News


Three top Palo Alto officials to get raises

City Council set to approve salary bumps for City Manager James Keene, City Attorney Molly Stump and City Clerk Donna Grider

Days after Palo Alto officials approved pay raises for the lowest-paid city workers, a City Council committee has proposed spreading the rewards to three employees in the top tier -- City Manager James Keene, City Attorney Molly Stump and City Clerk Donna Grider.

The Council Appointed Officers Committee issued a recommendation on Friday that three of the four council-appointed officers receive raises effective July 2013, at the beginning of the current fiscal year. The fourth position, city auditor, has been occupied by Houman Boussina on an acting basis since August 2013, when Jim Pelletier resigned.

Of the three department heads getting a raise, Stump will see the largest increase. Her salary will jump from $214,635 to $234,936, a 9 percent increase. The pay bump would be effective July 1, 2013 (the first day of the current fiscal year), according to a report that the city's Human Resources Department released late Friday afternoon.

Keene, who joined the city in 2008 and was the city's highest paid employee last year with a base salary of $247,187 and total compensation of $264,488 (including benefits), will see two salary bumps. One, which the staff report refers to as "merit pay," would raise his base salary to $254,603, effective July 1, 2013. The other pay bump would push it to $262,241, effective the first pay period after the council approves the contract. He would also receive one extra vacation week per year, raising his vacation hours from 200 to 240.

The committee, which in 2013 included Greg Scharff, Karen Holman, Marc Berman and Liz Kniss, reasoned that the second pay bump would compensate Keene for 2012, when the council last reviewed his performance and offered him a pay raise. According to the report, Keene refused the raise then because other employees weren't getting salary increases.

Since then, the city's economy has rebounded and employees have started to reap the rewards after years of austerity. On Monday, the City Council approved a contract for the roughly 580 employees represented by the Service Employees International Union, Local 521. Each worker received 4.5 percent salary increases over two years (2 percent in the first and 2.5 percent in the second) and more than 300 saw further raises as part of the city's effort to align local salaries with the market median. In some cases, workers in highly specialized Utilities and Public Works positions received raises of more than 14 percent because of the city's difficulty in retaining and recruiting workers for these jobs.

Grider, who has been with the city since 1999, will see her base salary go up from $132,142 in 2013 to $134,785. Like the other two raises, this one would take effect in July 1, 2013.

The salaries of all three council-appointed officers will also now be decoupled from those of the "management and professional" employee group. In the past, the three department heads would have seen their salaries increase when the council approved raises for the broader management group. Now, salaries will remain at the level approved Monday "unless and until the Council specifically votes to change it."

The three contract approvals were a late addition to the council's Monday night agenda. They were added Friday to the council's "consent calendar," which means they would be approved with no discussion unless three council members choose to remove it from the calendar.

Comments

Posted by Who do they really work for, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2014 at 7:55 pm

Donna Grider deserves a better raise and a medal. Molly Stump and James Keene would get no more than pink slips and a don't-let-the-door-hit-you-on-your-way-out-the-door if there was any justice (and their performance was based on how well they worked for our residents).


Posted by Who do they really work for, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2014 at 7:57 pm

Gennady,
You do a great job covering the City, but could you please publish a complete story on the organizational structure and what positions makes what so we can all see where our money is going and what is being done with it?


Posted by David, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2014 at 7:58 pm

Doesn't Jame Keene get a raise every year regardless?


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 22, 2014 at 10:00 am

@Who do they really work for: The org charts and salaries of all city employees is in the city budget at
Web Link

Also see: Web Link

The Daily Post publishes salaries of all employees of Palo Alto and other Bay Area cities. Unfortunately, it's not online.


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 22, 2014 at 10:54 am

Gennady, the city manager's total compensation (including benefits) is more than $264,488. It's more like $360,000, however that does not factor in the partially city paid for house, property taxes, etc. that the city manager receives.

Also it's would be helpful to include comparisons to other cities in the Peninsula/Silicon Valley of similar population; it appears that the City Manager salary is in the same proximity as Cupertino (population 59,000) and Redwood City (76,000) city managers.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 22, 2014 at 11:04 am

> "We know who pays staff: us. But we're never sure who they're working for."

How ironic that City Attorney Molly Stump is up for a 9% raise. Web Link

She was part of the secret dealings with Arrillaga over the 7.7-acre land sale. Web Link

She also stonewalled multiple PRA requests regarding the Arrillaga project for 3 months, when the law requires a response within 10 days.

Apparently, this is the kind of behavior Council finds worthy of reward.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 22, 2014 at 11:53 am

> She also stonewalled multiple PRA requests regarding the Arrillaga
> project for 3 months, when the law requires a response within 10 days.

is this well documented? Did anyone make a formal complaint to the City Council about this lack of response by the City Attorney?


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Mar 22, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Top Palo Alto managers who must deal with constant uninformed and extremely hostile onslaughts from citizens (and local political candidates to-be) in several PA neighborhoods --- and don't resign early for mental health reasons --- deserve their hazard pay.

We have lots of community debate in my community also, but it is not a blood sport. In fact, many times the neighborhoods get compromise or even different proposals from the city officials.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 22, 2014 at 1:14 pm

> Top Palo Alto managers who must deal with constant uninformed and
> extremely hostile onslaughts from citizens

What makes you believe that everyone who deals with "top city officials" is uninformed, ignorant and hostile?

And could you please give some examples?


Posted by disconnect, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 22, 2014 at 2:26 pm



What a disconnect for me. I think James Keene should leave, and be replaced by somebody better for Palo Alto. Yet he is getting a raise.

Is this a union job? A cost of living adjustment based on comparative data? A raise usually implies reward for doing something better. Where is the performance report which justifies this?

What is the standard for this job, and is it a life position? For example, what would he have to do to get fired or encouraged to leave? Apparently, he can do no wrong.

I would have hoped that by not giving him a raise, he could have gone elsewhere.


Posted by Wha?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 22, 2014 at 3:15 pm

The Union doesn't get a retroactive COLA, but Keene does. Just saying. What a rip off. .25 million a year, subsidized housing and free health care benefits and he needs a raise. The raise might be for stomping down the Union. Those employees are seeing their first pay increase in almost 7 years, with more taken out of each check now than 7 years ago as they pay for more of the health care and retirement benefits. Keene and cohorts haven't given up squat. Disgusting.


Posted by JO, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 22, 2014 at 3:43 pm

I checked the City's web site to try to see the agenda of the Council Appointed Officers Committee meeting, but it wasn't posted. I did see that the March 24 City Council agenda lists approval of pay raises for the three positions mentioned in the article as items 8a, 8b and 8c on the consent calemdar, so I understand how the Palo Alto Weeklyfinally became alerted to the pay raises.So much for "notice to the public."


Posted by @PAFreePress, a resident of another community
on Mar 23, 2014 at 5:49 am

Wayne Martin Good point Ms. Stump has a long history of stonewalling CPRA processess on transparency and open government. Don't bother complaining to city council your complaints will go nowhere. We recommend filing a California State Bar complaint. This will hold her accountable and if appropriate, sanctions will be imposed swiftly. See Califirnia State Bar website for furtrer details

Mark


Posted by anciana, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 24, 2014 at 11:06 am

All of these raises were said to be for a 1023 date. I guess that means they are retroactive? Wow.

It seems to me that all of the Palo Alto city workers are very well paid, although I can't compare them to those of other nearby cities. I have a friend who was able to retire at a very early age (in his fifties or early sixties) who travels every year to another country, has remodeled his house with no apparent pain, and seems to live a very good life -- all this on retirement pay? I don't want our city to be ungenerous,and I have long been a supporter of unions, but only of those unions who work for corporations. Government unions have way too much power.


Posted by anciana, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 24, 2014 at 11:07 am

Ooops. I meant 2013, of course.


Posted by ken again, a resident of Professorville
on Mar 24, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Notice how the survey claiming everyone loves Palo Alto comes out just a little before the pay raises?


Posted by OldMan, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 24, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Now I know,
What is "job well done" recognition according our city council, that manifest in a 9 % raise for a city lawyer who should represent Palo Alto.
Secret meeting and multiple site visit few Council member so the disclosure requirement can be ignored in a potential 7.7 acres illegal land sale, as well a closed door meeting with billionaire for a development plan that would require major re-zoning for the potential Tower Buildings, not to mention the Maybell Ave fiasco. All these great work was in secret without required notices for Palo Alto residents "now that is a lawyer" who deserves a raise under the phony claim of retention. For heaven sake let her goooooo and hire a recent graduate with a significantly lower pay. She / he would do a professional job according city charters

The City does not have funding for a new Police Building, infrastructure but we will reward the City manager for a "job well done" in the Mitchell park library construction debacle or ordering a money wasting Maybell referendum vote, etc. etc

Wake-up Palo Alto, The City Council election is coming,


Posted by Kelly, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 24, 2014 at 4:46 pm

I'm STUMPED. Do I get a raise?


Posted by Mark, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 24, 2014 at 5:16 pm

If the City Attorney stonewalled requests for public records, report her to the civil grand jury and read California Government Code section 3060 about what tha grand jury could do.


Posted by CresentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 25, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Why? No!


Posted by Amy, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Mar 26, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Looked up Government Code section 3060 and following. It does provide STUMP REMOVAL.


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