City Council members want to cut their pay

Daily Post Staff Writer

San Carlos City Council members want to cut their pay 10% from $560 a month to $504, but state law says they have to wait until December. As a result, some council members plan to simply give back their paychecks to the city and forego the money completely.

They’re cutting their pay as a symbolic gesture due to the financial crunch facing the city due to the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus stay-at-home order.

At Monday’s meeting (June 22), Councilwoman Laura Parmer-Lohan had brought up the idea of reducing the council’s pay.

However, the state laws regulating council pay says no changes can go into effect until Dec. 14, when the new council term begins. The purpose of the law was to prevent council members from giving themselves raises during their current term. But the law apparently can go the opposite way and stop mid-term pay cuts, too.

But there’s nothing stopping a council member from asking Administrative Services Director Rebecca Mendenhall to reduce their pay voluntarily or ask for no pay at all.

So, Parmer-Lohan said she will take a 10% cut. Councilmen Mark Olbert and Ron Collins also said they will be decreasing their pay.

And because of the city’s financial crunch, council approved a new contract with one of its employee unions, AFSCME, that contains no annual raise.

Council also voted June 9 to eliminate a 3% increase for top city administrators along with a 3.5% increase for the management analysts and assistants.

1 Comment

  1. Congratulations to the City Council for displaying leadership during the pandemic. Back in March, I suggested to the Board of Trustees of the San Mateo Community College District (SMCCCD) that they take a pay cut to help establish a fund to demonstrate that “Students First” truly was a priority and model leadership so that the highly paid administrators of the district might follow suit (see below). As far as I know, my recommendation was ignored (though one trustee wrote to me that he contributed much over the years, thereby ignoring the current crisis with a defensive response).

    March 25, 2020

    A public comment by Dr. Michael Reiner about supporting students and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic
    District Strategic Plans emphatically state, “Students First.” Academic success, equity and social justice are primary goals. During the pandemic, it is essential to remove barriers students face in their quest for an education, so that they have hope for a brighter future.

    Later we will hear an update on the District’s COVID-19 response. The District is no doubt doing all it can to prevent the spread of the virus by moving instruction online and should be commended for its efforts to protect the District’s students and San Mateo County community from infection.

    In better times, not only do we express great concern for students’ academic lives, but also for their social and emotional well-being. Many come from marginalized communities, working families, surviving paycheck to paycheck in minimum wage jobs. … Pre-pandemic challenges with food and housing insecurity will now be exacerbated. Income inequality, racial inequity, and socio-economic disparities in technology will be amplified with “shelter in place,” especially when people lose their jobs.

    If we really believe in “Students First,” let’s put our money where our mouth is.

    I assume Trustees are in a better financial position than students, CSEA employees, and part-time faculty. As trustees are paid a small sum for their service, it would be a great example of civic altruism to voluntarily donate Board stipends (keep the health and retirement benefits) to a student emergency fund. Remember, “Students First.”

    This is the Board that unanimously agreed to a new contract to pay ex-Chancellor Ron Galatolo $1.2 million through March 2022 to serve as “Chancellor Emeritus,” in spite of Board policy to the contrary, let alone voted assigned him a fictitious job with full benefits, and abdicated their responsibility to fire said employee, even for cause, without a third party’s authorization.

    Perhaps your generosity will serve as a role model for other District employees. Transparent California indicated that in 2018, 19 administrators made over $200,000. If each donated 15%, that would total $680,000.

    In addition, in 2018, 31 staff had salaries between $150,000 to $199,000. If each gave 10%, the fund would increase by another $570,000. I’m sure many people in our marginalized communities, the constituents we care so much about, would benefit from such generosity.

    Lasana Hotep, Executive Director of the Equity Institute, criticized faculty and staff at Skyline for focusing on “First World Problems.” Don’t focus on your salary during this emergency; People less fortunate are suffering.

    There is no virtue using taxpayer dollars to overcompensate highly paid administrators.

    Churchill said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” It’s time to make the phrase “Students First” more than just an empty District slogan. Please put our economically disadvantaged and disproportionately impacted students FIRST during this unprecedented pandemic.

    Reallocate the District’s revenue of $245 million, 84% of which comes from local property taxes, to essential services, eliminate wasteful spending, and return to the core mission – educating students.

    Put our money where your mouth is. Students First.

    Thank you.

    Michael B. Reiner, PhD, is a higher education consultant and educational researcher. Previously, he was a professor of psychology and college administrator at City University of New York (CUNY), Miami Dade College, the Riverside Community College District, and SMCCCD. He can be reached at [email protected]

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