June 2012 Primary: N. County Perspective on Supe D-3

Jerome Stocks Jerome Stocks 30 Comments


The District 3 County Supervisor’s race race looked early on like a battle between Steve Danon, the challenger, and Pam Slater-Price, the 20 year incumbent. After Danon racked up a serious list of endorsements and accumulated a respectable war chest, indicating he was serious about “bringing it,” the incumbent folded her tent, said “no mas,” and withdrew from the re-election bid leaving Danon all alone. When I was interviewed regarding this sudden development I said that there was no way Danon was going to walk unopposed into that seat… I was more right than I knew… A little while later Dave Roberts (D) of Solana Beach and then Carl Hilliard (R) of Del Mar entered the race and between their self-funding and their fundraising they made sure it was a very competitive contest.

It appears Hilliard spent over $300,000 of his personal fortune but finished “out of the money” to put it in race-horse owner terms. We’ll have a D v. R run-off in November, and we can count on a “spirited” campaign to be sure. The November election follows closely on Halloween. As such, my bet is that closet skeletons could  appear 😉


Comments 30

  1. Jerome,

    After the overwhelming victories of pension reform in San Diego and San Jose, and the support for pension-reformer Scott Walker even in blue state Wisconsin, how are you going to defend your vote for 35% pension increases in 2005 and your continuing denial that there is a pension problem?

  2. 2012 isn’t 2005, the enhanced pensions were paid for by the employees which is why Encinitas employees have been paying 5% of their 8% employee contribution all along instead of 0 which was common elsewhere, and the “pension problem” you speak of is a phantom of an overworked imagination owned by people who need a bad news scenario to attempt to gain political advantage.

    Encinitas is in great financial shape.

    Thanks for asking, and enjoy your day!

  3. How exactly did employees pay for their 35% increase in pensions by the taxpayers paying ~2-3% less OF THE STAFF’S SHARE of the pension payments? That increase can NEVER be recouped UNLESS you planned on continuing to pay STAFF’s SHARE of the payments FOREVER.

    The only way you make any sense is:
    1) You also raised the cap on what staff would be asked to pay
    2) The minuscule decrease in how much the city was paying for the STAFF’s share actually pays for the 35% increase without using fantasy assumptions about CalPers rate of return and inflation.

    Maybe that’s too complicated. How about the 14% raise you gave all employees over the last 4 years when everyone else was tightening their belt and there was no need to raise salaries to be “fair” or to retain the city’s “talent”? That was done for no other reason than political advantage for you and your union supporters. How on earth do you justify that? How do you justify going to a longer term employee contract with those raises included right at the obvious start of an economic downturn?

    What have you done that is any different than all those other city’s which are now in serious trouble because of their pension problem? What makes Encinitas different than the fact that we are new city and don’t have a big pension burden yet?

    I will enjoy my day. I work toward making it possible for my grandchildren to be able to do the same when they become adults. Please help.

  4. Thor’s Assistant,

    Exactly! That is what Jerome ruined!

    That data is from market valuations as of June 2007, before the market drop, and only a few years into Jerome’s 35% benefit increase giveaway.

    Those numbers are MUCH worse now after the market drop and the Jerome giveaway.

    We could still have pension costs in the low single digits… if Jerome and his cronies had enacted sensible pension reform instead of giving away the store to the unions.

    I’m curious why you didn’t use more recent data.

  5. Dear Hopeful,
    I don’t have the time or patience to attempt educating you on actuarial tables and I’m struggling to completely grasp your comment. Please note the comment from T.A. above…

    I do get that you feel it was wrong to honor and uphold the 4 year labor agreement Encinitas had with the general employees which gave them a 3.5% raise each year.

    Please understand that it would be tough to go into court with financials showing balanced budgets projected for 6 years and no reduction predicted in our 20% contingency reserve fund, and demand the contract be re-opened because we want to do takeaways simply because, even though we can afford the contract, other cities are struggling and so we want to cut employee compensation too.
    It doen’t work that way, sorry.

    Since you obviously don’t believe public employees deserves their pay and benefits, it should give you comfort to know the prior contract has expired and the City of Encinitas currently is at impasse with the SEIU at this time.

  6. By the way, I believe there are some admonitions to keep the comments relevant, and while this has been fun, my post was about the D-3 Supes race, not Encinitas employee pay and benefits.

  7. My response somehow didn’t make it through the moderation filter. Let’s try again.

    Thor’s Assistant,

    Those are numbers from 2007-2008, at the peak of the bubble, and when Jerome’s 35% pension increase giveaway had only been in effect for a few years.

    The numbers are FAR worse now and getting worse every year.

    We could still have low-single-digit pension contributions — if Jerome and his cronies had voted for pension reform instead of giving away the store to the unions.

  8. I’m always amazed that this guy manages to tag me alone for things he finds offensive when I only have 20% of the City Council vote, which passed with 80% approval… It’s just politics… Facts are the first victim.

  9. You’re the only one of the four still in office, and you’re still blocking reform and denying there’s a problem. Who else should I be calling out?

    From Admin: You are trolling. What does any of this have to do with the post in question?

  10. Mr. Stocks posted a horse race post. Those types of posts on this media outlet and the mainstream media are very thin on substance.

    If Mr. Stocks is still a close associate of Mr. Danon, lets hear about Mr. Danon’s policy and administrative views. Does Mr. Danon plan on bringing pension reform to the county? Does he view Encinitas as a model program for municipal government?

    To ADMIN: Is SD Rostra willing to run a post on options for pension reform solutions in the City of Encinitas?

    To WC: James Bond is still on the city council. He deserves some credit for calling the 35% pension spike a terrible idea.

  11. Admin,

    I’m sorry. I didn’t realize this blog had a strict on-topic-only comment policy.

    Most blogs these days have a pretty wide-open commenting policy in the interest of open public debate, but if you’ve got different rules, I’ll abide by them.

    So I guess we’ll have to wait for someone at Rostra to write a post about Encinitas pensions….

    * crickets chirping *

  12. The important question that never get discussed is this:

    1. WHY does a city have to offer such insanely high compensation to it’s employees? Stated differently, does supply-demand dictate this generosity with taxpayer money?

    Nope. In this recession, quite the contrary.

    The proof? Advertise the few job openings, and then stand by for the FLOOD of qualified and OVERqualifed applicants for the coveted positions. Conversely, look at the “quit rate” — if few leave, that means the employer is paying more than necessary.

    Any business owner will tell you that such imbalance is a sure sign one is overcompensating one’s employees.

    Business people have an economic interest in controlling such costs. Politicians such as Jerome Stocks have no such concerns about wasting taxpayer dollars — and he’s certainly not alone.

    The primary interest of such politicians is to buy their employees’ gratitude and loyalty with OPM. For these officials, the payoff usually manifests itself big-time when the next election comes around.

    It’s a symbiotic relationship. At taxpayer expense.

  13. So according to this clown I helped destroy the finances of the city with a vote in 2005, but the T.A. numbers show Encinitas among the best placed in the county regarding pension obligations, and we have a balanced budget besides. El Clownee says those stats are from 2007… Wow, I guess that’s a bummer for folks like him who are invested in bad news even when it’s not reality based because how could the Taxpayer group be right if I destroyed the city 2 years earlier?
    This WC fool is becoming tiresome, and the fact that he tries to identify himself as a “Tea Party” guy greatly damages that brand and adds to the myth that Tea Party is just a bunch of nut jobs.

  14. Mr Rider,
    The city of Encinitas has a policy of paying the median of comparable agencies for comparable positions. This has always seemed a reasonable position to me, but is probably in conflict with the “no government worker is worth more than 25 cents a day” that some believe,

  15. I was going to observe decorum, and abstain from participation in this topic, until you chose the ad hominem fallacy to defend yourself, Mr. Mayor.

    My questions are respectfully submitted but direct:

    1- Why raise wages when hundreds of qualified workers might take those jobs for less money?

    2- Did you vote for those pay hikes or did you dissent from the rest of your colleagues on the Council?

    3- Was it a trade-off for pension concessions? If so, was the net effect advantageous to your constituents, the Encinitas taxpayers?

    With respect Mr Mayor, Mr Varones and I will keep our own counsel about our “brand” which, if you understood anything about the tea party movement, is impossible to “manage”.

  16. @Jerome: Not our numbers, but those of SDCTA, posted if useful.

    @WC Varones: 1) We didn’t indicate there was a strict policy, but Stocks noted what the post was about and so were we. 2) No, we’ve never had any posts about the need for pension reform on Rostra. Kidding aside, we actually very much DO wish we had more substantive content about local government agencies besides the City of San Diego. But, Admin doesn’t drive the content, the bloggers largely do. See below.

    @On Topic: See answer to WC above. It’s not whether “we’re” willing to run a post, it’s whether a blogger chooses to write one. We don’t have editors in the sense of “Hey, Jimmy, go write this story.” Maybe a blogger will take it on, but they are all volunteers. We absolutely do consider guest columns, however, if they are reasonably well written AND submitted by a real-named person. Maybe you know someone.

  17. The pension tsunami that was created by the 2005 vote will not hit shore for many years. Did El Cajon get in trouble overnight? No. This sort of problem gets sowed decades before the hammer drops. People who go broke rarely feel or look poor immediately after taking on too much debt. The City of Encinitas is young with few retirees. The pain comes later.

    Has the City of Encinitas done ANYTHING that is better than all the other CalPERS cities that are now and soon to be getting hammered? Mr. Stocks can put this all to rest by saying what is better about his city’s system as compared to other cities. How about Carlsbad?

    As for paying the median salary, that doesn’t address Mr. Rider’s comments one bit. Mr. Rider might be interested that the city’s pay scale allows for cashiers to make $50,000/y plus every other Friday off, great employee benefits and a solid pension that cannot be found in the private sector. The bank tellers around the block from city hall make SUBSTANTIALLY less in salary, no pension, and weaker benefits.

  18. I love how a few nervous folks are trying to pigeon-hole me as a typical “D”. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not your typical local community leader. I led the charge in Solana Beach for 100% pension reform and SDCTA spotlighted our city as the top example in San Diego County for REAL REFORM that cut costs 14% in the first year. I worked with Jerome and the Board of North County Transit District and took that agency from the brink of disaster to a fiscally responsible agency that SDCTA spotlighted in 2011 as the Golden Fiscal Bulldog winner. We have now reduced fares and expanded service. As for our campaign for D3 Supervisor, in just 4 1/2 months we caught up to Mr. Danon (who has been running for 35 months) and folks KNOW that I am the real deal; strong fiscal discipline, strong grassroots support, and a personal story that resonates with D3. My support spans folks across the political spectrum from the far right to the far left. Why? Because I am NOT partisan and work with all who want REAL REFORM. My supporters and I are energized about our chances for November 6th and know that many of you will be supporting our campaign. You are welcome to talk with me personally at dave@daveroberts.org.

  19. Jerome Stocks responds with the usual nonsense about “paying the median of comparable agencies for comparable positions.” If THAT’s the standard, let’s fire the politicians and let a computer set the pay.

    Of course, the problem is that overpaying government agencies love to compare their compensation levels ONLY with OTHER overpaying agencies. The leap frog game of wage justification continues.

    No one wants to consider what the REAL labor market wages are. Need I explain it?

    The mayor of Carlsbad tells me that when they hire a new firefighter (which is seldom, and usually no more than 2 a year at most), they don’t even consider anyone who finished fire fighting school lower than 2nd in student rankings.

    No need to — there are hundreds of eager, fully qualified applicants for each opening. I’m sure Carlsbad pay is “comparable” to Encinitas in ff pay.

    It IS true that, if the Encinitas politicians decide to pay REAL comparable wages, they’d earn the enmity of their pampered employees. And few politicians relish THAT idea.

    But then, that’s the kind of hard decision we EXPECT our elected officials to make (though they seldom do).

    In fairness, I’m using Jerome Stocks as a fine example of this malfeasance in office. But while he’s one example, his viewpoint and actions represent the majority of city politicians in our county — Democrat or “Republican.”

    Very few have the backbone of a Carl DeMaio — and we champion those that do — such as Oceanside’s Jerry Kern and Gary Felien.

  20. Jerome Stocks displays his disdain for those who support frugality in government by indicating such reformers are advocating 25 cents a day wages for government employees. Really, Mr. Stocks? You think that is the wage rate in the private sector??

    It’s the “false choice” such Big Spenders love to throw around — either pay our government employees their current opulent salaries and pensions, or drop them to minimum wage (or considerably less, according to Stocks).

    Thank you, “Mayor” Stocks, for displaying so well the elitist attitude of our (sadly) typical city politician.

  21. Councilman Roberts, you are, without a doubt, one of the nicest people in Solana Beach but, as a Council member, your actions are that of a moralizing busy body who would rather tax than reform.

    Let’s talk about the Council’s wacky social agenda: You’ve banned grown men and women from smoking, drinking, and carrying their food in plastic bags. Mark my words, I expect a Big Gulp ban by Thanksgiving. Is this the Solana Beach Council or the Christian Temperance Union?

    More importantly, your fiscal record is weak. Rather than address the issues of escalating salaries and pension costs, you tried to enact a business licensing and (illegal) property tax on investors (Proposition L)… and Mr. Roberts? You campaigned for it.

    Only when the Council realized that the taxpayers would soundly reject that tax, did it address pension reform. The solution was a wage hike to help defray the employees’ increased pension costs, a shell game if you will. This after raising City salaries some 15% during a recession (while the taxpayers were suffering income losses).

    Councilman Roberts, I will restate that you are one of the nicest people I’ve met. I will always help you with your work on the Lions Club but it’s time to retire you to that position permanently.

  22. “On topic,” your comment on the $50,000 Encinitias city cashier tickles my fancy. Or maybe it’s just an acid reflux response.

    I like to use such examples, but I’d really appreciate a URL source, as the “other side” loves to challenge such factoids (as do I when they post!!).

    Last time I checked (it’s been years), the city of San Diego paid about $36K for a cashier, almost double the average in the private sector — not counting the huge disparity in benefits. Your $50,000 figure is simply off the scale.

    Give me URL guidance, and earn my eternal gratitude (and we all know what THAT’s worth!).

  23. It will be worth the time to get the documentation if Mr. Stocks denies it or tries to dodge it.

    Mr. Stocks is it true that you have approved a pay scale that allows an entry level cashier with a high school diploma and a business math course to make $50k a year? With benefits, is that like making $70k a year in the private sector?

    Will Mr. Danon run the county this way? Mr. Roberts, what do you think?

  24. Mr. Brady,

    Solana Beach’s “pension reform” sounds like Encinitas “pension reform”. Are you implying that was just a shell game and just fake reform?

  25. “Are you implying that was just a shell game and just fake reform?”

    Not just yet but the data indicate that the table may have been set for the pension reform repast. This is why I’m asking Mayor Stocks and Councilman Roberts these questions,

    Solana Beach Council members easily got it through with a 2% wage increase. The silent story was the irregular run-up in wages for the 4 year period prior (while the taxpayers were suffering declining wages).

    Call it a “reverse Wimpy”- I’ll gladly give you hamburgers for payment on Tuesday

  26. It’s hard to fathom the fact that, until 2009 or so, the Encinitas city firefighters paid ZERO for their great pensions. Somehow that’s okay with Stocks, because several OTHER cities were doing the same thing. “Competitive pressures” and all that.

    Then it gets more interesting. The Encinitas firefighters have to start paying 3% a year per year for their pensions (putting towards their pensions 3%, 6% and 9% contributions phased in over three years).

    To “ease the pain,” the city gave the firefighters raises of (you guessed it) 3%, 6% and 9% over those three years — in the middle of our severe recession.

    More “competitive pressure,” I suppose. That, and everyone LOVES their firefighters — costs be damned.

    It gets worse. I’d bet dollars to donuts that the city firefighter salaries have been calculated INCLUDING the city’s contribution to their pensions — and now will include these pay increases as pensionable city pay. Hence a 30 year Encinitas firefighter like does NOT retire with “only” 90% of his highest pay (what was wrongly assumed prior to the raises) — he gets 98.1% of his highest pay.

    When such a 30 year hero retires, he (perhaps she) no longer has deductions from their monthly “paycheck” (a.k.a. pension check) — no union dues, pension contribution, etc. — so they actually take home significantly more in retirement than they made while working. Let’s not talk about all the extra pensionable pay they got for being EMT-qualified, bilingual and many other “special pay” categories.

    A retired firefighter’s life expectancy is the same as other government employees (according to CalPERS) – a bit over 82 years. The obligation for taxpayers is huge!

    Does this make sense? Stocks would say YES!

    Again, my apologies to picking on Jerome Stocks. Nothing personal. It’s just that he’s chosen to come out and play, which is to his credit, I suppose.

    Stocks is simply the poster child representing MOST of the city council members in San Diego County — and probably 80% or more of the city council members prior to 2006 or so.

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