feels like back room politics are taking place. By not explaining their votes they are putting the credibility of our council at risk, which may result in the inability of them to get future tax generating projects and ballot measures passed.

        1. Barack Palin

          which may result in the inability of them to get future tax generating projects and ballot measures passed.

          With this action that they took I think any tax ballot measures are DOA.

  14. Nancy Price

    One issue that keeps coming up is CC process regardless of content of the issue under discussion. Robb, I believe, should have made a strong case to pull this item from the consent calendar, regardless of whether it put the other CC members on the spot.  Then the discussion would be out in the open as many above have argued for and CC members would be on record – this is an important matter historically and now.  And  Robb would not need to be nervous about discussing an item discussed in closed session. So one reason is that the police want to be able to recruit new offices? Is another that the city will need to push Nishi and Mace to “fix” the city’s finances?

     

      1. CalAg

        The annual net positive fiscal impact of MRIC is $2.2MM. I’m guessing that the $1.1MM being added to the city-wide budget won’t have a large effect on the bottom line for this project.

        On the other hand, it amplifies the negative effects of adding housing to the project. However, this issue is moot since MRIC with housing fails at the ballot box.

    1. Don Shor

      Is another that the city will need to push Nishi and Mace to “fix” the city’s finances?

      Ironically, this will make it harder for both of those projects to pencil out for revenues for the city.

    2. Michelle Millet

      If we want “good guys” to continue to serve we need to support them. Robb takes a lot of heat from his council colleagues on the dias, some of which just seems spiteful at times. It is tough getting constantly beat up for doing the right thing. While I wish the item had been pulled from consent, I’m not sure Robb is the one we should be blaming.

    3. CalAg

      Is another that the city will need to push Nishi and Mace to “fix” the city’s finances? @ Nancy Price

      The City finances are already broke. Badly. We need to annex (and fill with end users) several hundred acres of commercial land if we are going to achieve long term fiscal sustainability.

      So we need Mace or some other site(s).

      Nishi has an annual net negative fiscal impact, so it has to be subsidized by the taxpayers if entitled – i.e. there is no argument in which we need Nishi to help “fix” the city’s finances.

  15. Alan Miller

    What I found “interesting” was when Rob stated he voted no on the item, he only gave its number, not what the issue was.  His vote and his not stating the issue gave me pause-for-thought — what was THAT about?  I looked up the number I thought he said, but I must not have remembered it right, as it was something innocuous.  Thanks, David, for bringing the issue to light.

  16. Anon

    At the risk of ticking Vanguard readers off, there is a lot of huffing and puffing going on here.  Yet not one of you, including the Vanguard itself, got up during public comment and asked that the MOU item be pulled from the consent calendar.  Obviously City Council members made a judgment call, and did not feel it necessary to pull the item from consent.  If no one speaks up, how the heck are City Council members supposed to know what is on your minds?  They are not mind readers.  If anyone had looked at the CC packet, they would have been well aware the MOU issue was on the consent calendar, and therefore there was a chance it would be approved without discussion.   I have personally and successfully asked for items to be pulled from the consent calendar.  Where were all of you?  You know the procedure.

    For me, the real issue is whether the city can “afford” to pay the COLA, which brings up a larger issue.  At what fiscal point is the city well enough off to justify giving its employees a COLA, especially employee groups that have cooperated in labor negotiations to take pay/benefit cuts in tough fiscal times?  Where exactly is that tipping point?

    1. Don Shor

      Where exactly is that tipping point?

      What is your answer to that question? And did you think that would be one of the uses to which the new revenues from the sales tax increase would be put?

    2. CalAg

      It was just very bad form for Brazil to put an item of this significance on the consent calendar that did not have 5-0 support.

      The incident will have a material negative impact on the City’s success in seeking another revenue measure.

      1. Mark West

        “It was just very bad form for Brazil…”

        One way or the other, Brazil will be gone with Wolk, so there is no reason to believe he cares about the long-term impact of the decision.

        1. CalAg

          Not really. But I think it would be a mistake to assume that there will be three votes to oust him on the next council or that he will leave to become Wolk’s chief of staff.

    3. Barack Palin

      Sorry Anon, but if council didn’t think this was an important enough contentious issue to pull it from the consent calendar then they have no clue of the pulse of the city.

    4. Matt Williams

      Anon, you are both right and wrong. The wrong part is that the Mayor never asked for public comment on the Consent Calendar (either as a unit or as individual items), so those of us (like myself) who were astounded by the events that were transpiring before our eyes, got caught flat-footed and never got a chance to voice our thoughts. I arrived at Council Chambers last night just as the last few general public commenters were about to speak, and chose (inadvisedly with 20/20 hindsight) not to spend my public comment on the item at that time.

      Having sent the following e-mail to all 5 Council members and the City Manager on Sunday morning …

      Councilmembers,

      Why, in a multi-year period when the overall cost of living has declined because of declining energy costs, are the City workers getting a 3.0% Cost-of-Living Adjustment? The COLA under the Social Security Administration has been 0.0% in 2010, 2011 and 2016, and has averaged 1.2% over the last seven years (see https://www.ssa.gov/news/cola/automatic-cola.htm ). What makes Davis different?

      and received a response from Dirk (with copies to the Council members) on Sunday night, to which I sent the following reply also on Sunday night, I believed that I had sent a clear message that had been heard.

      Dirk, thank you for the quick response. The challenge (problem?) that comes with percentage increases is that they build on whatever the baseline situation is. In the case of Davis the actions by Council and Management during the 2004-2009 period set a baseline for City employees that created a massive differential payment difference between our firefighting public safety employees and their policing public safety employees . . . as well as expanding the already existing pay differential between public safety employees and non-public safety emplayees.

      To illustrate just how problematic disparities in baseline can be, let’s ask ourselves the simple question, “Does Davis really value firefighters more than it values police officers?” The current baseline pay for line of duty firefighters and line of duty police officers says that we do, because we pay our firefighters so much more per person than we pay our police officers.

      Even if we accept the fact that in 2009 Davis thought firefighters were more valuable to the community than police officers, do the public safety incidents over the past 36 months support continuation of that 2009 Council decision to reward firefighters with considerably more pay than police officers? Next time you walk past Ket Mo Ree, ask yourself, which do you value more for yourself and your family, safety from fire or safety from personal harm? The truth is that, for the most part we value them both equally, and a percentage raise that applies to all employees not only perpetuates the baseline disparities created during the 2004-2009 period … it actually widens the gap between the firefighters and the police officers because a 3% raise for the top 5 line of duty firefighters (based on data from 2013 salaries for Davis | Transparent California 2013 salaries for Davis | Transparent California would be a $4,650 average salary raise, while that same 3% raise would only amount to $3,775 on average for the top 5 line of duty police officers. It is even worse when you look at the top 5 non-public safety employees. Their average raise would only be $3,220.

      Bottom-line, percentage raises can be very well described by the expression “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”

      Add to that the fact that I got an e-mail response from Robb, and that the Chair of the Finance and Budget Commission sent the Council the following e-mail, I assumed the item would be pulled from Consent … not a good assumption on my part.

      I was yet again, disheartened to see the 3% COLA and hear about some hidden longevity bonuses showing up on the consent calendar. This is yet again staff selectively choosing parts of the data to misrepresent the total picture and that nobody has vetted, at least to my knowledge. What is the point of the F&BC if we don’t get a chance to review and verify what staff presents??

      I have no idea where Dirk’s 7% reduction from 2009 comes from, but I sure as hell would like a chance to challenge the selective data usage.

      Getting past the policy/political question, don’t we have the cart before the horse here? How do they plan to pay for it without new tax dollars? They have to cut projects or services is the only way I can figure. It is exactly what was done 10 years ago, things look ok so let’s increase compensation. The idea that they have not had pay increases in the last year or? Is simply secondary to the issue. If we can sustain the increased compensation, pension and OPEB costs over the next 20 years how can anyone even propose it?

      I also think that if it does slide through as a consent item that plenty of folks in this town will be upset, including the Chair of F&BC and I suspect all of my fellow commissioners.

      Seriously, after all that has occurred over the last ten years and my 6 years plus on the F&BC, this just pisses me off.

      1. CalAg

        “I also think that if it does slide through as a consent item that plenty of folks in this town will be upset, including the Chair of F&BC and I suspect all of my fellow commissioners. Seriously, after all that has occurred over the last ten years and my 6 years plus on the F&BC, this just pisses me off.  @ Matt Williams (quoting email from F&BC Chair to the City Council)”

        Even though the F&BC Chair did not explicitly request “Please remove this item from the consent calendar,” the text above should have been sufficient to have achieved that result (especially from Robb Davis who was opposed).

        Going forward, a motion to reconsider would be a good faith gesture by the majority given the facts of this very unfortunate misstep … as well as the endless platitudes about openness and transparency that we have to endure from the City leadership. I don’t see how the CC/CM can realistically get another revenue measure passed unless they walk-the-walk and offer up a sincere mea culpa.

        The bottom line: the public deserved a discussion last night and got silence. That will not soon be forgotten.  @ David Greenwald

    5. Tia Will

      Anon

      You know the procedure.”

      Actually, I didn’t. Despite attending many CC meetings, I somehow missed this point. Now I know thanks to you and hpierce. However, I think it is important to never assume what someone else knows even if you believe that they should.

        1. Mark West

          “Are member of the public allowed to pull items off the consent calendar?”

          No.  Members of the public are welcome to make such a request, but only the CC or CM can pull an item, and the CM technically only with the agreement of at least one CC member. If you don’t have a vote, you don’t have any say on the matter.

  17. Frankly

    I believe that some of the CC members that voted for this increase are concerned about reports from the Davis PD that they are having trouble recruiting qualified new hires.  And also some concern about retention.

    I have an opinion about this.

    First, it is in the best interests of the PD to perpetuate this concern.  And related to that, I think the public sector in general does a lousy job recruiting for new talent.  Also, the interviewing and hiring process for public sector jobs tends to be punitive.

    Second, I don’t think retention is a problem.  Frankly, if an employee wants to leave for greater pay doing the same job, I say that employee is not worth retaining.  My business does not succeed unless I have employees that are committed to their job and the organization.  We don’t want police officers working for our community unless they are committed to our community.  Those prone to leave chasing a few dollar raise should be welcomed to leave.

    These are universal complaints of law enforcement agencies throughout the nation.  It was been common to keep up these complaints because it tended to help make the case for pay increases.  However, as many communities have actually turned toward fiscal prudence (unlike Davis unfortunately), those PDs have started to actually work on improving how they recruit and hire.

    Here  is a good report from Bella Vista Arkansas (a very nice place to visit by the way) that covers this topic.  Note the creative ideas for improving the recruitment for new law enforcement talent.  The one that stands out for me is to recruit from the large pool of veterans.

    1. Barack Palin

      Frankly, as I stated earlier,

      Are all these supposed qualified and “Davis values” cops going to come running to our DPD over a 3% raise?  Smoke is being blown up all our collective Davis city butts.

      It was just an excuse for a few of the council members to try and justify their vote.

  18. Don Shor

    Barack Palin:

    With this action that they took I think any tax ballot measures are DOA.

    CalAg:

    I don’t see how the CC/CM can realistically get another revenue measure passed unless they walk-the-walk and offer up a sincere mea culpa.

    I agree.

  19. Michelle Millet

    Mea culpa implies that the wrong doing was a thoughtless mistake. This move by council to not have a public discussion seems very intentional. I don’t see them reopening it. Clearly they do not want to have a public conversation about it, which is troublesome, it implies to me that some kind of behind the scenes deal was made. I hope I’m wrong, because my faith in this council has been shaken.

    1. Sam

      Making this decision two weeks after CalPERS increased pension costs 40% and a few weeks before issuing financial statements showing the increased unpaid liability using the new GASB 68 calculations during Thanksgiving week looks nothing like an intentional move to mute public discussion or an intentional intent to deceive.

    2. CalAg

      “Mea culpa implies that the wrong doing was a thoughtless mistake. This move by council to not have a public discussion seems very intentional.” @ MM

      Maybe a mea máxima culpa (translation – through my most grievous fault)?

      “I don’t see them reopening it. Clearly they do not want to have a public conversation about it …” @ MM

      There is already  a public conversation, they’re just not a part of it – and it’s going to get much worse when they have to come back to the taxpayers, hat in hand, to ask for another revenue measure. The best course of action going forward would be to address the issue head on rather than hope it blows over. That means a MTR and an open public hearing.

      “… which is troublesome, it implies to me that some kind of behind the scenes deal was made. I hope I’m wrong, because my faith in this council has been shaken.” @ MM

      By law, they had to hash this out first in closed session. It’s probably not fair to characterize that as a behind the scenes deal. Their mistake was to not have an open public hearing justifying their votes (both yes and no) – which has come back to bite them in the a**.

       

  20. Frankly

    This must be the first and only VG blog article where the commenters are practically 100% in agreement.

    Me thinks that there is a power base in Davis that supports spending more on public sector employees that exceeds the power of the  Vanguardians that oppose spending more on public sector employees.

    1. Barack Palin

      Me thinks that there is a power base in Davis that supports spending more on public sector employees that exceeds the power of the  Vanguardians that oppose spending more on public sector employees.

      Yes, a power base of four people.

  21. Anon

    Now all of you know the procedure involving the consent calendar, but certainly the Vanguard knew.  So why didn’t the Vanguard ask the item be pulled from consent, instead of complaining after the fact?

    To Matt Williams: Do you know how many emails to City Council members expressed your same concerns?  Nor did your email request the item be pulled from the consent calendar.  Nor did you ask that it be pulled from consent that night, which would have taken one sentence.

    Frankly: “I believe that some of the CC members that voted for this increase are concerned about reports from the Davis PD that they are having trouble recruiting qualified new hires.  And also some concern about retention.”

    It is my understanding that several (potential or existing) Davis police officers were lost to Sac County, that is paying more for its police officers.  Secondly, as I have asked previously, what is the tipping point at which people can agree city employees deserve to be rewarded with a COLA for engaging in good faith during labor negotiations and taking a fiscal hit in hard times?  I have yet to see an answer to that all important question.  All I see is a lot of hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth over a technical process issue where the people complaining failed to exercise their rights.

    1. Don Shor

      I have yet to see an answer to that all important question

      And I asked what your answer was to that question, and I have yet to see it. I also asked if this is what you expected sales tax revenues to be used for. I have yet to see your answer to that question.

    2. Don Shor

      It is my understanding that several (potential or existing) Davis police officers were lost to Sac County, that is paying more for its police officers.

      I first heard this comment, that Davis was losing police officers to higher-paying surrounding communities, more than two decades ago. The City of Davis cannot compete with the pay scales of nearby metropolitan areas.

      It’s unclear what you’re advocating with your series of comments on this issue.

      Did you endorse/support the sales tax?

      If so, did you believe it was going to be used, in part, for higher employee compensation?

      Was that made clear during the campaign, in your opinion?

      Should Davis set its compensation rates for safety employees based on what nearby communities are paying?

      If so, should Davis, also set its compensation rates for non-safety city employees based on what nearby communities are paying?

      How do you see Davis getting to a fiscally sustainable future?

    3. Matt Williams

      Anon said … “To Matt Williams: Do you know how many emails to City Council members expressed your same concerns? Nor did your email request the item be pulled from the consent calendar. Nor did you ask that it be pulled from consent that night, which would have taken one sentence.”

      Anon, are you asking a rhetorical question for effect? I stated very clearly in my prior post(s) that with 20/20 hindsight I would have done it differently … and I freely acknowledged (just like Robb did in his earlier comments) that I was the one who failed to see the whole picture.

      With that said, I’m not inclined to lecture the members of the Council. I prefer to dialogue with them. I recognize that I am only one citizen, and that my comments (whatever they are) need to be put into a larger context. So on Sunday morning prior to a Tuesday Council date, I wasn’t going to go immediately into testosterone abundance mode. The two most important body parts for a public servant are his/her two ears. On Sunday I was in listening mode.

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