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California City Will Seize Rights And Money From Its Lowest Paid Employees, But Management Pay Remains Bloated!

Updated on April 13, 2011

A Shameful Case Of Shared Sacrifice In California!

How many times have you heard the term ‘shared sacrifice’ in the last year? Doesn’t it just make you want to take the guy who thought it up and knock him up against the wall a few times? Maybe it is just a thing with me; maybe I just get angry when I hear it because I know that the sacrifice is going to come from me and the guy that is saying it is just gonna keep on driving his Mercedes, all the way to his house on the beach…

That newest rule of shared sacrifice, combined with the current negative perception of public employees has empowered mayors in cities throughout the state of California. They are seizing the opportunity! Management can now victimize their lowest paid workers and be lauded as heroes, while the bloated pay and fringe benefits of management remains out of the spotlight and survives intact. What was unconscionable five years ago is now perceived to be sound, responsible government. Bell, Ca. was not an isolated incident.

Carlsbad, California is one example of shameful shared sacrifice. Carlsbad is an affluent city just north of San Diego. This city of a little over one hundred thousand residents hugs the scenic coastline. Its eclectic mix of quaint beach cottages are nestled close to opulent cliffside homes that overlook pristine beaches. The median house price is $550,000. Carlsbad is home to La Costa Golf Resort and Lego Land. The residents have just elected a new mayor. He has been involved in city government for years. The citizens are comfortable with him. They think he is one of them.

But new Mayor Matt Hall and City Hall are pushing a dark agenda to bridge a $2.8 Million dollar budget shortfall (fuzzy math and the existence of hard to track multiple accounts). The agenda and the contract offer have not been made public yet, and the Mayor has not responded to my email, questioning the offer and his motives. The contract may be imposed by the City Council prior to the residents even being made aware of its implications. Without the support of the residents, the lowest paid city workers will lose every protection they have. They may even lose their jobs and Carlsbad may become the next Costa Mesa; the next city in California that can outsource entire city departments to private companies. Not management staff. Management staff is safe from the axe, in spite of the fact that they earn the bulk of the payroll. The numbers are from the most recent available, 2009 to 2010.

Targeting The Lowest Paid Employees!

The targeted employees are the LOWEST paid workers in the city. There are 330 members of the Carlsbad City Employees Association. The first 20 of the employees (computer geeks and engineers) on the list earn a total of $1,893,489.00, The highest base salary is $108,978, but there are 154 employees in this class of workers that earn under $50,000.

Carlsbad Management has a staff of 111 employees. Base pay of the top 35 of these employees totals $4,857,782.00. The highest paid employee of the 35 earns a base pay of $236,300 and 35th on the list makes $110,449.00. Out of the 111 management employees, only 3 earn under $50,000.00 a year. Every management employee is also eligible for what is called Incentive Pay. Incentive Pay can add an extra 10% bonus to the yearly base salary. These employees get TAXPAYER FUNDED BONUSES based on meeting goals. What goals? They are the only employees of the city that qualify for the Incentive Pay Plan. Although these employees make the bulk of the money, their benefits and pay are not the target of the cuts. Their money and bonuses are safe…Shared sacrifice… Try as I might, I cannot find the amount of money that is paid from this 'fund' every year. Heck, I can't even find the fund listed in the budget...Are the taxpayers aware that Management is paying itself BONUSES?

Second and third on the pay scale are the police and firefighters. There are approximately 227 firefighters, paramedics and police officers. Only 9 of these employees earn under $50,000.00 per year in base pay. The top 20 employees earn a total of just under $3,000,000.00. The highest compensation is $173,753.00. The police already have a new contract in place, but the firefighters are also negotiating. The firefighters will have the following ‘non-financial’ clause imposed on them, too. It is thought that perhaps the mayor wants to outsource paramedics, but the residents may rise up in opposition to that approach.

In the new contract offer made by the City, the Association employees’ wages are to be frozen and their pension contribution will be increased to 7%. The City will pay other benefits at 50%, while the employees will contribute 50%.

Most onerous of the clauses in the ‘offer’ from the city is ‘non-financial’ in nature. It falls under City Rights and says: After meeting and conferring over the decision and the effects, the rights of the City include the ability to transfer employees among various City activities and work groups; implement unpaid furloughs of employees; contract out bargaining unit work to third parties or assign work to City employees outside the bargaining unit.

Practical translation of this clause: After deciding to activate this clause, the city has the right to transfer any employee to any other position; e.g. 1) If you are a senior librarian earning $70,000 dollars a year, the city may transfer you to the position of tree trimmer I at a yearly salary of $26,929. Don’t like it—quit. 2) The city may decide to send you and your entire department home without pay and hire private contractors to do your jobs (outsourcing), or the city may hire part-time workers to do your job and pay what they wish and offer no benefits. The clause has no limitations. The clause may be activated at any time, even in a healthy economy, at the whim of the mayor and his like-minded City Council members. It is thought to be an effort to fire the most senior and most educated employees and replace them with lower paid, less qualified workers.

This and similar clauses are popping up all over California. City employees in California are not members of large unions. They belong to small associations, so they do not have union backing.

The Scandal Of An Incentive Plan For Management Employees Only!

The following is taken from the Management Compensation and Benefits Plan that is printed on the Carlsbad website. How many Taxpayers know about the existence of this plan? Are bonuses even supposed to be paid from City revenues? If the goal of a particular manager is to come in under budget for his or her department, could this BONUS PLAN serve as an incentive to delay the purchase of needed equipment or to cut corners on necessary maintenance? The very existence of a BONUS PLAN in any city government is questionable, at best. Managers receive a salary( the largest salaries are at the management level) to do their jobs. Why is that salary alone not sufficient motivation for a job well done. Especially in a climate of 'shared sacrifice'...Especially when the lowest paid employees are targeted for cuts and possible extinction?

The description is not edited.


The Incentive Pay plan is provided in addition to the Base Pay plan.

All management employees are eligible for incentive pay, regardless of their position in the salary range. All management employees’ salary above base pay is unfixed and uncertain until completion of the evaluation and award process annually, in which the incentive portion, if any, is determined for each management employee.

Employees earn the incentive based on their achievement of goals established during the performance management process. For each goal, achievement is rated based on one of two performance levels: Threshold or Target.

Unlike base pay increases which are determined at the end of the performance management cycle, the potential incentive percentages will be made public at the beginning of the performance review cycle. Incentive awards are expressed as a percentage of base pay. The City Council will determine the annual amount to be budgeted for management incentive pay, and an Incentive Pay matrix will be distributed to all management employees. This matrix will change from time to time based on the City’s economics, market data, and demographics. At the end of the fiscal year and upon completion of the review process, incentive awards will be granted to employees based on their level of goal accomplishment during the performance management cycle. No management employee shall be awarded incentive compensation in an amount greater than 10% of that employee’s base salary.

The City Manager will periodically provide the City Council with progress reports on the operation of the Performance Management and Compensation System.


On April 12, 2011, Julie Clark, HR, City of Carlsbad, sent an email to clarify the Incentive Plan. The body of the email stated:

"All management employees are assigned goals each fiscal year, and each management employee is eligible for incentive pay based on the achievement of individual and departmental goals that pertain to his/her area of expertise. The aim is to have each manager assigned goal(s) that link his/her individual efforts to the objectives of their department and ultimately to the goals and objectives that are set by the City Council each fiscal year.

The City Council sets the incentive pay percentage at the beginning of the fiscal year (July) and the incentive awards are based on a percentage of the manager's annual salary. If granted, the incentive awards are given at the conclusion of the fiscal year after all performance evaluations are completed and goal achievement has been evaluated. This usually takes place in August. No incentive awards have been given to management employees in almost three years - the last time incentive awards were given was in July 2008. Therefore, each manager is assigned goals on an annual basis and the City Council decides whether or not to fund the incentive pay program."

Ms. Clark's email, while appreciated, added only one thing to the conversation. She states that there have been no awards made since July 2008. There is no effort to suggest that the existence of the BONUS plan is being reviewed for elimination. Even in prosperous times, management employees of city government should not need to receive a taxpayer funded BONUS to achieve goals. Achievement of goals is the job of all employees, management or otherwise. A salary is paid in exchange for doing your job. City management, the most highly compensated public employees, require the existence of a BONUS as incentive to perform? The very idea is absurd. I do not necessarily believe that there have been no BONUSES paid. I have seen no proof. The very existence of a Management Incentive Pay Plan leads me to question the voracity of Ms. Clark's claim. Further, if Ms. Clark's claim is true, and the managers have received no BONUS for two fiscal cycles, she does not suggest that BONUSES will not be paid at the end of the current fiscal cycle. Finally, it is my premise that BONUSES have no place in City government.

Shared Sacrifice Demands Knowing Where The Greed Is!

The ‘shared sacrifice’ philosophy is nothing shared. Carlsbad Management is sharing nothing and remains rich, while the poor get poorer.

Capitalizing on perceptions is an art. Maybe Matt Hall and the City Council of Carlsbad each read the book by Frank Luntz, the GOP guru, titled: WORDS THAT WORK! ITS NOT WHAT YOU SAY! ITS WHAT PEOPLE HEAR! The 'word art' that is being perfected in this one California community is far from unique. Public employees are viewed as greedy parasites, and some of them are. The greedy are not usually the lowest paid employees in any discussion, and are definitely not the parasites in this discussion. This is not isolated to Carlsbad, California. It is not isolated to Costa Mesa or even the city of Bell, California. It is happening all over the state of California and in other states throughout the country. Almost every state in the nation has cities that are handing over taxpayer-funded bonuses to management.

Before supporting the philosophy of 'shared sacrifice', make sure that the sacrifice is REALLY being shared!


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  • Jillian Barclay profile image

    Jillian Barclay 6 years ago from California, USA

    Dear Family Guy,

    I agree! Hall should go out and spend just one day (that might just be enough to convince him-a week might disable him or worse) with the sewer workers, cleaning up some raw sewage...or the tree trimmers, or the custodians, or the streets guys, or any City of Carlsbad real worker!

    Management pay is at the top of the county salary rates, while the Association members are nowhere near the top...and the mayor wants their benefits and retirement GONE...

    The City Manager is an overpaid puppet and tool, period! I know what is happening in Carlsbad, as do You, Family Guy!

  • profile image

    Family Guy 6 years ago

    PENSION REFORM??? City of Carlsbad management does the least and gains the most, while the general workers who do the most have had to give up benefits,no pay increase for 2 years, fund their own pension and give in to the mayor and council’s iron fist. Where’s the pension reform? Will the city manager who makes over $200k per year , has her pension and other benefits paid in full fund her own pension? Will management have to fund their own pension contribution or will theirs stay funded and will they receive a possible 2.5% pay increase? On top of all that the city wants to consider outsourcing to companies who will provide lower quality work? Yet your general workers who make the least will be forced to fund their own pensions by taking a 7% pay cut. Matt Hall’s campaign was based on pension reform. Too bad he only meant the workers who are the lowest paid, Amazing, the council has no problem bailing out a losing golf course, building a new park, but they don’t want to support their employees who keep the city running. It’s not about saving money. It’s about the the mayor’s and council’s hidden plan. What do they have against city workers? Maybe the mayor, Mr. Packard and other council members, would like to spend a week doing the jobs of the general worker, get their hands dirty and see what it really takes to keep the basic city services going that are critical to maintaining Carlsbad. Maybe they should make their decisions based on what is best for the citizens of Carlsbad that elected them and not try to fulfill their personal vendettas or agendas.

  • Jillian Barclay profile image

    Jillian Barclay 6 years ago from California, USA

    Dear Rob,

    Carlsbad management DOES take care of its own! Unbelievable, except that it is true! I invite everyone to take a look at the website you offer. Had a problem loading it at first, but then I went to: and put in Carlsbad. You can search for any city in the state. Really is telling, isn't it? Bet none of these top pension recipients are the ones cleaning the sewer lines or doing the street maintenance or trimming the trees!

    Matt Hall has some explaining to do!

    Not only do the bonuses count towards pension, but when a department needs to do some maintenance or buy a new piece of equipment, how many times does a 'manager' think to themselves, "Well if I approve this, there goes my bonus!" I would think that it has happened on more than one occasion. In fact, my contacts insist that it has happened!

  • profile image

    Rob 6 years ago

    These bonuses received by management are also used towards calculating retirement benefits from PERS. Carlsbad management takes care of their own. Former City Manager Ray Patchet receives an annual retirement check for $239,635.80. Mayor Matt Hall is responsible for the lucrative contracts for management. More obscene Carlsbad management retirement salaries can be found at

  • Jillian Barclay profile image

    Jillian Barclay 6 years ago from California, USA

    Dear Loyal Public Employee,

    Thank you! You have said it better than I could, because you have been part of it. As a public employee, you have taken your responsibility seriously. It has been my experience that city employees always do things that are outside their printed job responsibilities. They smooth over the complaints, they treat everyone with a smile and they really care about the people in the cities that they work for. They have no agenda, other than to go to work everyday and do the best they can.

    As for Matt Hall: He had disdain for city employees well before he was elected Mayor. He made it no secret that he had no respect for them even when he was on the City Council. This, from a man who owns and runs a junk yard (his business)...I know, snarky! all is fair in this fight. It is simple! He wants the City employees gone, period!

    If you are familiar with the area, you also realize that the news media in the area is such that both sides are not represented. Even when they see the facts in black and white, they will not print them unless they coinicide with their political view. The major newspapers were unwilling to present the truth of this article, but it has reached many people. Believe me, Matt Hall will have a viable opponent next election! And that opponent will have the backing of every progressive in the City! Hall needs to go back to his junk yard full time and stop trying to ruin Carlsbad!

  • profile image

    A Loyal Public Employee 6 years ago

    Hi Jillian,

    Your article is so right on! I am one of the California public employees that has had “shared sacrifice” forced upon them. I have worked in municipal government for over 20 years. I do not just sit at a desk and draw a pay check. I take my public service seriously and would do anything in my power to make our cities successful. I am happy to say that I know many of my coworkers and colleagues feel the same way.

    Carlsbad is a very prosperous city. When other cities were forced to lay off workers Carlsbad did not. Employees were told that due to the proactive financial planning of management they were spared. There were cut backs, and job vacancies that went unfilled but no threat of layoffs. The employees were told that if they tightened their belts, and absorbed the extra work that everything was going to be okay. The employees were actually proud that the City was managed so well that they were able to avoid layoffs. They were more than willing to do whatever it took to help the organization out, to band together and pull through.

    That all changed with one vote, the vote that went to Matt Hall. Honestly I do not understand why people run for government positions when they are obviously anti-government. I have noticed that these people have no problem cashing those government checks. Taking money from the citizens and now the employees and putting it right into their retirement funds. The employees in Carlsbad have gone from a group with great civic pride and a great sense of worth to a group that feels betrayed and unappreciated. Most of the Carlsbad employees can’t even afford to live in the city they keep running.

    You mentioned the book title “ WORDS THAT WORK! ITS NOT WHAT YOU SAY! ITS WHAT PEOPLE HEAR!”. I have a quote from the best City Manager I have ever worked with, “if something APPEARS to be a problem, it is a problem.” This was from a man who actually earned the respect of his city. He treated his employees fairly and for that he was respected. Respect is something Matt Hall will never get from the employees of the City of Carlsbad. Not only could he never earn it, he couldn’t even buy it. I just hope the citizens of Carlsbad realize that Matt Hall is a “problem” before their beautiful community becomes the next “shared sacrifice”.

    Thank you so much for bringing this to light.

  • profile image

    learning management system 6 years ago

    Hello, This is a good hub to read about employees management.

  • Jillian Barclay profile image

    Jillian Barclay 6 years ago from California, USA

    Dear online training,

    This is happening in other cities in other states, all over the country. The real crooks always seem to run with the money. They just figure out how best to not get caught.

  • profile image

    online training 6 years ago

    California City Will must atleast hear some cries to others and understand it for money is way important to it. This is a an eye opener hub article from a state government

  • Jillian Barclay profile image

    Jillian Barclay 6 years ago from California, USA


    First, your beautiful puppy! Think I may have to steal him/her. Reminds me of my Puff that was my best friend for almost 20 years. What a face!

    There is alot wrong when management seeks to protect itself, hide its excesses and thievery by blaming the little guys for shortages that don't even exist. If you told anyone in San Diego that Carlsbad was broke, they would laugh!

  • SUSANJK profile image

    SUSANJK 6 years ago from Florida

    There is something wrong with that picture.

  • Jillian Barclay profile image

    Jillian Barclay 6 years ago from California, USA

    Dear Concerned Party,

    Almost $2 million to the golf course, and hear the cost may increase next year by another $400,000.00. Do they really need the golf course? They could sell it. Doesn't get that much use. They are also going to have to subsidize the aquatic center.

    Also, the city has a reserve account with $50 million in it. They have SO many accounts that it has been easy for them to hide the money! The management is corrupt! But, they are hoping that residents buy into the current union bashing ideas and blame the lowest paid workers.

    Have been working on this for awhile. If you have any info that you think I could use, click on the contact button. HubPages will get the message to me and your info will remain confidential. Matt Hall needs to be brought down!

    Wanted to get into the bonuses more-with management actually denying certain expenditures so they could get their bonuses! Disgusting! Which friends will Matt give jobs to?

    Thank you so much- Pass the article around. People need to get pissed and show up at City Hall! Hall won't answer my emails! Carlsbad is NOT broke! They lie!

  • profile image

    Concerned Party 6 years ago

    A large bulk of the city's $2.8m deficit comes from the decision to subsidize the failing carlsbad municipal golf course. Dig a little deeper, as you may be interested in what you find.

  • Jillian Barclay profile image

    Jillian Barclay 6 years ago from California, USA

    Dear Credence 2,

    Thank you for your comment! Just think we all have to start standing up and speaking up! Families are so busy and so stressed just trying to survive that they often lack the time to pay attention to what is happening right in their own communities. That makes it eaasier for unscrupulous govt. to get away with things that they should be ashamed of.

    If we don't start speaking up, we are gonna end up lifting huge boulders on our backs, just like the slaves that built those pyramids.

  • profile image

    credence2 6 years ago

    The pattern of taking from the have nots to enrich the haves all the more is as old as the pyramids. It is the antithesis of modern civilization and civilized people who realizes that everybody makes a contribution and is entitled to protection and fairness. That trend is ominous and on-going, it is just that the GOP and conservatives are in a hurry to promote this trend while the Dems are at least attempting to stop the downhill slide. Our society is not sustainable with all the real wealth and power going into fewer and fewer hands.

    Again, Jillian, thanks

  • Jillian Barclay profile image

    Jillian Barclay 6 years ago from California, USA

    Thanks, Terry! I don't have the Twitter stuff or even a Facebook page- hard enough for me to handle just my laptop...I know, I am a dinosaur...

  • Terry.Hirneisen profile image

    Terry.Hirneisen 6 years ago from Shenandoah Valley

    I have a few Facebook friends out that way. Posted it on Facebook.

  • Jillian Barclay profile image

    Jillian Barclay 6 years ago from California, USA

    Dear Terry,

    Thank you! Hope so, too.

  • Terry.Hirneisen profile image

    Terry.Hirneisen 6 years ago from Shenandoah Valley

    Hope this gets a broad Readership! Great information! Well Done!

  • Jillian Barclay profile image

    Jillian Barclay 6 years ago from California, USA


    This one is nesr and dear to me because it affects a group of people that I know personally. They are dedicated, they run to every emergency and always treat the public with respect and kindness. They are the first at blood drives, they donate to needy families, etc. They are good men and women who are being targeted because of the agenda of the higher ups!

    Everyone should check their own city to find out if this disgusting BONUS plan exists in their local government...

    Thank you, Fay! You make me not lose hope...

  • profile image

    Fay Paxton 6 years ago

    Jillian, it goes without saying that you have written an excellent article. I am so disgusted, I can't find the words. It's like a grand conspiracy against children, the poor, the elderly and women. Of course, as you know, it is also one of the reasons Republicans want to get rid of unions...the last firewall between workers and employees.

    All we can do Jillian is keep spreading the word and hope people wake up and vote these leaches out of office.

    voted up/useful and awesome