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Supervisor Andersen Publishes Opposition to CONFIRE Measure

There was an interesting read by County Supervisor Candace Andersen in the Contra Costa Lawyer Online which is the official publication of the Contra Costa County Bar Association (CCCBA). In the article she states her opposition to Measure Q.

Her reasoning’s for shooting down Measure Q are simply restating the Contra Costa Taxpayer Association talking points while repeating the Times Editorial Board.  She also is ignoring the history lesson she received from Supervisor Gioia and Piepho at the last meeting. She is also ignoring the County EMS Plan and a recent document that explains why engines are needed on scene. There are many other countless documents that back up why her statements are wrong which I’ve provided and discussed for months now.

I hope District II is proud, this woman thus far has been a complete disaster.

Below is her article in full.

ConFire’s Parcel Tax on the November Ballot
By Candace Andersen, Contra Costa County Supervisor | Sep 01, 2012

On November 6, voters will have the opportunity to enter the voting booth and raise their own taxes through a variety of measures on the ballot.  One of these will be a $75 per parcel tax requested by the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (“ConFire”).  A 55% majority vote would raise approximately $16.8 million annually and sunset after seven years.  On July 31, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, which serves as ConFire’s Board of Directors, in a 4-1 vote, decided to place the tax on the ballot.  I was the lone vote against it.

The Formation and Coverage of ConFire

Most Contra Costa County cities don’t have their own fire departments.  Instead, emergency medical services, fire protection, fire suppression, and other emergency responses are provided by fire protection districts.  These are independent governmental entities, overseen by their own boards of directors, and with independent sources of revenue.

ConFire is one such fire protection district.  ConFire was formed in the early 1960’s through a merger of several existing fire districts.  It has 28 stations and serves the cities of Antioch, Clayton, Concord, Lafayette, Martinez, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill, San Pablo, and Walnut Creek. ConFire also serves the unincorporated communities of Bay Point, Clyde, El Sobrante, Montalvin Manor, North Richmond, and Pacheco.  These are the communities which will be voting on the parcel tax.

ConFire’s Budget Problems

ConFire’s budget for 2012-13 includes expenditures of just under $99.8 million, while its revenue is estimated at $88.7 million.  The budget gap will be closed through the use of reserves, which will be exhausted next year.  Of the $99.8 million in expenses, $31 million goes to pension and retirement healthcare costs.  For every $1 in regular salary paid, another 88 cents goes toward these retiree expenses.  Salaries and benefits account for 85% of the District’s budget. ConFire firefighters retire with a 3% at 50 formula for their pensions (3% of their salary for every year of service, with eligibility at age 50).

ConFire receives approximately 90% of its funding from property taxes, which is typical of most fire districts.  Like many agencies, it was hit hard by the decline in property taxes.  From 2008-2012 it lost nearly $32 million from its operating budget.  It also has had ever increasing pension obligations due to investments not meeting financial projections made when generous pension tiers were put in place.  ConFire’s problems were further compounded by a “depooling” of their retirement fund from the rest of Contra Costa County’s retirement system.  This was done to ensure that each agency paid its own fair share toward pensions.

The Proposed Parcel Tax

ConFire Chief Darryl Louder has stated that unless the November parcel tax passes, ConFire will have to close seven (7) fire stations in July 2013.  The district will be $8 million in the red and response times will dramatically increase.  The following year another three stations will have to close as ConFire will be short $18 million.  When the tax was first presented to the Board of Supervisors in June of this year, the projections showed that even with a $75 tax, the district would be shutting down stations within three years.  Now, the Chief’s projections are rosier and show that ConFire will be able to get by with the tax, but when it sunsets in seven years, the district will once again be in the red by $11 million.

Proponents of the parcel tax argue that many people have had the assessed values of their homes and their corresponding property taxes drop dramatically over the past several years, so they should be able to afford an additional $75.  They also note that this is like an insurance policy – for just $6.25 a month ($75 a year), you are ensuring that a first responder will arrive on the scene quickly when you need one.  Finally, they highlight the fact that homeowners’ insurance rates may go up if fire stations are closed.

My Perspective on the Tax and a Long-Term Solution to ConFire’s Budget Problems

As a newly elected County Supervisor and member of ConFire’s Board of Directors, I feel a serious responsibility to manage our resources wisely.  I have always believed that government needs to live within its means and find new models of delivering services if the old ones are not sustainable.  I consistently support local parcel taxes and bond measures when there is a direct nexus to the benefit received by the community, where the measure is fiscally sound, and when it provides an ongoing benefit.  I am not finding that test met here.

ConFire’s pensions are not sustainable.  Meaningful pension reform is difficult to achieve, but we need to begin somewhere.  Retirement for existing employees and retirees is deemed vested by the California Supreme Court and cannot be modified unless agreed to by the entire bargaining unit.  At the very least, we need to have a new, less costly pension tier such as a 3% at 55 for new hires.  The financial benefit won’t be seen immediately, but it’s a start.

We also need to continue to look at how we provide services.  The district has tried traditional cost savings measures including salary reductions, increasing employee contributions to benefits, furloughs, controlling staff overtime, and deferring capital purchases and improvements, but it hasn’t been enough.  With over 70% of ConFire’s calls being for medical services, and where an ambulance from a private company is also dispatched, we need to make a greater effort to look at other models of delivery.  It is imperative that we show taxpayers that we have a plan in place to not only provide emergency services but to do so cost-effectively.

I care deeply about keeping our communities safe, and have never questioned the integrity and skills of ConFire’s firefighters.  They are a well-trained and dedicated group of men and women who willingly work each day to protect others.  I want to help them keep their jobs and not close fire stations.  If, prior to November 6, we have a new pension tier agreed to and either a new model for delivering services or a cost savings plan to make the district’s budget sustainable beyond the sunset of the parcel tax, I will support this measure.

Candace Andersen was elected to the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on June 5, 2012 and sworn in on June 26, 2012 to begin serving her first term as the District 2 County Supervisor.

Candace served as the Mayor of the Town of Danville for two terms. Candace also served on the Morgan Hill City Council in the early 1990′s. She is an attorney licensed to practice law in California and Hawaii. She began her legal career as a Prosecuting Attorney in her hometown of Honolulu and also worked as a civil practitioner with a law firm in Morgan Hill. Candace put her legal career on hold to serve the community and raise her family. She and her husband, attorney Philip M. Andersen, have been married for 28 years and are the parents of six children ranging in age from 14 to 26, and have two daughters-in-law and a son-in-law.

Source
http://cclawyer.cccba.org/2012/09/confires-parcel-tax-on-the-november-ballot/

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Categorised in: CONFIRE, Contra Costa County

18 Responses »

  1. Thank You Candace for being realistic. I love your straight talk and real common sense. Don’t let the socialists try to sway your character. You are a very good person. I wish we had more sense than just you on the board. I do not want to get to my retirement age to find it is not there. I would rather have a fair retirement than none at all.

    • She isn’t being realistic, she is playing politics and will lose with this type of behavior. How is supporting Measure Q being a socialist? You may want to correct Ms. Andersen because she doesn’t even have her facts right in the article. It’s more than 55% needed to pass.

  2. Hey, don’t call Kris Hunt a socialist unless you expect her to show to defend herself.

    Remember, she’s the one that said she was fine with stations closing should Measure Q fail for Confire. Because she says they can just sponge off their neighbors for coverage. The people in Orinda-Moraga and San Ramon. They recognized the value of their fire department and have properly funded them with additional revenues. Kris thinks it’s fine to use a socialist approach and take advantage of those districts and their resources.

    Appears Candace didn’t read the document written up by her own fire chief. The one which explains how alternate delivery models have been studied. The one that said leaning on the ambulance company for more medicals would be more expensive overall to the taxpayers. I mean she only sits on the governing body for the district. We can’t expect her to actually pay attention. She is now another one of the misguided who think you’ll fix the budget by leaving fire engines sitting in their stations. I would also like to hear from her where she got this know how to be reinventing the role of the fire department. Shouldn’t that stuff be left to the professionals?

  3. Candace is funny on many levels because she has access to all the information that proves her opinion wrong. Everyting Burk has posted for months she also has. She was supported by public safety and now is working against public safety. Very interesting to see if her base abandons her now. The talking point of 70% is medical is dangerous and if she is okay with putting lives in danger, so be it, but it might be time to recall her.

  4. As a firefighter, i have always described this job as just that, a job. However, it is a job that carries with it a tremedous amount of responsibility. We are paid to be ready and that means we are responsible to handle whatever it is that you call us for. Over the last 20+ years that has been so many different things that it is difficult to list but a few of the highlights follow. I have changed batteries in smoke dectectors for elderly single women, I have changed filthy diapers on abandond or abused babies, I have changed flat tires on cars for retired war veterans. I have recusitated 18 month old drowning victims and have told the companion of an elderly person that their loved one died peacefully in the night. I have held that elderly widows hand. Some days in the firehouse have been slow, that’s a good thing for you, Some are busy. Others are filled with the rsponsibility or preparing for your hour of need. We call it training. We prepare to be woken up at 0 dark 30 and and get invited into your nightmares. We come to that as willing guests. We enter your nightmare with every intention of making it better by stopping the fire, stopping the bleeding, by starting the breathing, by reasuring you that irregardless of the outcome, life will continue and you will be ok. Sometimes that is not the outcome. Sometimes nothing is ok but we come in with the best intentions and if nothing else, we make sure that you are not alone. You see, sometimes we are a companion. Like i said, I have held that hand, i have given and recieved a hug, i have provided that shoulder for you to cry on and i have worked with every last bit of energy to minimize the ill effects of your nightmare.

    With all of that said, i think it is a shame that email threads and blogs bring out the worst in all of us. They provide an avenue for all of us to anonymously throw blame around like it will solve a problem. They allow for us to speak to others in a way that does not build one another up but tears at the very foundation of who we are either as the sender or the reciever.

    To close, I have been in this business of assurance, not insurance for most of my professional life. The assurance that you can go to bed tonight with the knowledge that if your life enters that unthinkable nightmare, you can pick up the phone and invite me or any other firefighter, cop, nurse, or er doc and we will show up. We won’t show up with a sense on entitlement or attitude, with any expectations, we don’t want fame or glory. We will however show up with gifts. The gift of a plan where the goal is to see you through this nightmare, to share it with you, to make sure that you are not alone, NO MATTER WHAT THE CIRCUMSTANCES ARE. You see, that is who we are and what we do. Can we put a price on it? I don’t know. Am I overpaid? I don’t think so. Is it my fault for the finacial condition of the State and is it up to me to fix it? I don’t think so.

    What I do know though is if you send me an invitation to your nightmare I will RSVP and I will show up, dressed for the occasion, whatever that occasion is. Your guest at your nightmare will be professionals that are willing and able to see you through it. If a group of angry, greedy, self serving individuals happen to show up, we will deal with them too! Because in your most vulnarable moment, we have your back.

    My name is Ben, I am a public servant living and working in Contra Costa County and I pray that I never have to meet you in your nightmare. But if I do, I will show up, I will participate and I will be glad that you invited me.

  5. This is an article from last year that was written about a similar incident and how Supervisor Andersen is not being ethicle. Here is a short lesson on ethics.

    What does the phrase “Speaking with one voice” mean when referring to board action?
    February 28, 2011

    “Speaking with one voice” refers to how high functioning boards and the board members on the losing side respond after a divided board vote has been taken on a difficult decision. It does not mean that the board votes unanimously on agenda items and it does not mean that board members in the minority on a divided vote cannot speak at all or state their position after a vote has been taken.

    Board members represent all different sectors of the community and hold a variety of opinions and values. Board members can reasonably be expected to take opposing positions on board decisions. The community respects board members who stand up for their positions, argue the pros and cons passionately with the intent of providing the best outcome for students and the community as a whole. We know that better decisions are made when all sides of an argument are heard. Once a decision has been voted by the board, the public expects that the board will work together to implement that decision.

    In situations where board members have been on the losing side of a vote, and then continue to actively and publicly work against that decision, even doing their best to make the implementation fail, the public loses respect for the board as a governing body. Our democratic process supports the voice of the minority being heard before the vote is taken, and the will of the majority being implemented once the vote has occurred. When board members actively work against an action approved by the majority of the board it shows a lack of respect for the will of the majority and the public expectation that the majority vote will be implemented fairly.

    This does NOT mean that the board member on the losing side must say anything other than the truth if asked after the vote. It is OK to say, “The vote did not go the way I would have liked. I took the opposite position to the majority of the board, and I expressed that opinion and the facts that apply at that meeting. However the board has spoken and I will not work against the decision of the board.”

    The line is crossed when a board member actively solicits the press, writes letters to the editor, encourages community members to picket meetings, raises funds and organizes work against the board action and generally continues to actively campaign against a board decision that has been made.

  6. Candace Andersen is proving that she is more foolish than she looks. She has been on the Board of Supervisors less than 3 months and already she is at odds with her fellow board members and in direct opposition to factual information presented to her. Nice going Candy…strike one.

    It is one thing for the public to make unresearched and ridiculous statements, but for a Supervisor that has management staff and professionals to help educate, inform and guide her, this is unconcionable.

    The true irony is that she issued her opposition statement to the labor group which largely helped her get elected (her fellow attorneys/DA’s). She did not think anyone would notice? Strike two.

    Ms. Andersen is making multiple mistakes right out of the gate. She is destined to join the list of failed Danville Mayor’s/councilmember’s (Gayle Bishop, Donna Gerber, and Millie Greenberg) who also carried their own shortcommings to the Board of Supervisors and met the end of their political careers. That’s strike three Candace….you’re out.

    • Your wrong. I say great job to Candace for saying no to out of control pensions and salaries. It take guts to be on the board for less than 3 months and take a position she has took. It takes even more guts to wrtie the piece she wrote. To call her unresearched is funny because she proved her research at the last meeting about the upcoming rules changes.

      • Bobby,

        It comes as no surprise that you confuse “guts” with stupidity. No wonder you are aligned with such a novice and shallow thinker. I recommend that you re-read the post above by Teacher Dan.

        I challenge you to answer; What research did Candace Andersen prove at the last meeting? She was told how things are (regarding the rule changes), by the county CAO, staff, fellow board members Gioia and Piepho, the union and the Fire Chief. All she “proved” is that she was clueless.

        Mr. Gioia is also an attorney and I’ll wager he will have a sharp resopnse for Ms. Andersen’s careless, and confused rhetoric. Her letter was laugable at best.

        In case you missed it, Andersen was even told what the threshold for passage was (hint; it is NOT a 55 percent majority vote)….but as we can all see by her “letter” none of it sank in. Important things like “details” obviously escape her. It would take little effort for anyone to factualy pick apart the numbers and unresearched opinion she presented in her letter. Her position makes it clear that she wasn’t listening to the facts an information presented.

        While it remains questionable if the Measure Q will pass or not, it looks like you backed the wrong horse. It has already been said before; the measure is not about pension reform or how to re invent a service model that is proven. It is to provide a temporary financial bridge until the housing economy improves and lost revenues return through property tax assesments. It is pretty simple really-you get what you pay for. Too bad that is lost on people like you, Kris Hunt, Wendy Lack and Candace Andersen.

  7. Yes I am proud of Supervisor Andersen. I voted for her to be the adult on the board and recognize when irresponsible fiscal acts were occurring. The ConFire budget has been in the red since 2010. It takes a leader to stand up and say the department needs fiscal reform. Thank you Supervisor Andersen for representing this tax payer.

    • She isn’t looking like much of an adult where I sit. She was the lone vote on the Board and now is fighting against Measure Q. This is what you call sour grapes, not being an adult! Just what fiscal reform will occur with Measure Q? Please answer that?

    • @ Joyce,

      How odd. Being at the losing end of a 4-1 vote and then whining about it doesn’t seem very adult to me. I watched the meetings and there was plenty of factual information given to Mrs. Andersen, but she chose to ignore it-pretty childish if you ask me.

      What is that saying about “doesn’t play well with others”?

      Real leaders, know how to work with others and present arguements to change perspectives. Real leaders don’t finger point. Real leaders develop solutions. What Candace Andersen has done is not leadership, but rather she is acting like a uninformed litle child who did not get her way. She is going to have a miserable time on the board unless she figures out that being on the losing end of 4-1 votes is like wetting your pants in a dark suit.

      p.s. Real leaders don’t feel the need to put their bio and and family history in a footnote in their correspondence-especially when it is so weak.

  8. The pension legislation passed last Friday will automatically create a new tier for ConFire firefighters far lower than the one Candice suggests. The new tier starting 1/1/13 is 2 @ 57 at the bottom with a max of 2.7% @ 57. Far less than the 3 @ 55 she suggests.

    • Careful there Newtier…while the state may have passed it’s own legislation (CalPers) it is unclear if or even how it will effect (or not effect) city, special districts and county retirements systems. Let’s not forget that Con Fire is not under CalPers or the state’s requirements. It’s retirement “CCERA” falls under a independent County retirement with a seperate retirement board and very different rules. I am sure more information will be forthcoming. But ’till then…. Let’s not let personal opinions get in the way of the facts. I am sure we will be hearing much more about this as it unfolds. I cannot imagine firefighters/law enforcement/public safety working into their 60’s. It makes no sense. Workers comp (tax free retirements) would sky-rocket for beginners, putting a quick end to that type of “pension reform”. This is what happens when legislators respond with knee jerk reactions to alarmists like the Contra Costa Tax Payers Ass. & lackluster journalists such as Dan Borenstein. In the end we will all pay a price.

      Sounds to me like “Governer Moonbeam” should be changing his name to Governer Sunstroke!

      • Newtier,

        Just as I suspected, it appears that the Gov’s pension reform bill does not apply directly to Con Fire or the County’s retirement system.

        “The bill does affect local governments that have CalPERS plans, but not cities such as San Jose, which has its own plan and passed its own reforms, now being challenged by unions in court.”
        http://www.contracostatimes.com/california/ci_21443932/california-legislature-poised-pension-reform-vote

        Contra Costa operates with an independent retirement system (not CalPers) known as CCERA. While they could adopt some or all of the reform, it will be up to the actual County retirement board which is also independent of the County Board of Supervisors.

  9. Candace Andersen is an moron. She doesn’t even deal with the issue of the tax. She rants against the pension structure, then admits it can’t meaningfully be changed, then says we need a macro re-negotiation, then says she’ll support the tax if we do.

    I am confused. Without the macro-re-negogiation, Andersen says things are screwed….but will be much worse if the tax fails!

    In Vietnam the slogan was “we had to destroy the village in order to save it.”

    Stupid!

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