No kidding! This is one of the best articles I can recall seeing in the Chronicle. I've sent Ilene Lelchuk <email@example.com> a brief thank-you note for revealing the truth about what's going on; I hope others will do likewise.
I may be able to take some credit as well -- earlier this month I sent the following letter to the Chronicle as well as other local papers. They didn't publish a complete list with phone numbers and email addresses as I requested, but they did publish a list of the top ten salaried officials and top ten overtime earners.
Right now this is probably the #1 local issue we ought to be focussing on, in my opinion. Even leftists do not like the fact that many people in city government are "earning" six figure incomes at a time when services are being cut. Let's keep the pressure on! Have you called or emailed your Supervisor on this issue yet? Better yet, hit all eleven!
District 1 Supervisor Jake McGoldrick <Jake.McGoldrick@sfgov.org>, (415) 554-7410
District 2 Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier <Michela.Alioto-Pier@sfgov.org>, (415) 554-7752
District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin <Aaron.Peskin@sfgov.org>, (415) 554-7450
District 4 Supervisor Fiona Ma <Fiona.Ma@sfgov.org>, (415) 554-7460
District 5 Supervisor Matt Gonzalez <Matt.Gonzalez@sfgov.org>, (415) 554-7630
District 6 Supervisor Chris Daly <Chris.Daly@sfgov.org>, (415) 554-7970
District 7 Supervisor Tony Hall <Tony.Hall@sfgov.org>, (415) 554-6516
District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty <Bevan.Dufty@sfgov.org>, (415) 554-6968
District 9 Supervisor Tom Ammiano <Tom.Ammiano@sfgov.org>, (415) 554-5144
District 10 Supervisor Sophie Maxwell <Sophie.Maxwell@sfgov.org>, (415) 554-7670
District 11 Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval <Gerardo.Sandoval@sfgov.org>, (415) 554-6975
Yours in liberty,
<<< Starchild >>>
Mayor Newsom made a tentative start at addressing the city's spending crisis in a fair manner by giving back some of his own salary, and Supervisors Dufty and Ma followed his lead. He's also made a tiny staff cut (fewer than the 215 jobs reported, since many of those positions existed only on paper). What about the rest of the Board? What about all the other people in local government making over $100,000 a year? I've asked the Mayor's office and Board members to provide a list of these individuals, to no avail. Apparently our leaders are not that interested in exposing those for whom "public service" means raking in a six-figure salary.
Now, according to a March 2 Examiner article, the politicians are talking about higher taxes. Before San Franciscans agree to a penny in new taxes, we ought to demand that government officials tighten their own belts by capping all salaries of city employees (including overtime, bonuses, and any other creative accounting methods they might come up with) at $99,999. That is still way more than what the average person here makes, let alone those who are unemployed because their jobs have been casualties of the anti-business climate fostered by City Hall.
I strongly urge the Chronicle to investigate this matter and publish the names, positions, and departments of everyone in local government who is receiving a six-figure salary. I also request that you publish along with this list, the phone numbers and email addresses of those responsible for setting their pay. Let's put the pressure on city leaders to cut the pay of these government fat-cats before they even think about giving ordinary working people a pay cut by raising city fees and taxes again.
Libertarian for School Board
3531 16th Street,
San Francisco, CA 94114
I’m taking a little credit for what’s going on here….it almost seems a miracle that this monster in the closet is seeing the light of day.
Here’s my press release from last week….
For immediate Release March 26, 2004
Denny Launches Investigation
Candidate for SupervisorMichael Denny announced today that he has launched a formal inquiry into the secret labor contract negotiations that have resulted in the largest budget deficits in San Francisco’s history. Sunshine laws are being invoked to shed light on the murky and secretive world of union contracts. The District Attorney’s office has been asked to launch a public, impartial, bipartisan > investigation.
San Francisco’s $ 4.9 Billion budget is dominated by the $ 2.5 Billion salary and benefits costs for its 32,000 employees. “During Mayor Brown’s administration, the number of City employees has risen by 8,000, the budget doubled from $ 2.4 Billion, the effectiveness of City services has become much worse, and the number of City residents has shrunk to 780,000,”, said Denny. “San Francisco is like a plantation where citizens toil to provide a comfortable living for their civil servant masters. Citizen satisfaction is at a new low. San Francisco City government is the most expensive in the world, at $ 6,500 per man, woman and child. Other cities spend half as much, or less, and do a better job. Who knows the quid pro quo for the ruinous multi-year labor contracts that citizens are being saddled with?”
The average salary and benefits for a City employee is $ 80,000, which is much higher than the average City worker who sometimes has to work two jobs to make even half that much. Taxpayer-funded income is doled out to unions by politicians who respond to pressure and succumb to secret side deals, particularly at election time. It’s for this reason that every phase of all government union contracts must be negotiated in full public view, with press and citizens on hand to prevent ‘dirty deals made in smoke-filled back rooms’. Until we have full sunshine applied to all contract negotiations, the bloated budget and deficits will keep rising.”
• Repudiate onerous City contracts, if necessary through bankruptcy. Then privatize as many City functions and services as possible. “Many cities provide better services and have saved a bundle through privatization. Lets follow their example”, said Denny.
• 100% payroll tax on all salary and benefits to City employee that exceed the $52K salary of average City residents. “San Francisco citizens should not have to work extra-hard to provide lavish $ 80,000 average income to City workers”, said Denny. This tax would save the City over $1Billion per year without firing anyone.
• Drastically cut City spending on social service programs that cost increasingly more and accomplish less and less. Let private charity do the job because publicly funded non-profits have failed so miserably.
• Reduce fees and taxes on entrepreneurs, so jobs and business can flourish. “Business has been a whipping boy inSan Francisco for too long. Our businesses need property rights and freedom to generate the prosperity and vitality our City needs”, said Denny.
Sent:Tuesday, March 30, 200411:05 AM
Cc: 2004 LP Candidates
Subject: Overpaying govt employees -- THE reason we're broke
RICHARD RIDER COMMENT: More and more, influential people are finally waking up to the fact that the spiraling cost of state and local government is occurring for one reason -- overpaying public employees. THAT is where the money is.
Below is an excellent editorial to that effect. Sadly, while the writer defined the problem exceptionally well, the proposed solutions neglected the most important reform of all -- privatization. Below the article, I have included a letter to the editor I dashed off to the paper.
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Time to overhaul public service
Monday, March 22, 2004 - It's time to view the proposed cuts to county clinics, libraries, schools, city police and firefighters in a realistic way. These reductions in service are primarily due to public employee wage increases that have risen beyond inflation over the past five years. As our story last week by staff writer Troy Anderson revealed, some have risen by large amounts.
It's simple math. Salaries and benefits are the major expense in any organization. With politicians giving away the store to curry favor with public employee unions (read: big campaign donations) there is little wiggle room in shrinking budgets. In other words, there was a lot of spending during the fat years with little including foresight for the inevitable lean times.
Those who benefited the most were public safety employees who, in a lucrative domino drive, cashed in on a precedent-setting promise to the California Highway Patrol and state correctional officers by then-Gov. Gray Davis. Those overly generous contracts in turn spurred increases across the public sector.
Who can blame them? We don't. But we do blame the local and state officials who rolled over to the demands. It's clear proof that politicians, as we've said many times before, see no farther than the next election. Worse, it validates the criticism that these powerful unions now constitute a shadow government calling the shots behind the scenes, even more so than the lobbyists who line the halls in the Capitol.
So when the pols tell you they have no option but to fold social programs to the poor, cut medical care to the elderly and children, reduce hours of operation, close libraries and levy still more taxes call their bluff. Tell them to trim salaries and renegotiate those overly generous retirement packages. That, or reduce the work force.
Despite their claim to do what's best for members, public employee unions would rather see layoffs than rollbacks. Reductions in already negotiated wages and benefits weakens the union's power. Those sacrificed for the greater union good haven't weighed in on the subject.
No one wants a cut in pay and that's why Gov. Schwarzenegger and local governing agencies focus on pensions. Some are eyeing a two-tiered wage structure, mirroring the grocery strike settlement.
But this overspending through ever-increasing public compensation didn't just happen overnight, wasn't the result of the dot-com boom going bust. Economists have over the past three decades warned that public sector salaries were beginning to outstrip private. No one listened.
The excuse for higher pay and better benefits has always been that to enhance the overall performance of public agencies, they had to compete with private industry to attract the very best employees.
Has it worked? DMV employees selling driver licenses to illegal immigrants; public health nurses and doctors who kill patients through neglect and substandard treatment; a penal system where the guards are forming their own gangs; public employees using computers to view pornography; those entrusted with the welfare of foster children spending work hours off the job and a civil service system that protects the grossly incompetent and rewards criminal behavior ... If this is the best, we don't want to know about the worst.
What we do want is a complete overhaul from local city halls toSacramento. That means merit pay, where performance, not longevity is rewarded. Protection for whistle-blowers to facilitate removing those who game the system at all levels of government; either public employee unions or civil service protections, not both. Add to that a return to employee contributions to retirement plans and maybe, just maybe the result will be fewer service cuts backed by a more efficient system where we all benefit.
Your superb editorial on runaway public employee compensation neglected to include the most practical solution -- privatization. That option, and the THREAT of that option, are the only possible ways to get the powerful public employee unions to renegotiate downward their opulent pay and perks.
In addition to saving substantial taxpayer money, private firms can be held accountable for their performance -- something that doesn't happen with public agencies. Ever try to fire a public employee -- let alone an entire government department?
You'd be surprised how many government functions can be either fully or partly privatized, up to and including libraries (check withRiverside County) and even fire protection.
Local government officials are bought and paid for by the public employee labor unions, so perhaps the only way this reform will come to pass is through the initiative process. But if we are serious about controlling spiraling government costs, privatization is the only remaining strategy that will work.
Richard Rider, Chair
San Diego Tax Fighters
Richard Rider, President
10969 Red Cedar Dr.
San Diego, CA 92131