Tag Archives: California

Inherent Conflict of Interest – Letter to the El Segundo Herald by Mike Robbins

Inherent Conflict of Interest

The Police Officers’ and Firefighters’ Associations (unions) bankrolled the Measure B tax-hike campaign. FPPC campaign disclosure forms show the police and fire unions spent an overwhelming $39,247.50 in our city election ($19,033.50 police, and $20,214.00 fire) to influence voters on Measure B and the City Council race.

This is nearly four times the $10,000 they contributed to the “Yes on Measure A” campaign in 2014, for eleven tax hikes, on residents and businesses. The fire union probably spent more than $100,000 on their Measure P campaign in 2012, to outsource our local Fire Department to Los Angeles County for a reduced level of service, for their own financial benefit.

None of the firefighters and only about one-fourth of the police live in town. They campaign in our local elections to maximize their pay and pensions, and raise taxes and fees to pay for it, no matter how excessive and unsustainable.

The latest available El Segundo City Employee compensation data, for 2014, at TransparentCalifornia.com, shows the 58 sworn police employees had the following total annual pay and benefits statistics: Minimum=$139,028; Maximum=$358,536; Average=$228,240; and Median (half above and half below)=$214,867.

The 44 sworn firefighter employees had the following total annual pay and benefits statistics: Minimum=$148,235; Maximum=$375,524; Average=$247,646; and Median=$225,882. The firefighters are paid to sleep and eat, including some of those hours at the overtime rate of 150% their regular pay rate.

The union campaigns have nothing to do with safety and everything to do with union greed.

– Mike Robbins


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Posted in California, Economy and Economics, El Segundo, El Segundo Election Coverage, El Segundo Herald Letters, El Segundo Hotel Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), El Segundo Measure B TOT Tax Hike, El Segundo News, El Segundo Tax and Fee Increases, Elections, Firefighter and Police Union Compensation and Pensions, Firefighter Union Corruption, Fraud Waste and Abuse, Government Employee Compensation and Pensions, Letters to the Editor, Measure A - 5 New Taxes and 6 Tax Inceases, Measure P - Firefighters Union Initiative, Police Union Corruption, Political Corruption, Politics, Tax Policy and Issues, Union Corruption | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Inherent Conflict of Interest – Letter to the El Segundo Herald by Mike Robbins

What are Provisional Ballots, Why are They Useful, and Who Should Use Them?

California state election law allows voters to request and vote a provisional ballot at a poll on election day if their name and address do not appear on the roster of registered voters at that poll, or if their name and address are marked as a voter who was sent a vote-by-mail ballot.

What are provisional ballots?

Provisional ballots are special ballots that are cast at the poll on election day, but like vote-by-mail ballots, are placed in a sealed envelope with the voter’s name, address or other information, and signature on it. Each provisional ballot is placed in an envelope to keep it identified and segregated from all the other ballots cast on election day, to allow it to be verified that the person who voted the provisional ballot is:

  1. A registered voter in the election district;
  2. Is the registered voter in whose name they voted; and
  3. Did not also vote and send in a vote-by-mail ballot which would be a duplicate ballot.

Provisional ballots and vote-by-mail ballots are verified in the same way. The signature on the envelope of a provisional or vote-by-mail ballot is compared with the signature on the voter registration card. And it is also verified that the voter did not vote both a provisional ballot and a vote-by-mail ballot. … Continue reading

Posted in California, El Segundo, El Segundo Election Coverage, El Segundo News, Elections, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on What are Provisional Ballots, Why are They Useful, and Who Should Use Them?

543 Ballots Remain to be Counted for the April 12, 2016 El Segundo General Municipal Election

By Michael D. Robbins

Due to a new California election law, vote-by-mail ballots will be counted if they are postmarked on or before election day, and they are delivered to City Hall on or before the Friday after the election. Although City Hall is closed every Friday, the City has a special permit or arrangement for the Post Office to hold all mail that would have been delivered on Friday had City Hall been open, and deliver that mail on Monday segregated from the regular Monday mail delivery.

The total number of uncounted ballots, including provisional ballots cast at the polls on election day, and vote-by-mail ballots received by the new deadline, has swelled to 543 ballots. All of these ballots must be verified that they are not duplicate ballots for the same voter (e.g., if the voter voted both their vote-by-mail ballot and a provisional ballot at the poll), that the signature on each ballot envelope matches the signature on the voter’s registration card, and for provisional ballots, that the voter is registered to vote.

It is possible but highly unlikely the election outcome will change. The only possible change is for City Council candidates Don Brann and Marie Fellhauer. The outcome for the other City Council candidates, and for Measure B – the 50 percent increase in the Hotel Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) from 8 to 12 percent – cannot change. … Continue reading

Posted in California, El Segundo, El Segundo Election Coverage, El Segundo Hotel Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), El Segundo Measure B TOT Tax Hike, El Segundo News, El Segundo Tax and Fee Increases, Elections, Politics, Tax Policy and Issues | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 543 Ballots Remain to be Counted for the April 12, 2016 El Segundo General Municipal Election

Let’s Be Realistic – Letter to the El Segundo Herald by Jane Waag Friedkin

Let’s Be Realistic

Incumbent City Council candidate Marie Fellhauer said she “is fighting to get our fair share of the county property tax levy.” That may sound nice as a campaign slogan, but it has little basis in reality.

She compares El Segundo and Manhattan Beach with respect to property tax revenue, but not business tax revenue. Is she willing to give up a share of El Segundo’s massive business tax revenue in exchange for a share of Manhattan Beach’s property tax revenue?

Fellhauer and Dave Atkinson voted to charge El Segundo residents and non-residents fire department ambulance transport fees of $1,850 or more per transport. They had plenty of time to rescind the fees, but did not, even though residents spoke against them at City Council meetings. Is it realistic to believe they might rescind these fees after they are re-elected for another four years?

Is it realistic to believe Fellhauer would have rejected the police and fire union endorsements had they decided to endorse her? Her allies and supporters, former Mayors Eric Busch, Bill Fisher, and Sandra Jacobs, all received police and fire union endorsements and campaign expenditures. The firefighters even delivered and installed their campaign signs.

Fellhauer claims she’s making a sacrifice by declining City Council benefits. She said others should make the same sacrifice. However, she is not making any sacrifice because she gets generous benefits through her LAPD job. City Council pays only about $10,800 per year. Hopefully, the benefits help attract more competent and honest candidates.

– Jane Waag Friedkin


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Posted in California, Economy and Economics, El Segundo, El Segundo Election Coverage, El Segundo Herald Letters, El Segundo News, El Segundo Tax and Fee Increases, Elections, Firefighter Union Corruption, Fraud Waste and Abuse, Letters to the Editor, Manhattan Beach, Police Union Corruption, Political Corruption, Politics, Tax Policy and Issues, Union Corruption | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Let’s Be Realistic – Letter to the El Segundo Herald by Jane Waag Friedkin

EDD and Me – by Heidi Maerker, CEO of Herald Publications

EDD and Me

Dear Readers,

I usually don’t share my opinion in Herald Publications newspapers, but I think this is important, especially to other small business owners.

A few months ago, I received a letter notifying me that Employment Development Department (EDD) wanted to conduct an audit. EDD is part of the Labor and Workforce Development Agency and handles the audit and collection of payroll taxes and maintains employment records for California workers.

I had just been audited by State Fund and wasn’t too concerned. Turns out it wasn’t a routine audit. EDD was on a mission to reclassify my independent contractors as employees, which they did. I went from having five part-time employees to over 25 employees and I was fined $13,000. EDD did not discuss their findings with me or ask me any questions related to my Independent Contractors. They reclassified everyone I issued a 1099 in the past three years, regardless of the circumstances. I was stunned and didn’t know where to turn.

I had to hire attorneys to represent me and I reached out to anyone I could think of to help. I contacted my newspaper association California Newspaper Publishers Association (CNPA), Congresswoman Maxine Waters office, Senator Ben Allen’s office, Assembly Member Autumn Burke’s office, Supervisor Don Knabe’s office and El Segundo Mayor Suzanne Fuentes. Only Mayor Fuentes took action.

Mayor Fuentes reached out and connected me to Assembly Member David Hadley’s office. These two elected officials stepped up and actively helped me. Sarah Wilfong, of Assembly Member Hadley’s office, regularly reached out to me and monitored what was happening, contacted EDD on my behalf and I felt supported 100%.

EDD had made factual and procedural errors … Continue reading

Posted in California, El Segundo, El Segundo News, Fraud Waste and Abuse, Tax Policy and Issues | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on EDD and Me – by Heidi Maerker, CEO of Herald Publications

Support Hadley against extremist Muratsuchi – Letter to the Daily Breeze by Marianne Fong

Daily Breeze

dailybreeze.com

LAX TO L.A. HARBOR

In South Bay, support Hadley against extremist Muratsuchi: Letters

POSTED: 10/28/14, 3:12 PM PDT | 0 COMMENTS

Support Hadley against extremist Muratsuchi

Please vote for David Hadley in the 66th State Assembly District. His opponent, Al Muratsuchi, voted for the extremist Democrat agenda while pretending to be a moderate. For example, Muratsuchi voted for AB 1266, which requires schools to allow K-12 students to use the bathrooms, locker rooms and showers of the sex of their choice, regardless of their biological sex.

Muratsuchi’s campaign called my father’s home, claiming he is endorsed by the Redondo Beach, Torrance and Gardena police departments. That is false. Muratsuchi is endorsed by police, fire, and other government unions, which is a conflict of interest. They endorse candidates whose votes will give them the biggest pay and pension increases, and raise our taxes to pay for it. That’s why police and firefighter total compensation is $150,000 to more than $330,000 per year.

Muratsuchi’s campaign is attacking those who believe we are taxed enough already. Please disagree by voting for David Hadley.

Marianne Fong, El Segundo
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Posted in Beach Reporter Letters, California, Elections, Firefighter and Police Union Compensation and Pensions, Firefighter Union Corruption, Government Employee Compensation and Pensions, Letters to the Editor, Police Union Corruption, Political Corruption, Politics, Union Corruption | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Support Hadley against extremist Muratsuchi – Letter to the Daily Breeze by Marianne Fong

Welcome to the City of El Segundo $100K+ CalPERS Pension Club!

by Michael D. Robbins
Director, Public Safety Project, PublicSafetyProject.org

March 25, 2014

Below is a list of City of El Segundo, California employees who retired with California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) pensions paying them $100,000 or more per year. The highest annual pension for El Segundo is $198,272.04. El Segundo is a small City with about 5.5 square miles of land area and about 16,849 residents in 2012.

CalPERS pensions are Defined Benefit Plans that guarantee retirees their full pension payments, regardless of how much was paid into the pension fund and regardless of the performance of the pension plan’s investment portfolio, with taxpayers obligated to make up the difference. In contrast, 401(k) plans, which are common in the private sector, are Defined Contribution Plans, where the benefits paid out to retirees depends on how much was paid into the retirement plan, and on the performance of the investment funds the employees individually selected from the available choices.

The CalPERS pensions are so high because the City employee salaries are so high, especially for the firefighter and police employees, and because the City provides the employees with the maximum allowable pension formula. The annual pension income from firefighter and police CalPERS pensions is 3% of the single highest year salary for each year they worked, up to a maximum of 90%, with retirement at age 50 or 55. Upon retirement, firefighters and police live just as long as miscellaneous (non-safety) employees – about age 83 for the men and 85 for the women – and the life expectancy keeps increasing over time with medical advances.

Thus, the taxpayers end up paying for at least two fire and police departments – the ones doing the work, and the ones enjoying long lavish retirements while receiving multi-million dollar pensions.

The salary upon which CalPERS pensions are based includes all those “Special Compensation” add-ons in the union contracts, that average an additional 33% on top of base salary for El Segundo police and firefighters. “Special Compensation” is paid even for things that are already existing job requirements or are unrelated to the job, including wearing a uniform and having a driver license.

For example, fire engineers (second-level firefighters) whose job description includes driving the fire engine are paid additional “Special Compensation” under their union contract to have a driver license to drive the fire engine. All “Special Compensation” increases the salary counted towards the pension payout and the pension cost to the City’s taxpayers.

The elected City Council controls pension costs in three significant ways: (1) Amounts of employee salaries, which are increased by pay raises and “Special Compensation”; (2) Percentage of total pension contributions employees are required to pay; and (3) Pension plan options the City provides.

Firefighter and police pensions pay 3% of their single highest year salary for each year worked, up to 90%. El Segundo Mayor Bill Fisher supported firefighter and police pay raises of 11.25% to 32.3% over three years, plus additional 5% annual “Step” raises, approved 4/7/09 and 12/2/08, jacking up pension costs.

The El Segundo City Council can save more than $3.3 million yearly by requiring City employees to pay half their total pension contributions, as allowed under state law effective 1/1/13. The City now pays 71% to 94% of total pension contributions.

The City Council can save several million more yearly by eliminating automatic additional 5% annual “Step” raises, and “Special Compensation” for things that are existing job requirements or are unrelated to the job.

These savings must be negotiated with the City unions later this year, after the April 8, 2014 election. Measure A is on the ballot for that election. Measure A bundles ELEVEN TAX HIKES in one ballot measure. The Measure A tax windfall will weaken the City Council’s bargaining position and preclude these savings. … Continue reading

Posted in California, El Segundo, El Segundo Election Coverage, El Segundo News, El Segundo Tax and Fee Increases, Elections, Firefighter and Police Union Compensation and Pensions, Government Employee Compensation and Pensions, Measure A - 5 New Taxes and 6 Tax Inceases, Politics, Tax Policy and Issues | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Welcome to the City of El Segundo $100K+ CalPERS Pension Club!

City of El Segundo Can Save $3.3 Million Per Year in Employee Pension Costs

by Michael D. Robbins
Director, Public Safety Project, PublicSafetyProject.org

March 14, 2014

El Segundo Mayor Bill Fisher, and City Council Members David Atkinson and Marie Felhauer who give Fisher his Council majority, claim the City Council no control over City employee pension costs. They claim that is all determined by California state law. This is not true. They make this claim to deceive El Segundo voters into approving the massive Measure A tax increases on residents and businesses on the April 8, 2014 city election ballot.

This article explains how the City Council has significant control over employee pension costs, how the City Council increased employee pension costs, and how the City Council can save $3.3 million per year in employee pension costs.

The City Council controls employee pension costs in three significant ways:

  1. The amounts of employee salaries, which are increased by pay raises and “special compensation” add-ons;
  2. The percentage of the total CalPERS pension contributions employees are required to pay; and
  3. Which pension formula and other pension options are provided to City employees.

Every pay raise increased the City’s CalPERS pension costs.

City employee annual pension income is a fixed percentage of their single highest year salary, including all those redundant and non-job-related “Special Compensation” union contract add-ons, for every year they worked. Firefighters and police get annual pension income of 3% of their single highest year salary for each year they worked, up to a maximum of 90%, with full retirement after 30 years at age 50 or 55. This corresponds to pension benefit formulas of 3% @ 50 and 3% @ 55, respectively.

Mayor Fisher supported wildly excessive and unsustainable pay raises for the already over-compensated firefighter and police unions that helped launch his political career with lots of campaign support, and for their managers to prevent “salary compaction”. Fisher supported pay raises ranging from 11.25% to 23% for the firefighter and police unions, in three or four installments over three years, and single pay raises ranging from 14.9% to 32.3% for their managers, during the first three years of the Great Recession. All of the raises were approved well after the Great Recession started, and many included retroactive pay raises effective up to 6 and 9 months before the union contracts were approved. The firefighter and police union contracts included additional 5% annual “step raises”, and additional periodic “longevity raises”. … Continue reading

Posted in California, Economy and Economics, El Segundo, El Segundo Election Coverage, El Segundo News, El Segundo Tax and Fee Increases, Elections, Firefighter and Police Union Compensation and Pensions, Firefighter Union Corruption, Government Employee Compensation and Pensions, Police Union Corruption, Political Corruption, Politics, Tax Policy and Issues, Union Corruption | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on City of El Segundo Can Save $3.3 Million Per Year in Employee Pension Costs

Ballot Argument and Rebuttal Against El Segundo Measure A Tax Hikes

by Michael D. Robbins
Director, Public Safety Project, PublicSafetyProject.org

March 14, 2014

The Measure A tax hikes will appear on the ballot for the April 8, 2014 El Segundo General Municipal Election.

Measure A creates four new taxes on residents, nearly doubles five existing business taxes, and creates a new parking tax. Measure A will cost residents and businesses an estimated $6.6 million each year in the first three years. However, all residents will pay the business tax increases that are passed on to them as customers in addition to the four new taxes imposed on residents.

The Measure Tax hikes are permanent. There is no sunset clause (expiration date). It has become clear that most or all of the Measure A tax hikes will go to pay for excessive and unsustainable past and future City employee pay raises and benefits and pension increases – especially for the firefighter and police unions and their managers. Measure A is not intended to help the City engage in responsible spending during a temporary economic downturn. Recessions are temporary, but apparently, wildly excessive and unsustainable City employee union and manager pay raises are permanent.

Measure A was put on the ballot by a vote of the El Segundo City Council. Council Members Suzanne Fuentes and Carl Jacobson requested a sunset clause so the taxes would expire after a few years and the Council would have to come back to the voters for further tax hikes, but they were denied that request by Mayor Bill Fisher and his Council majority including David Atkinson and Marie Fellhauer.


Here are the official Argument Against Measure A and Rebuttal to Argument in Favor of Measure A that appeared in the Sample Ballot and Voter Information Pamphlet mailed out by the El Segundo City Clerk’s office. … Continue reading

Posted in California, Economy and Economics, El Segundo, El Segundo Election Coverage, El Segundo News, El Segundo Tax and Fee Increases, Elections, Firefighter and Police Union Compensation and Pensions, Firefighter Union Corruption, Government Employee Compensation and Pensions, Police Union Corruption, Political Corruption, Politics, Tax Policy and Issues, Union Corruption | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Ballot Argument and Rebuttal Against El Segundo Measure A Tax Hikes

Wrong Time to Raise Taxes and Fees in El Segundo

by Michael D. Robbins
Director, Public Safety Project, PublicSafetyProject.org

March 3, 2014
Updated and expanded March 6, 2014.

This is the wrong time to raise taxes and fees on residents and businesses in El Segundo, for multiple reasons.

First, the existing three-year City employee union contracts are expiring later this year, and the City Council will negotiate new union contracts later this year after the April 8, 2014 City election. Raising taxes and fees before then will greatly weaken the City Council’s bargaining position with the unions, especially the politically active and extremely aggressive firefighter and police unions, which are the primary cause of the City’s financial problems.

Second, Mayor Bill Fisher and Councilmembers David Atkinson and Marie Fellhauer have claimed that the City’s financial problems are largely due to El Segundo receiving a lower percentage of the property taxes generated from property in the City than other cities in California receive.

That claim is false for multiple reasons.

The percentage of total property tax revenue generated in El Segundo that the City receives has not changed in many years, and the last time it changed, it went up due to the extraordinary efforts of Mayor Carl Jacobson. In fact, although El Segundo gets about 6.2% of the property tax revenues generated by property in the city, compared to the average of 11% for all 88 cities in Los Angeles County, El Segundo property values are much higher than the values in many other cities. The higher property values in El Segundo help compensate for the lower than average percent of property tax revenue allocated to the City of El Segundo.

But most striking is the fact that the City is receiving the highest amount of property tax revenues it has received in any year since fiscal year 2000/2001, and probably in the City’s entire history, as shown by the bar chart below. The FY 2012/2013 property tax revenue is at a record high of $6,332,163 – up by 46% and $1,994,509 above FY 2000/2001 property tax revenue. Property tax revenue has increased in 9 of the last 13 fiscal years, with an average yearly increase of 3.6% and $166,209.


Bar chart of the City of El Segundo, California property tax revenues for fiscal years 2000/2001 through 2012/2013, using data from official City of El Segundo records.

Mayor Fisher and Councilmembers Atkinson and Fellhauer have repeatedly berated El Segundo residents for not paying enough property taxes. City residents paid about $20,770,813 in property taxes in FY 2012/2013, which is about 20.9% of the total, of which $1,287,790 came back to the City (about 6.2%). The 20.9% figure is not surprising given that only about 25% of the city’s land area is residential property and about 75% is industrial and commercial … Continue reading

Posted in Economy and Economics, El Segundo, El Segundo News, El Segundo Tax and Fee Increases, Elections, Firefighter and Police Union Compensation and Pensions, Firefighter Union Corruption, Fraud Waste and Abuse, Government Employee Compensation and Pensions, Police Union Corruption, Political Corruption, Politics, Tax Policy and Issues, Union Corruption | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Wrong Time to Raise Taxes and Fees in El Segundo