The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Palo Alto is home to a nice little newspaper called the Palo Alto Daily News. This is a tabloid newspaper that is published daily, and available free in bright red boxes. The paper is published as one section; the issue I am holding contains 84 pages. The masthead claims a circulation of 58,800. Unfortunately the Daily News does not operate a web page.

Friday's edition had a muckraking editorial that is useful to keep in mind the next time someone tells you that of course taxes have to be raised to deal with California's budget crisis because services have been cut to the bone.

Several administrators in the Palo Alto city government announced last week that they want to form a union of city management employees, presumably to end the injustice they see in their workplace.

Seeking justice are:

  • Leon Kaplan, art and culture director, who made $114,622 last year;
  • Kathy Espinoza-Howard, human services director, $114,480;
  • ...

These five hope to convince about 250 other administrators in the city government to vote for creation of a union so that their grievances can be hear.

The Daily News then listed more evidence of their "oppression":

[T]hey work 26 Fridays per year, they only get 12 paid holidays and 12 paid sick days. They receive a mere two weeks vacation when they start with the city, although that increases to five weeks after they've been around a for awhile.

In addition, managers receive an automatic 80-hour "management annual leave" ...

Add it all up, and they only work 190 days out of a 364-day year.

Some managers get a $325-a-month car allowance. Others are assigned a city vehicle and can take it home nights and weekends...

They also receive retirement benefits that can pay as much as 90 percent of what they made in their best years on the city payroll ... Their pension benefits are defined in advance and guaranteed by the government.


The number of city employees in the "$100,000" Club has increased year after year, from 58 in 1999 to 128 last year.

While the pay may seem high, consider the working conditions. The city has around 1,000 employees, and 250 of them are managers. That suggests that each manager only supervises three people.

Note that Palo Alto has a population of only about 57,000 people.



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