April 3, 2012 | It's no coincidence San Leandro city employees are beginning to voice opposition to Mayor Stephen Cassidy and his treatment of city worker by lobbing words like "respect" and "dignity" as he continues to drive some of the most hostile anti-labor venom of any public official in the East Bay.
Monday night, as the San Leandro City Council again discussed offering two-year service credit to long-time employee as an incentive to retire, Cassidy continued an astonishing hard line that begs to question exactly what he wants from employees short of indentured servitude and does he have any knowledge when it comes to how payroll and economics work?
Cassidy questioned city staff this week over the accounting semantics of four soon-to-be-eliminated positions stemming from the end of their redevelopment agency. Offering the service credit, theoretically, gives the city immediate savings in dealing with its budget crunch, but Cassidy instead appears to be taking aim at both sides of the issue--budget sustainability and what? Union-busting? Remember, it is not in Cassidy's best interests to show anywhere near a rosy economic climate in the city if he is to succeed in initiating policies that would normally only be prescribed for a far worse situation in the city.
According to city staff, not offering incentives to older workers to retire could jeopardize their colleagues in terms of seniority. Those workers at the bottom of the pecking order draw less from the city's bottom line. It would also, according to staff, trigger lay offs from a pool of part-time employees.
What happens "if we didn't offer this and the position is eliminated and the person chooses not to retire," asked Cassidy. The answer is those at the bottom of the food chain would begin receiving unemployment benefits of up to $24,000 per year, according to staff. Such ignorance of this fact is the most damning snapshot yet of Cassidy's lack of empathy for the condition of a vast majority of San Leandrans and city workers who wrestle daily with finding sources to pay bills, eat or provide suitable health insurance for their families.
Cassidy obviously does not understand 99ers, the moniker given to those who have exhausted 99 weeks of additional federally-funded unemployment checks. Nor does he apparently consort with any of them on a regular basis since the Great Recession seized the national economy four years ago. Cassidy seems to only understand a cache of facts and figures, but fails when it comes to fathoming the painful human costs.
"Golden handshakes" used by past council's to remedy growing costs to the general fund were based on the assumption of long-term savings with vacant positions, Cassidy said. But, he said in this case, the funding source is gone with the dissolution of the redevelopment agency. While true, it only answers to the problem of monetary costs and casts the human ones aside. It's easier to cut into a porterhouse steak if you're oblivious to the carnage at the slaughter house.
"I'm opposed to this because I think it is too expensive to the city over the long term," said Cassidy. "I think the appropriate alternative is for a one-time only payment as an incentive for retirement."
So, what exactly is Cassidy's point? Is he looking at the issue as a cold and calculating number cruncher or does he plainly lack any sympathy for his constituents during one of the most debilitating economic eras in the past three generations?
The notion of pushing hard-working public employees to the unemployment line instead of honoring their past and future accomplishments without remorse is a conservative ideology not readily understood by those in the East Bay.
And then there was this: "I don't view treating someone with respect as based solely on a dollar sign," Cassidy said Monday night. Isn't that what every jerk boss you ever had said to you right before they gave you the axe?