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January 20, 2006

Comments

Burlingame resident

I think that it makes sense to share some services such as Fire Department and police dispatch. But after watching the presentation the other night I agree with the council's decision.

At that presentation, it was revealed that Randy Schwartz is receiving a salary of $180,000 a year. Millbrae is paying $60,000 of that salary for his services. Combined with benefits, Randy is receiving over $200,000 per year.

According to Randy the other night, the total savings for the cities would be $80,000. Not a significant savings when you weigh the cost of his additional salary against saving to the cities.

I'm not even sure they accounted for the multiple meetings and staff time needed in the first few years, to get this all ironed out. I didn't hear anything mentioned.

And remember, in that time spent transitioning, all those staff members are not available to the public. The whole thing was nutty, and I have my own doubts that they could have saved that much. It was the right decision to make, but it should have been made a long time ago.

The other issue I'm having trouble with is this "survey" of residents, which, by the way, was initiated by the "old" council. I am wondering why they couldn't do a very basic evaluation simply by mail, and if the recipiants return the SHORT survey, maybe they get a few dollars off their water bill or something. Oh well, it sounds like that train is going down the track, too...

al

This is just another soft and fluffy letter about a decision that should have a solid, factual basis before any action is taken. Mr. Grossman does not appear to have any real insight beyond mergers being "the way of the future", whatever THAT means. He feels this and he believes that. If he really wants something to happen, he better start doing his homework instead of singing Kumbaya.

Sorry, Al, but some of Mr. Grossman's "feelings" are agreeable to others. At least Mr. Grossman felt strongly enough about the subject to take the time to voice his opinions and write a letter to the newspapers. Plus his being in the commission might give him some insight that we perhaps do not have. And don't get me started on Burlingame's feeling of elitism!

Some of it is quite ironic really because if we have such a scuzzy rec center why would anyone want to join us!

al

It ain't elitism to want to avoid getting involved with a partner who could easily be insolvent.

Learning to share - Bill Silverfarb (Daily Journal)

The Burlingame City Council kicked a recreation merger proposal with Millbrae to the curb Tuesday night, along with the recyclables, in a meeting that came complete with a wardrobe malfunction.

The council voted unanimously to end merger talks and requested Parks and Recreation Director Randy Schwartz to return full time to Burlingame. The idea was on the table for nearly three years while Schwartz temporarily ran the departments for both cities. The proposed merger would have saved about $150,000 a year in administrative costs for the cities. The savings, however, wasn't enough to sway newly elected Councilman Russ Cohen to approve the merger. Cohen took what seemed like 20 minutes to tell Burlingame residents he saw no overwhelming reason to go forward with the merger. Cohen felt it necessary to bring Burlingame residents on a journey through the thought processes of his mind, presenting his philosophical and holistic views with sub-point after sub-point after sub-point to reach the final conclusion that the merger wasn't necessary.

Vice Mayor Terry Nagel seemed to be conflicted on the merger. Her head said shared services are the way of the future? but her heart said Burlingame is different,? she told the audience at Tuesday night's council meeting. She also referred to Burlingame as a brand.? I'll agree with Nagel there, Burlingame is different. I don't know, however, what she meant by brand.? Newly elected Councilwoman Ann Keighran pondered what the consequences would be if Burlingame built a new recreation center. The cost would be incurred by Burlingame but the facilities would be openly accessible to Millbrae residents. I guess that doesn't seem fair. It seems the forward thinking idea of shared services, which would benefit both Millbrae and Burlingame, is taking a back seat to something much more important image. Burlingame has an image it is reaching for and that's, perhaps, what Nagel meant by brand.?

The image of people rifling through curbside recyclables apparently can't be tolerated in Burlingame either. When Mayor Cathy Baylock asked Police Chief Jack Van Etten what to do if she were to see someone taking her curbside recyclables the chief responded call 911.? Really? Is it an emergency when someone takes items you have discarded from your home and left on the sidewalk? The value of an empty $100 bottle of cognac is worth the same as an empty $4 bottle of rotgut vodka at the recycling center a nickel. The bottles and cans get recycled in the end and your Allied Waste bill will be the same whether you recycle or not. But, I guess there's an image to maintain or a brand identity to preserve. I'm sure the council, despite my opinion, is doing what it thinks is best and perhaps that's all you can ask for.

One image that sticks out at Tuesday night's council meeting is Baylock's unfortunate wardrobe malfunction. When a polite man noticed the mayor's skirt out of place as she walked through the council chambers, he stood up, announced to those sitting around him chivalry is not dead? and told her. Now that's civility.

Don't always agree with Mr. Silverfab but its fun to get his take on Burlingame. Wonder what Mr. Fuchs would say?!

Al, wouldn't our very respected attorney have made sure that if Millbrae was not paying their part of the deal, the deal was off?

al

Fi,
You keep missing the point (made here several times) that the way Burlingame's services have been priced in the deal is completely random. There are a lot of ways to price an outsourcing deal (which is what Millbrae is attempting to do here) and none of them have been used for this deal. If you go to buy a $100 pair of shoes and they are mispriced at $65, you would be thrilled to pay on time.

While we are on pricing of deals, it's a shame Silverblab doesn't understand that maintaining the financial health of Allied Waste is in the residents' best interest. He seems to think that AW dumps all of the recyclables instead of actually recycling them for income. Yet another example of why they should force journalism students to take econ.

Jeriann

is it truly illegal to remove recyclables from the curb? can someone check that?

It was explained by the police chief that it is illegal. The reason given was that the contracts are negotiated using costs/expenses that already calculate a certain return on recyclables. If they are snatched from the street, that calculation gets thrown out the window.

My midnight snatchings have actually ceased, so they must have gotten the message.

By the way, I think Silverfarb missed the mark on his above blurb entirely:

Councilmember Cohen was not going through his methodical reasoning, solely for the benefit of the public, 95% of which have no idea what Shared Services even means, or that it was being discussed in the first place, (but that is another issue.)

He was doing it for a much more important reason: The City Manager has been advocating this merger for a long, long time. Randy and much of his staff had studied and anticipated it, and there was probably a lot of anguish among the staff over what changes would occur in its wake.

A lot of time and effort (and money) has already been spent on this. However, that is not a reason to draw out a decision even longer, or justify it, when there objectively is just not an overwhelming reason to proceed. Remember that the fire dept. merger with Hillsborough, saves $1 million each year. This was just a fraction of the savings, if that.

Those people directly affected, not just the 5% of the public who has followed this, need and deserve an explanation. He was speaking to them, and I'm sure they appreciated it. They need to understand, and feel confident that it was more than adequately studied, and that it has been decided, once and for all.

frank

It shouldn't take a econ degree to figure out that if Allied Waste has to pay 5 cents a can to some poacher instead of picking them up for free they won't make as much money.

Goodness me, we should call our police department because our curbside recycle cans are being stolen? Perhaps they are an identity theft vehicle! Perhaps our town would be better served if our police force was used in a more productive way ie Gangs? Drugs? Domestic violence? Nightclub disturbances? Helping our youth? Walking the beat? Bicycling down Burlingame Avenue? Policing our streets?

Wonder how many police calls are related to soda can theivery, to Blush, to Delmar, to the Burlingame Hotel and to Burlingame High School. Sometimes this town is unbelievable and it is no surprise that someone like Mr. Silverfarb (and others) make fun of Burlingame!

Sharing services and merging departments are two different issues. Both may have merit,but the opportunities for efficiencies should be examined on an individual basis.

Some comments here appear to be based on a few comments provided by the mainstream press. Although those comments may be accurate, they don't accurately describe the longer discussion held in council chambers on Tuesday evening.

Please go to www.russcohen.com to read more about how I analyzed the issue.

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