Friday, April 1, 2011


The state controllers website has a link to the city of Pacifica's local compensation report that listed the wages earned by our firefighters in 2009. It is the report that showed two firefighters had earned over $256,000 each in 2009. The compensation report also lists what our police officers made in 2009 and like the firefighters the numbers are not low. The average for police captains was $150,00, Sergeants earned on average $140,000 and corporals $130,000. The compensation report lists the Police Chief's salary at $171,688.

For a city the size of Pacifica we sure have a lot of employees that are earning more than $1o0,000 a year. I counted 80 that made more than $100,000 a year in 2009 and 35 of those made more than $120,000, 13 made more than $150,000 and of course the 2 now infamous fire Battalion Chiefs made more than $256,000.

God bless them all but but are senior staff kidding me? We are a small little coastal town of 39,000 folks who are floating $100,000 salaries for at least 80 employees. Given the enormity of these salaries how dare senior staff push a fire assessment tax on us. Really, how dare they. And shame on council for going along. 80 city employee's making more the $100,000 and the only solution our city management can come up with is a tax increase?

City employees I love you but you must get real and cut your compensation. Wage freezes and perk give backs are not going to get us there. You must come to terms with the economy you are living off of and take the hits. Making 80 % to 95 % of what you did is a lot better than making 0%. 80 employees for Pacifica making more than $100,000 a year. It's immoral given the shamelessness with which the city leadership has decided the residents must simply pay up or suffer cuts.

This ain't an episode of the Soprano's city folk, it's real life.

Todd McCune Bray
468 Donaldson
Pacifica CA 94044


Kathy Meeh said...

Todd, guess a copy of that report would be helpful. How many total employees? How do these salaries compare with other cities? Was there something unusual about the highest salaries, such as a fire out-of-area for which the city was reimbursed and no pension monies were paid, etc. And, what does staffing look like in this city compared with other cities?

Who is to blame? Not you the messenger, even though the employees (you "love" but don't want to pay as well) are highly skilled, high risk job employees who deserve a premium. Don't blame City Staff, they are doing their job, and what they do is controlled by City Council.

Blame City Council. The vision (or lack there of) and economic focus of this city has also been controlled and modulated (or crippled) by 8+ year city council majority who had economic opportunities and could have made a difference.

Now some of you have also supported "poor city" ideology against financially sustainable development logic. There is no mystery in what is needed to improve this city. This city needs money to fix its decaying infrastructure, pay down debt, pay its needed employees. Then, there is the additional bonus of jobs for people, and better services. Can't do that? The alternative is cut expertise, lower pay or fewer employees (get what you pay for); or fix the problem (that's what some of us want to do); or turn this city back to the county (they don't want us, and once again property owners get the bill for the default).

todd bray said...

hope this gets you there


If not follow the links on the city's web site concerning compensation.

There are 7 pages of listed positions. The lowest paid person earned 471, thats seventy one dollars. Thankfully it just lists positions and not names.

The issues are not about worth but how much there is to pay folks. The city is a non profit corporation. If the city budget pie is shrinking salaries and wages should shrink with it. As the city pie increases so should compensation. However the city pie IS shrinking unfortunately due to circumstances beyond anyones control. It's a shame. City staff and employee's need to come to terms with this.

Kathy Meeh said...

"...the city pie IS shrinking unfortunately due to circumstances beyond anyones control."

There are fixed costs, fixed responsibilities (some set by the State and for payroll unions), maintenance (or neglect) and large debt. City council has been IRRESPONSIBLE, not building-in a sustainable economic plan (which also provides for city improvement) is IRRESPONSIBLE. 8+ year city council is accountable.

To my knowledge this city pretty much functions at the minimum now. Not all "non profits" continue irresponsible policies, and high debt. Being a "non-profit" doesn't mean the city should continue to fail.

Todd, as you know these city failures manifest in various ways. And, thanks for the reminder of how to access the city payroll reference.

todd bray said...

Sorry that should read $71.

Kathy, I think you give council too much credit. Our city is managed by an employee not an elected official. The employee and his/her senior staff bring options to council based on their interpretation of what they think council has asked for or will go for. When staff and council are not on the same page the passive aggressiveness of staff to get council to conform is very uncomfortable to watch.

I don't think the issue is about assigning blame. What will that achieve? The issue is the person(s) hired to manage this city's budget is not doing that. The people hired to perform the daily tasks involved in keeping our city functioning know there is no money. Together as a group of non profit employee's they have not come to terms with our shrinking budget.

If the collective tree wont bend... it will break. It would be a shame if because of greed/ego/whatever you want to label it our city employees from the city manager right down to the life guard that made $71 sacrifice each other rather than band together and take scaled pay cuts to overcome this budget issue.

Kathy Meeh said...

Todd, you said: "I think you give council too much credit. Our city is managed by an employee not an elected official."

We will disagree on this "who is in charge" issue. I've seen what happens when developers come to town, and city council's lack of support and outright interference. Then there is the planning commission appointees, the pile on fees, etc.

Todd, you also said: "I don't think the issue is about assigning blame. What will that achieve?"

We will disagree on this "accountable amnesia" issue too. Memory, reality, getting rid of councilmembers who have worked a long term strategy to rid this city of land, progress, and a needed city economy other than taxing "everyone" for these failures.

Imagine, this 8+ year city council even took advantage a legal loop-hole to move WWTP infrastructure money into the city general fund, rather than fix the failing city debt and deficit problem; at the same time neglecting city maintenance, and improvement.

Yes, I know 2 of these council members were re-elected. Do people really vote for city failure? Or, is it the city council members are nice, polite, and familiar (confusing the issue of voters connecting the dots). And, while more total votes favor the challengers, too many candidates, and too many competing strategies-- unfortunately over several city council elections.

You have been viewing a city spending problem, (asking for employee sacrifice or "fairness", much of which is determined by "collective bargaining"); but, this city has an ongoing structural revenue problem, which 8+ year city council has failed to adequately address.

When does the city revenue problem get addressed, and will city council and more of your friends support that? If almost never, and not soon, this city will continue to fail-- and maybe the catastrophic event won't be just bankruptcy.

Steve Sinai said...

For comparison purposes:

A third of San Carlos' employees earned more than $100K last year

Anonymous said...

Either Pacifica voters are a bunch of mindless idiots or they are voicing an opinion they belive in when they re-elect a councilperson. I believe it's the latter. So having chosen this no growth path, choice not accident, what do we do now that we have no money coming in and every reason to expect even less money from property taxes and state and fed sources? Build houses? For whom? The new American dream wisely isn't based on home ownership. Build new businesses? Again, for whom and what about our "old" businesses? What happens to them? We have yet to face reality in Pacifica and California. There is no money and there will be less in the short term--a decade at least according to respected economists of every persuasion. There is only one solution. We must make deeper cuts to government spending and non-essential public services. In doing that we may spur new economic growth in the private sector as they step up to fill the gap without the sodden weight of public employee salaries and pensions. Wouldn't that be a nice side-effect? Or, we can continue the shell game of more and more taxes.
It really is a new and profoundly different world. Is it any surprise Pacifica is behind the curve.

Kathy Meeh said...

Really, Anon (4/2,3:48pm) "we can do nothing" has been the city council plan for 8+ years, and city council is leadership.

This issue is NOT about "us and them" or "either or" or "one solution" (more "we can do nothing").

City council is accountable for their failure to act, support and promote available sustainable development in this city. That's irrefutable history.

Business and physics understand Newton's First Law of Motion:

"A body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it, and a body in motion at a constant velocity will remain in motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an outside force."

Anonymous said...

Of course city hall is accountable and they're vermin. So what? That's old old news and little more than distracting rhetoric. Maybe they get voted out and maybe not. Beyond the outrage the big problem remains. And make no mistake it's not the usual Pacifica problem. It's far worse. That financial melt down this town has danced around for decades is right here and right now. I'm with the earlier anons, what do we do now? It's not the old prob and the old solutions are not going to work. We missed that boat. Gone. And city hall's got nothin' but lots of grinnin' and spinnin' denial or they're MIA. Question remains, what do we do? I'm with the anons who want further cuts. Drastic cuts. And make them now with some thought because soon there will be no choice. Even if the fire tax sleazes its way in, there will soon be no choice because it's not enough, not nearly enough and waste and monuments to ego will continue at city hall. You know that. Set aside the rhetoric and outrage and get real. Make the cuts or step up to pay more taxes. Pilgrims, we are out of time and about to step ashore in that scary new world.

Anonymous said...

"Make the cuts or step up to pay more taxes."

Damn right.

Kathy Meeh said...

What's the plan to Fix Pacifica ol' Anonymous one (1:01pm)? Other than "doomsday", no vision other pay-up to fill the general fund gaps through several tax increases expressed from you.

With knowledge, city council (now 3) has talked our city into its current austerity policy, and crippled progress for at least the past 8+. Total city failure would assure the era of their screw-ups would be over, since they have also failed to resign.

As for history... we must remember, because convenient amnesia is the expedient norm in Pacifica. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." reference.

What we found during Measure L and other city council campaigns is that many Pacificans have just given up hope this city can succeed. Leadership is with city council. Where's the plan, where is the vision, where is the hope, where is the money to support a sustainable city?

todd bray said...

Kathy asks, "where is the money to support a sustainable city?"

It's in India, China and the Cayman Islands Kathy.

Anonymous said...

Political solutions take time. Getting rid of current council, if that's what the voters decide,
will take years. Ecomic recovery for California is going to take years, some say a decade. We don't have years. Our meltdown is underway now. It's difficult but certainly not doomsday. It is our reality and we are not facing it. It can be an opportunity for real change, for housecleaning. But it does require facing facts and finding solutions that work now. Look at what Half Moon Bay is doing in their crisis. They are moving forward, saving as much as they can and serving residents as best they can with the options available to them today. They are outsourcing police and recreation to cut costs and maintain services. These are drastic cuts, brave moves with the welfare of the residents at heart. How long will Pacifica wait before facing its new reality? Place your bets now. Drastic and possibly innovative cuts or more taxes? Those are the options for immediate relief. I don't want to pay more taxes. All the noise about growth or no growth and who's responsible for the mess offers a slow death for Pacifica. And while growth might be part of a longterm solution it is not a solution to the immediate problem of financial insolvency. We need to address that problem now. Drastic cuts or more taxes? Make the cuts. If we find we don't like the new Pacifica believe me there will always be politicians and paid staff ready to take our money and start the game again.

Anonymous said...

"All the noise about growth or no growth and who's responsible for the mess offers a slow death for Pacifica. And while growth might be part of a longterm solution it is not a solution to the immediate problem of financial insolvency. We need to address that problem now. Drastic cuts or more taxes?"

That's the choice.

todd bray said...

There is a third choice but its a choice for our public employees not us. Reduce compensation and maintain current employment, or don't and sacrifice your coworker.

It's the only choice that will work right now.

Kathy Meeh said...

Anons, that vision is clear (the same as we have been living with compounded).

Todd, Q: "..where is the money to support a sustainable city?" A: It's in India, China and the Cayman Islands.."

Or, San Francisco, Colma, Daly City, Burlingame, Foster City, San Mateo, Redwood City, even Millbrae, Belmont, San Carlos, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton, Palo Alto.

This once largest peninsula city is relegated to "outback" (blocking people and business), now settled history. Now we fight over money, services, and "open space" (the larger picture of city council failures).

BTW your recent comment in support of the golf course, from my view, was a work of art.

Anonymous said...

Drastic cuts or more taxes are the only two choices for this town. Too bad a clear and timely choice isn't being made. If the fire tax passes and I think it will because of fear-mongering and old-time political trickery in crafting the thing (visions of slick Joe T.) then our so-called leaders will have been encouraged to keep passing the tin cup to the property owners and business people in town. Of course that won't work next time and we will be even further into this slow death. Expecting the employees especially police and fire to magnanimously give up a real 10% or more from what they NOW make is a beautiful thought but it won't happen. There's no mechanism in place to allow it and no union will go there first. Particularly not when they are accustomed to dealing with the joke Pacifica has been at the bargaining table for decades. Good will is not part of the deal and the reality would seem to be that fire and police jobs are rather secure.
Drastic cuts or pay more and more taxes? Make the cuts. Rebuild when politics and economics support it.

Anonymous said...

Wow gloom and doom. I see signs of change. I say give the new members of the council a chance. Cutting now will not fan the flames of economic growth. It will simply make our town ever more of a shambles. Let's move ahead with the Quarry.

Anonymous said...

Really? You either drank the kool-aid or you're serving it. Either way you avoid reality and the mess we're in right now. What you're saying is pay more taxes and trust in a powerless council minority and some vague quarry development. In other words continue the status quo in Pacifica. Dreaming and scheming from crisis to crisis. Too gloomy for you? Lay off the kool-aid. Deal with the facts. It's make the cuts or pay more and more taxes. That's the choice each of us has to make. It's a choice. That's reality, not doom and gloom.

Anonymous said...

Anon659 wait and see what the new concilmembers can do? Vreeman, Digre and dejarnet run the show. Stone is the new one and even if he and Nihartt vote together it isn't enough. Replay that god awful planning commission selection meeting if you need proof. If MIA vreeman steppoed down would we then get the next vote getter as interim? That might actually be a case of going from bad to worse.

Anonymous said...

No building housing developments, not for a very long time. I'm with anon 7:34pm. Make the cuts or shut up and pay up. But remember, raising taxes with high inflation coming this summer....ugly. Make the cuts. Force the issue.

Anonymous said...

Anons We either have the balls to force a change or we keep propping up this failed city with our hard earned dollars FOREVER. Council will never put away that tin cup because they have no other solution. And there's nothing coming down the road to save us. Good grief, just take a look at how broke California is. It really is put up or shut up time.

todd bray said...

Those that are calling for massive cuts are missing the point because those cuts wont come from the top down starting with the city manager but rather from the ground up like losing the road collections crews.

What this means is the the people who do actual real work, the folks who keep the sewers running, the storm damaged trees cleared and the roads and structures maintained will lose their jobs, not the city manager or council members which leaves us with highly paid paper weights instead of people who do real work and know how the machinery of the city works.

The crime in all this is that the employees who are paid to manage the city have seen this ball rolling for some time and have sat on their hands, shrugging off their responsibilities hiding behind the skirts of employee unions exclaiming, "They wont negotiate."

That's not managing, that's just collecting a pay check, What must happen is very simple. Every city employee from Rhodes right on down the line to our lowest paid $71 a year life guard need to take voluntary scaled pay cuts to their non profit salaries to conform to the fiscal realities that we are all living with, and that are reflected in the revenue stream the city gets every year.

This Princess and the Pea attitude of our Firefighters is just that, fairy tale wishes and dreams. The money isn't there and it isn't going to be for quite some time, the Firefighters need to ball up and deal with it.

Anything less than scaled pay cuts equates to malfeasance in my book as senior staff know the realities and must wrangle this revenue beast to the ground or update their resumes.

Kathy Meeh said...

"...high inflation coming this summer"

Anon (4/4 9:29pm), what are you talking about? High inflation because of the oil speculation driving prices up on wall street? (Transportation price increases). Increased economic recovery? (Inflation occurs with economic recoveries). What????

Anonymous said...

You're a real genius.

Anonymous said...

Ok, Todd, I get what you are saying. I don't want my neighbor to lose his job. You are right about that. So what do we cut? Where to start; Well, on wednesday mornings KSFO 560am has a early morning show called - Whistle Blower Wednesdays. Teachers, Firefighters, Sheriff Deputies, Public Workers call in ( anonymously, but give real names and facts to radio host ) a government program that is currently in force. First time I listened to this show I was driving and I almost puked over the amount and blatant abuse of tax payers money. Maybe if we listen in we will be inspired to really come up with some committed ideas. One person can not do it alone.

Kathy Meeh said...

"...high inflation coming this summer"???? huh, Anon 10:09am, you said nothing. Please explain how you know there will be "high inflation"? You said it, so unless you're a complete "genius", please explain.

That's all I'm asking. Understandable inquiry. On this blog another anonymous (or you the same anonymous), has been has been talking about "high inflation" it seems forever-- and it isn't happening. Do you mean gradual inflation? How much inflation, and where did you get that claim?

No response, or no proper references, then most of us will assume you're just selling "I think it, it must be true" tea again.

BTW, anonymous people how about 1) using your own name, or 2) or a pen name. Its easy to set-up a gmail account through google, (google that).

Anonymous said...

As someone earlier said, it's put up or shut up time. Make drastic cuts or sign on to pay more and more taxes to prop up this city until you can't pay anymore. City employees are stuck behind their union and are not going to lead the rescue and the inequities between management and labor and the issue of who's more valuable will continue right down to the last paycheck. More cuts or more taxes? Face reality now or later?

Anonymous said...

Hey Todd B,I heard your wife works for the City of San Jose. If that is true, how much of a cut has she taken in her pay and benefits?

Anonymous said...

I guess Kathy Meeh doesn't buy laundry detergent.

Kathy Meeh said...

"Wednesday mornings KSFO 560am has a early morning show called - Whistle Blower Wednesdays."

Here are the 7 day archives of that Brian Sussman 5am to 9am program. Listening to some of this, I found a lot of commercials, news, inflammatory right-wing attitude.

Calls I heard were about perceived government waste and worker abuse of time working (could be). Poor people living on easy street, one section 8 household stealing cars with a free government pass (not likely). Unions signing-up unqualified illegal immigrants to gain dues revenue (probably not unless the employer signed them up first). And, a reference to its all the fault of Karl Marx-- really?

Through his dialog, Brian Sussman modulated these public phone calls into classic unchecked, "them" vs. "us" scapegoating. There was no moderated clarification. There was no indication or promise of investigative follow-up.

BTW, Anon (10:20am) I do not remember hearing that these phone calls were from "Teachers, Firefighters, Sheriff Deputies, Public Workers" as you have stated. At this time I'll consider that comment pure fiction. The calls I heard were from Anonymous people, just like you.

There were NO complaints about private industry (including large company) regulatory or tax law abuses.

Kathy Meeh said...

Anon, 2:05pm, you're basing "high inflation" on the cost of detergent? Oh well.

Detergent was the same price last time I went shopping. You might want to stock-up with the sales, or try another brand, or find another store. Transportation cost is higher because the cost of oil and gas are higher.

Here's the KSFO 560 program schedule: 5am-9am Brian Sussman, 9am-12pm Rush Limbaugh, 12pm-3pm Sean Hannity.

Anonymous said...

And around and around we go. Just make sure you cast your vote by April 11th, whatever your vote may be. It really is put up or shut up time. Will it be drastic cuts to non-essential services or more taxes now and later?
Ask yourself that question so rarely heard at city hall--what can we/I afford? Be sure to vote.

mike bell said...

Fix Pacifica - To Do's:
Fire Vreeland.
Fire DeJarnatte.
Fire Digre.
Start fixing the City.

Anonymous said...

Just wondering...does Vreeman show up for his EPA job? Is he on a leave and untouchable or is he just so comfy on the Pacifica gravy train
that he isn't held to any standard for attendance. Surely there is a standard and some protocol for this problem. So is he in compliance or is somebody letting him slide? Just wondering.