2010 Budget Trade-Offs Survey Results

Hello Readers,

As you may know, I created a budget web survey which I shared with you on May 10. The survey was open to everyone and closed yesterday afternoon. More than 1,000 people participated with more than 400 written comments.

Thank you for participating.

Here is a link to the results:

2010 Budget Trade-Offs Survey Results.

Enjoy the balance of your three day weekend while being mindful of our fallen soldiers for whom this holiday was created.

69 Comments

  1. Dear Pierluigi,

    Why isn’t “Sacrifice car per diems” anywhere on your list?

    I watched as the council unanimously voted to renew am oracle DB license which is $0.5 million a year.  What could the city possibly be using that absolutely requires oracle?  Has anyone checked to see if that application supports another DB, or ODBC?

    Google and Facebook use MySQL, which is free.  Both the aforementioned companies have databases that are vastly larger than the CSJ.  So again, why do we need a 1/2 million dollar software license from Larry E.?

    Also, with all 6000+ employees using a $400 per seat copy of Microsoft office, don’t you think it’s a better idea to start using Sun Open Office for free?  That alone would be a $2,400,000 savings from the next round of productivity suite upgrades.

    Why is there custodians under general services, environmental,Convention/Arts/Entertainment,Airport,Environmental Services etc.  Wouldn’t it be cheaper to lump them all into a single “Custodian” unit?  We could restructure custodial services to save an equal amount of money to what you’re proposing.

    Finally, why stop at outsourcing the janitors.  Why don’t we outsource all the MBA’s and accountants in the city?  Certainly there are plenty of well educated people in India and China willing to work for pennies on the dollar!

    Yours Truly,
    Robert “Rings straight to your voicemail” Cortese

    • Robert,

      Renewing the service agreement with Oracle is needed since the city many years ago created applications based off the Oracle database instead of Sybase for example. To go without a support contract is risky on these legacy applications. I would agree with you going forward if open source is an option then let’s pursue it for new applications or if we had the bodies in IT to migrate from Oracle to open source then we should do so (easier said then done on moving off legacy applications). I have advocated more Software as a Service/Cloud Computing solutions that lower the total cost of ownership for the city. In one case I tackled, we had a $1.475 million in cost avoidance on choosing SaaS over traditional client/server software.

      On the Microsoft topic you and I discussed this on the phone a few weeks back. I mentioned we are moving ahead with a pilot to use Google for email, calendar and applications.  Fully implemented this would save money, avoid risk of hardware failure,relying one person for Microsoft Exchange issues, speed up public records requests, eliminate VPN’s,higher availability, etc…

      • There’s an automated tool to convert a lot of the stored procedures. $500.

        http://www.ispirer.com/products

        They even offer a code conversion service for the application at $0.25 per line of code.

        http://www.ispirer.com/products/application-conversion

        Finally, the most a mysql support contract would be is $10k. 

        http://www.mysql.com/news-and-events/generate-article.php?id=82

        It doesn’t really seem that complex or expensive.  Even if the city had 250,000 lines of code, we’re only looking at a one time cost of $62k for the conversion.

        For 1/2 the price you’re paying for oracle, you can steal a few talented DB admins from google or facebook (I know, I showed a few of them city salaries and they want to work there now) and have things moved over in a jiffy.  In fact I know a few who would love to come to work for the CSJ.

        • In the interest of full disclosure and transparancy are there any ties between Pier’s stated employer, Arena Solutions, and Oracle Corporation?

        • @Curious:

          Wow, there’s a TON of Oracle/Arena solutions ties. 
          http://www.google.com/search?q=oracle+site:arenasolutions.com&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

          ———

          Arena-Oracle® Manufacturing Integration

          Arena-Oracle ERP Integration reconciles the changes you make to your product data in Arena with Oracle ERP—accurately, securely, and on your schedule.

          ———-

          Mark Hudson
          Director of Business and Sales Operations
          When that company was acquired by Oracle, Mark kept sales and services operations running smoothly while successfully integrating them into Oracle’s SME PLM business unit.

          ———-
          From their jobs page:

          Principal Database Engineer
          Must have experience in building high availability applications on Oracle 11g/10g that process large numbers of transactions. Note: Candidates with their primary experience in Data Warehousing applications will not be considered.

          ——-

          Craig Livingston
          Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

          Responsible for the division’s global operations, he oversaw the development, distribution and support of PLM solutions for small to mid-sized manufacturing businesses. His success in that role helped propel Agile to strong growth and a successful acquisition by Oracle.

          ———————————————

          Wow, so Arena’s CEO worked for Oracle.

  2. How come there was no option on the survey to choose if we wanted to spend $20 million dollars, as the city just did in this supposedly dire time, to buy land for a baseball stadium?

    Where was the option if we wanted the city to keep on annexing crime ridden county pockets, as they have been, diluting public safety resources?

    Where was the option asking if wanted to sell 3 city owned golf courses, which are losing tons of money?

      • Went and looked at the survey. The majority did not want you to spend the money for a ballpark.

        As far as your comment to the golf course, “we cannot sell it in 2 weeks to help the current budget deficit”, you have had years to sell it and the other golf courses, not 2 weeks.

        • Babe Ruth?,

          Like anything at the Council it takes 6 votes. 6 votes to sell a golf course, 6 votes to buy land, 6 votes to put something on the ballot etc…

        • Pier,
          Good to see you know how to find the ????? key that you have used in each of your responses. I notice you tend to only do this with those using a nom de plume who disagree with you. Seems rather childish.

    • …and if anyone really thinks that the team playing in Reed Legacy Park will be called the “San Jose Athletics,” I’ve got some formerly-taxpaying “land bank” land to sell you, unless the Sobratos beat me to it.
      So…*has* anyone asked the Oakland A’s ownership what they intend to call their team once they move to Reed Park?

      • “…and if anyone really thinks that the team playing in Reed Legacy Park will be called the “San Jose Athletics,” I’ve got some formerly-taxpaying “land bank” land to sell you, unless the Sobratos beat me to it.
        So…*has* anyone asked the Oakland A’s ownership what they intend to call their team once they move to Reed Park?”

        Ah, spreading false rumors… always a wonderful way to make a point.  Whatcha gonna come up with next?  Are they going to close all the elementary schools and build the stadium with child labor?

        • You two are so paranoid it’s almost funny. 

          1. The top reason Lew Wolfe wants to move the team to San Jose is to make money.  The name of team is going to be a big part of whether he gets the attendance he wants.
          2. Every team in baseball is named after a city or a state (except the Angels which have two cities in their name, again to make money).

          So what do you think he’s going to name the team?  The Oakland A’s of San Jose in an attempt to keep the few Oakland fans that aren’t completely bitter that their team left?  The California A’s, because there aren’t three other baseball teams in this state?

          The bottom line is outraging the people you’re hoping to come to your new stadium is bad business.  And Wolfe is not going to all this trouble so he can see his team stay at 26th in attendance figures. 

          The best business decision is to have “San Jose” in the name.

        • It’s a valid question and you don’t have the answer. There is no guarantee that SJ will be in the name if the A’s ever land here.

        • Rumors?  No rumors, Fab. If you don’t know what the team will be called, just say so. I’m guessing it won’t be called the San Jose A’s, and asking if anyone’s asked the ownership of the currently-Oakland-based team what their plans are if they get their sweet deal to move to SJ. You either don’t know, or won’t say—so you either join me in wondering, or you know it won’t be the San Jose A’s and are too embarrassed to mention it…yet.  Since millions of San Joseans’ tax dollars have already been spent in preparation for an A’s ballpark—don’t you think it’s a question we all deserve an answer to up front?
          And if the answer isn’t “The San Jose Athletics” or something else with the name of the city that hosts the team and is paying for the land their park will sit on…the next question should be “…why?”

  3. 15. The city of San Jose currently provides pensions to all employees like most other cities in California. Critics of the current pension system say that it is unsustainable since the city must match the employee contribution by over 200% and guarantees an annual 8% rate of return. Should the Retirement Fund not perform to the high rate of return then any shortfall must come from the general fund ($53 million this year alone) Supporters of the current pension system say that in the long run it will be fine and the current system works. Plus pensions provides value in recruiting of new employees. Current city employees have vested right to these benefits that may not be removed or lowered however this does not include new employees not yet hired by the city. Cost savings would occur with every new hire. Any change of the current pension systems requires a citywide vote. This would require 6 votes on the city council or 19,212 signatures of registered San Jose voters to put this on the ballot. Would you support a new pension system for new employees that had a lower match and did not guarantee a specific rate of return similar to a 401K?

    **19,212 signatures or 6 council members to get something on the ballot?  I don’t buy that we can’t modify existing employees retirements benefits.  We can outlaw pay spiking in the last year and average the last three years worked for retirement calculations.  I think we can change automatic COLAs for retirees when we have a recession on (low inflation, so there’s no real justification for it.)

  4. Feel it is imperative that police & fire take a 10% cut if rest of city employees are asked to do so; otherwise, those employees fear that if they give 10% an arbitrator might turn around and give it to police/fire as a raise. Also, there needs to be some drastic cuts in MANAGEMENT!! I’m a retired city employee and there was too much management 15 yrs. ago and there’s too much now. Also, city is involved in programs it has no business being involved with; e.g. housing, tutoring, homework centers. Those types of programs are better left to other agencies, e.g. school districts for tutoring and homework. And I never hear anyone explain that when city salaries and perks, i.e. retirement, were going up back in the 80’s, it was because the city was loosing so many employees to the dot.com field. There’s lots of places to cut – just go back to the basic basics!!!!!

  5. Police/Fire arbitration has advanced the interest of public safety employees at the expense of other community services. While we support these brave employees, it is unfair for an arbitrator to determine community priorities. This is the year that public safety can no longer be sacred. While it remains one of, if not the most important City Services, they must be forced to “share the pain” and find efficiencies in their operations—as well as accept pay reductions, freezes, or deferrals; don’t let them simply threaten to cut patrols or stop investigating “lesser crimes”—make them dig deeper and innovate. The City should also look at its structure and remove remaining redundancies (e.g., general services department—there is nothing that the department does that is not somehow redundant with another department or office… consolidate and eliminate the overhead). Also, do not be lured into false economies: elimination of some positions (e.g., park planning for bond-funded projects) will increase the labor costs and delay design and construction due to the need for external contractors. Finally, the City needs to stop picking up services that belong with other government entities (e.g., county, school districts) or develop more effective partnerships with those entities. Schools have been pursuing parcel taxes—the City needs to focus on other services. Schools should be handling crossing guards. If SJPD needs to be involved, have the schools / PTAs get a grant to support coordination & training. Collaborate with schools and nonprofits for after school programs and see if there are creative ways to keep libraries and community centers open (e.g., cost share/job share with school personnel for staffing). Look at both sides of mutual aid agreements for public safety—where can we partner with County and neighboring jurisdictions for responders and dispatch? Can we reduce some staffing levels in reliance on mutual aid agreements? Or, conversely, can we enter into contracts that allow us to retain staff but increase our mutual aid response levels. Please note it would be short sighted to make cuts that cost us money (e.g., grant/government matching funds, bond projects, deferred construction at currently low rates, not making our convention center a viable venue) or save us money in other regards (e.g., after school programs & graffiti removal reduce crime) short and long term. Finally, look at sponsorships: the City got the short end of the Arena naming agreement, not surprising given our “second class” mentality when it comes to economic development; negotiate harder and get sponsors for other venues and amenities. Negotiate to allow volunteers (residents or companies) to perform basic tasks, including low-level staffing of community venues, regular litter pick-up, and basic park maintenance.

  6. My family is already overtaxed. We have lost more than 50% of our income in the last 2 years because one breadwinner was laid off and the other had to take a 10% pay cut. Our employer contribution to our retirement accounts evaporated years ago, so we are left with only what we can contribute on our own. We have no guaranteed rate of return on our retirement accounts. We have no sweetheart deals guaranteeing full-time employment or salary levels. We have nothing to insulate us from the harsh realities of the economy. Contrast that to public employees, most of them protected by unions with a vested interest in procuring the strongest employment contracts available, regardless of whether the City can afford them. It is a crime against the taxpayer for the city to have employees with such superior job protection, let alone allowing those employees to have retirement benefits are guaranteed and locked in for life.

    Understand this. If San Jose raises taxes on my family, we will leave. There are other communities in the area that do not treat their hardworking, taxpaying residents with as much disdain as San Jose. We may not be able to move outside of San Jose city limits immediately, but we can (and will) certainly take our business elsewhere. We are close enough to the border of other cities that it is as easy for us to shop there as it is to shop in San Jose. There is no need for us to spend our shopping dollars, and, by extension, our sales tax dollars, in a City that sees us as nothing more than a wallet to be raided whenever expedient to fill the coffers of a public employee workforce that feels entitled to all of their taxpayer-funded benefits, even if the taxpayer can no longer afford those benefits.

  7. Of all the suggestions in the survey, the city employee pension reduction is what I would favor the most. I have relatives who work for the city, and the while we all agree they make a fair salary, the pension the city provides is huge compared to the rest of the employers in the bay area. Another good suggestion was the taxation of marijuana. I can’t believe that isn’t taxed already.

  8. The City budget should get down to basics. Police & fire; road maintenance; park maintenance. No new building construction and no more subsidies to non government entities.

  9. City Council tells City Manager what to do by their votes.
    Majority of City Council is beholden to Labor Unions especially those who move on to other elected offices like County Supervisor and State Assembly.

  10. Pierluigi

    If Safeway, UPS or tech company’s Chief Executive and human resources staff recommended to Board of Directors to approve new labor contract after Board is told pay and benefits are market rates what does Board do. 

    Ask a few questions and approve the labor contract

    Later, Board finds out from outside auditor that past labor contracts are 50% more than market ratesbecause CEO and HR only checked diret competitors not other area companies that employ same workers and management at 2/3rd pay and benefits

    Excessive pay and benefits was main cause of company being in serious financial difficulties and not being able to maintain it’s production equipmens buildings or invest in new products and equipment.

    What would Board do?

  11. Private sector employees have been hurting for quite a while. Now it is time for unionized city employees to step up and contribute their share. The police and fire salaries are way out of line according to the SJ Merc. Subcontracting city jobs will help bring costs into line also. As much as people support police and fire, good management requires balancing budgets and fiscal responsibility in salary and benefits.

    • So what you’re saying is that you’re bitter, and because you’ve been hurting, you think city employees should too? Newsflash: You made the choice to work private sector. Deal with it. And it’s “time for unionized city employees to step up and contribute their share?” Are you kidding?? They contribute their share every day when they put their lives on the line to protect our city.

      Why don’t you tell the wife of the police officer who was killed last week in Phoenix that her husband made too much money and really should have “contributed his share” to his city.

      Also, don’t believe everything you read in the SJ Merc. The Merc is the City Council’s puppet.

  12. It’s way past the time to focus on “core services”, i.e. public safety and infrastructure support and let’s cut out any funding for other “nice but not necessary” services. Be brutal – our city’s long-term financial health depends on it.

  13. The city must live within its financial resourcs in the year in question—including setting aside a reserve. Three steps need to be taken to meet this objective. 1) Get employee compensation in line by forcing all unions, but specifically police and fire, to take a permanent salary cut of 10% and freeze their salaries until such time their salaries are competitive with the private sector and/or in line with other comparable cities; and make signifiant concessions to their retirement program such as eliminating the guaranteed investment return. 2). Continue a review of all city dollar outlays to determine which programs/services are absolutely critical to the well-being of its citizens (difficult but needs to be done). 3). Upon completion of steps 1 and 2, if it is determined that the city needs more financial resources to fill critical programs/services, propose a tax increase which I and I belive city of San Jose residents would certainly support.

  14. I was a City Employee for 5 years. Benefits, such as sick leave cash out and the pension system, are far more generous than private sector. Certain jobs, such as landscape architects, have base salaries much higher than private sector. It’s time for the City unions to face up to the fact that they are bankrupting the City. I have no doubt that with less pay and less benefits the City will still have no trouble filling staffing positions except for some of the professional areas.

    • If the benefits were so great and the pay far more generous than in the private sector why did you leave. Makes me think you do protest too much!

      Or where you asked to leave?

  15. Civil Grand Jury points out :  Inconvenient Truth that well paid past and present City Managers and senior managers many with cities for years are responsible for excessive pay and benefits, and wasteful spending resulted in budget deficits, low city services, high taxes and now layoffs

    “During the last decade, cities significantly increased the total compensation that
    employees receive, but city leaders did not adequately forecast and plan, nor allocate
    enough money to pay for these long-term obligations.”

    “most cities set their compensation packages by surveying the wages paid to public employees in a handful of like cities in the general area, rather than wages for the employment market at large
    Not labor unions, not Council, not public or anyone else. ” 

    Not labor unions, not Councils and not public

  16. Reduce staff in libraries. When I am at the library I AM the librarian. The do not help check out books and are rarely available to help anyway. More taxes and we’ll need to move out of the area where our family settled 150 years ago. We can hardly keep up with the increased expenses, property and taxes, medical bills and extras the public schools need to teach our kids. We have no more to cut and make over 150K a year!

  17. We are paying to much for what we are getting. The City of San Jose needs to operate within it’s means. It should not be operating golf courses, hotels etc. Stop the subsidies.

  18. Please try to keep the fire and police. but I know they have a generous retirement and vacation. That should be modified. If they have a problem and the city is worried about recruiting..don’t. There are many fine canidates who are anxious to join both forces. The City employees – the same. I always say “when the Pope dies…he can be replaced”…so what is the difference here..there will always be someone to step in. Do not be afraid to stand up to the unions (and I retired from UPS)…they know they need to give too

  19. I believe that all government employees—city, county, state and federal should have to contribute to their benefits as well as not have a guaranteed pension whic is paid by the taxpayer like every other employee of private or public companies. I also object to the high % of firefighters and police who retire on disability which is tax free and then again don’t contribute to the tax system. I believe that the requirements for disability is too lenient as when ‘normal’ people have a disability, they are required to train for other occupations and very rarely are allowed to claim a disability retirement.

    • For your information City employees do contribute to their benefits: medical and retirement. They also do not get social security. As for the pay scale, most City jobs pay less than comparable jobs in the private sector. The mayor and his gang of 3 like to spread the myth that city salaries are out of control by averaging all salaries together. Taken class by class for the work done, they are comparable or less then most private sector jobs. I’ve yet to see councilman Oliverio mention that the Union gave up it last pay raise or the fact that they also forgo any over time. If after hours work is needed (and it is every week) then employees are required to flex their time.

  20. While I am sympathetic to the workers who will be taking a pay cut, the bigger problems are longer term. Most of the commercial world has moved to 401ks with a partial match, and there are no guaranteed rates. Current pension plans are unrealistic in today’s world. In addition the “full pension” retirement ages are far lower than reasonable particularly compared to the private sector. The concept of working for 20-25 years and then getting a full pension (in some cases while working another job) no longer makes sense with current life expectancy and the expense of paying ex workers vs current workers. Finally, paying out sick leave in cash with no cap is also unacceptable. This again is something that would not happen in the private sector. It is a different world than when all of these benefits were originally set up.

    • Sir, you are sadly misinformed. To get a full pension with the City you need to work 30 years, and then you are entitled to 75% of your highest salary. Again you are misinformed about sick leave pay out. The max you can collect is 75% of 1200 hour. Other wise it is a percentage of sick leave hours unused on a sliding scale. The fewer hours accrued, the smaller the percentage you are paid. Only a small percentage of employees collect any sick leave pay out. The large payouts are from police and fire and upper management.

  21. Cut city pay and benefits as much as is necessary to protect against ANY further reduction in city services. Do this before considering ANY increase in taxes.

    Put ALL city employees and elected officials on the same Social Security retirement and medical programs the rest of us have—that will, at long last, provide more adequate funding for SS and assure that we private sector workers won’t continue to be second-rate citizens compared to our government “servants”.

    At absolute minimum, require that a periodic comparability study be done by an independent agent as the basis for mandatory wage and benefit realignment with the private sector.

    Also require that all services performed by city employees be opened to competitive contracting—it’s time to break government monopolies that stand in opposition to the private sector. Except for the public sector, competition underpins our nation’s ecomomy, drives performance and innovation, buoys morale, lowers prices, and always encourages quality products. It’s time to provide the same incentive for the public sector. I am confident that govt workers will eventually respond favorably; we’ll all win.

    The party’s over, government—as Margaret Thatcher would say, you’ve finally run out of other people’s money. What you’ve done for government employees was never sustainable—even during the best of times. Now it’s time to work for the rest of your constituents.

    • Where were you in the “90’s” when private sector jobs were making big salaries and bonuses plus stock options? City employees were forgoing raises and/or taking less the cost-of-living raises.

      Now that the economy has turned around, City employees again gave up bargained raises and overtime pay. I don’t see Council Oliverio, Liccardo, Constant, or Mayor Reed mentioning those sacrifices made by City employees. They like to play the scapegoat game and blame the City employees for the City’s woes.

      Whose mismanaged the City and city funds the last 10 years? Mayor Reed has been in office since 1999 and he voted to increase police and fire benefits. I don’t see him owning up to that lately.

      Pete Constant just as bad. He’s the recipient of a police disability pension as well as a generous councilmen’s pay. As you once said in the Mercury news, “remember who you work for.”

  22. We cannot afford life-time medical benefits for retirees and their spouses(?). I’m a retired teacher and I have never received life-time medical benefits

    • So you think that just because you didn’t receive it, no one else should either? Wow, that’s enlightened.

      Life-time medical benefits are important for retirees, particularly of the public safety field. Firefighters and cops can sustain life-long injuries and chronic conditions (particularly lung and heart issues) due to the rigors of their jobs. So what, you think that the city should allow them to put their lives at risk for a 30-year-career and then leave them out in the cold to pay for the resulting health issues when they retire? Talk about heartless.

      As far as spouses, you try staying home and worrying that your husband or wife may not come home from work that day because he is out protecting your city. Spouses deserve everything they get. The stress that is placed on a cop’s (or firefighter’s) spouse and family is unfathomable to someone working in the private sector.

  23. AS I’ve posted before, cap the retirement at the mean average of all city workers. There is no reason whatsoever that a city manager should get 75% of there top year when there wage is 200K plus. With that kind of money they can get 75% of the City workers’ average pay and invest the surplus in deffered comp.
    Directors and asst. City Managers need to step up to the plate and show that they are willing to sacrafice first, before they demand the same draconian pay/benefit cuts to there employees.

    • I believe the unrepresented directors and managers have already taken a 10 – 12+% cut. They well could be the only ones if the rest of the represented work force doesn’t step up.

  24. As a general statement—absent other considerations—I am much more inclined to support even dramatic cuts in non-essential services (charities, libraries, community centers, parks, etc.) than cuts in public safety or tax/fee increases in order to close the gap. I am not opposed to targeted proposals for public safety cuts or fee increases, but I think we have a systemic problem that needs to be addressed.

    • The person or multiple people are taking survey response comments and posting them.  I did it with one comment and a preface for making a point about going further than the comment seemed to imply, the others are all someone else.

      Interesting though, it gets people to read the comments from the survey and also lets people speak through others words and make anonymous points.  Its kind of spam though as there’s no name attached to the posting and it feels foolish to respond to re-postings.

  25. I am a non-permanent city employee and strongly
    support the 10% workers wages/benefit cuts. I am dead set against any increase in sales taxes.

  26. REDUCE the headcount on each engine company for the fire department from 8 to 7 like all other cities around us. Eliminate paid time for union meetings and replacing them with paid (often overtime) firefighters. Remember the Grand jury findings . . . San Jose Getting Hosed by they Firefighter’s union (not the firefighters . . .)! The scare tactics being used by the union are pathetic. They should be ashamed of themselves.

  27. The city needs to make hard decisioins regarding services. I do not belive that cutting the pay of every city employee is the answer. In this valley, no one can afford a 10% pay cut and raise in benifits. Mayor Reed has made this a personal issue and I do not belive he has the best interest of employees in mind. Yes, I am a City employee, and would be agreeable to some trade offs, but not as they stand. There is just a blanket take it or we will impose. I hope Councilman you will make your vote and voice heard with the familes of every City employee in mind. Thank you for this survey.

  28. Do NOT Cut Police. The Fire Dept goes to 80-90% medical calls. Give them a Pickup truck with medical gear and buy less fire trucks. There is no need to have fire and AMR respond. Up AMR response, cut the Fire Dept. The FD actually responds to very few fires. The Cops are needed to keep the city safe and they are hugely undermanned right now. Further cuts will only allow crime to increase. Everybody loves firemen, but most of their job can be accomplished with more paramedics from the outsourced AMR with a lower cost to the city. Make sensible cuts and DO NOT raise taxes.

  29. As we speak new city employees are being hired even in the police departments, all these new employees should sign anagrement to comply with the voters future recession of binding arbitration and the two tier pensions. I’m in favor of the city filing Bankruptcy. Enough already! When the sleeping masses awake to this city’s (councel’s) failing situation we will have another Greece on our hands.

  30. The city needs to operate more business like and should not run in a deficit. The Mayor should allocate a spending budget to all city departments and the department leaders should then be responsible to manage their departments to their budget. This budget should include all cost including all benefits. City department and union leaders need to be more fiscal responsible as it relates to their operating cost and take into account all of the city services/departments. It feel like all the various departments & union leaders are self centered and do not see the bigger picture and not negotiate for their own best interests. This is why we are in the current deficit situation.

    • Sir, The City is not a business. It does not have a product to sell; it provides services. Those services cost money. You can out source the City service, but then you get out sourced service. Try calling customer service or IT help from HP or any number of companies that out source their services to India or the Philippines. Call customer service for the Mercury News as I have. See if you can understand what they are telling you or if they understand what you are calling about.

  31. Every budget line item should be accompanied by an argument for how it is linked to city’s core services as mandated in the chart. Every purchase on every council agenda should indicate that. Explain to me why San Jose does the school’s job? Explain why San Jose provides social services that are part of the County’s charter. Within each justification, argue how it makes the city more financially stable and attractive to investment and/or employers. Quality of life is an allowed attribute, but it must cite specifics—ie in context of attracting businesses or employees. Revise the retirement board so that all decisions about early retirement/disability are done by a group of folks who do not know the retirees. Explore joining PERS. Implement earning caps for retirees (I think this can be done immediately on current pension plan). This would eliminate age 50 retirees where the city owes for 30 years. Change medical benefits so that higher proportion paid by employee for family members. Require proof from court/tax return, etc. for dependents. No more city benefits to nieces and nephews and grandchildren and step-granchildren who are not actually dependents/wards of the city employee. Close all commissions that have trouble getting a quorum. Three meetings in a row and the commission is gone. Four in a year—gone. Make code enforcement a profit center. Revisit safety rules—while cops can ride around in a car by themselves, DOT/PublicWorks requires two employees to ride around in a truck to staple up or stake temporary signs for “no parking” for a race or street paving. Outsource the job of putting up temp signs. Change volunteer rules to match that of the county—-they allow people to maintain parks, etc. They let them have keys and operate equipment. Encourage our current City Attorney to retire. Hire an attorney from a jurisdiction who understands volunteerism and public/private partnerships. Monitor city compensation relative to local private sector for comparables. City’s combined compensation is now higher for low ranked jobs. Make city council policies that are fiscally prudent. Implement OEI so that airport can recruit long-haul carriers and don’t default on airport bonds. Make Hayes Mansion a private senior assisted living facility, maybe with a public subsidized component. Bite the bullet and sell a golf course—even though there are contractual fees to pay off. Pick the one with most development potential. Oopps gotta go…time for work

  32. I am much more in favor of cutting less essential services and paying slightly higher taxes than compromising public safety. With the internet and most households owning a computer, the need for more or longer hours at libraries is a luxury this city can not afford at the present time.

  33. Editor:
    Do you have to publish all the cut and paste comments from the survey? That is something we can read on our own. You can put all 400 comments here but there is no real back and forth going on.

  34. I support doing away with binding arbitration altogether; NOT tweaking it. It’s been a terrible deal for the city. If Council doesn’t have the guts to get rid of it, the voters should be given a chance.

  35. In a normal emergency limit the number of vehicles to 1 ambulance to 1 driver, and max 2 EMTs instead of an Ambulance, a Fire Truck and at least a total of 5 EMTs – that is an excess of resources, in all European Counties countries you get an ambulance with 1 driver and 1 EMT, and that seems sufficient.

  36. The Fix
     
    There recently was an article in the   St. Petersburg Fl. Times. The Business Section asked readers for ideas on:  “How Would You Fix the Economy?”

    I think this guy nailed it!
    _____

    Dear Mr. President,

    Please find below my suggestion for fixing America ‘s economy.  Instead of giving billions of dollars to companies that will squander the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan. You can call it the “Patriotic Retirement Plan”:

    There are about 40 million people over 50 in the work force.  Pay them $1 million apiece severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:

    1) They MUST retire.  Forty million job openings – Unemployment fixed.

    2) They MUST buy a new American CAR.  Forty million cars ordered – Auto Industry fixed.

    3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage – Housing Crisis fixed.

    It can’t get any easier than that!!

    Mr. President, while you’re at it, make Congress retire on Social Security and Medicare. I’ll bet both programs would be fixed pronto!

    PS. If more money is needed, have all members in Congress pay their taxes…

    If you think this would work, please forward to everyone you know.

  37. More wasted city money!  More Fiscal mismanagement!

    Again.  No One is Responsible!  No One is Accountable! 

    No One – recommended to City Council that this was a great city tax investment or economic development projects ? 

    Like many city tax subsidies, grants or economic development projects San Jose lost ( wasted ) millions tax dollars that should have been spent on basic city services.

    Who is – No One ?

  38. More wasted city money!  Fiscal mismanagement!

    •  A small Latino supermarket chain abruptly closed both its San Jose stores over the weekend, throwing dozens of employees out of work and leaving the city of San Jose with little to show for a half-million-dollar investment it made in the company two years ago.