Fire and police officials earn more than Berkeley managers

Berkeley fire officials earn more than many city employees

If you are looking for a job in Berkeley, steer clear of City Hall. Instead, head on over to the fire or police department. They pay way more.

In an analysis of public employee salaries, the Bay Area Newspaper Group determined that at least 35 fire and police officials make more than most of City Hall’s top managers, including the Director of Planning and the Director of Public Works. Only City Manager Phil Kamlarz is in the uppermost echelon.

The highest paid city employee in 2010 was Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Revilla, who grossed $302,352, according to BANG. While his base salary was $164,407, he earned the rest in overtime and other payments. (And that figure does not include health or pension benefits. BANG was not able to get that information from Berkeley.)

The next highest paid employee was Howard Nonoguchi, a police sergeant who made $271,365 with salary and overtime. I wonder how that makes Police Chief Michael Meehan feel? He only earned $203,680, according to the BANG analysis. He even seems to have taken a pay cut last year.

Kamlarz is the third highest paid city employee with a take home pay of $240,759, according to the BANG survey.

The next 30 or so rankings are all police officers or fire officials. Then comes a curious one. James Kelekian, the executive director of the Rent Board, took home $183,883 last year. That’s $400 more than Dan Marks, the director of planning, earned. But Kelekian’s salary is set by the Rent Board, not City Hall.

BANG’s numbers differ from 2009 salary figures compiled recently by State Controller John Chiang. And those variations are important to note, said Mary Kay Clunies-Ross, the city spokesman. The numbers can come out differently depending on which questions are posed.

For example the supposed highest-paid city employee, Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Revilla? He retired in 2010 and cashed out his vacation and sick leave, which may be why his salaries is skewed so high, said Clunies-Ross. State Controller John Chiang’s figures also showed the same thing. Chiang’s report showed that the former Berkeley Police Chief Douglas Hambleton made $371,130 in 2009, significantly more than Meehan’s current salary. But he retired that year and the payment reflected his accrued vacation and sick leave.

The Bay Area Newspaper Group wanted to get more detailed information from Berkeley about pension benefits, uniform allowances, bilingual pay, and payouts of sick leave and vacation for all of the city employees. Berkeley wanted to charge $2,730 for the staff time to calculate those numbers, as permitted under the state’s Public Records Act. BANG declined to pay, as Kamlarz explained in a March 2011 to City Council.

Related:
Berkeley city salaries track neighbors closely [03.16.11]

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  • The Sharkey

    I wish Governor Brown the best of luck in fixing California’s budget mess, but until the issue of public employee pay and pension are addressed, there’s no way he’s going to get a 2/3 approval for new and continued taxes.

  • Juoo

    Damn- almost $400k – are you kidding me??

  • Abby

    Seems fine to me! Overtime pay reflects the added hardship of working overtime, especially important in these vital and high-stress positions. Cashing out vacation and sick time also seems to account for the 300k + earnings. I know private EMS companies operate with special overtime exemptions. Rather than the standard 8hr/day, 40hr/week rules, overtime compensation is instead based on shift length. In other words, you get overtime pay on a 24hr shift, if you work 25+ hours. Not sure how the pay structure works for the Berkeley FD -who handle all of Berkeley’s 911 calls- but regardless, I am happy to see that our public servants are well compensated. These are tough jobs!

  • The Sharkey

    Let me guess, you have a friend or relative who is a high-paid City employee?

    These salaries are way out of whack compared to the private sector, and most of these numbers don’t even include pension benefits. Paying salaries this high is a waste of taxpayer money.

  • Andrew

    Abby, There are a lot of tough jobs out there, not just these! Imagine being a social worker with an immense case load, but with a pittance salary. I mean, we’d love for all “tough jobs” to be “well compensated” but can we afford $300,000+ salaries for everyone in America – public and private – who works in a “tough job?”

    And if there is so much overtime then perhaps they should hire more staff, particularly if these are vital and high-stress positions. Air traffic controllers are vital and high-stress positions but they are required to only work a certain length shift.

    BTW I’m curious what the percentage relationship is between the FD and PD “managers” and the rank and file? Similar to how they calculate a corporate CEO’s salary in comparison to an average worker at the company.

    And folks, take vacations!!! Don’t cash them out, use them! Life is too short. Enjoy yourself, enjoy the family, see places, do things, expand your mind, body and soul…

  • anon

    i don’t know about abby, but i don’t have a friend or relative who is a high-paid city employee, so perhaps you can appreciate that i can objectively say that police and fire deserve their high pay for the dangerous and necessary service they provide us with. the obvious issue is that pay is so high but rather why overtime is so prevalent. it seems cheaper to hire on a new member to the force rather than to continue to pay officers for overtime and unused leave.

  • anon

    i don’t know about abby, but i don’t have a friend or relative who is a high-paid city employee, so perhaps you can appreciate that i can objectively say that police and fire deserve their high pay for the dangerous and necessary service they provide us with. the obvious issue is that pay is so high but rather why overtime is so prevalent. it seems cheaper to hire on a new member to the force rather than to continue to pay officers for overtime and unused leave.

  • lauramenard

    Again, more information is needed.

    Let’s track cops body weight from hiring to retiring, then tell me Berkeley cops have a tough job.
    The only stress they have is dealing with the upside down politics that interfers with operations.

    Most federal and state employees are required to abide by a use of lose vacation pay policy.
    City employees use their overly generous holiday and sick day allocation for vacations so they get both, time off and extra cash.

  • lauramenard

    Again, more information is needed.

    Let’s track cops body weight from hiring to retiring, then tell me Berkeley cops have a tough job.
    The only stress they have is dealing with the upside down politics that interfers with operations.

    Most federal and state employees are required to abide by a use of lose vacation pay policy.
    City employees use their overly generous holiday and sick day allocation for vacations so they get both, time off and extra cash.

  • Andrew

    Apparently, it’s not cheaper to hire new staff precisely because the benefits beyond base salary are so costly. The problem itself prevents an appropriate solution.

  • The Sharkey

    And those benefits are only so costly because of the platinum-level benefits public employees get. Benefits which are significantly better than those of the majority of the taxpayers who are paying their salaries.

  • The Sharkey

    Agreed. Vacation days should be on a use-it-or-lose-it basis.

    When someone can double their salary through overtime and cashing out vacation days, the system is clearly broken.

  • lauramenard

    Starting pay for NYC cop is around $35, Berkeley is twice that pay.

  • Abby

    I think we just have a philosophical difference on this issue. While I believe in free market capitalism to a certain extent, I don’t agree with job the private sector has done appraising the value of jobs like police officers, firemen or teachers. This is definitely a matter of opinion, and I’m fine with people swearing by Smith’s invisible hand as long as they’re consistent. I just don’t personally hold that belief.

    The private sector can be disturbingly illogical too. BP’s CEO got a bonus in 2010 resulting in a 41% profit increase despite a 45% profit decrease. Was that fair to BP shareholders? At least these workers’ overtime pay actually represents more time served fighting fires, patrolling the streets, or yes, pushing paper in service of the City of Berkeley.

    Much can be done to improve California’s fiscal health besides tampering with the middle class existence most firefighters rightfully earn. I know this isn’t exactly what you meant, but government’s use of private contractors has proven to be very wasteful in several examples in the past. Personally, I’d forget added fees or sales taxes, and instead raise the income tax on the ultra rich. And I’d let the teachers, firefighters, cops and bureaucrats keep their pensions.

    As a side note, I hope Berkeleyans understand and appreciate the superior emergency medical care they receive with BFD’s dual paramedic rigs compared to our neighbors in Oakland or elsewhere.

    Full disclosure: I am an EMT, but I’m not currently working in EMS. I work a $9/hr retail job in the private sector.

  • The Sharkey

    If you think $300k per year is “middle class” you’re laughably out of touch.

  • Abby

    You all raise great points. After some consideration, I believe certain reforms could continue to honor the value of public service* and cut tax-payer costs. As far as benefits, Laura is correct that more information is needed. If you read the report, you can see that Berkeley did not provide that information. However, I emphatically believe that this issue is a red herring! Are any of us the super rich? Statistically speaking, probably not. Why are we fighting each other? Public vs. Private? Union vs. Non-union? Citizen vs. Immigrant? (To paraphrase Robert Reich). Gah! This frustrates me. The middle class is shrinking and I want it back for everyone.

    *Just to be clear, I value all public workers, not just cops and firefighters. I also value social workers, And DMV clerks, and private insurance agents. Some public occupations get paid more than their private counterparts, some get paid less. It really depends.

  • lauramenard

    Robert Reich agrees municipal pension reform is needed, at the same time that we protect unions and workers rights.

  • Abby

    I was going to add this, but I thought my post would be too verbose. 300k is definitely wealthy, wealthy wealthy. I consider most firefighters management pay in Berkeley (I didn’t read the whole list down to the non-officers) in the 100-150k range to be upper middle class. That’s my personal sensibility. Many politicians regard 200-250k as still middle class, to which I disagree.

  • The Sharkey

    I think most Berkeley residents would agree that executive pay in America is a travesty, but there’s not much we can actually do about it.

    Part of the reason that there is so much focus on public employees is that their salaries are paid for with taxpayer dollars and in theory taxpayers should have at least some sort of control over it.

  • Abby

    Yes, but tax-payers also elect government officials who make the tax codes, which could presumably include a windfall tax on CEO bonuses. Unfortunately the California Constitution still requires a 2/3rd majority for tax hikes, and so we’re stuck in this dysfunctional stalemate. I’m very young and very disillusioned.

  • The Sharkey

    $100k-$150k still puts them in the top 10%-20% of American households. I think that’s a much better pay range and one I won’t begrudge them, but there is no way in hell that any public employee should be able to manipulate the system so that they have a take-home annual salary of over $300k.

    And a $200k salary would put someone in the upper 2% of salaries in America.
    I don’t think there’s any possible way someone could manipulate the numbers enough to convince me that someone who is in the upper 2% of earners in America is “middle class.”

  • Andrew

    Abby, Thanks for responding. Hopefully we are not arguing, just have a meaningful conversation about the topic at hand (as much as one can have conversations in such threads). I agree with Sharky below that executive compensation is also out of hand! But executive pay is determined by the boards of those companies (who have let it get out of hand). Public employees pay is determined by the “boards” (the leadership) of any given locality, and those “board members” ( elected officials) are hired by us, the taxpayers, the spend our money wisely. And in some cases it is not being spent wisely (so we the “stockholders” (taxpayers) in said localities get upset, to continue the metaphor).

    I also believe that what has been promised should be kept (just as I pay into social security today I expect to get something out of it when I “retire”). But going forward with new hires things have to be reconsidered. We simply cannot afford to pay what we are today, and being a tax-averse society most people are not willing to increase their tax load just to support the status quo.

  • Abby

    I agree with everything you just said. And I’m no expert on the class system in America. But doesn’t it say something that what I and I’m guessing others empirically consider “middle” or “upper-middle” class is in fact in the upper 10% salaries? What statistically makes up the middle class (let’s say 20%-80%) is no longer comparable to the standard of living previously considered middle class by our society.

    To clarify, I was saying that I don’t believe 200k is middle class, it’s upper class to be sure.

  • Andrew

    I’m middle aged and very disillusioned : ) And I have kids which further complicates matters. I want them to live in a country that functions, a country with leaders that know how to negotiate and compromise, and are willing to make hard choices for the betterment and health and well being of everyone. That is our way forward.

  • The Sharkey

    “What statistically makes up the middle class (let’s say 20%-80%) is no longer comparable to the standard of living previously considered middle class by our society.”

    Not at all.
    It’s true that wages have fallen somewhat when adjusted for inflation, but the biggest difference is that everyone feels entitled to have smart phones, cable TV, bigscreen entertainment systems, new cars, etc.

    Our leisure time has gotten a hell of a lot more expensive than it was for our parents, and the amount of our budget that goes towards non-essential purchases has grown dramatically.

  • The Sharkey

    Well I agree with everything you just said 100%! :)

  • guest
  • Abby

    I agree. I support compromise and I’m definitely no fundamentalist on these issues. I’m glad there’s healthy debate on this issue of public sector compensation and from what I’ve read everyone here only has our community’s best interest at heart. I just wish there wasn’t this complacency in terms of holding our leaders accountable to holding big business accountable (CEO compensation seems to be an issue we all agree on). I understand that the political climate for confronting that problem is daunting, but I don’t think it’s hopeless.

    Not sure if you agree, but I feel like I’m witnessing a feedback loop where money begets political influence which in turn begets more money for the wealthy. Meanwhile, we’re on the sidelines (you, supporting you children and me, living “below the poverty line”) discussing firefighter pay while I believe this greater evil is degrading our society.

    Ok, just read that back, and it sounds really hyperbolic, but I’ll just stick with it :) Thank you for your response, Andrew.

  • Sandy

    Reduce the police by 3/4 and we’d still be good.

  • Abby

    Hey, there’s a start! My best guess is democracy is still alive and kicking.

  • The Sharkey

    Based on your website and assuming a 261-day work year and an 8-hour work day, take-home pay for a new NYC cop is actually less than $35.

    $46,288 ÷ 261 days = $177.35/day
    $177.35 ÷ 8 hours = $22.17/hour

  • lauramenard

    thanks for the update figures, the number I used came from NY Times story could be two years ago explaining how the city increased staffing levels and got a handle on crime.

    Berkeley cops are paid well, same as Oakland, Oakland cops deal with greater danger routinely, both cities need more cops on the street, but I doubt either city will be decreasing entry level pay or cutting salaries in order to afford more cops.

    San Jose has maintained very low crime rates for a large city with real gang issues, it will be interesting to see if the recent lay offs result in increased crime.

  • Andrew

    “Money begets money…” Not only that but there is a revolving door between politics and special interests and it leaves the rest of us out in the cold.

  • Guest

    Having recently retired from a public agency that has a free-standing pension plan I note three differences between my agency and the City:

    We receive two-days credit for every day of unused sick pay; so my ~1040 hours of unused sick pay resulted in my pension benefit being based on 15 vs. 14 years of service or an increase in my pension beneift of 2.6%.

    We were only allowed to bank 400-hours of vacation pay – anything beyond that needed to be used by the first of March of the following year or it was paid to us. If we had vacation pay remaining upon retirement we could receive it in our last check or we could continue our employment status and earn additional retirement and benefits for approximately three-months – our HR department cheerfully labelled this time period as terminal vacation.

    However, and very importantly, neither of these treatments affected the base salary used to calculate our pension which was calculated on our two highest years of base salary, including any shift differential or on-call pay. Overtime was not used in calculating our pension

    Additionally, we receive a health insurance stipend of $450 (approximately equal to a Kaiser single-person insurance policy) that vests at 25% per 5-years worked; e.g. I recieve $225 towards any health/dental/long-term care insurance I choose to enroll in.

    The way the City and many other agencies treat sick and vacation pay as part of the base calculation is called ‘spiking’ and together with fully paid health insurance play a major part in the benefit costs for public employees.

    sw

  • Anonymous

    as well as they should…”our ” (i use the term loosely because i don’t claim them) city managers should pay us
    they don’t do anything well and have been “managing” our city into the ground for years. At least the fire and police officials are actually doing a service to Berkeley.

  • Szunderwood

    While there’s no question that at the top of the public payroll pyramid there are significant (I would argue criminal) abuses of tax payer funds, the way this article is structured does not give a full picture of the depth of bloated salaries.

    In 2009, SFGATE reported that “the City of Berkeley had 477 employees with total pay over $100,000.”

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2010/04/28/BerkeleyPay2009.DTL#ixzz1Kn6CfnBY

    I believe that is roughly one third of the total city work force (1,500 highly compensated bureaucrats riding on the backs of a city with 100,000 total population?).

    In 2008/2009, a city manager’s report stated, ““The only method to effectively eliminate the city’s structural deficit is through cost reductions—primarily through controlling labor costs since employee salary and benefits make up 77 percent of the city’s operating budget.”

    So, the real question to pose, in my view, is the balance of payments. If employee compensation were significantly reduced across the board and our basic rates of taxation stayed the same, where else could these funds be appropriated?

    Some ideas:

    1) Crumbling roads all over Berkeley. Repaving roads is costly and the bureaucracy would rather siphon off the money into salary increases rather than invest in our basic infrastructure. There are some roads in Berkeley which have not had a major resurfacing in more than 50 years. Dwight Way, Cedar and Sacramento south of Dwight Way are in particularly bad condition.

    2) Storm drainage and sewer improvements. Much of our sewer system is antiquated and is leaching pollutants into the ground. In major storms, sewage water often runs into our storm drains which empty raw sewage into out creeks and the bay.

    3) Park and sports field facilities. Take a look at the condition of La Loma Park, especially the baseball diamond which is practically unplayable. If you dare to be physically sickened, try going into the bathrooms at that park which are dilapidated and filthy beyond description. Consider the condition of the softball field at the small park opposite North Berkeley BART. How many city basketball courts have a decent net or any at all on the baskets? Nets cost about $5-$10 apiece. Who maintains these facilities?

    4) City operated pools? I believe we are down to two, both of which are quite antiquated and generally overcrowded and unpleasant to use. Berkeley actually has plenty of wealth to build very nice, modern swimming pools with existing tax revenues, if we did not pay 500 city employees over $100,000 per annum, + the costs of their other benefits and pensions which we are liable for (mostly “unfunded” libalities).

    5) If we passed a referendum limiting labor costs to no more than 50% of an annual operating budget, how many of these basic needs could be addressed without more tax increases or special bond assessments?

    So how did we get here? Mainly because we continually reelected politicians who are mainly on the take from local city worker’s unions. There are no effective checks and balances in city of Berkeley labor negotiations. There is no meaningful management/labor dichotomy. The elected politicians essentially work for and do the bidding of city employees. Who truly speaks for the interest of the tax payers? Where is the accountability for city employees or departments which do such a very poor job providing services while being overpaid? How often are city employees fired for incompetence or even for gross malfeasance? It’s all one big cozy society between the elected officials and the city employees. Our tax money is a big slush fund to dole out patronage jobs and buy votes. The system is broken. We need real reform and we should start by voting out most of Berkeley’s longtime entrenched ruling junta.

  • Szunderwood

    In the SFGATE city of Berkeley employee database, note the following salaries in the “Parks, Recreation & Waterfront” Category:

    339 DOUGLAS MCDONALD Parks, Recreation & Waterfront SENIOR LANDSCAPE GARDENER SUPE $100,975.68 $115,702.18
    440 SAMUEL WILEY JR Parks, Recreation & Waterfront LANDSCAPE GARDENER SUPERVISOR $78,371.96 $103,002.77

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2010/04/28/BerkeleyPay2009.DTL#ixzz1KnIbBTqq

    Yes, that’s more than $100,000 for gardener “supervisors”. It would be one thing if City of Berkeley parks and medium strips were kept in immaculate, weed free condition like in San Ramon or Alamo. At least one could argue that the six figure gardener “supervisor” was worth the expense. But I have the strong sense that if I hired off the street a team of experienced gardeners who may not speak English all that well at a small fraction of the cost, I could actually have much better maintained fields and parks than we now do.

  • The Sharkey

    There are about 100 men standing on street corners near the intersection of 6th & Hearst who would be happy to do the work for $12/hour.

    The City should hire skilled workers and pay them a living wage, but $100,000+ for gardening staff seems a bit excessive. I have a hard time believing that the City couldn’t find equally qualified workers to do the same work for $85,000 per year.

  • Berkeley Bob

    Abby. Being a private in the military, or a federal air traffic controller, or a federal prison guard, or a US marshall, or a federal probation officer, or for that matter a plain old roofer, are either far more dangerous or more difficult jobs than being a firefighter or police officer in sunny Berkeley California. None of these other jobs pay anywhere close to what these people are getting. Indeed apparently an Assistant Fire Chief in risky Berkeley is worth consideranly more than the Vice President of the United States or a Supreme Court Justice or a Four Star General. The base pay alone for these people exceeds the highest pay that can be paid in the federal government system, and is more than a US Attorney makes. With what they paid one of these people, we could have kept the Willard pool open for two years, or hired 4 teachers aides. The hard working people of Berkeley who are paying for this, many of whom are highly educated, make on average a fraction of this amount. This is an aboslute travesty, and its offensive that the City claims it is unable to provide quickly pension and benefit information, and if true, shows their incompetence and/or complicity.

  • EBGuy

    Based on data from the nineties (http://www.bls.gov/opub/cwc/archive/summer1999art1.pdf (PDF)), the following jobs are four or more times dangerous than police and fire work: logging, fishing, water transportation, and aircraft pilot. Extractive occupations (mining) are around three times more dangerous. Construction laborer, taxicab driver, truck driver, roofer, and farming occupations are also categories that have a higher percentage of fatalities than police and firefighters.

  • Szunderwood

    A Grand Jury should be empanelled to investigate waste, fraud and criminal mismanagement of City of Berkeley funds.

    A combination of public pressure and legal scrutiny can affect positive change in dysfunctional public entities. The latest print issue of the magazine Fast Company has a fascinating profile of Wright L. Lassiter who has helped turn Highland Hospital in Oakland from a third rate bankrupt hospital into a quality medical facility. We desperately need this same kind of strong public leadership in Berkeley that can stand up to corrupt union practices and bring us better services at a more reasonable cost.

    http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/155/the-cure.html?page=0%2C0

    ACMC WAS A POSTER child for public-hospital dysfunction. The doctor’s murder and the patient’s suicide pointed out serious operational lapses, but the core problem was financial: Year after year, according to the Alameda County Grand Jury, the place lost millions beyond what it took in from the government, charities, paying customers, and other sources. (California is one of a handful of states that make grand juries the watchdogs of county government.) The grand jury described management as “a shambles.”

    […]

    Lassiter had never had to deal with unions in Dallas or Fort Worth because workers there weren’t organized. Manns, with his Michigan experience, was steeped in union issues. In Oakland, the two men inherited a history of hostility between management and labor, represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and collective-bargaining agreements so restrictive that nurses could not be transferred from a department with a decreased workload to one that was understaffed. That meant hiring temps at significant cost.

    Jim Hubbell was an emergency-room nurse at Highland in the 1980s when AIDS was on the upswing. Like many who choose to work in an inner-city ER, he enjoyed what he calls “cowboy medicine.” But “the place was completely dysfunctional,” he says, largely because it seemed impossible to fire anyone. “I had to leave because of conditions — blood-caked gurneys, soaked mattresses from a variety of bodily liquids. The housekeeping guys usually had a card game going.”

    “It was hard to do something as simple as mount a TV monitor on the wall of a waiting room,” says UC Berkeley professor Rundall. “The question wasn’t when it would get done; it was whether it would get done.” When it finally became clear that the county might sell, decimate, or even close the system, he says, workers suddenly became more flexible. “It was a real fear of God.”

    As a result, management could make a case based on hard-core reality: We’ve raised wages to rough comparability with the private market. We’ve cut costs all we can and laid off as few as possible. We’re not seeking high margins to please shareholders; we’re seeking positive margins so we can remain in operation.

    The unions gave some ground. For example, employees were filling up the multistory parking garage connected to the hospital in the morning, leaving no spaces for clinic patients, who would circle the neighborhood hunting for spots, then arrive late. The patients fumed about parking; the doctors fell behind on appointments; the patients fumed more. After Manns made a case for putting patients first, the union agreed to use an off-site lot with free shuttles.

    Both management and union leaders are reluctant to talk much about the biggest human-resources problem ACMC faced: how to get rid of people who refused to work. A longtime physician at Highland, who prefers to remain anonymous, says the major impediment to improving management and quality on the hospital floor was nurses who wouldn’t do their jobs: “I’d say, ‘Nurse, draw this man’s blood,’ and she’d say, ‘Why don’t you do it yourself?’ And I would. This kind of thing happened every day before [Lassiter] got here.” Most nurses at ACMC are highly professional, this doctor says, and “even they wanted those nurses gone.”
    Manns says that he and Lassiter would not use the layoffs as a cover to get rid of bad performers; the layoffs were made for strategic reasons. The firings were a separate matter. Neither Lassiter nor Manns will be specific about the terminations, but a hospital spokesman says that “dozens” of nurses were fired, a change that “made all the difference in the world,” says the veteran doctor.

  • lauramenard

    Szunderwood,

    Please consider filing a complaint with the grand jury, I believe they review new cases in August. I am considering filing another complaint against BUSD. The grand jury office is very helpful in explaining what they need.

  • Szunderwood

    Laura:

    Many thanks for this intriguing suggestion. I was not actually aware that citizen’s had the right or opportunity to initiate a Grand Jury investigation. I will need to learn more about the process. As the old saying goes, “you can’t fight city hall”, but Tom “Boss Tweed” Bates & Co. do need to feel some heat.

    As always I commend you again for your courageous efforts to make our schools and our community safer and our school district and city government more accountable for their malfeasance. As someone else aptly noted on this forum, you are a “community treasure.” It’s high time you got less grief for your yeoman’s efforts and more public reward, support and recognition.

    In terms of initiating a grand jury investigation to uncover the financial shenanigans of our city bureaucrats, I unfortunately lack your encyclopedic knowledge of the inner workings of these bureaucracies which you bring to the school district issues.

    Therefore, it occurs to me that someone like Barbara Gilbert who has championed fiscal responsibility for many years and served as a watchdog and whistle blower on city budget issues would be an excellent person to spearhead or initiate an Alameda Co. grand jury investigation of Berkeley corruption.

    Speaking of which, it so happens that Barbara is a reform minded candidate for city council as well:

    http://www.barbaragilbertberkeley.com/position.htm

    Lastly, I would toss out for consideration to Berkeleyside the idea of profiling in depth some of these non-establishment candidates for city council over a span of weeks or months. Eric Panzer, who has made many exceptionally lucid and well-written comments on Berkleleyside also appears to be running a reform oriented campaign for city council. I am sure there are many others as well.

    Since machine politics and the power of incumbency infers such a tremendous advantage on long term entrenched incumbents, it would seem to me that for Berkeleyside to devote some space to interview and profile new candidates across Berkeley’s political spectrum would actually be a real service to local democracy. Tom Bates may have granted Berkeleyside an interview in which he dodged most of the tough questions posed to him, but I am guessing the outlier candidates will have much more to say and contribute of interest.

  • Loki

    This is hilarious. They know it, they complain about it and they do nothing about it. All they need to do is stop overtime for all public safety managers/commanders and make them salaried as are most executives. Once that’s done they will monitor their staff overtime like hawks!  LOL!!!!