Thursday, April 03, 2008

Potholes and nonneutered dogs

Here's an excellent discussion in the Chron of the rising concerns among some Berkeley citizens and businesses that the City has lost sight of its real purpose.

From the article:
Berkeley is finding that having its own foreign policy isn't cheap. The city's recent dustup with the U.S. Marine Corps has so far cost the city more than $200,000, while businesses say they've been slammed by related protests.

And that's on top of the $1 million the city spends annually on domestic and foreign policy matters hatched by its 45 citizen commissions, which outnumber those in virtually every other city in America and debate everything from regime change in Iran to the plight of nonneutered dogs.

Thank heavens there isn't anything else to worry about in Berkeley.



Blogger Patrick said...

. . . and relatedly, the Daily Cal shares this story today.

4/03/2008 10:12 AM  
Blogger tj said...

Nice catch Patrick. My fav part from your posted link:

"[Berkeley] city officials say police resources have not been concentrated improperly.

'(Police) involved in the Marine recruiting center demonstrations are overtime, it's not the regular crew,' said Councilmember Dona Spring, who represents the Downtown area."

*Translation*: we're not putting less cops on the street because we're draining city resources to pay those union employees OVERTIME! Yay!

4/03/2008 10:50 AM  
Blogger tj said...

For more on overtime pay, the Chron also has this online database of what your local city employees are making.

Who knew that we could become cops or nurses and get double our big law salary (not to mention great retirement, benefits and work less hours)?

4/03/2008 10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"*Translation*: we're not putting less cops on the street because we're draining city resources to pay those union employees OVERTIME! Yay!"

What does "union" have to do with it? If the cops were non-union, they would still get overtime under state and federal wage and hour laws.

4/03/2008 12:46 PM  
Blogger tj said...

haha 12:46. the answer is little to nothing (unless you're Vallejo of course).

so touchy. lighten up! it's sunny outside! finals already stressing you out?!

4/03/2008 1:12 PM  
Blogger tj said...

Hey Berkeley taxpayers! Another article to blow your mind: Berkeley pays to store stuff abandoned by homeless people in a freezer. Leave it to Berkeley to go above and beyond by freezing those abandoned Big Macs. Not to mention the hypocrisy from an environmental aspect.

[Another caveat may be necessary: I DO NOT HATE HOMELESS PEOPLE. Frustration with city policies does not a monster make. The city does a huge disservice to these people truly in need by wasting money in such a fashion. Get them a bed and the care they need - not a freezer or pointless commissions.]

4/03/2008 1:33 PM  
Blogger Learned Hand said...

TJ, while I'm not defending the seemingly exorbitant salaries of SF city employees, I will point out that the salaries listed generally seem to be for quite senior employees. Therefore, it's not really fair to say that they're pulling in more than we can pull at a law firm. I doubt they started out at those salaries. And by the time we reach their level of seniority at a law firm, our salaries would dwarf theirs.

4/03/2008 1:44 PM  
Blogger tj said...

LH: The current starting salary for an entry-level officer at the SFPD can top out close to $100,000. But this isn't where they make their money - it's in overtime working all of our "special events." It's not unheard of for a starting cop to make around what a first year associate makes (pre-bonus of course).

I'm not saying that some of them don't deserve it. I'm just saying that local agencies should do more to prevent such extravagant usage of overtime.

4/03/2008 1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

making "around what a first year associate makes" is quite different from making "double our big law salary," eh Teej? Also do they really "work less [sic] hours" if a large portion of their income comes from working overtime?

4/03/2008 2:06 PM  
Blogger tj said...

"making "around what a first year associate makes" is quite different from making "double our big law salary," eh Teej? Also do they really "work less [sic] hours" if a large portion of their income comes from working overtime?"

Your salary at biglaw comes only after you graduate from law school and pass the bar exam. Law school is a sunken cost that includes the expense of tuition, lost money that could have been made by working, and lost seniority of being out of the workforce for three years (or more if you include graduate degrees prior to law school) - all the while still incurring living expenses.

A fourth year park ranger making $160k (and who likely entered the position straight from high school) clearly doesn't have to worry about these costs.

In addition, overtime in these government positions includes anything above the 36/40 hour standard work week (it would depend upon position / relevant CBA). At biglaw, you wont be working anything close to those numbers as your actual work day. Rather, biglaw works off of billable hours. The government employees can soak up a lot of overtime before they even approach the number of hours Biglaw requires as a regular work week - and that doesn't even include a busy week for a trial or an impending deal.

This all brings me to my point, which is NOT that I look down upon these people or that I have any feelings of a higher intrinsic value, etc. I merely point out the fact that these people are paid VERY well. One option is to re-evaluate pay - especially in a budget crisis year. Who knows.

But what I can say is that, as is, they're certainly smarter than anyone who came to law school to make money. We'll flame out of biglaw after 3-5 years (going by averages) having just paid off our mountainous debt and transition into a lower paying gig. Meanwhile, they'll continue to escalate and retire by age 45 at 80% of their salary. Not bad.

[As an aside: I loved the use of "sic" in quoting from a comment on a blog...]

4/03/2008 3:53 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

22 year old park rangers make 160k?

Where did I go wrong???

4/03/2008 3:57 PM  
Blogger tj said...

haha- I feel the same sometimes. But I can't really say that a 22 year old park ranger making $160k is the norm (more of a mere possibility).

However, an overly-worked, overly-stressed biglaw first-year associate routinely does. I guess one benefit to the law route is a bit more assurance you'd be making that much by your mid 20's (for those who went straight through).

4/03/2008 4:08 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

TJ, I think the joke is that Patrick WAS a park ranger. Difference being the parks he patrolled didn't have "People's" in their name.

4/03/2008 4:10 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Actually, I don't think it even rises to the level of "mere possibility." Park Service employees' salaries are capped at a GS level (plus steps) until the employee earns an advanced degree . . .

I worked for the Forest Service for half a year, for the last 6 years. Not the same agency, but still, there no 160k salaries in MY bunkhouse!

4/03/2008 4:13 PM  
Blogger tj said...

Aren't you from Kansas or something Patrick? That doesn't count. jk

But otherwise, point taken- I more used the park ranger position as a target because the article referenced it. Upon revisiting the database, it appears most top earners in park rangerdom are in the 115-130k range. So park rangers weren't the best example for me to use. Hope the point hasn't been lost in the details (though I fear it may have been- haha).

4/03/2008 4:30 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...



Oooooo. Them's fightin' words, Teeny Jeanie!

I'll meet you at the bike racks by the busses after school!

4/03/2008 4:34 PM  
Blogger tj said...

Wisconsin? Oklahoma? I get them all confused.

At least I've never whipped out a "sic" in quoting one of your blog comments.

4/03/2008 4:39 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

hahaha, fair enough. at the rate I seem to proofread over here, you'd wear out the " [ ] " on your keyboard.

(I was going to stand you up at the bike racks anyway! for all I know, you are huge and scary and mean!)

4/03/2008 4:43 PM  
Blogger tj said...

I don't know what you're talking about. N&B is a rock-solid team that regularly meets to maintain a current censorship policy as well as strategically plot future post topics. You must see me all the time!

PS: I'm all of those things. Didn't you read how cold and heartless I am to homeless people!

4/03/2008 5:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When do spring classes come out?

4/03/2008 9:16 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Sometime this autumn?

It's the fall classes that have me wondering!

4/03/2008 10:01 PM  
Blogger McWho said...

This thread has an excessive number of exclamation points!

4/04/2008 10:58 PM  

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