Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Encinitas City Manager Stuff

The council continues to hold “for show” meetings. The hearing to consider the qualifications desired in the next city manager appears to be the most recent example.  The council claimed they wanted to include the public in the process, but there were whiffs of insincerity.

I asked the City Manager Search Subcommittee (Stocks and Houlihan) how public comments would actually be used in the process. No reply. Why no reply? Well, public comments were collected after decisions appear to have been finalized. Indeed, this time the council didn’t even bother with a ceremonial vote. They just announced what criteria would be forwarded to the city’s search firm without a vote. The criteria had been finalized before the public meeting. Most of the public speakers didn’t realize this.

I spoke and simply stated that I thought the council should consider asking candidates if they would be open to a 401K retirement rather than a pension. We have at least two council members (Barth and Gaspar) who indicated in the last campaign that they are interested in pension reform. The hiring of the new city manager was a great opportunity to start over, at least for this single employee. The city manager would oversee any forthcoming citywide pension reform and it would be good for her to set an example.

It turns out that someone in charge already decided the new city manager would be getting a CalPERs 2.7 percent at 55 retirement package. I can find no evidence that the council ever publicly endorsed or discussed these terms of employment. The council must have approved this or passively endorsed it because the job advertisements clearly state the new city manager will get a defined benefits retirement package.

I thought the council is supposed to hold a vote, on record, regarding terms and conditions of the manger’s employment. I asked council members Gaspar and Barth if they approved this pension plan for the new city manager. Barth claims she was unaware of any decision. Gaspar eventually responded (after I began circulating this editorial). She said there has not been council discussion of the benefits package. She also says that she’s now looking into the possibility of giving the city manager an alternative retirement plan. She didn’t mention that when I spoke in front of council weeks ago. She says there is still plenty of time to figure it out, but it seem to me like it’s a little late.

I accidentally came across the city manager job advertisement, which clearly states the position comes with a 100 percent CalPERS pension. Peckham and Mckenney, the city’s search firm, had printed the advertisement. This seemed odd because I had not been told about this. I had been in correspondence with the firm trying to find out how the public’s input would be used, because there seemed to be an issue given that the City Council never voted to endorse any of the ideas presented by the public. 

Peckham & Mckenney continued to present vague assurances that the public’s comments would be utilized. It was a snow job. Not once did the firm indicate my comments regarding pension reform for the city manager were worthless for the selection process because the decision had already secretly been made. Peckham & Mckenney had already been instructed to offer a CalPERS pension and they printed up advertisements saying so.

It sure looked like Peckham & Mckenney were aiding the city’s manipulation of the public. I let the firm know of this conclusion and asked them to explain why they never mentioned the retirement package had already been established and asked for them to tell me the conclusion was wrong. They told me they couldn't answer those questions and to direct my questions to the city.

Update: It has been weeks since I asked the council to consider asking candidates if they would accept a defined contribution package. It has been over a week since Gaspar claims to have contacted HR to ask them about the option. I have sent follow up emails to her and the entire council asking what factual information was provided to the City Council. Right now it sure seems like the city wants that information to be kept secret. 


  1. Why the pension? Let the market set the correct wage for the workers at City Hall and let them manage their own retirement like all the real workers.

    It is likely that City Salaries would go up 10 to 15%, but that is far more fair to the public then blessing these public employees with millions of dollars in annuitees at the ripe old age of 50 and 55.

    Schmitty and other gov employees think is fare? Stealing all our tax dollars so are kids get even worse educations than we did, and their is no money for projects like the Mega Sports Complex?

    Kevin is spot on with this post. The new city Manager compensation should not include a pension. Period. If Stocks votes for a pension in the compensation he continues to be a yellow belly low life owned by the employee unions.

  2. If they go with the pension lets hope they have the good sense to hire a fat smoker with dangerous hobbies.

  3. Didn't Kristin Gaspar say, when she was running, she wanted to have 401K's for any new employee. I think we should hold her to that.

  4. I agree. Lets hold Kristen to her word. This will create an issue with Jerome since he is owned by the unions.

  5. I don't see Mrs. Gaspar helping here. She was endorsed by the police and firefighters. The people who run those unions would be giving up control if they allowed their members to have 401k. They want to control those retirement funds so they can get fat kickbacks from the fund managers who feed on them. The more assets, the more the kickbacks... 1% of AUM is a lot of money! No kickbacks if each employee has a 401k.

  6. Why can't the city answer a simple question, who approved the compensation package for the new city manager? This is why we need a Sunshine Ordinance. I bet the city already picked the new manager and Hazeltine insisted on the pension. This is ridiculous.

  7. Hazetine quit recently and has a new job in Carlsbad.

  8. Chris Hazeltine's last day was last Friday if I am not mistaken. He has taken a jobs as the Parks and Rec. Supervisor for Carlsbad. I wonder id it has anything to do with the Hall Property?

  9. 7:03

    Will you all hire me if I start smoking again?

  10. Who's in charge Park's. Frankel can't tie his shoes, but is great at cutting down the wrong trees throughout town.

  11. Dear Ms. Gaspar,

    This Tom Beckord guy is not answering your question - instead he is snowing you with BS and you appear ready to accept it on face value.

    Giving the City Manager a separate non-CalPERS 401K is a matter of his employment contract - that we the people have total control over. He is a manager and not a union member.

    In fact, the City already has hourly contract managers that are on contracts that specifically stipulate that the contractor will not participate in the pensions.

    Sure CalPERS does not provide 401Ks - no kidding. But Vanguard and Schwab do and I will be more than happy to set him up with a fair fundable 401K retirement plan.

    I challenge you as a former CFO and "fiscal conservative" to have Tom show you the legal code that makes it impossible for us to NOT have the new City manager in the pension system. If it is there in black and white then you should consider other areas to limit in the compensation package.

    It is absolutely critical that the new City manager is NOT on the pension gravy train. We cannot afford one more liability plus it will remove one of the many conflicts our City has in place to protect the status quo.

    Having just looped into local politics the past year I am shocked by the level of corruption, conflicts, cover ups and general distain for taxpayers. However, more disturbing is the total lack of will or understanding of the issues
    by many on the council.




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