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January 27, 2015

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Common Sense Governance

Joe, Meg Whitman tried to battle the High Speed Racket with $178M and lost.

Her bid for Governor was a bid against the Jerry Brown Machine.

So, using surpluses in good years to fight Jerry Brown's HSR agenda from little ole' Burlingame would be a waste.

Paying off Burlingame's massive debts and unfunded pension liability (while not agreeing to NEW dumb pension policies) would make the most sense. What's the point of a "reserve" fund, when you have debt that you're paying interest on?

All the new proposed projects are exactly what Burlingame shouldn't do until its Debt-Free. How innovative would that be in California - the state of tax, borrow even bigger and spend like the future didn't exist?

Come on, Common Sense governance is possible.

hollyroller@hotwire.com

How is it that you want to do that at the expense of the GREAT Public Service employees backs?
Are you living pay check to paycheck and need a .2% tax reduction in order to live in Burlingame?
Maybe you are just mean.

common sense

Holly,

Maybe you should re-read the above.

I'm suggesting to focus surpluses on paying down Burlingame's heavy debts and unfunded pension find liabilities, which is directly good for Burlingame city workers and they would agree.

Did you misunderstand something?

hollyroller@hotwire.com

I guess what confused me was the term
"NEW dumb pension policies"
I believe that whatever OLD polices were, putting anyone's retirement into the Free Market is gambling.
That is why Pres. Bush's idea to put Social Security into the "Free Market Failed."

common sense

Holly,

You are misunderstanding.

Did you know that in the recent past that Burlingame City Council agreed to pay for "Free Health Care For Life" for any city employee who worked for at least 5 years for the city, if you retired anytime after turning 50 years old?

That is a dumb pension policy and it's why Burlingame and many similar orgs are massive unfunded pension health care liabilities.

The current city council has recently started to put surplus money into lock boxes to accrue for this projected obligation.

When I asked the HR director and City manager about it they said, "well, that used to be normal for government jobs and The Cities Had Their Heyday!"

More like their fraud day. It's like well Google has done well. And Goldman Sachs sure did fleece the masses, so it's ok for government to fleece the masses as well.

NOT.

Do you understand my point now?

Was that old policy fair or not folks?

hollyroller@hotwire.com

The policy was and is Market Driven.

Douglas Radtke

http://www.peninsulahealthcaredistrict.org/wp-content/uploads/Public-Announcement.pdf

I know this is off-topic but there is a vacancy on the Peninsula Healthcare District.

I ran in the election for the district just recently, and I believe showing the initiative to run I want to be considered for the vacancy.

If anyone from the Burlingame Voice enjoys what I had to say - please write a letter of support to the nominating committee and tell them you'd like me in that seat.

Bruce Dickinson

Guys, listen, I’ve said it before and will re-reiterate it, if you will. Burlingame should pass a resolution to sweep lodging taxes into a rainy day fund. Look, California is like a junkie, hooked on the twin drugs of wealth creation, namely real estate and investments. Incomes are so dependent on the capital gains from real estate and stock market investing/IPOs, especially from the wealthy, and take it from me, Bruce Dickinson, as I know more than anyone 'round these parts, how I’ve done my share of supporting Burlingame city services and schools, by spending at the various Burlingame car dealerships, appliance stores, jewelers, clothing, wine shops, restaurants etc. Who knows, with how much I spend per year, I probably pay for the education of an entire school in Burlingame!

California’s government and budget are growing steadily, but as we saw during the last recession, the revenue sources (capital gains taxes) aren’t. How do States and municipalities get into trouble? Having income and assets that do not match what they have to pay out, especially when the income is variable and dependent on capital gains or hotel occupancy which can rise and fall. From a Burlingame city staff perspective, they want to keep the income coming, want the checks made to them for their jobs & benefits, but don’t want to lose their jobs and instead protect incumbency. So you want city coffers that don’t swell too much, have enough money to pay staff, give them the right perks/benefits, and expand it (as they always say they’re overwworked), and grow the revenue (property tax) base. How do you do this? You allow developers to take over your city, you allow other government agencies and their teats of grants related to transportation, low income housing, etc, and furthermore basically allow almost anything that makes money (billboards, fast food chains, gas stations, car dealerships, massage ‘parlors') whether or not it improves the quality of life for existing residents. I bet city staff were salivating once Tesla expressed an interest in doing business in Burlingame. Not because they’re so glad you don’t have to drive to Palo Alto to buy one, but because it helps the paycheck and benefits! By the way, coming from a car guy, I think Tesla's are highly overrated. Sure they're quiet and environmentally friendly, but very boring to drive. Give me an internal combustion engine any day of the week, hell even a somewhat boring econobox like an Audi or BMW would probably satisfy me more. I owned a Tesla for six weeks, drove it maybe 5-6 times and quickly disposed of it...not enough excitement for this spring chicken!

Alas, I digress. This is why Bruce Dickinson supports two things: a mandatory rainy day fund, to keep the money from being wasted by the city to perpetuate itself, and secondly, representatives of the people who have no ties to development or conflicts of interest. Anyone who is an architect, real estate agent, developer, spouse of a developer, mortgage lender, builder, etc etc, doing business in Burlingame, is not going to act in the best interests of you. They will act in their own self interest, which is unlikely to be aligned with yours. Call me old-fashioned, but back in the day, politicians often got into government because of a higher calling, that is a sense of public duty and stewardship, as a way of “giving back” to the society which made them successful. Today, I feel the opposite has happened, namely the political office is a means to an end, either for greater wealth creation or as a stepping stone to a higher office, which will create even more wealth. This is something that Bruce Dickinson gets hounded upon by my local friends and neighbors, i.e. to run in 2015 with a running mate, to unseat two city council members in a one-two punch, Dickinson-style!

Run, Bruce, Run.

Bruce, a person with a track record of strong business success is surely a good candidate for community leadership like City Council.

However, I think that you underestimate how complicated real estate, architecture, city planning/development really is, and the problem/solution of conflict of interest on city councils is not to eliminate any knowledgeable experts, it's to eliminate the ability of city council members to simply recuse themselves from votes when they have conflicts. Instead, they should waive their ability to do projects in Burlingame during their term. If they can't handle it, they shouldn't run.

Also with hotel TOT being $18M+, I don't think that Burlingame could survive putting all of it into a rainy day fund. However, paying down our massive debts and lockboxing down our unfunded pension liabilities (accruing them down) would be the fiscally conservative/common sense thing to do, and that's getting done now.

It would be great to see you run and to finally meet you in person. I too have a background in producing a lot of live music, and I'm working right now with a famous restaurateur to raise expansion capital and to identify / negotiate leases for a live music focused brewpub (nationwide). Perhaps you should join the owner and I for a beer sometime soon. I already have my Northwestern Rollingstone Magazine author friend and some local Hillsborough families as an interested investors.

pat giorni

Run, Forest. Run

Bruce Dickinson

Guys, I think the quote you really want to use from that movie that is a lot more apropos, if you will, is “stupid is, as stupid does”. I kid, I kid.

Speaking of “running”, Bruce Dickinson recommends a fantastic movie, the soundtrack of which I helped produce as side project with Thomas Tykwer. “Run Lola, Run” is a German film aka “Lola rennt” about a young woman whose criminal boyfriend is in trouble and she gets a frantic phone call from him asking for help to retrieve some money. She then proceeds to run down the stairs in a re-wound series of four iterations, as part of the “alternative ending” zeitgeist that was such the rage of Berlin filmmaking in the 1990s. But in each of several iterations, some small thing happens while she is running that affect her timing of running down the stairs, e.g. runs into a dog, bumps into a woman, etc. In other words, seemingly inconsequential obstacles she faces in running down the stairs that affect the other parties involved, the timing of events, the response of others, etc, that result in entirely different chain reactions/ outcomes for her and her boyfriend. The moral of the story is that despite what we plan or prognosticate, the outcome of the smallest things can change the course of history in the most random ways. In other words, people really have very little control over anything. So yes, while I may run for City Council, I may not run as well. Perhaps I am more effective in expressing my views on the Voice. Maybe one of my brilliant ideas gifted to the Voice readers results in Burlingame turning into a completely different town, all because of Dr. Dickinson. The same goes for Joe, Jen, or Russ, our resident neighborhood oddity photographer. All I gotta say is, Russ you come creeping around the Dickinson residence with a camera, you might have some of my security detail all over you like a rash!. Be careful out there. I kid, I kid!

hollyroller@hotwire.com

I believe you running for a City Council position would finally bring attention to very serious issues that are in the "pipeline."
HSR. The largest waste of public funds ever. How about Bay Area Roads?
Global Warming and the drought. I do not believe the "first drought" in the 70's really ever ended.
In some ways your ability to communicate could be a blessing and a curse.
This City has been lacking anyone with the ability to look at the big picture, that you could push through any Crack Pot" idea.
Nevertheless, there is a generational gap that is about to expire, which is the roll back of Prop 13.
The beneficiaries of that short sighted "gift" are all in their 80's and beyond. Soon there maybe a new influx of state funds that will be available to communities that know how to get them and use them.
Our City Elders are more worried about what their neighbor think about dogs on or off leashes, than the state of El Camino Real, a Billion Dollar Property siting vacant at the Bay Front, for what..30 plus years,and who is going to pay for the "Pool Guy" to clean a pool that is really a private club. So many silly and short sighted
things are what the City Council is concerned with, because quite frankly, they do not have the ability, experience, or background to develop any other than crossing guard, Dog Poo, or blower laws.
Fight Bruce, Fight.
Elder Brownrigg is the detached, rude, and "above it all" City Elder that has ever been elected. He only represents himself and whatever this position represents on his resume.
Political Slogan for you Sir Dickenson:
More Cow Bell!
(You probably hate that, but think it is charming.)

pat giorni

When a butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazon...

mike

what stands out is "median value of the 32 homes sold in Burlingame was $1.8 million last year"...it was only several years ago that the $1.8 million median home value would have made it the highest in the bay area. home prices are getting ridiculous, as exemplified by atherton's 2013 median value at around $4 million, up from $2 million in 2010..that's a 100% increase in 3 years...and that's what the entire peninsula is facing.

we have seen this before, a bubble, be it economic, housing, etc. that gets too big and then explodes. silicon valley has seen a boom in high paying tech jobs, just like it saw in the late 90s, right before the whole thing exploded in 2001. today, far too much is attached to the income of those tech jobs, and when they go, so goes all that is attached.

Joe

Here is the flip-side of "the coffers are bulging" from the Daily Post's on-line archive (nice addition, DP!)

Burlingame unfunded liability
Misc.: $27,966,731
Safety: $16,989,639
TOTAL: $44.9 million

http://padailypost.com/pensions1-how.html

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