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             "You can't shake hands with a clenched fist." Indira Ghandi


By Stephanie Gomes--Vallejo City Councilmember


I grew up playing sports – swimming, soccer and basketball. I was a fierce competitor who played with passion and gave it everything I had. Fortunately, that fierce competitiveness was tempered by the wisdom of my coaches, which I still call upon today. They taught me to play hard and play to win – but win with dignity and lose with grace. And always offer your hand to your opponent, whichever side you end up on at the end of the match.

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 Free Speech, Loyalty and the Times Horrid



By Alun Whittaker


It is sad that City Manager Tanner has found it necessary to formally remind his employees that official statements about bankruptcy must only come from the authorized city spokesperson, JoAnn West.

It is really sad that, at this difficult time, city employees need to be reminded that they owe some kind of loyalty to the city that so well provides for their living and retirement.

It is heartbreaking that, when the press in general have dealt fairly and objectively with the bankruptcy issue, our local newspaper has consistently encouraged disgruntled city employees to make false, misleading, and slanted statements, and to publish them in screaming, front page headlines. Not until days later, if ever, do retractions or corrections appear buried deep in the paper.


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Primal Scream


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  A Reply to Burky Worel...Twice


See Mr. Worel's original Scream HERE



Some thoughts regarding unfunded pension liability -- and how we got to this point.  I also have questions regarding the "A word from Burky Worel" letter.

Starting in the early 90's, the city council put together a citizens group to study the financials of Vallejo. The report, complete with pie charts, graphs, converging & diverging revenue and expense lines, predicted the cities financial demise by 2010. The report, published in 1993, became known as the "Citizens Budget Advisory Committee Report". What happened between 1993 and 2000, is unclear to me. What happened in 2000, and beyond, is appalling.

Most notably was the 50% pension increase (2@50 increased to 3@50). Bad enough for a financially strapped city right. Wrong, the pension increase was made retroactive. Now an employee that worked 29 years under the 2% formula and one year at 3% , retires at 90%, instead of 61%. Under this scenario the PS employee, at the average salary in Vallejo, receives, essentially, an additional million dollars over his lifetime for doing no additional work. That’s a tax-dollar giveaway. That clearly, and significantly, contributed to the unfunded pension liability, along with escalating salaries, and struggling financial markets with lower ROI.



I noted Burky Worel's letter published on your web-site. Be advised that the information he provides is NOT correct. It could be that Mr. Worel is misinformed. It could be that he's trying to "spin" the information in a manner favorable to the public safety unions. It could be that he's just plain lying.

In his letter he claims that the improved retirement formulas were not the result of action by Vallejo public safety unions but rather by action of the state legislature. However, he either states or strongly implies that the change in the formula was REQUIRED because of the legislative action. That is absolutely FALSE. The legislature AUTHORIZED several new public safety retirement formulas but no public agency was REQUIRED to adopt them. Public agencies did so ELECTIVELY by action of their governing bodies and acceptance of the contractual requirements of the new formulas (i.e. the potential for higher cost to the public agency). In many cases, the adoption of the new formulas was via provisions of public safety contracts. Without action by the City Council to change the retirement benefit formulas to those made available by the legislature, the retirement benefit formulas would have remained exactly where they were.

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 A Word From Burky Worel


The following thoughts are from Burky Worel, retired Vallejo Police Officer and former head of VPOA.  The article he is referring to is Public Safety Salaries—Why are they so high? written by Paul Norberg and Katy Miessner on VIB February 20, 2008. (ed.).  

Just read this article that was posted back in February. I found it very good. If I could just point out a couple of things. The contract that was ratified by the council back in 2000 would not have gone to arbitration because it was proposed by the city manager when they were in the first year of an existing three year contract. As I said in a letter to the Times Herald it was approved by everyone on the council including Ms. Schivley. When Martinez left everyone on the city council praised him, as did many community members, as being a great city manager following behind him blindly as some now say we all should mister Tanner. No I'm not saying anything bad about Tanner I'm just saying there is nothing wrong with questioning anyone, including me. In my 30 years as  police officer salary increases were based in many different ways. It was based on the bay area CPI, straight percentage and salary surveys which included different cities than what are now in the survey.

As to the retirement changing in 2000 that was done by the state legislator not the VPOA. The old rate was done away and the two choices were 3%@50 or 3%@55. When it was agreed upon for the 3@50 the cities' contribution went down but then went way up after the stock market tanked. In the 90's the city was only paying somewhere around 5% into PERS because PERS had so much money. Unfortunately the city didn't set the money they were saving aside to use when the rates went back up.

Burky H Worel

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IAFF Contract with City of Vallejo—Section 16: Educational Incentive Pay

By Robert Schussel Ph.D

July 17, 2008


After reading this section of the contract (see below) it is obvious that the specific criteria for receiving an educational incentive was included. Criteria includes recognized institutions, and courses must be from accredited schools. An Evaluation Board establishes standards and must accept/approve ones degree in an approved field.


Taking a course from a paper mill such as Almeda Univ does not meet these criteria. No grades or GPA (requirements of the contracts) were issued and no classes were required. Those who used paper mill degrees were well aware that the institutions would not meet the conditions required for an educational incentive.



Those who submitted these types of credentials knew that they were misrepresenting their credentials and thus committing fraud.

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