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    Your Opinions On Mgm't-Proposed, Council-Approved "Golden Handshake" For Exiting Mayor...And Council's Consideration Of Add'l Retirement Benefit For Itself

    (Updated July 9, 2006 from June 26, 24 and June 23 postings) -- continues to receive emails in response to our stories below:

    Council Gives Exiting Mayor O'Neill Taxpayer-Paid "Golden Handshake," Considers Giving Itself Similar Deal On Retirement: 50 Hours Credited Sick Leave Per Each Year Of Incumbency
    City Attorney's Position On City Mgmt Agendized, Council Approved "Golden Handshake" For Outgoing Mayor O'Neill: It's A Legal Retirement Benefit, Not A Gift Of Public Money
    So How Big Is "Golden Handshake" Council Voted To Give Mayor O'Neill On Her Retirement? How Much Are Councilmembers Considering Giving Themselves In July?

    These are in addition to the plain-spoken comments we received from retired Councilmembers Doug Drummond and Les Robbins.

    Here are more of the emails we've received (posted in reverse order). We withheld some names.

    If Medicare is good enough for me, why isn't it good enough for the Mayor ?

    Does she not receive receive Social Security as well as a pension from LBCC as well as health benefits ? And now a third a third pension, how many pockets does she think my trousers have ?

    Some questions we should all ponder.

    This NOT a handshake for the Mayor, but, a shakedown of the taxpayer !!!

    Rev. Dr. Ronald D. Nowlan
    Long Beach

    $31K sure would buy alot of books for the LB Public Library, wouldn't it?

    I never thought I would be agreeing with Doug Drummon or Les Robbins on anything but please put me down for the lawsuit too.

    Gordana Kajer
    Belmont Heights

    Let's call the "Golden Handshakes" what they really are. Golden Shakedowns.

    Ron Noe
    Bixby Knolls

    As President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Mayor O'Neill often traveled away from the City of Long Beach. Although her expenses were paid by the Conference, she still received her Mayor's salary. Her city staff's travel expenses and salaries were paid by LB taxpayers. In other words we paid for the services of a mayor and that we were not receiving, while we subsidized the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

    Now we are paying $31,000 toward Mayor O'Neill's retirement health insurance too?

    The Mayor should publicly ask the City Council to rescind its vote. If it will not, then Beverly should donate the sick pay benefit to the general fund. You can be sure that Mayor Foster will.

    Also, the City Council should revisit its 1997 decision for sick pay benefits for the other elected officials. If these officials receive full pay when they do not perform the service for which we elected them (and for which they voluntarily sought office), then they are not entitled to "sick" pay after they leave office.


    LB should consider new management, if this is the way it thinks. The general fund always seems to have money when nonpublic safety employee raises, benefits and pensions are "needed". Yet taxes must be raised for services that benefit the community, such as more police, libraries, road and sidewalk maintenance, etc.


    Judging from what is given to the management team (classified confidential employees, classified manager supervisory employees, classified administrators, academic administrators and the superintendent/president) at Long Beach City College when they retire, ranging from a full years pay in an annuity up to a 7% of salary annuity for life, the 600 hours of sick leave given to the mayor seems like a pittance. The 600 hours equates into about 200 days of service or .81 of a year.

    Just remember that it is the management of the institution that makes the recommendations to the City Council or at Long Beach City College to the Board of Trustees, not the workers who have to work for and earn every penny they get.

    The managers are out to get everything they can and will always make these recommendations unless and until there is legislation prohibiting it. This is truly an idea for an initiative I could campaign and vote for.

    Mary Thorpe

    Once again I must reiterate the self-serving nature of additional sick time dollars being added to any salary. As water seeks the easiest route to find its own level so is this Council seeking the easiest route to line their pockets.

    The PT and Business Journal made a big deal out councilmembers who did not take raises without pointing out that the net increase could be taken anytime during their tenure. Now we are faced with more sick time hours as it relates to a "Golden Hand Shake" to say adios to Mayor O'Neill...and possibly adding Council members.

    Many of us, when we worked in City Hall, refused raises unless forced to take COLA. I figured even though very small it was my way to encourage and add to the Council Member who had refused a salary increase. Not everyone in our office made this choice. I chose to do this because it was the right thing to do when no one is looking...

    Once again the Council seems to think that trimming the fat gives them a right for more dollars in their pockets when most of the heavy lifting is done by the rank and file and their sacrafice...I believe the former council members Robbins and Drummond got it right by pointing out this is self-serving and something that should be refused at the least and denied flatly at best by a vote of council. If we are really considering what is right by constituents we need to say "NO" and properly conduct the business of the city without one cent lining anyone's pockets.

    Dan Pressburg
    North Long Beach

    I think it's unconscionable that the Council is giving anyone, including itself, sick leave. They are voted in to serve their constituents - not serve the Mayor or each other. The only boss they have is their constituency. It would seem to me that they forgot that!

    They - like city governments that are in the red - have a spending problem. They forget to protect the people that elected them and forget to fund first what is supposed to be funded - public safety. They spend, and spend and then come up with parcel taxes and/or tax initiatives. Maybe it's about time that the people of Long Beach make it clear to City Hall that we are not going to take it anymore.

    I, for one, will not vote for a tax initiative or a parcel tax as long as the City is fiscally irresponsible and wants to give themselves and the Mayor more money when we have none...

    Annie Greenfeld-Wisner
    South Wrigley

    The greatest difficulty I am having with this, is that Mayor O'Neill will also receive pension and health benefits from her years at Long Beach City College. It's almost as if there is some double dipping going on. I perceive the "Golden Handshake" as some sort of bonus for her years as Mayor. Since when are bonuses part of the public employee policy?

    Juan Pardell
    San Francisco

    What this anonymous person [below] forgot to mention is that elected officials in this city, although certainly on call 24-7-365 with a demanding job, have escalated their staff counts to such levels that in fact they could be missing for days with little or no impact. And, since many of them have some sort of employment, whether it be self-employed or working for some organization, they technically derive their sick leave from that employment.

    The Mayor, at least, is a full time job so the sick leave issue is the same as other City employees, and the Mayor I feel should receive accumulated sick leave credited toward health care costs just like any other City employee, but I'm not convinced about any of these golden handshakes.

    Anonymous Former City Employee replies: Mayor O'Neill presided over the infamous, costly mid-2002 pension spike (agendized for the last day of an outgoing Council and the first day of an incoming Council) and told the public in her 2002 "State of the City" message that City Hall was on the "right track" (a theme repeated in her reelection campaign) and then -- after being safely reelected (with less than half the votes cast) -- said City Hall faced a financial crisis. In our opinion, those are two (among several) good reasons why LB taxpayers should insist that the Council rescind what we consider a gift of public resources to O'Neill.

    What the city possibly "forgot" to volunteer to you was that elected officials are considered be on the job 24/7/365. The Mayor, Councilmembers, Auditor, Prosecutor and Attorney are on the job whether they be on the beach in France, asleep at home or under anesthesia in surgery.

    Consequently, they receive their pay no matter what they are doing or where they are doing it.

    They cannot and do not take sick leave, because they still are the elected officials, even when sick. Therefore, they do not draw sick pay while they are in office. Their sick pay accumulates, to be credited against their health insurance premiums upon their retirement....


    Better they be given Golden Showers! Whadda buncha crooks!

    [LB resident]

    Why is it that the City Council can vote themselves a raise, or added profit of sick benefits???? That doesn't seem like the fair thing for our taxpayers and City.

    Where I work, we have to buy our own medical insurance after we retire. Why should they be different? And they get these benefits after only 5 years of working on the Council -- did I read that correctly?

    [From LB]

    At best one is a full time job and the other a part time job.

    Ah! the confidence of the newly elected. Remember that great expression from childhood: "ME TOO"

    [ELB resident]

    The LB City Council members RAISE lots of money (big bucks) to be elected to serve the citizens of Long Beach with, PROMISES, PROMISES. Once in office it's "give me, give me" for serving. How does Mayor elect Foster view the Golden Handshake???

    Give them nothing, the Council members still run their own business' and claim they want to serve....NO golden handshakes so don't serve. I am being polite re the Council members' EGOS.

    The are many outstanding LB citizens who would serve our city well, but won't put up with the self centered childish antics of the City Council.

    Roger Carroll
    Peninsula resident (no no I'm not running)

    This action - LB City Council considering giving itself lots of extra sick leave - is appropriate. After all, the Council HAS BEEN SICK, attitudinally and functionally, big-time and long-term.

    The main reason to have a City Council in the first place is to make public policy decisions - preferably good ones. For that purpose, we don't need an oligarchy of a few expensively elected politicians, just part-time temporary citizen juries doing their conscientious duty.

    But the LB version of a City Council has been consistently and notably worse than merely unneeded or useless. This council not only ducks real decisions (e.g. on LNG), but seems even to consider itself duty-bound to defer to management and staff. When it considers non-rubber-stamp decisions at all, it agonizes on whether to use totally deceitful and deficient EIRs (e.g. on Airport) or only partly deceitful and deficient EIRs.

    Of course, these problems of municipal oligarchy exist in other places, especially big cities where the oligarchy is a vanishingly small part of the population. But the problems are truly pervasive here in Long Beach precisely because - apart from LBReport!! - there is scarcely any consistent press and other media heed to relevant local policy rather than to fluff or convenient fictions or metropolitan diversions.

    Thank you for staying the course of local relevance!

    Joe Weinstein
    Bixby Knolls

    Thanks for keeping the pension spike and related issues in the public eye.

    It is too bad that the public doesn't have a vote on these issues.

    Bob Webber

    "Council Gives Exiting Mayor O'Neill Taxpayer-Paid "Golden Handshake," Considers Giving Itself Similar Deal On Retirement: 50 Hours Credited Sick Leave Per Each Year Of Incumbency"

    Please tell me this [our headline] is a misprint -- can the people of Long Beach (elected and otherwise) be this greedy, nonresponsive of their fellow human brings, and outright oblivious to any code of decency?

    Those lines seem to me to be pretty close to out-and-out theft of taxpayers gosh, I understand there is still a 10 MILLION DOLLAR SHORTAGE in the the retired as well as current may get 400 to 600 hours of sick time pay credited to themselves yearly?????

    John Kopczak
    Glad to be from Lakewood

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