By Robert Haugh
Councilman Dominic Caserta was not happy last night. He was not courteous. And he erupted. Again. This is getting to be regular thing for him. Maybe we should call him Mount Caserta.
His eruption occurred during discussion of wage increases for Unit 9. That’s the management bargaining unit for the City. These are relatively routine items. The only reason this was agendized is because City Manager Deanna Santana’s contract correlates with Unit 9. Caserta, who voted against Santana’s salary, was unhappy about the 2017 and 2018 four percent increases she’s getting. He even went on a tirade asking why HR Director Liz Brown wasn’t present. Caserta frequently cut off City Attorney Brian Doyle who he also voted against. It was not pretty or professional. But ultimately Caserta lost. The council approved the employment agreements 6-1 with Caserta unhappily opposed. Caserta called the wage increases obnoxious. The texts we were getting last night used the word “obnoxious” too. But mostly to describe Caserta.
You can see for yourself. Caserta’s comments start at approximately 1:24:43.
Police Chief and City Clerk Salaries
As we reported the last two days, Police Chief Mike Sellers has requested substantial salary increases. The increases would boost his salary by a lot. His salary was increased by approximately $35,000 per year to $329,377 annually, before benefits. The compaction rate is approximately 16 percent over the Assistant Police Chief.
The motion passed 4-3 with Caserta, Councilman Pat Kolstad and Councilwomen Patty Mahan and Teresa O’Neill supporting. They believe Sellers is owed the raise because that’s the way it’s always been done. They really missed an opportunity to send a signal that things will operate differently. Or maybe they don’t want things to be different.
The irony is that hours earlier, Caserta erupted over a similar salary increase for Santana. Can you say “double standard?”
The Council voted unanimously to have staff bring back salary setting policies for the clerk and chief at a future study session, with options including Charter amendment, ordinance adoption and using the Charter’s salary setting commission.
Mayor Lisa Gillmor opposed Sellers’ raise, saying that what they did was technically illega. “This doesn’t fix our problem. It’s just a Band-Aid.”
An important theme of the meeting was the significant need to implement more effective and legal policies at City Hall. Santana and Doyle are trying to clean up a mess created by former city manager Julio Fuentes, acting city manager Rajeev Batra, and HR director Brown. We wish the majority of the council would help them.
- A study session was held on City Place. City staff provided updates on the new “uptown” in the Northside. Phase 1 construction could begin in 2019 or 2020. The 240-acre project will include: residential, retail, commercial, hotels, new parks and open space and infrastructure improvements. Fire station 10 will be relocated. Gillmor said it will be “one of the biggest and best developments in Silicon Valley history.”
- The Council unanimously approved a $10,000 allocation for a rain barrel rebate program.
- In closed session, the Council unanimously approved $280,000 toward three workers compensation claims.