Time to end excessive benefits for Concord City Council

Help wanted: Part time, flexible hours, lifetime healthcare after 5 years of employment! Sound too good to be true? It SHOULD, but this is exactly what the members of the Concord City Council award the members of the Concord City Council.

This sounds appropriate for dignitaries with entitlement issues, but it sure doesn’t sound right for public servants, especially ones constantly talking about how we have to reduce the city’s unfunded liabilities. Simple – start with your own benefits – that is something you can very easily renegotiate and have full control over!

I keep hearing “it’s complicated.” Not really. No more than any other contract negotiation – it is only as complicated as the people involved make it. If Concord Police officers came forward and offered to cut their long term benefits in half, I guarantee you it would happen fast, and would not be “complicated.”

This has been an issue in the last two elections. But then somehow seems to disappear after the election. Two incumbents will be getting their five years in if re-elected – maybe after they get theirs they will talk about ending it? It is time it ends now. We have waited long enough, and it seems clear that individual comments are falling on deaf ears.

Regretfully, we the voters have no direct say in the city council’s benefits and compensation (something that needs to change), and our only option right now is to ask them nicely to remove this ridiculous perk. Even a question on the ballot would only be a suggestion and nonbinding (but cost the city to put on the ballot).

That is why I am circulating the petition below (and online).

Please download a copy and distribute widely. There are directions on the form on getting them back to me.

If we can get enough signatures asking nicely they will reconsider and alter their benefit package. Hey, I am an optimist.

If not, we have only one other option come November. Once I hit a critical mass of signatures, I will announce when they will be presented to the City Council.

Current plan is first council meeting of August, Once it is set, I hope you will join me in presenting them to the council.

petition to end excessive benefits for concord city council

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Comments

  1. Terry Kremin says

    Update –

    Interesting council meeting last night. So they took my comment, insured I sat down (yielded the floor) so that I could no longer say anything, and then started discussing the issue to insure a one sided council record. (Campaign forums will be a bit different…)

    Of note –
    1) It was brought up that a contract might not be enforceable.

    ALL contracts might not be enforceable. But more to the point, a contract is only tested if a party of the contract reneges. Who are they worried about not following through on their contract?

    2) Council member Edi Birsan stated that not all contracts have to be enforced in a court of law, and stated that he would be more than willing to sign a contract. To which crickets could be heard from the resounding silence of the remaining council members.

    During his speech, two council members (guess…) suddenly found their hands and desktop intensely fascinating and didn’t look up until the next item. As a teacher I can readily identify that “Don’t pick me! Don’t pick me!” pose.

    It seems we now know where Grayson and Leone stand on getting the perk for themselves. I got mine, screw you (re: the city’s tax payers).

    As stated it seems there will be only one way to insure they do not take the benefit.

  2. says

    And Mr Bjerke misses the point.

    ANY petition on this would have been non-binding (as I clearly stated).

    The point was to get this issue addressed. As Mayor Grayson announced this ad hoc committee immediately after this petition was announced, it served its purpose.

    Amazing how this was an issue when he was first elected, it was an issue in the last election, and Councilmember Birsan has regularly prodded (and gotten put off) to look at this issue, and yet nothing was done.

    Nothing for 3.5 years, Until the petition was announced and the dirty laundry got hung out.

    I would have to say the petition has been a huge success at doing exactly what it was designed to do – Get this issue to the front and finally have the council address it.

    Sometimes a regular citizen’s only way to get any change is to shake the tree hard enough to get the nuts to fallout.

    This shaking produced a bumper crop.

    • says

      It served another purpose as well – far too many in our city did not know that the Council received this benefit. That has also now changed, so this produced two bumper crops.

  3. Guy Bjerke says

    Terry-
    Your first reply tells us that when you don’t know or cannot find out something you feel you can just make stuff up.

    I did not use any dollar figures in my stories and question the numbers you are throwing around. Where did you get them? Just make ‘em up?

    I am already a CalPERS retiree, qualified for retiree medical but have chosen not to take it.

    • says

      Funny – Quite the opposite actually, but good to see you already campaigning!

      It much more clearly shows how sometime you cannot get information if you are just a common citizen.

      Since I started the petition, and then Mayor Grayson made an ad hoc committee, the flood gates on information have opened.

      Sometime you have to shake the tree before the nuts fall out.

  4. says

    The second paragraph of this story is false. The Council’s salary and benefits are not negotiated with the City Manager. See my story: http://www.concordmatters.com/council-medical-benefits-a-petition-vs-a-solution/

    Terry is right to be concerned about these benefits. The threshold for ALL city employees to qualify for them – which is set at 5 years of service – is too short. That should be the discussion.

    The Council is taking step at Tuesday’s meeting to fix this issue as it applies to future elected officials in Concord. Se my story: http://www.concordmatters.com/eliminating-pension-and-benefits-for-future-elected-officials/

    • says

      At the time that was all the information I could get after being stonewalled by CalPERS office and no one (with all those part time non-benefited employees) at the city able to answer my questions.

      Yes – they are taking action – “we will keep ours, but we think it is bad for anyone new that isn’t currently on the council already.” And again the very lame cop out of “there is nothing we can do but accept it”. BS, there is ALWAYS something that can be done.

      If NOTHING else, they can all sign contracts that they will refuse the lifetime benefit once they leave office.

      Very simple – and puts them in line with what they propose is best for the city. SO if it is good going forward, it is good NOW, isn’t it?
      It has been pointed out it is “only” costing the city ~$28,000 a year. That could move one of our hard working staff part timers to full time and really benefit the city.

      Too much executive mentality that says executives must get big money and workers are cheap and disposable, especially if they are part time. And I guarantee many part timers are actually putting in 30+ a week – and don’t get to say they are now full time.

    • says

      And you are conveniently leaving out that coverage for Leone and Grayson will be $20,000+ per year, EACH. So that would basically triple the yearly costs for the city.

      But that doesn’t seem important point out?

      And also may be important to point out that if it stands as is, someone that had previously served on the Council that might want to run again, or be appointed again if an opening occurred, would fall back under this clause and get lifetime health care after only a couple of additional years served.

      Didn’t you serve 3 Years on the Council Mr. Bjerke? Only need 2 more years on the Council, even if others that are newly elected (no prior time) do not receive the benefit.

  5. says

    UPDATE:
    From the agenda for next week’s meeting:
    “…
    The Ad Hoc Committee’s recommendation to the Council is to adopt the attached resolution
    (Attachment 1). This resolution directs staff to work with CalPERS and bring back to Council in September
    the necessary documents to: (1) eliminate CalPERS pension benefits for incoming, newly elected officials,
    and (2) significantly limit eligibility for retiree medical benefits for incoming, newly elected officials by
    establishing stringent vesting and retirement age criteria.

    …”

    So basically – screw anyone new – we got ours and we are keeping it.

    Just more privileged/entitled attitude from our sitting Council.

    I will be there Tuesday – are any of you outraged that they will keep it for themselves and yet deny any newly elected people?

    JUST GET RID OF IT. If you REALLY want to, you can find a way. If you can’t fins a way, maybe you shouldn’t be leading.