Tag Archives: Phil Kamlarz

Think you can hear Berkeley Police online? Think again

For most people, hearing Berkeley Police traffic on the radio has gone out of range. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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In recent months, Berkeleyside has heard from multiple residents who still believe they can listen to what’s happening with local police calls on their phones or online.

Said one, in response to an email alert that went out to a neighborhood group in January, which listed a previously active online channel as a good resource: “I have … been tuned into the internet scanner feed given out in the email. I have not heard one thing. Perhaps I have not tuned in and listened long enough to hear any calls come over the airways.”

Other readers have said they use a cell phone app to tune in, or suggested various web links, in response to crime stories Berkeleyside has posted. Wrote one on Facebook last year: “Anyone can listen in to the BPD and BFD radio feeds,” which was followed by a link to a site that hosts scanner chatter.

But, in fact, Berkeley frequencies are now part of a regional “trunked” system, which means members of the public can no longer hear them via the means that may be easiest. (Very limited Berkeley Fire Department broadcasts are still available online, but do not represent all the department’s traffic.)

In December, Berkeleyside made the $400+ investment to purchase a scanner to monitor local frequencies to help track important public safety incidents for our readers. It’s already led to exclusive reports on several local crime stories. … Continue reading »

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The most important stories in Berkeley in 2012

Spring-storms-over-Berkeley-by-Joe-Parks
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Berkeley in 2012 was filled with drama — a contested election, a failed nomination for a new school superintendent, a few missteps by the Chief of Police, and major changes at the University of California, among other events. Here’s a recap of the issues that had the deepest impact on Berkeley, plus a few fun ones thrown in.

City Government

The year got off to a tragic start with the untimely death of 37-year-old City Clerk Deanna Despain. She fell down the stairs of her Oakland home on Jan. 8. Her husband discovered her body when he returned from a late-night meeting. Their daughter was soundly asleep upstairs. Since then, Mark Numainville has been filling in as acting city clerk. In May, after serving as interim city manager for six months, the City Council appointed Christine Daniel permanently to the job. She replaced Phil Kamlarz, who had held the city’s top job for eight years. … Continue reading »

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Spotlight on city manager’s response to Chief Meehan

Christine Daniel, interim city manger
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While eyes across the country are focused on Berkeley’s City Hall to see how it responds to Police Chief Michael Meehan’s attempts to get a reporter to change his story, the eyes at City Hall are all focused on Interim City Manager Christine Daniel.

With just a six-month contract that is due to expire in May, the way Daniel handles the Meehan matter may play a large role in whether she gets the job permanently.

Daniel learned on Friday March 9 that Chief Meehan had sent Sgt. Mary Kusmiss to the house of Oakland Tribune reporter Doug Oakley at 12:45 am that day to ask that he change a story on a community meeting about Peter Cukor’s murder. But Daniel did not issue a statement on the matter until around 2:20 pm March 10, hours after the story garnered significant airtime and play in regional publications.

And since then, Daniel has been quiet. … Continue reading »

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Government

Berkeley City Manager Phil Kamlarz: The exit interview

Former city manager Phil Kamlarz, just before his retirement
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Phil Kamlarz, city manager for eight years and a city employee for 36, retired this month. He first became a Berkeley city employee as a temporary associate accountant in the Berkeley Public Library in 1975, and a year later transferred to the city manager’s office. He became assistant city manager in 1987, and then acting city manager in 2003, before getting his full appointment the following year.

Two weeks ago, when the City Council marked Kamlarz’s retirement, the encomia from councilmembers were effusive. Mayor Tom Bates noted that Kamlarz “has provided Berkeley a platform of fiscal stability which is enviable”. He cited Kamlarz as a “calm, collected leader” with “compassion, foresight and a good nature”. … Continue reading »

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City Manager Phil Kamlarz announces his retirement

Berkeley City Manager Phil Kamlarz: grateful to city employees for making cuts. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Phil Kamlarz, Berkeley’s City Manager for the past eight years, today announced his retirement. His last day on the job will be November 30th. Kamlarz has served the city for 36 years.

“He’s been an absolutely remarkable city manager,” said Mayor Tom Bates. “He’s the longest serving city manager in the city’s history.”

Bates said he would recommend the appointment of Deputy City Manager Christine Daniel as interim city manager, with an evaluation after six months for the permanent … Continue reading »

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News

City workers make sacrifices, help alleviate budget crisis

Berkeley City Manager Phil Kamlarz: grateful to city employees for making cuts. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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The city could achieve annual savings in excess of $4 million, if an agreement reached this week with more than 500 city employees on salary cuts and pensions is also adopted by other union members, according to City Manager Phil Kamlarz.

The agreement, announced at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, was made with members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1021, the city’s maintenance and clerical workers, and it will go some way to alleviate Berkeley’s $12.2 million budget deficit.

In agreeing to cuts in salary increases that had already been agreed upon, and to a two-tier pension system, SEIU members also prevented layoffs among its members. The city has said it would have to make about 79 job cuts in order to reduce costs. The new agreement, which has also been signed by a number of non-represented workers, includes provisions for early retirement, said Kamlarz. … Continue reading »

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Layoffs, fee increases proposed for 2012 budget

Mary Kay Clunies-Ross and Phil Kamlarz at city budget briefing
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In order to close a $12.2 million deficit next year – and a projected $13.3 million deficit in 2013  – the city of Berkeley will eliminate 79 positions, cut services, and may raise fees on garbage collection, marina rentals, senior center rentals, and permit inspection fees.

The city may even ask voters to approve a new parcel tax to pay for road and building improvements.

The suggestions are part of the two-year budget City Manager Phil Kamlarz will present to the City Council tonight. And, while the news is gloomy, it is a slightly better forecast than in March, when the city thought it was facing a $12.5 million deficit.

“This is the longest and deepest depression we have had in the last 25 to 30 years,” Kamlarz said at a press briefing on Tuesday.

The city has eliminated 130 positions in the last two years but must cut deeper to balance the $320 million budget for fiscal 2012 and the $311 million budget for fiscal 2013, said Kamlarz. Of the 79 positions that will be eliminated, 57 will be cut in 2012 and 22 will be cut in 2013. Because the city has not been filling vacant positions, 26 people will lose their jobs next year and 18 the year after. … Continue reading »

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Fire and police officials earn more than Berkeley managers

Paramedic engine co. five
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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.

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Government

City’s best scenario: cuts of $12.5 million

City Manager Phil Kamlarz
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Some of the scale of the budget difficulties face by the City of Berkeley was painted graphically at a special session of the City Council last night. The city faces a deficit of $3 million in its general fund and $9.5 million in its special funds that could require the elimination of 96 positions over the next two years.

“These are tough decisions and they don’t come easily,” said City Manager Phil Kamlarz, introducing the discussion. City Budget Manager Teresa Berkeley-Simmons described the pressure on the city from shrinking state and federal budgets as “staggering”.

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Government

Berkeley city salaries track neighbors closely

State Controller John Chiang
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California State Controller John Chiang started releasing data on city and state employee salaries and compensation last fall. His office is steadily adding to the database: last week data for transit, water, hospital and other agencies was added to the publicly available information.

Whenever Berkeleyside writes about city government, it’s a certainty that a number of commenters will remark on high salaries and overstaffing. The State Controller’s database provides a chance to compare how Berkeley does against other cities.

At the top of the scale, Berkeley’s ten highest paid employees are roughly comparable to neighboring Oakland and Richmond:

The total wages includes overtime, bonuses and vacation pay (everything reported in Box 5 of the employee’s W-2 form). Berkeley’s police chief’s salary in 2009 was $220,242 — so there were nearly $150,000 of additional payments to Douglas Hambleton, who retired in 2009. Five of Berkeley’s top 10 are police, compared to eight of the 10 in Oakland. San Francisco Chronicle columnist Chip Johnson recently pointed out that police officers and firefighters comprise 440 of Oakland’s highest paid 500 employees. In Berkeley, police and fire make up 299 of the top 500. … Continue reading »

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City budget faces $1.8 million mid-year shortfall

City Manager Phil Kamlarz
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The City Council tonight will hear a report on mid-year budget revisions for the current fiscal year, designed to respond to a revenue shortfall of $1.8 million. According to City Manager Phil Kamlarz, planned savings are already on track for $1 million. The remaining $800,000 of the deficit will be covered by deferring capital expenditures, primarily from the street rehabilitation budget. An increase in projected expenses from the adopted budget is being covered from $4.62 million from the reserves.

The trimming of the budget comes on top of the effort to close an expected $16 million deficit in the FY2011 budget before it was adopted by the council last year. The original plan was to eliminate 77 jobs, 47 of which were unfilled at the time. Because of the voluntary work reductions by staff and other cost saving measures, including a hiring freeze, that gap was closed with only seven layoffs, Kamlarz explained during a briefing meeting with the media this morning.

The drop in revenues compared to the adopted FY2011 budget came from a wide number of sources:

  • Secured property tax: down $528,083 because the expected 2% cost of living adjustment actually was -0.24%
  • Utility users tax: adjusted downward by $494,084 because of declining natural gas prices
  • Parking fines: projections lowered by $200,000
  • Ambulance fees: down by $463,370 because of change to a national fee schedule and lower transport volumes
  • Sales tax: down by $216,136 even though revenues are beginning to creep up
  • Franchise fees: decreased by $279,844 … Continue reading »
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Berkeley’s Bradley Manning resolution is watered down

Bradley Manning, Photo courtesey of The Telegraph
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The Berkeley City Council on Tuesday will consider a watered-down version of a bill regarding Bradley Manning, the army private suspected of leaking the WikiLeaks documents.

Instead of declaring Manning a hero, the revised bill calls for Manning to be treated “humanely” in prison.

The switch in emphasis came after there was a huge national outcry from conservatives around the country that Berkeley was once again honoring a man some considered a criminal. Berkeley city officials had also been concerned with the original bill since it declared Manning a hero for a crime for which he has not been convicted nor admitted doing. … Continue reading »

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Government

Council faces tough decisions on unfunded liabilities

Mayor Bates: "people will need to start contributing"
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The Berkeley City Council special session on the $310 million — or higher — unfunded liability on promised employee benefits revealed the difficult choices faced by the city.

A presentation by budget manager Teresa Berkeley-Simmons made the root of the problem clear. The California Public Employee Retirement System (Calpers) assumed annual investment returns of 7.75%. The crash of the Great Recession in 2008 meant that returns in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009 were negative 24%, producing an annual loss against assumptions of 31.75%. For Berkeley’s city employees, that has produced investment losses of $200 million.

“We can’t grow our way out of this,” Berkeley-Simmons said.

“Even if Calpers gets 7.75% forever now, they have lost $200 million on which we’ll never get 7.75%,” explained City Auditor Ann-Marie Hogan.

City Manager Phil Kamlarz said the money to close the gap has to come from either increased contributions or a reduction in cash available for city services, or some combination of the two. Long term, the gap can be closed by reduced benefits for new employees, but that does little in the short and medium term.

“Rather than cut services, people are asking employees to contribute more,” said Mayor Tom Bates. “That’s the path we have to go down. People will need to start contributing more. It’s unfortunate, but they’re lucky to have a job.” … Continue reading »

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