Monday, June 16, 2014

Community Services Commission Meeting: Why Does City Staff Get Paid So Much For The Mt. Wilson Trail Race?

Hart Park House Public Restroom Redesign Revealed
I was going through the Staff Report for this evening's Community Services Commission meeting, and a couple of things jumped out at me. The more serious being the second topic of today's post, which I will get to in a minute.

But first we'll have to deal with this item. Mostly because it now strikes me that in many ways dogs have become the dominant species in the Foothill Village. What follows is from City Staff and deals with "dog waste stations." See if you agree.

ANALYSIS - As part of the service contract with the City of Sierra Madre, Athens Services is providing up to 15 dog waste stations to the City. These waste stations are to be installed by the City. Athens Services will also provide bags for the dog waste stations on a quarterly basis at no additional charge. Athens will not provide service to the trash bins attached to dog waste stations, and therefore it is not recommended by staff to choose a dog waste station with trash can attached.

Staff is requesting the Commission form a subcommittee to determine placement of dog waste stations at all City parks including: Memorial Park, Sierra Vista Park, Mount Wilson Trail Park, Bailey Canyon Wilderness Park, Goldberg Park, Kersting Court and the Mount Wilson Trail.  

For some reason this reminds me of a story that I haven't told anyone in a couple of decades. When I was a lad growing up in New Jersey, my young friends and I did not have much respect for some of our elders. We were teenagers and had begun to question the importance of the lives many older than us were leading in this world. We were not often impressed.

Case in point. There was this one fellow (he was probably in his late 40s) whose wife used to make him walk their rather large poodle every night. And when this fellow did he would invariably be seen carrying his four pieces of dog walking equipment. A flashlight, a plastic bag, a pooper scooper and, perhaps the most degrading of all, a roll of toilet paper. 

Which he then used to attend to an intimate need of that sizable poodle. At the strident insistence, my friends and I were convinced, of the poor guy's wife. We took this as proof that the magic and passion was gone from their marriage. It was now all that was left for them.

What does this have to do with Athens Sanitation dog waste stations in Sierra Madre, you ask? Here is my point. When a community of human beings has become this deeply concerned about the maintenance of dog waste, the dogs have won. They will have completed their secret mission to enslave the very people who supposedly own them. In the process having turned their erstwhile human masters into intimate personal care attendants. 

It is just one more shocking indication of the de-evolution of the human species. It is also why I own a cat.

Why Does City Staff Get Paid So Much For The Mt. Wilson Trail Race?

This is rather bizarre. The Community Services Commission will be reviewing City Staff dollar figures for the most recent Mt. Wilson Trail Race. And what those figures show is troubling. Here is how those numbers break down:


There you have it. The volunteers who organized the Mt. Wilson Trail Race went out and raised the $32,760.35 it took to make this happen. Yet the cost of conducting what was basically a fairly brief mad dash up and down a big hill came to $33,695.62. Representing a net loss to we the city of $935.27.

How can it be? Well, here is the most likely way that happened. This is what City Staff received in exchange for whatever it was they contributed to this effort.


If you add up those four items the total comes to $24,510, taken out of the $33,695.62 that was spent on this race. If you add up the total hours worked by City Staff, that comes to 338 hours. Divide $24,510 by 338 and the per hour cost of employing City Staff for whatever it is they did with all of that time comes to $72.50 an hour! A figure that includes part-time workers.

$72.50 an hour, and for 338 hours worked, to organize a race that has been a yearly occurrence for as long as anyone can remember? That seems like a lot for setting up a pasta feed.

I don't get it. Hopefully the Community Services Commission can discover why it took so much of that very expensive City Staff time this year to make the race happen. Hopefully they will then let us know.

Because right now this just doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

61 comments:

  1. Are the bags for the dog waste stations plastic? Aren't we supposed to be getting away from plastic bags?

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    1. not if the bags are biodegradable. Athens doesn't want to do probably cause people will take handfuls of bags for walks and home - I've seen cities where dog waste stations are undewritten by advertisers but the signs are big and tacky - but the bags and replacements are expensive - dog owners feel entitled

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    2. What is wrong with regular trashcans?

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    3. never understood the plastic bag ban bandwagon. it's easy to target a grocery store checkout counter and pretend the ban is meaningful but nothing about the bags used at the produce counter or the plastic bags used in our own kitchens or every plastic bag used in any situation

      Athens and other waste collectors don't want the plastic bags in the recycle and that's the problem - I put my recycles in plastic bags and put in the recycle anyway cause all Athens wants is the easy profit

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    4. Athens will not pick up the waste if the commission opts for centers with poop holders.

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    5. This town is going to the dogs.

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    6. The dogs may take better care of it.

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    7. Here we go again, cluttering up our trails and parks with another sign. What good are the bag dispensers without some method to place the poop-filled bags when they are filled? This seems like a silly waste of money. Athens is charging people $37 a month for bear proof trash cans, but they can provide plastic bags? Seems to me this is an exercise in futility.

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  2. Have to wonder what the number of billable hours the city manager put in on the trail race? This should be a total volunteer run event not a payday for city staff!

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    1. the expenses should be itemized by employee for the public to see

      all this time I thought Elaine was working the event because she was a good gal and loved the city she works for....

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    2. wait, the people who cleared and worked hours on the trail surface get nothing but city staff gets paid?

      was the director paid?

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  3. I have posted this before, but this is a better thread for it to possibly gain traction:
    Park Spark transforms dog doo into light
    http://www.gizmag.com/park-spark-dog-poop-gas-light/16439/
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/22/matthew-mazzottas-park-sp_n_734515.html
    http://www.cleveland.com/science/index.ssf/2010/09/sustainability_step_forward_ma.html

    Neuroblast Films

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    1. That is genius.

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    2. Elaine does not love the city she works in...
      Elaine has failed to obtain a new job in neighboring cities,
      Elaine has applied and has failed the test to be employed by the city of Monrovia,

      when are we going to fire Elaine - Bruce - Karen?

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  4. is shirtless Pete still running the race? that might explain the excessive staff costs cause he's a buddy of John Buchanan and was rumored to be interested in a Council position but he might realized that there are alot of people who tolerate him but don't particularly care for him or trust him / motives

    dude used to gross out women at the Little League park when he show up shirtless wearing disco dolphin shorts and parade around as if he was "in charge"

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  5. wait what?

    over $ 24 k in staff payroll to put on the event that is the same every year?

    338 hours? $ 72 hour?

    nobody should volunteer anymore until this is eliminated, it's a profit center for employees

    I was always told that the race made substantial profit and it was used to maintain the trail and improvements

    I shouldn't be surprised that once again the city and a few "civic leaders" are lying to us

    is some of the costs related to police? they can't donate time?



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    1. i'm guessing that this is another way for city staff to assign more personnel costs to events like the Trail Race. This is how they make the "tough decisions" to cut (or not cut) costs?

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  6. 300 hours of staff time to "plan" an event that's the same every year?

    either our staff are complete idiots or we are being bilked

    where's the race director? he or she has to be held accountable and answer specific questions on why it takes over 300 hours of city staff time for a simple foot race

    I won't be going back to support the event any longer - it's gotten sickly corporate and just a cashout for the city

    the donations/sponsors should be itemized also - exactly how much in cash and how much in kind?

    the hours spent by city staff should be itemized and detailed by function and actual duties

    sounds like another rip off

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  7. I'm surprised that SM Council hasn't made it official that in SM there are no longer dog owners in SM but dog caretakers like some other cities in the Southland

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    Replies
    1. Politically correct terminology: Dog owner versus guardian
      http://www.alldogsgym.com/content/view/169/

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  8. are the expenses for the trail race in previous years this heavy with staff hours and payroll?

    the race generates publicity for the city but how is that translated into economic impact and measureable sales that day and in the future?

    for a "volunteer" event, it shouldn't be saddled with 60%+ of the expenses being payroll for city staff

    is the event being billed at overtime rates? the director should be able to provide more details of actual employees used, his or her duties performed and why the event paid $ 72 an hour for a payroll

    I won't look at the race in a folksy way anymore, not unless changes are made and publically

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    Replies
    1. You can see past cost for all events by looking at past community services agenda packets. The financial review is generally in the packet the month after the date of the event.

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  9. ? the event buys a water filter from Amazon and not our local hardware store? wow, what community spirit

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  10. If the residents can't get it together to pay for a party without anything from staff, we shouldn't have the party. Government employees are paid to run the government, not festivities.

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    Replies
    1. The city needs to get out of the entertainment business.

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    2. They need to give the money back.

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  11. If you worked a 40 hour week @ $72 an hour you would gross $2,880.

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  12. Pardon my French, but that "Hart Park House Public Restroom Design" is kind of half-a**ed.

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    Replies
    1. I just figured out what Realtors mean by a 1/2 bathroom!

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    2. Where do you wash your hands?

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  13. I understand that the City factors in all employee benefits, cost of the buildings they work in, including lights, paper, etc. I was at a community service meeting last year when they were discussing budget and each commissioner was required to choose an event committee to be as liaison for the City. This was to help cut down staff time for the events. As I have watched, there has been no staff time cut. Have the Commissioners not done their job? Or has the city staff kept their involvement without allowing the commissioner to be the liaison? It seems that nothing has changed. Much needs to be investigated here.

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    Replies
    1. Staff time has remained about the same.

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  14. Everyone seems to think that "staff" means City Hall staff and nothing else. Has anyone considered that the Police and Fire Depts. may also be considered "staff" by the Trail Race Committee? That perhaps the largest part of those listed costs are for the Police who were also on hand to control traffic, set up street closures, etc.

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    1. $24,000 is a lot of money for event security. Y'know?

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    2. They have volunteers that help with this! Are their hours included?

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    3. Police are not part of the numbers.

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    4. That's not good. I hear they SMPD gets around $150 an hour for this work, and there is a 4 hour minimum. Who pays for that?

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    5. 12:18, look at the actual event day of hours and you see that over $18,000 was spent on preplaning

      actual day payroll was about $ 2,000

      FD is volunteer so the event shouldn't get a bill for those services

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  15. The city is not here to make money it is to provide services to you and I. If the Trail Race only cost us $1000.00 it was well worth it for the business and enjoyment provided.

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    1. For $24,000 the city had better supply an awful lot of services.

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    2. Staff reduced their costs by about $6000. It is a start.

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    3. That's good. Because the money is not there.

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    4. It must be a coincidence that the amount of money available and what the city took were roughly the same.

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    5. excuse me but the city did make money about $ 24,000 - well not the "city" but "staff"

      and the event is not for the city, it's supposed to raise funds to provide maintennce for the trail which the event lost money

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  16. Excuse me, Are they collecting payment for all the volunteer hours? Some of the volunteer groups can now post their hours on a City link. I do not think it includes the hours provided by Amature Radio team and other groups. It would be good to include all those donated hours. It seems they worked, while others socialized!

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  17. The money made on these events should go towards strengthening the sponsoring organizations. It should not be funneled into that bottomless pit known as city hall.

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    1. the money for the trail race is for the maintennence and upgrades to the trail or at least that was the sales pitch

      maybe this is what Nancy Walsh meant when she said the city didn't need volunteers

      it's pretty poor management when a volunteer event has over 60% of it's expenses in payroll

      isn't the race supposed to be a non-profit entity?

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  18. Once again the volunteers like the taxpayers are paying for the City Staff gravy train. Wise up! And remember to work longer and retire later so that staff can retire earlier with most of their pay and benefits. Because we stand for all this, we are a bunch of idiots and deserve what we get. We work for the government employees not the other way around. Did anybody happen to catch the expose on the VA scandal. The taxpayers are paying 278 federal employees to work full-time in union related activities - not to help patients, make appointments or anything else associated with the care of our injured verterans who served our country. In other words, we pay 278 employees to work full time for the union in their efforts to fleece the taxpayers and enhance their own salary, benefits and pensions. I wonder how much time Sierra Madre employees are allowed to spend on union activities during their work hours?

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    1. I can guarantee that I won't volunteer for the trail race

      it's gotta irk those that spent hours volunteering to repair the trail to find out that city staff was getting a kushy $ 72 per hour and all volunteers get is a fake congratulations and a gee whiz ya'll sure are great

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  19. Government is where the Demcrats repay their obligations to the unions who support them with campaign workers and cash. With you picking up the tab, of course.

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    1. Mayor of RealvilleJune 16, 2014 at 2:30 PM

      It's the process.

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    2. Where did the process stick that 24 grand?

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    3. It's part of the process that you're not supposed to know.

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    4. It's on a 'need to know' basis. And you don't need to know.

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    5. Los Angeles County is no less corrupt than Cook County.

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  20. Ed Chen of Athens threw in the Doggie bags as a perk for the city to sign a new contract with Athens. What they took away, was some of the perks they were giving us for some of our non profit events.

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  21. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  22. For the line items in the Mt Wilson Trail Race budget above, how do we get a more detailed breakdown for the city staff costs.
    If anyone actually is insensed to do something by this, do something real about it since the race is an awesome event, and transparency for that cost sounds key to keeping the positive influence of the race from being sullied by poor accounting on the cities part or mudslinging on the tattles part. Thx!

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  23. mudsling?

    you're actually okay with city staff getting paid extra for doing their job?

    the event is exactly the same every year so it ain't mudslinging to ask why it takes 200 hours of staff time in planning of the event?

    might have a minimal change but not 200 hours worth of planning

    rip off

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