Menlo Park's Future


The Cost of Union Endorsements

Fellow Residents:

Many of you have asked me: Why can’t Menlo Park balance its budget?  The answer is simply that our expenses far exceed our revenues. Our employee costs (which comprise 70% of our budget) are constantly rising-- and will do so by over $6 million in the next 5 years.

So, you ask: Why won’t our elected officials control this rising unsustainable cost?  One big reason is that they fear losing the endorsement of the municipal employee unions. Here’s why.

Getting the endorsement of these municipal unions brings many political perks.  They provide money and huge amounts of campaign labor, including precinct walking and phone banking.

And, if a politician is NOT endorsed by the municipal employee unions, here is what he or she can expect as well:

·         Expensive, four-color union mailings sent out against the non-endorsed politician.  I know this from personal experience as I had two such city-wide mailings sent out against me two years ago.

·         City-wide phone banks aimed at defeating the non-endorsed politician. Stolen lawn signs.  Last minute mailers that the non-endorsed politician has spent good money on NOT being delivered by the post office.  (Again, all this happened to me.)

In short, City Council members who aspire to a continued career in City or County politics, and are not independently wealthy, need the endorsement of municipal labor unions to succeed.

In order to receive labor endorsements a politician must answer Labor’s questionnaire.  I remember two questions I was asked two years ago:

1.       “Do you support returning responsibility for operation and maintenance of Burgess Pool to the City?”  [NOTE: This would have added around $500,000 per year to our City’s deficit.]

2.       “If the current City Council votes to privatize child care, will you vote to rescind this decision?” 

(I can’t resist adding that our Burgess Pool operation under Tim Sheeper is earning rave reviews from all who swim there. And, almost all cities on the Peninsula admit that they are not experts in the business of running childcare programs, and operate them as public-private partnerships.)

Bottom line:  Until City Council members represent YOU-- not themselves-- in labor negotiations (which, by State mandate are secret) our budget (absent more taxes) will not be balanced.

As always, I appreciate your comments at

If you would like to read my past emails, go to

T hanks,


Lee Duboc