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Your  questions  answered 

(or not)

By  her Royal Disco-ness

Dear Majesty,
What is it going to take to give the VFD the royal boot.
Angry educated villagers with pitchforks and torches ?
A legal loophole?
A City Council with more than 2/5ths of a brain ?
your faithful fan,
G. Manicotti


Dear G.Manicotti: That is a question that might go to my higher power -- the Prime Minister perhaps? -- but interesting. I think the question might be how to get rid of the IAFF 1186 union leadership. How can the community trust them to do good by Vallejo ever again? Hundreds of thousands into the recent elections, UBL abuse. This City is really run by a shadow government made up of certain members of the community -- many who don't live here, many who are profiting from our misery. How do we get rid of that? First of all, the community needs true information and as long as we rely on the Times Herald, we will never get it. Enter VIB... keep reading and spread the word!


As many of us know now Union Business Leave (UBL) has been admittedly, under sworn testimony been used for such things as: Hotels, eating, drinking, abalone diving trips, financially supporting election candidates chosen by the firefighters union, bankrolling the overtime paychecks for firefighter volunteers for such things as medusa run, etc...

I know the perpetrators of these outrageous misuses of our tax dollars have been caught... But, my question is, has the firefighters misuses of this UBL been stopped? Are they now still using the UBL at Henke's discretion... or has this abuse been halted?

Thank You? DW


Hi DW:
I don't believe under the Interim Fire Chief's direction that this is happening anymore. If you recall from the UBL report, after the Solano County Grand Jury report, ex-Fire Chief Donald Parker was clearly given the authority and the responsibility to control UBL. Parker shirked his responsibility to control UBL misuse/abuse by stating that the authority to control UBL rested solely with Kurt Henke (the fox guarding the hen house again!). In the UBL report, Sherman is quoted in saying that prior to Parker's arrival, UBL was used "in a more controlled fashion." I'll if I can find out something more specifically.


If we layoff a city employee by eliminating their position, does our obligation to pay into the PERS system on their behalf disappear?

Thanks, Doug Sherman


Hey Doug - here's the lowdown:
The answer depends  - we still have that obligation if the employee worked for Vallejo for five years and was vested. If the employee was not vested we no further obligation other than what we have paid to PERS.  We are required to fund a prorated portion of that person's pension based on the number of years they worked for Vallejo if they were vested.  That is, if the retired person worked 5 of their 20 years in a job that has PERS, Vallejo has to contribute 20% of that person's PERS expense.

There was an excellent of example of that in a recent Contra Costa Times article. The city manager of Martinez came out of retirement to take the city manager job.  He received significantly more pay from Martinez than his previous job and as a result the pension expense for his prior city went up.

The pension is based on the last year's salary, but the funding comes from all of the prior employers. 

So take an employee for example who worked 5 of his 25 years in Vallejo.  He goes to another city after Vallejo and make a lot more $.  Then he retires - his retirement benefit is based on that job.  So even though we might have paid him less than his next job, we have to contribute 20% of his retirement, and his retirement is based on that most recent and highest paid job. 

Here it is in a Nutshell:
Mr X works in City Government for 25 years:
5 years: 1980-1985: Vallejo, makes 15,000/year
5 years: 1986-1990: Richmond, makes 45,000/year (he went to grad school apparently!)
5 years: 1991-1995: Contra Costa, makes 65,000/year
10 years: 1996-2005 SF, makes 85,000/year

Retirement is 90% of his highest paid job = $76,500, Vallejo pays 20% or $15,300.  So we pay into his retirement more than what he made in Vallejo. This is an extreme case though!

The Queen extends a Royal thank you to Paul "The Gadfather" Norberg for his help in answering this question!!


Maureen & John Kocourek asked:

  • What health benefit options do city employees receive?

City gets their health plan through PERS (Public Employee Retirement System). Plans available including Kaiser, Blue Shield, Aetna, Cigna, Health Net and a few others.

  • Is it the same "across the board"? Or do some groups have different benefits?

All employees get the same options, except not all can participate in plans offered to police officers only.

  • Which employees (if any) get health care completely paid up for themselves AND their families?

The City pays 100% if health insurance for the employee and the entire family - no contributions by any employees.

  • Do these benefits follow city employees into retirement?

There is a retiree health option but we aren't clear yet how it works.

  • What portions of the benefits are paid by Vallejo taxpayers?


100% (Since employees do not contribute). Well, this may not be accurate. The City pays it all, they might use some funds other than the General Fund - The General Fund is where taxpayer dollars go. This would probably be a lengthy analysis that I couldn't do without information from the City, but it probably wouldn't make much of a difference -- that is, regardless of what City fund pays for it, the City pays 100% of employee and family health insurance for everyone.

Pretty darn good deal it seems highly unusual these days -- most employees contribute some amount towards their premiums. I don't know specifically how much the City pays, but its my guess that PER MONTH, Kaiser is $200 to $300 for individual employee (not including family) and Aetna is about $400-$500. Add on families for those who request that coverage, and multiply by all employees for all twelve months and its a staggering expense to the City. Points to why this country needs universal health care!

I Hope this answers your questions!




Is it true that the garbage rate hike went, partially or otherwise, to pay firefighters?

Wow, is that legal?

Hey Judy -
Yes, sad but true...it was determined by Soley to be legal. Basically, the City increased the fee they charge Vallejo Garbage for the impact the Garbage Co has on our streets, etc... and then instead of applying that $ to Public Works, they applied it to Fire Fighter pay. It was about $1 million.

And get this, Bartee wants to do a similar thing - he wants to grab any surplus revenue from the water fund...luckily Schivley let him know thats not legal...

Oh, BTW, the City didn't need for us to vote on it, since it was a fee (not a tax) that the City was charging the VJO Garbage for impacts -- too bad the increased fee the City is collecting is not going to our streets! Its sort of similar to hitting someone's car and then your insurance pays them $500 for body damage and then they spend it on a vacation and leave the dent in their car...



D Q, since the truth of the events in Palm Springs rests on the information on the offical arrest report, why is it that the report has not been provided to the voters so they may make up their minds on the issue at hand based on the facts and not on conjecture? I assume that no answer will be forthcoming, just the same as the paper of record. Tom Buckless

Tom, a quick phone call to the Palm Springs Police Department (760) 323-8116 press 3 got me this answer: They do not release police reports to anyone until the case is adjudicated, that is, until the case goes to court and is tried. Once it is tried, the PS Police Department requires a subpoena to get a copy of the report. So it is not available yet and might not ever be (I'll check later).

I hope this answer is better than the paper of record! We don't do the hustle here (at least haven't since 1981...where's my cane?!)