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Palo Alto's painful dilemma

Original post made on Mar 22, 2013

In 2009, Palo Alto's elected leaders and top management responded to the financial walloping of the Great Recession by embarking on a path toward benefit reform.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, March 22, 2013, 12:00 AM

Comments (2)

Posted by balancing the books, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 22, 2013 at 9:21 am

" the city's spending on employee benefits jumped by 8 percent between 2011 and 2012, canceling out the city's 3 percent decrease in salary expenditures and leaving the overall spending on employee compensation mostly flat."
Shouldn't this be the objective? As benefit costs increase, the number of employees must decrease to compensate.

Posted by Steve Taffee, a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 23, 2013 at 3:15 pm

Thank you for your in-depth article about the tension between the City of Palo Alto and its employees represented by labor unions. The story of Palo Alto is being echoed throughout the country.

While I believe your intention was to present a balanced appraisal of this tension, I find that your words and indeed the words of most reporting on this issue to be biased.

To represent attempts by either side in a negotiation as "reform" suggests that proposed changes are meant to improve a situation, a judgment that may reflect the opinion of one party but not the other. Let us remember that in all of the negotiated benefits packages so roundly being criticized of late, that these contracts were agreed to by both our elected representatives and the representatives of employees.

The rising cost of healthcare and the economic recession were not the result of labor unions. The consensus of opinion is that these conditions are the results of political and financial mismanagement and chicanery, and the the responsible parties have in large measure not only gone unpunished, but in fact have benefited from the subsequent government bailouts and financial instability.

My point is that both the City and its employees are both victims and participants in the current situation and that "reform" is the incorrect word to apply to what should be done to address the problem. We were all sold a bill of goods by Wall Street, and many of use happily bought it. Caveat emptor. And yet let us focus on the larger, system issues of "reform" that focus on culprits, not victims, and instead use words such as "solidarity" to express how management and employees move forward together to address mutual financial interests and work to bring accountability to the system that did not work for them but rather against them.

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