This afternoon City Manager Carlos Palacios will be announcing a proposed budget that includes laying-off 7 police officers and 4 firefighters. He and his management staff will be taking an additional 1% deduction from their salaries. Also, the Committee consisting of Mayor Daniel Dodge, and Council Members Manuel Bersamin and Eduardo Montesino have proposed a 20% cut (around $55,000) to Social Service Groups. I wonder if they will be labeled “malicious bullies”.
GANG MEMBERS RECRUIT WHILE WATSONVILLE LAYS OFF POLICE OFFICERS
I am of the opinion that we first consider cutting salaries and eliminating some positions, particularly in the city manager and city clerk departments, before we lay off any police officers.
Also, according to the State’s website, we are paying Parks and Rec staff over 1.7 million dollars! Some management staff are earning from $60,000 to almost $92,000 annually. Before any elimination of police officers, we first need to take a look at parks and rec’s salaries.
The salaries, according to the State website for City Manager Palacios and his staff are as follows:
City Manager $204,000 What it should be: $180,000
Deputy City Manager $128,000 What it should be: 0.00*
Assistant City Manager $169,000 What it should be: $125,000
Assistant to the City Manager $94,500 What it should be: $ 65,000
Sr. Admin. Assistant $81,000 What it should be:0.00*
2 Interns $30,000 What it should be: 0.00*
*Eliminate these positions; we don’t need 3 city managers and their assistants to manage this city of 51,000
TOTALS: $676,500 What it should be: $370,000
SAVINGS OF: $306,000 OR 3 POLICE OFFICERS
The salaries, according to the State website, for City Clerk Beatriz Flores and her staff are as follows:
City Clerk $109,000 What it should be: $75,000
Deputy City Clerk $ 57,500 What it should be: $ 45,000
Legal Secretary $ 58,480 What it should be: 0.00*
*The legal secretary is for the assistance of City Attorney Alan Smith who is supposed to pay for his own secretarial services.
TOTALS: $224,980 What it should be: $120,000
SAVINGS OF $104,980 OR 1 POLICE OFFICER
DEWEY, CHEETUM, & HOWE
The city also has to seriously find a way to reduce legal fees. According to our City Charter, City Attorney Alan Smith should be compensated with a salary, not hourly as we have been doing. Our legal costs this past year were in excess of a million dollars. Smith is earning approximately $140,000 per year in addition to what we pay to some members of his firm. Most attorneys in Santa Cruz County earn, on average, $85,000 per year which is what City Attorney Alan Smith should be compensated.
Perks like car allowances, cell phones for some staff, and all bilingual pay should be eliminated. Bilingual pay is costing the city approximately $400,000 annually. Currently we are compensating the City Manager and his staff and the City Clerk and her staff an approximate annual income of $38,400 for car allowances. And, both Assistant City Manager Marcela Tavantzis and Deputy City Manager Mario Maldonado receive an additional combined annual income of $13,242 for bilingual pay. These two upper echelon city employees should not be compensated for bilingual pay. One has to wonder that the 10% cut in pay taken a few years back by both the City Manager and City Clerk staff are being subsidized with these perks.
THE CAT IS OUT OF THE BAG or THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS ALL THAT
The rumors have become fact. A Grand Jury inquiry has been underway in Watsonville. Their report is anticipated in June. The Fishing Report will publish the report once it becomes public.
I was recently asked what the Grand Jury is investigating. Since I was one of the people interviewed, I am not at liberty to disclose the intent of the investigation. But, what I can say is that involves the operations of our city. And, knowing the many shenanigans that go on in the nearly empty palatial Civic Plaza, somebody is going to be on the hot seat and I am predicting it isn’t going to be me.
Watsonville City Manager Carlos Palacios and some members of his staff do not seem to accept criticism, constructive or otherwise, very well. I know because I have been his favorite target with his predictable underhanded tactics. Thus, the Grand Jury members who have been attending city council meetings should be forewarned that if their report is critical of city operations and staff, they may be subjected to being called “malicious bullies” and their integrity questioned. I also will not be surprised if the race card, a standard tactic in Watsonville, will be pulled on the Grand Jury. At least they can’t do that to me. But, I am known as everybody’s Tio (uncle) as in Tio Taco by the race-card holding contingent.
BAGGED BY AMBAG
At least Ex-Watsonville Community Development Director John Doughty doesn’t have to worry about being on the Grand Jury’s hot seat. Doughty’s short 2 year tenure with the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments (AMBAG) seems to be in its twilight.
When I was on the Planning Commission, I wrote and complained to City Manager Carlos Palacios about Doughty withholding information from commissioners on several occasions. One of them was regarding Steve Lawton’s request for a permit to construct a cabinet shop on his property which was adjacent to the airport. This was soon after the Watsonville Pilots Association won their lawsuit against the city for attempting to build housing near a runway, and an injunction was in place. During the meeting, I had asked questions about safety and if any restrictions applied. Days later, I found out Doughty’s report lacked two very important facts and I requested that we re-hear the request for the building permit by Mr. Lawton. The request was denied, the Pilots Association sued the city, once again, and once again they won costing the city approximately $45,000 in legal fees.
SMOKE IN THE WATER or 1,123 DAYS AND COUNTING
The KME Fire Truck, which has been AWOL for 1,122 days, is supposedly due to be delivered in June. I say June will come and go and still no truck….but what do I know?
SOMETHING SMELLS FISHY AND IT ISN’T THE WATSONVILLE FISHING REPORT!