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A Necessary Re-Think for the City of Milpitas

Outsourcing the Milpitas Police Department will not resolve the issues at hand. The City of Milpitas will be taking bids through October 2, 2012.

The economy is imploding before our eyes. Long-term neighbors have lost their homes and have moved away in the middle of the night. College students have given up on getting the classes they need to graduate. They’ve traded their career paths for the commuter lanes, taking them from their morning jobs to their night jobs, which combined won’t cover the rent. 

It’s difficult to justify top City of Milpitas salaries and compensation exceeding $200,000 per year in any economy. With everyone else suffering the effects of this undeclared depression, it’s hugely insulting to the taxpayers to maintain such false standards. The City Council likes to see top Milpitas staff positions as career destinations rather than as employment stepping stones. The effort to draw the most qualified employees would be a wise plan, if not for the over-reaching budgetary demands on taxpayers.  It was difficult to justify the expense of Milpitas City Hall, seemingly designed as much to show the status of Milpitas in competition with San Jose as it was to serve the needs of the community. We still remember the City’s attempts to restrict public access to the very building which we as tax payers were obligated to fund. The City of Milpitas has worked hard to build itself into a bright star at the South end of the Bay despite its more humble beginnings. It’s a City overcoming an inferiority complex, striving to not only fit in, but to excel in its participation in growth, development and progressive group think regionalism.

 Most disturbing in this momentum toward group think is this City’s willingness to post surveillance cameras on every corner, blending us seamlessly into the surveillance society.  Smart Meter technology which will in its next iteration, supply agencies with detailed information about our daily habits was adopted in Milpitas without a question about its safety, efficiency or privacy violations, even in light of concerns that were raised in other communities.  The cost of such surveillance technologies goes far beyond the monetary obligation.  What we have forfeited in personal privacy rights is incalculable.

The City of Milpitas also funds building inspectors to drive by our homes looking for potential building code infractions and then allows inspectors to trespass on our property in pursuit of violations. One of the few benefits of City cut backs has been to pare back on this invasive practice. On a related matter, it’s frustrating to see our City Council’s compliance with ICELI, which influences all policy under a false sustainability model and serves to implement controls over all land use. ICELI oversees the implementation by counties and cities of the protocols for environmental land control set by Agenda 21 at the first Rio Conference. It serves to achieve bureaucratically what cannot be achieved by the consent of the voters.

We live in a highly chaotic time. We have been keeping our heads down and hoping that others will take the responsibility for finding the fix to our economy, to our political differences and to restore our lost rights. But hope is an empty place holder. It has to be filled with personal responsibility and positive action.  Our City won’t get out of financial trouble by co-opting the responsibility for employee pensions or by replacing local police officers with regionalized law enforcement and neighborhood surveillance systems. Where can an outsourced law enforcement agency come from when the County’s resources are tapped out? Will we have to employ the National Guard? Will drones peer into our yards or follow our children to school? Will we follow the lead of other cities who have accepted corporate donations to support law enforcement and then have corporations expect preferential treatment in return? Or will the law be changed to allow cities like Milpitas to contract with private policing firms such as Blackwater Xe?

In the post-9/11 fervor for fighting terrorism in America, our law makers passed horrible restrictions on our freedoms and civil liberties, gutting the very protections guaranteed by our Bill of Rights and our Constitution. Police officers everywhere are expected to enforce laws that are in clear violation of the Constitution. To speak of the Constitution now is to risk having one’s name placed on a list of suspected radicals. Police officers who affirm to uphold their oath to follow the Constitution, to protect and serve the public are too often ostracized. Officers who follow post 9/11 protocols of violence and violation of civil rights have contributed to the general sense of intimidation so inherit in our culture today. Into this mix we have to deal with a series of Executive Orders which have further eroded our freedoms and served to militarize police departments, blurring the lines between war trained soldiers and the officers sworn to protect and serve. This has further added to the tensions between citizens and police.  

Still, I would argue that we are better served not to go the way of outsourcing our Police Department or other City Services. Milpitas Police Department Officers are members of our community. They benefit as much as we do from living in a community where individuals’ freedoms are still guaranteed. We are only a community when each of us is also an individual whose voice is heard and whose vote counts. We lose that voice if we regionalize. Our voices are not heard when we outsource.

We do need to rethink the compensations structure of our City employees.  Zero interest home loans, participation in local credit unions, developing a community currency and supporting not restricting hands on investment in our neighborhoods will do more to help our City employees and restore our stability than regionalization our outsourcing could ever do.

We do need to step back from budgets that include funding the surveillance society.  We do not need high tech crowd control vehicles or weaponry.  We do not need to promote the top-down regionalism of ICELI and Agenda 21.

Local police departments are designed to protect and serve individuals and communities, not at the pleasure of the Mayor or the City Council or the even by the Executive Orders of a seated President if those orders are in conflict with the rights of sovereign citizens.  City Police Officers serve at the obligation of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.  Private agencies, if it should come to that, will not.

 

Marie Oliver

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Dan Manassau September 18, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Perhaps the survailance camaras, if they do exist and are placed appropriately, can help find the three thugs that murdered our friend. Perhaps we should all install camaras to watch over the areas near our homes for our own protection. I am sick of do gooders telling me what I can say, do, and think. I anyone wants to watch me walking down the streets, so what.
Allen King September 18, 2012 at 02:23 PM
You are right about the compensation. These outrageous pensions and perks are killing the communities. But you are wrong that these employees are part of our community. No, most of them don not live in Milpitas. Are you kidding me, if I were making what they make, why would I be living in this stinky town. They come here, suck us dry and then leave. Livengood and his stooges (Debbie, Armando) and Pete are the reason why Milpitas salaries are way higher than other places. Just compare this, SJ police chief is making 199K/year and has to work 80-90 hours a week. Milpitas police chief gets 250 and works 8 hours a week. cops here get over 10% more than SJ. But, they don't want to give back any concessions to get us through these bad times. Employee union gave back 15% but safety unions refuses to give any concessions. It is time to break this nexus of crooks in the city hall and unions.
Dan Manassau September 18, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Right on Allen, I call them the Carpetbaggers. I you compare them to the same positions in other parts of our state. Most get 35% more than in LA, San Deigo, Sacramento, and every city outside the immediate bay area. They just stacked it on higher and higher for 30 years. Thank old man McHugh, Livengood, Debbie, Armando and many others. Only Esteves voted no to the current agreements for the last two years. He has sat alone and needs the help of the new candidates Madnawat and Barbadillo. You have probably read my blog at dmanassau.blogspot.com where I have labored for the last two years to document and detail how we have been financial abused. If not, it is still there and will be until we take back our wallets and our city.
Rajeev Madnawat September 18, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Anybody with even a little knowledge of numbers would know that public safety compensations and pensions are unsustainable. I believe even our employees understand this. Of course, outsourcing of safety services is not a pleasant choice, but let's see what choices we have: 1. Layoffs - not a good choice because this will increase the response time (actually this will make public safety worse than outsourcing). Also, I believe taking away someone's livelihood is worse social crime. I would prefer outsourcing over layoffs if substantially all jobs are preserved. 2. Massive tax increase - This is where we should be having a broad discussion as to how many of us would like to pay thousands more in taxes each year. People start leaving town if this happens and already struggling households will fall further into the hole. This is what some city council members are alluding to without saying it out loud. 3. Close the library, stop repairing streets, stop maintaining parks, etc. (do I need to make a comment on this?) We are in a rough patch and we can recover from it if everybody comes to the table and have a serious discussion. Welfare of the people should prevail over the welfare of special interest groups. If the compensation levels are brought to San Jose levels, there would be no need for outsourcing or layoffs in near terms. Also, we must stop all wasteful spending and giveaways to developers and corporations immediately.
Rajeev Madnawat September 18, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Also, the reform must stop from the top. It was insensitive, untimely and set a bad precedent when the council (on the insistence of a council member) gave the city manager a huge raise and then in the same month laid off 53 employees.
trish dixon September 18, 2012 at 06:36 PM
One correction though Dan, in 2002 Jose and I voted " no " to a 3% longevity increase to fire and continued our efforts to no avail. Longevity is councils way of giving them a bonus for just being employed. I signed my own political death notice by supporting former city mgr. Tom Wilson's long range plan of an employee set a side of 2% of their salaries. I was then destroyed by the unions filthy, lied filled attack mailers which cost unions/developers over $200,000. Livengood would say "if you strike the King, strike to kill. He struck me in 2000 but didn't kill me because unions stayed out. 2004 they agreed. Livingood's long term pension plan was near perfect. Employees feared him. Biggest mistake of mine was caving into fear of him to allow him on a 3-2 vote to be a volunteer in our police dept. Many people do not know that after the police/fire union hit pieces started to arrive in the mail (there were several) Police Chief Lawson allowed Officer Emmanelle to place them in their trophy cases. And people wonder why Chief Lawson's salary is so outrageous. Charlie Lawson's habit was to phone some of us on Council all the time, at all hours. He even helped Livengood one time by moving one of Livengood's girlfriends into her San Jose apt. If I were to describe this as a good ole boys club in bed with Milpitas Unions, it would take a book to explain it all. I too will be endorsing and helping out Esteves, Madnawat, and Barbadillo. Our course can correct w/3 votes.
Dan Manassau September 18, 2012 at 11:00 PM
The Longevity (stick around long enough pay) is part of the 5 million of other pay but a big part. It all needs to go. Its not a vested benefit.
Rajeev Madnawat September 19, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Here is what happens in private companies. One fine morning you show up at your office entrance. A security guy comes out and tells people at the door that they had been laid off. Never happens if you work for the government. Also, when you talk over your manager, you get fired without given an opportunity to tell your side of the story. Never happens if you work for the government. So the question is, what is the monetary value of exceptional job security and due process rights at work place? I would pay tens of thousands for having these two rights. Here, not only the government workers have these two rights for free, we also have to pay additional if they stick around? This doesn't make any sense. This brings up the same issue I raised last week. These secret contract negotiations are just shams, to fool people. Everything is pre-decided by unions and their stooges in the council. We must include impartial citizens in these contract negotiations. Same with unlimited sick day accruals and windfall payouts at final pay rate. Sick leaves are given to take care of employees when they are sick. If you don't get sick, go to the church and thank god for giving a good strong body. Don't stick us with six figure payouts. No private company offers this sick day accrual benefit.
Allen King September 19, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Yes I did. Good work educating people.
Allen King September 19, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Obama wants to spread wealth. I say spread the benefits received by public unions to everybody. We are all part of the same community, why should some entitled ones should get windfall while we struggle to make ends meet.
Allen King September 19, 2012 at 12:35 AM
Livengood gamed the system big time. Country will continue going down the drain until this unholy nexus between crooks and unions remains. These corrupt police and fire unions should stay away from local politics. This election we should send a clear message by defeating all who are endorsed by unions. Otherwise nothing will change.
Dan Manassau September 19, 2012 at 01:21 AM
Most all of this was recommended by the Citizens Task Force all most 2 years ago. The citizens recommendation were all ignored by the majority of the council in the negotiation since then. Go look at the report on the city websiter under city council / citizens task force its still there. Our Chairman Joe Weinstein did a great job putting together the slides their meening is crystal clear. Slide 22-The taxpayers should not be subject to any risk of underfinding of any pension of benefit. Slide 24- Citizen should be added to the negotiation committee. Slide 27-Recommend that City move of a defined contribution plan (401K) Slide 28-30-32 Cap benefits at 35% for misc and 40% for safety employees, cut longivity pay and delete most of the rest of the other pay Slide 31Cut vacation and sick leave to 30 days and eliminate cash payouts (use it or lose it). Slides 33-34-35 Cut Medical, Dependant & Retiree medical completely. On my blog a nut case who calls himself Anonymous calls me a radical for writing up and explaining mostly what Joe, myself and 4 other citizens worked for months to analyze and recommend. I have added a few things, but mostly it's just our same old recommendations warmed over.
Joseph Weinstein September 20, 2012 at 04:54 AM
Longevity was "installed" due to the fact that in the 70's and 80's we consistently lost officers to other departments because our compensation was so low. This was necessary then. Now, we should discuss limiting it to 10 years, no further increases. We need a return on our investment in training officers (and other specialized functions) and longevity helps to keep officers from jumping to another department due to higher compensation. In the early 80's we (the City) voted to increase compensation due to the extremely high costs of training we were incurring; we were a training ground for SJPD. Sometimes good decision have unintended consequences, that is why we have negotiations every few years.
Joseph Weinstein September 21, 2012 at 07:07 AM
PD is still under the 7% (I believe about 1.2 million dollars) reduction. How does that translate into the safety unions refuse to give any concessions. Not sure what Fire gave up, but they also took reductions.
Allen King September 25, 2012 at 07:56 AM
So long as the unholy nexus between politicians and powerful unions remains in place, don't expect any change. The loot will continue: http://www.mercurynews.com/salaries/pensions/ http://www.mercurynews.com/pensions/ci_21608920/double-dippers-rake-public-money
Andy Smith September 26, 2012 at 11:34 AM
A lot of familiar names on here in the comments section. I haven't followed Milpitas politics closely for years, but I see the same old people are still bitching and moaning. And there's even a disgruntled former City Council member who didn't get reelected and wants to blame those "big bad unions". Get over it, lady. By the way, Milpitas Police Officers do NOT belong to a union. They have an Association. Maybe it's just a play on words, and honestly, I don't know what the legal/technical difference is. I know that Milpitas Fire belong to an actual "union" (International Association of Firefighters) with a local union number and everything. But MPD does not---they have their own, self-contained Association that covers the cost of coffee and a few other things for its members. This Association looks out for, among other things, their best interests. Is there anything wrong with that? Of course not! As I said, I haven't followed this stuff closely for years, but if anyone cares to find out, they will find that the Milpitas Police Officers *did* give up several things in order to help the City in its current financial crisis. They take numerous furlough days every year now (that is, days off without pay). They took a salary cut. A few years back, they agreed to increase the mileage on the patrol cars to keep them around longer before replacement. They adjusted PERS payments. It's not like MPD isn't trying to help here!
Andy Smith September 26, 2012 at 11:37 AM
Oh, and to the guy that said San Jose PD's chief works 80-90 hours a week, and MPD's chief works 8 hours a week, um, what are you smoking dude? Care to give us some documentation or references as to where that ridiculous number came from? I happen to know the police chief, and you are WAY off-base in your assumption.

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