By Robert Haugh
Tomorrow’s Council meeting includes several controversial items. It’s likely going to be another marathon meeting.
Among the more notable items:
Rajeev Batra Post-Retirement Pension Spike
Former interim City Manager Rajeev Batra is asking for a “requested supplemental retirement benefit.” Translation: a retroactive pension spike. Seriously. He must have started licking his chops after Police Chief Mike Sellers was granted nice compensation boost by the City Council on a 4-3 vote.
Want to hear the shocker? Batra is asking for a benefit that city staff estimates will be $500,00 (30 years) to $744,000 (40 years) for the cost of benefits Batra wants the benefits to roll over to his wife, if he were to pass away. Wow. Imagine what he would ask for if he were actually appointed to a permanent city manager and good at his job.
City staff says that the Council’s past action (March 7, 2017 and March 21, 2017) prohibits action on the item, because the Council had previously approved Batra’s hourly salary.
A letter from the law firm Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, who was hired to evaluate Batra’s claim, says “under state law, the City cannot offer the former interim City Manager a supplemental defined benefit plan (e.g. a plan that offers a set dollar figure, based on a defined benefit formula using age, service credit and pensionable compensation) unless such plan existed prior to January 1, 2013, and the City Manager position was within a group of employees entitled to participate in the supplemental defined benefit plan at that time. We understand that no such plan applicable to the former interim City Manager existed.”
A March 22, 2017 letter from Mayor Lisa Gillmor, signed by Batra on March 24, 2017 also said, “There will not be any benefits, incentives or compensation in lieu of benefit or other form of compensation in addition to this hourly pay rate.”
Given all this info, we can’t see the City Council supporting Batra’s request. But they gave in to Sellers, so who knows.
College Football National Championship Game
The Council/Stadium Authority holds a study session on the Monday, January 7, 2019 event.
After an inquiry by the San Francisco Chronicle, the City issued a pretty interesting statement. The Stadium Authority was recently informed that the event comes with financial losses of $12 to $14 million. Yes, up to $14 million. But here’s the good news: The 49ers have been publicly forced to guarantee the losses. Let’s hope the City Council and city staff can make it stick. Afterall, we remember Jed York’s broken promises to build soccer parks.
The Council will review an ordinance amending the City Code to enact regulations regarding “dark money” contributions influencing local City elections. This became a big issue when the notorious BluPAC group weaseled money into the 2016 election. As a result, BluPAC received the largest election fine in Santa Clara history. BluPAC appeared to have ties to the 49ers.
BluPAC funneled money supporting John McLemore, Patty Mahan, Sellers and also supported former City Clerk Rod Diridon, Jr., Mohammed Nadeem and Ahmad Rafah and touted Dominic Caserta, though he wasn’t even a candidate. They also spent money opposing Debi Davis, Tino Silva, Pat Nikolai, Kathy Watanabe, Suds Jain and Deborah Bress.
Other items of interest:
- The Appointment of a new Planning Commissioner (Jeremy Hicks or Anthony Becker) will be continued. This will allow a vote to be made by the entire Council and Mayor, since the Council was split two weeks ago.
- There will be discussion on the Stadium Authority Auditor, City Auditor and salaries for the City Clerk and City Auditor.
- A study session on City infrastructure needs will be held. Project options, costs and possible funding opportunities, including a bond measure for November will be discussed.