Menlo Park's Future

 

Public Employee Contract Discussions CAN Be Done In Open Meetings

Fellow Residents:

On December 18, the Menlo Park Fire Protection District will decide whether or not to submit upcoming union contracts to the public BEFORE they are approved by the District board. Our Fire Protection district gets 16% of our property taxes—more than our city (which gets 12%). We should be concerned.

With over 72.8% of the Fire District’s Budget going towards employee costs, it is only common sense to begin opening the process whereby salaries and benefits are decided upon. (In the City of Menlo Park 71% of our budget is for employees.)

City Councils, attorneys and Boards have advised that there is no way to do this; but, now we are learning that this advice has been wrong.  According to an editorial in the Nov.26th Daily Post:

The Brown Act says negotiations can be done in secret, but it doesn’t mandate turning off the public spotlight and pulling down the blinds.  In other words, cities (and fire districts) can negotiate openly if they want.

There’s a precedent in opening up the bargaining process.  According to Terry Francke, general counsel and founder of Californians Aware, Government Code Section 3547 calls for public school employers to submit proposed contracts to the public before they are approved.  It also calls for the public to be informed of issues that are being negotiated, and have the full opportunity to express their views on the issues to the public school employers.

Francke concludes, “There is no need to await legislative amendments to State law in order to adopt a local public disclosure and involvement protocol.  A city council or other government body could adopt procedure mirroring (section 3547.5) affecting school boards.”

The Fire District will meet on Dec. 18 at 7 pm at the Fire Station, 300 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park. If you think negotiations “with single provider/non-bid employee contracts” should be made public before they are approved, I invite you to join me at this meeting.

Thanks,

Lee Duboc

As always, please write me at menlofuture@gmail.com.

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Please NOTE:

The Boys and Girls Club of Menlo Park is holding its Holiday Celebration on December 17.  The guest speaker will be the Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club.  Also, you are encouraged to bring a toy/and or a book to this event.  The donations will be given to the kids who attend the Boys and Girls Club.