Blogging Bayport Alameda

April 7, 2015

A change is gonna come

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Public Resources — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

I’ll point out the major difference between the interim City Manager contract with Elizabeth Warmerdam and between our former interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant: no automatic renewal clause.   Tonight, the City Council, which had already voted in Closed Session to offer to current Assistant City Manager Elizabeth Warmerdam the top job while the City Council figures out what to do about the permanent City Manager search, will be voting in public session to approve her contract.  Honestly, between you and me, given how very little business has been done in these first three, now entering into the fourth month, getting all of the City Council members to first agree on a process and then get that process into place and then agree on a singular person to offer the permanent job to, I think Elizabeth Warmerdam might be wearing the title of Interim City Manager for a long long time.  She can probably confidently make herself comfortable in that seat for the long haul.  Maybe get one of those massager bead type chair covers for comfort during those long  meetings.

Salary is $240,000 which sounds pretty standard, she has the option of moving back into her Assistant City Manager role if she so elects to after the appointment of a permanent City Manager.  That’s of course if she doesn’t go ahead and throw her hat in the ring herself for the permanent spot, which makes the case to outsource the City Manager search to head off any claims of bias or favoritism from the jump.

Anyway, congratulations to Elizabeth Warmerdam.  It’s novel to have an Alameda resident in that top seat again.

Also on the agenda is a great update on Other Post Employment Benefits, essentially it says what it has been saying since the City started to pay attention to the scope of the problem which is two pronged: (1) find a way to better budget for existing liabilities and (2) more needs to be done to control future costs.

On the future costs front, under the Gilmore administration, City Manager John Russo more than halved the medical insurance costs for public safety by bargaining the elimination of second party coverage (spouses, whatever) for new hires:

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 5.56.49 AM

It should be noted that the touted San Jose pension reform which ended up in court had some of the key measures struck down by a judge last year, highlights:

Though the bulk of Measure B reforms were upheld in court, some critical points were invalidated. Lucas said the city must pay for pensions promised in labor contracts. Soaring retirement costs aren’t a good enough reason to renege on that obligation, she said.

The City of San Jose then appealed the case.

In October a judge ruled that the City of San Jose would also have to shell out money to pay for the union’s legal fees, which, as you you imagine, was a huge win for the unions.

But in November with a new mayor following a nail biter of a mayoral race,  negotiation talks resumed and recently it appears that the unions and the City of San Jose were moving toward settlement of all litigation and some reforms:

Saggau said union and city officials conceivably could meet as early as next week about legal settlements and issue discussions after which “Measure B would go away,” he said.

“Both sides would end litigation and appeals” concerning the measure, he said.

The union would be amenable to proposals that would reduce the city’s costs to pay employee retirement and disability pensions, replacing what Measure B mandated, he said.

The discussion — if any — on this OPEB presentation should be closely watched to see if this City Council will be apt to dictate policy that will lead us down the road to litigation or negotiation.


  1. So, once Liz becomes City Manager, who will become Assistant City Manager? With John and Alex leaving for Riverside, we will be in need for two assistants?

    Comment by Bill — April 7, 2015 @ 7:10 am

  2. Lauren, I agree. Having an Alameda resident fill the role of City Manager is pretty awesome, and having an Alameda resident develop Alameda Point is pretty cool too!

    Comment by Karen Bey — April 7, 2015 @ 7:22 am

  3. I think that eliminating overtime from the salary calculation for retirement pay would be an effective start. You get paid based only on the base salary for your grade and people can’t pad their retirement by working tons of overtime in the last year or so before retirement. That would make it far easier to predict future retirement obligations.

    Comment by John — April 7, 2015 @ 10:50 am

  4. I agree about the overtime calculation for retirement benefits, but some years ago, there was a court decision called “The Ventura Decision” that burdened every government jurisdiction with new rules about what could be included in the salary base for calculation of retirement benefits. This was a real wowzer, especially for safety (police/fire/probation officers) personnel. It not only included overtime, it included uniform allowances and all sort of other side compensations. It’s not like Alameda got to decide what would be included; the court case decided it for everybody. Some of this stuff got altered recently but those who retired with the inflated salary bases are still benefitting. Courts have recently been finding for the employees in cases where the jurisdictions have tried to “dial back” retirement benefits. You see, they retired under contracts that allowed certain things, and the courts are saying “you have to follow the contract you negotiated and under which the employee worked.” Makes for huge unfunded liabilities not only here in Alameda but everywhere. There are fixes, but they mostly have to do with either putting any municipal spare money to prepay the liabilities or to renegotiate the contracts to reduce the payouts in the future. Alameda has been doing both, but in either case it will not be an “overnight” fix.

    Comment by Kate Quick — April 7, 2015 @ 12:07 pm

  5. Kate anything can be fixed……If you think it takes a long time it will…..If you think it is a priority and needs to be fixed now it can be done…. The City is now matching 37% of wages with Pension funding.. Average company matches about 2.5% – 3.5 % with pensions……We are paying 10 Times what private sector is paying.

    Comment by Cobalt Black Keys Johnson — April 7, 2015 @ 12:50 pm

  6. Kate and I’m sure these #s have gone up since 2011

    Here is what 33.00 an hour cost the City that Jeff Del Bono Talked about at a city council meeting and earlier on this blog.

    Quote from Jeff

    “We put our name on everything and standby what we say.”

    “I also want to point out that as a firefighter I make $32.00/hr. I do not receive any overtime until I work over 52 hrs a week. We work 56/hr weeks”

    “I would love to see the salaries for 2011 because I can promise that it is a lot less than 2010. We had employees working an extra 2 months on average in 2010 with Mandatory Overtime. That means we had to stay whether we wanted to or not. If you go back and watch the council meetings the leadership of our associations was warning the council that the overtime was out of control. With the Safer Grant that we have received the last 2 years we have been able to stabilize the staffing levels for the community while reducing the overtime cost.”

    Here are 2011 #s That someone sent me . I know you Standby what you say.
    Here is Yours for Example.These were from the City and redacted on spreadsheet…For Jeff DelBono 2011 after new Contract.
    Total Salary 95,661
    Overtime 8,256
    Acting Pay 5,665
    Other 22,850
    Medical 23,161
    Retirement 41,058
    TotalComp 196,651

    Comment by Cobalt Black Keys Johnson — April 7, 2015 @ 1:33 pm

  7. Is tonight the night when the new Mayor is going to flex her leadership muscle? More importantly, if she can’t get anything done to improve the situation, are we allowed to be critical of her lack of performance or will that be “bullying”?

    How did Alameda fall into such a pathetic state that top person in City government is vulnerable to bullying? Has it always been this way or did the city used to have more spine?

    Anyway, I can’t wait to find out.

    Comment by Brock — April 7, 2015 @ 2:18 pm

  8. #7 Yeah, this I’ve been bullied stuff coming from adults in responsible public positions needs to stop. People disagreed with you. That’s not bullying.

    Comment by Anonymoustroll — April 8, 2015 @ 6:30 am

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