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Fremont budget talk

I don’t always listen too closely to what’s said at city council meetings now that there’s free WiFi inside the council chambers. But this past week, Councilmember Wieckowski said something that grabbed my attention and made me click away from espn.com.

He was trying to make the argument that city folks had taken their lumps and cut the fat to balance the budget, but it didn’t come out right. It sounded — to me — like he was scolding residents for not wanting to tax themselves. Given the news that one in seven dollars spent by Fremont next fiscal year is projected to pay for pensions, I got a little riled up.

The next day, before work, I replayed the first half of the council meeting on my computer and recorded the part that got me peeved.

I don’t know what came over me. I even started feeling sympathy for my editor, who’s a 60+ year-old Fremont resident with no pension and no hope of retiring anytime soon. The editor lost my goodwill Friday by blasting me for mistakenly writing in a photo caption that a group of young Sikhs were from the Fremont Hindu Temple. Oops. I blame Guru Nanak.

Here’s the recording of the part that got my goat:

It’s like the 2012 tax measure slogan from hell. “Vote Yes on Measure ??, because Fremont you haven’t done squat.”

On Friday I asked Wieckowski about it. He said it wasn’t his best showing. And he also said that pensions are a tough issue that have to be addressed.

To pay more taxes to pay a pension is not what someone is going to want to do. It just galls at people. It’s very tough to defend. I get that.

Wieckowski also said that employees will have to decide whether they are willing to give up some benefits to improve public service.

I think public employees get it. It’s a difficult position to defend: You’re entitled to 90 percent of your pay (in retirement). Where else do you get that?

Matt Artz

  • VOR

    “…he also said that pensions are a tough issue that have to be addressed.” Sure, now that he’s moving on he can talk tough.

  • west

    The Fremont Mayor and Council Members are part time, they have other jobs.
    How do you expect these part time politicians to solve Fremont’s Budget problems.
    There answer is a UTLITY TAX, that solves the problem for them, but not the residents of Fremont.
    We have a infrastructure problem.. That is we have a LARGE city and small politicians.
    We need a Charter City and district elections.
    The present city Council is not capable of solving our problems. What is the vision of Fremont, where is the leadership?
    The present council and mayor have no vision, no leadership, no imagination. They are very good at hiding behind the bureaucracy, making excuses, chasing ballparks without the residents support!, etc, etc. etc.

  • http://fcnisbacon.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/parting-gifts-for-election-losers/ Marty

    Wieckowski also said that employees will have to decide whether they are willing to give up some benefits to improve public service.

    Why is the decision up to the employee unions? Is this the union Democrat’s vision of government, that it is owned by the unions and exists to employ over existing to serve the people who pay for it?

  • http://fcnisbacon.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/parting-gifts-for-election-losers/ Marty

    Dear Fremont,

    Things are broken because you pay city employees too much. The guy picking up trash at Central park told me he was being paid $47/hour for the work he was performing. This is despite me shelving out a couple hundred dollars to claim one of my Wieckowski’s hailed “city services” of reserving a picnic spot.

    You are awash in cash, despite the recession. You should have saved money during the boom instead of doubling the payroll in 10 years to please your union contributors.

    This is not an issue of overpaid management or resources spread too thin. This is an issue of the single most significant financial burden on the city being structurally impossible to sustain, as well as a flagrant insult to those paying for it.

    Until you blow up pubic employee compensation and replace it with something sensible you will see NO increases in tax rates for money directed toward the general fund.

    Simply put, if future revenue increases are not marked explicitly for the education of our children, and explicitly exempted from a Fremont city employee’s pensions it will not exist.

    Cheers,
    Marty

  • Fazlur Khan

    The City council has no courage to negotiate with the unions and appeal to their noble sense of social responsibility as well and willing to take cuts during the period of recession.

    Y Cow Ski ate the green grass from Unions to Ski in
    Sacramento without a budget and put our schools in difficult financial situation. Stop talking nonsense cow.

    City council, if you are the true representatives of the people of Fremont and have spines renegotiate sane and realistic contracts with the unions. People first.

  • charlie C

    Either you or the guy picking up trash at Central park who told you he was being paid $47/hour for his work is a liar. Sounds like your one of the crowd that isn’t interested in getting anything accomplished in the next two years as long as a Democrat is in the White House.

  • Eyesbright

    $47/hour = $97,760/year (2,080 work hours in a year). No person employed to pick up trash in Fremont is being paid $97,760. Not only that, but you could search long and hard and not find an employee of any sort who could tell you exactly what his hourly rate, including all benefits, is.
    Odds are that the story is apocryphal and Marty came up with this figure himself. However, Marty knows full well that he’s not going to get away with this, so my guess is that he has some sort of explanation (whether that explanation is true or not is another discussion). I figure Marty is going to come up with some sort of calculation that includes vast amounts of money for benefits and pension that will supposedly total $97,760/year. So, Marty, let’s hear it: from whence did you pull this $47/hour figure?

  • http://fcnisbacon.wordpress.com/ Marty

    This person is no stranger. He’s paid about $32 an hour to do park maintenance, which he describes as the “ultimate cake job”. And by maintenance I don’t mean landscape engineering, I mean throwing trash bags into an F150 at his own pace.

    He also told me that scheduling rules (likely bargained by the union) dictate that park employees working weekends get paid time and a half, which works out to $47/hr. FYI, the city charges residents $300-400 to rent picnic sites around town, evidently so they can pay their janitor staff engineer wages.

    So, when I say that the guy picking up trash at Central park told me he was being paid $47/hour for the work he was performing, perhaps instead of getting so full of glee at the prospect of catching Marty in a calculation error, you should instead shut up and think about what I wrote.

    Cheers again,
    Marty

  • bbox231

    With times being so tough, is it a good idea to have sworn officers working the desk at the animal shelter ?

  • Fazlur Khan

    I know Eyesbright is Randy of Fremont Citizens Network.
    She along with 6 other gang members like Jim Hunt, D.Alur
    converted the prestigious FCN, a Citizen pressure group for the good governance of Fremont, quality schools and civic and community development into a political organization and contributed for its death.
    She is a top manipulative con artist like her gang.

  • VOR

    Mr. Khan, only Sarah Palin trashes more people than you do.

  • Robert

    Fazlur Khan first trashed Administrators at Chamber of Commerce calling them “women’s gossip club”, then Pat Danielson of Washington Hospital Board, followed by Vinnie Bacon, then Anu and Harrison, then Indian Americans, and now attacking a member of FCN. Fazlur, when will it stop?

  • Eyesbright

    I don’t think Fazlur Khan is even aware that I’ve met him in person and I doubt that he has a clue who I am. I hardly had a choice about meeting him because he made an issue of walking up to me and introducing himself so that he could tell me he was running for city council and then procede to ramble and babble so wildly that it was impossible to not see that he has real mental problems. Incidentally, I’m not an active member of Fremont Citizen’s Network, although I support their goals. I don’t know the people he mentioned. I kind of like the fact that he describes Fremont Citizen’s Network as “prestigious” and I’m sure they’ll be glad to hear that he likes them so much.

  • Eyesbright

    So, Marty, you admit that no person being paid to pick up trash in Fremont’s parks is making $97,760/year.
    How surprising.
    And, if you think $32.00/hour is “engineer wages,” I’d suggest you don’t know many engineers.

  • http://fcnisbacon.wordpress.com/ Marty

    Eyesbright raises an interesting point. Are there any active members of the FCN? Vinnie is surely busy licking stamps and Kathy has to be packing sandwiches and dreaming of escrow.

    And foul for the lack of interpretation, Randy. I think that $47/hr which translates to $100K is par for an EE. My suggestion to shut up and listen to what I write still stands, sweetheart.

  • Jen

    If a person employed by the city to empty garbage cans at the parks is being paid $32.00 straight time, it’s too much.

    So he may not actually MAKE $100,000 a year. Even if he had no OT, he’s still making over $60,000 plus benefits and pension. That’s too much for a city maintenance employee.

    To put it in perspective, that’s more than a first year (or up until about 5 years actually – the salary schedule is available on their website) teacher in the FUSD makes. And they have to pay 100% of their benefits, the city/district contributes nothing.

    Fremont pays people who pick up trash at the parks more than they pay the people who educate your children.

  • bbox231

    Jen -

    When you normalize the teachers’ income to 12 months of work – - how do the two salaries compare ?

    Please don’t get me wrong – -

    I think it’s ludicrous that a teacher who has demonstrated effectivenss in his/her craft is not paid near the top of the public salary pyramid . . . that said, those who choose to work 9-10 months out of the year will also earn a correspondingly lower annualized salary.

  • Charlie C

    My guess is there are many unemployed 50+ year olds who would kill to be making $32.00 an hour to empty garbage cans with benefits. In post #8 Marty is telling us that this “ultimate cake job” is not just a story. I say stop blaming the unions and democrats and have the city cut this guys salary.

  • Jen

    Bbox,

    Please keep in mind the evening and weekend hours teachers spend preparing lesson plans, grading papers, etc. They are not paid overtime for any of that.

    Unidentified city maintenance worker gets paid for every second over 8 hours that he works.

    Also, keep in mind the benefits issue. If a teacher wants benefits for themselves +2, it’s approx. $1200 per month out of pocket. Even in the summer.

    Unidentified city maintenace worker doesn’t pay anywhere near that – in fact, the SEIU workers working for the FUSD pay something around $400 a month for their benefits for them plus family.

    So apparently, the city panders to the service workers unions a lot more than they do the teachers’ union.