Rodrigues & Tyson; “Fully Loaded”

The City of Eureka’s Ugly Budget Secrets

This past Tuesday’s Eureka City Council Meeting featured an item on the 2013/14 FY supplemental budget.  Apparently, the reserve in the general fund is projected to be about $777,000.  What we found interesting in the discussion was the apparent lack of transparency from Paul Rodrigues (surprise, surprise).  Almost every council member had trouble getting Paul to answer their questions directly.

 

For instance, Chet Albin asked Paul 3 times about where the money for additional hiring at the police department would come from.  Was it figured into the budget, or would it come out of the reserves.  At one point Albin said, “That’s not my question, Paul.  If they hired…two full time people (police officers)…where does that money come from?”  Paul paused for several seconds, and then began a longwinded speech that didn’t answer the question.  Paul finally ended by saying, “If we were expecting 2 (police officers) and hired five, and we didn’t anticipate the other 3, the additional 3 would come out of the 777 (meaning the $777,000 reserve in the general fund).”

 

After that exchange, Melinda Ciarabellini had to chime in. “I was really trying hard to follow that.  So the salary savings in each department aren’t kept within the department?” she asked.  Paul answered by saying that he and Former City Manager Dave Tyson had come up with a method that showed department budgets as being “fully loaded”, even though the savings would go back into the general fund.

 

Throughout the discussion Paul made it clear that the police department had never been fully staffed.  He said he had spoken with Dave Tyson and Murl Harpham, and that the department hadn’t been fully staffed since Murl was hired.  At one point Paul admitted what the Examiner has been saying about the city’s budget for a long time.  He said, “If the Police Department was ever fully staffed, we’d be looking at a unique challenge.  Because, as I’ve said in talking with Dave Tyson and Murl Harpham, it’s never happened before in their experience”.

 

Classic Scam

The Classic Scam

Paul finally admitted that the farce of a “fully staffed” police department has never happened, and the City doesn’t expect it to!  There’s where the real reserves come from.  By allocating numerous positions in the police budget that will never be filled, the city knows they can talk about their support for public safety, ask citizens to support tax increases, and continue to fund things like the Zoo without consequence.

 

Paul stated the City’s position best when he said, “Hopefully the expenditures (from departments) come in quite a bit lower (than budgeted).”

 

Too see what we’ve been saying about Paul Rodrigues you need to watch the full discussion. It can be viewed here (Police discussion starting at 1:46:03):

 

http://eureka.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=300

 

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16 thoughts on “Rodrigues & Tyson; “Fully Loaded”

  1. I watched the video. Wow! Before watching I had assumed Rodrigues was a really devious and adept COE staffer. Now, it just looks likes he’s an idiot placed in a position way out of his league to follow Tyson’s footsteps. He said ‘ working with Tyson’ like 30 times. Good old boy stuff, for sure.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I like to think I’m as smart as my fellow man (and woman) but I really had a hard time getting through this.

    I’m not sure I could get through a financial discussion with Paul Rodrigues without my brain exploding.

    But what I gathered from the discussion is the police salary fund has been used as a sort of slush fund for several generations now. I’m sure it’s legal but I still don’t like that.

    I hear the deal as: “You (the Police Chief) get 30 officers (just a number, I don’t know how many a full Eureka Police Department staffing would be) but you get only 25 actually on staff. The salaries of the other five (the “savings”) we’ll use to fund something else. Sound fair Chief?”

    I’m trying to figure out why any police chief would consider that to be a good idea. Perhaps Chief Mills’ days would be numbered if he actually decided to hire all the folks he’s budgeted for (and yet NOT budgeted for).

    I have to stop now, I feel my brain swelling all ready.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If they are shorthanded, won’t some (at least) of the “surplus” go for overtime? They do love their overtime.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think anyone’s too worried about police overtime in City Hall. According to the website (if you can believe the city), the PD didn’t spend 1.5 million in the last budget. That went right into the general fund. Weird that they’re so short on money though. Where did that huge amount get spent?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. YoDa wrote, “Weird that they’re so short on money though.Where did that huge amount get spent?

    Most of you keep ignoring it, but might exploding employee and health care costs be taking more and more of the General Fund?

    The county already admitted they failed to account for those rising expenses that caused a shortage at the county level. I suspect that’s what might be going on with Eureka but neither the council or staff want to deal with it. It’s happening to cities across the state. Why not here?

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    • As has been pointed out by Mr. Rodrigues himself; the under staffing of police to provide general fund revenue has been going on for quite some time…. a whole lot longer than the current crisis in health care and pension funding.

      I suspect it will go on long after city employees are stripped of their health care and pensions.

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      • They always do that. Most people want fire and police services fully funded- ahead of everything else. So, they take money from fire and police for other purposes, then scream fire and police are underfunded.

        I’m sure Eureka residents will recall the last Measure O campaign that featured the silhouette of a fireman on signs supporting the tax increase. They do that because people tend to vote for anything supporting regarding more money for fire and police…or schools.

        What happened 20 years ago, opposed to now, isn’t quite the same thing. Back then, they played the public safety card. Now they’re most likely playing it, too, but they’re sweeping the retirement and other benefits under the rug and trying to blow off the exploding retirement and heath debts. Or I suspect they are.

        The Rodriguez guy is obviously not being clean with what’s going on, although I suspect the council is barking up the wrong tree. I can’t prove it right now- we need an audit by a neutral CPA- but I’m guessing they’re ignoring the debts from public employees (that likely come right off the top of the General Fund) and hoping everyone will ignore it.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This discussion has been ongoing for over twenty years and the EPD has been short staffed for the whole period and the city’s crime rate has been a hot topic for the whole period. I wonder why? Eureka has no intention of cutting it’s crime rate by fully staffing EPD. It is that simple. The city has been spewing their lies for some time. Don’t buy into it. Hold their feet to the fire. If it gets hot enough something might happen, but don’t hold your breath.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I believe Chief Nielsen came very close in 2009 with good candidates chosen to fill the last spots, but was foiled but City Manager Tyson.

    Fred is right about cost of Eureka’s contribution to Cal Pers it’s massive and growing. I predict Eureka’s reckless approach to it will lead to insolvency.

    Anybody wanna venture a guess how much Tyson is getting?

    Like

    • This morning’s Contra Costa Times looks at Oakland’s problems with public pensions:
      http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_25597589/oakland-auditor-sounds-pension-alarm?source=rss

      A couple quotes:
      Pension costs have more than doubled over the past decade, leaving Oakland with fewer police officers, more potholes and a growing threat of insolvency, City Auditor Courtney Ruby warned in a report released Sunday.

      Oakland’s payments to the state pension system jumped from $37 million in 2003 to $89 million in 2012, the report found.

      That $52 million gap is enough to pay the salaries of 300 police officers, according to city budget figures.

      I’ve wondered for some time what the numbers might look like for Humboldt’s towns and cities, but the issue seems largely ignored?

      By 2017, however, Oakland anticipates having to pay $148 million to cover pension obligations, according to budget forecasts. That would amount to more than 10 percent of all city expenditures.

      ‘There is no doubt that Oakland is already in the danger zone,” Nation said. “But virtually every entity in California is in the danger zone.’

      Like

  6. Janelle, it sounds like you are still angry with Paul over the water tank issue.

    Like

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