Simi Valley PD Contract Negotiations

I read an excellent editorial in the Acorn this morning. I’m a strong believer in the Simi Valley police force, but it’s sincerely unfortunate that the city employees and Police management (non union members) have agreed to small pay cuts while the Police Officers Association refuse to make a sacrifice.  I’m not privileged enough to know the details of what’s holding up the negotiations, but I do know in the past that the police officers’ union has managed to negotiate healthy pay increases for their members.  In these economic times, I can’t see how realistic continued negotiations of that type actually are.

Below is the editorial from The Acorn.

Are the Simi Valley police negotiations turning into a war of words?

The fact that the Simi Valley Police Officers Association (POA) might be hiring a public relations firm in its battle with the city over a new union contract doesn’t bode well for either side in the dispute.

The city and its police force need to maintain a cooperative, healthy working relationship, and the union’s plan to engage in a bit of spin doctoring only figures to create more ill will.

The call for a public relations firm to get involved in the contract negotiations is a signal that the talks, which have been going on since June, are not faring well.

Worse than the fight with city hall, the ongoing debate threatens to cause a rift between the 110 Simi police force members who belong to the union and those at the management level—lieutenants, captains and the chief—who are non-union.

As always, salaries are a key issue.

In an effort to help balance the city’s general fund budget for fiscal year 2009-2010, two employee groups—the local chapter of the Service Employees International Union and a separate management group—agreed to take a 2 percent reduction in compensation.

It’s time for the police men and women, who already enjoy an excellent public employee benefits package, to make sacrifices of their own. Police management earlier agreed to a reduction in benefits, but the union rank and file has not.

The POA is completely within its rights to hire a PR firm; union dues will pay the cost. Even so, the move figures to hamper the negotiations, not help them. And the fear is the battle could turn personal.

It’s time for both sides to turn down the rhetoric and come to terms on a new contract for the brave men and women who keep Simi a safe place to live.

Healthcare in Simi Valley

Is it just me, or is the Simi Valley healthcare community getting some kind of a shakedown?  Rather, are the Simi based medical groups at war with one of them taking a hit?  It certainly seems that way from my perspective.  As a not-so-proud participant in an HMO program, my primary care physician is with Community Medical Group of Simi Valley and the past year has been one of many surprise departures.

For years, my doctor was a terrific doctor with Community Medical Group named Dr. Michaels.  I found him to be knowledgeable, kind and sensitive to my medical concerns.  My wife started seeing him as well based on my recommendations.  After years of reliable medical service, Dr. Michaels suddenly disappeared.  The people at the appointment desk weren’t talking, other than to say he was no longer with the medical group.  With no forwarding information available, I began to see Dr. Lee, also a terrific physician in the same office.

Dr. Lee quickly got up to speed on all of my medical issues, specifically my occassional break-out of hives and my chronic sinusitis.  I became just as satisfied with Dr. Lee as I was with Dr. Michaels.  I later learned that Dr. Michaels had moved to Regal Medical Group of Simi Valley.  Because I had established a rapport with Dr. Lee, however, I chose to stay with Community Medical.  Then, Dr. Lee left the group… and joined Regal Medical.

When a couple of doctors that you depend on suddenly jump ship and land in the same place, it definitely makes you think.  Should I be concerned?  I recently learned that Dr. Whyte, one of the best pediatricians for Community Medical Group, who treats my children, is also moving to Regal Medical Group.  Uh oh.  What does all this mean?

I’m curious to know if anyone else has any insight into the migration of all the outstanding physicians from Community Medical making their way over to Regal.  Are any members of Community Medical Group of Simi inclined to make the switch to Regal Medical Group?  Have you done so already?  And if so, how was the transition?

No Coverage of State of City Address

One event that I look forward to regularly is the State of the City Address sponsored by the Simi Valley Chamber, presented by Mayor Paul Miller. In better economic times, I recall being very moved and excited about the months to come. While the economic climate has shifted and the city recently adjusted for a $3 million budget reduction, I’m just as eager to hear what’s going on. Considering my recent “interactive” nature, I’d like very much to bring my camera and microphone to share the event with the people who subscribe to my content. But it’s not going to happen. Here’s the scoop:

The Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce will once again host the Mayor’s State of the City Address. The Annual State of the City Address will be presented to the Chamber membership on Friday, February 20 at 11:30 a.m. at the Grand Vista Hotel. The Mayor’s address will provide an overview of City Departments and City Projects. “We appreciate and look forward to the opportunity to present the State of the City and to share in detail how our City is doing. We are all facing challenging times and this event will allow the City Council to provide information and to gain input from our businesses and residents to ensure that we are doing our best job to meet the challenges on behalf of the community,” said Mayor Paul Miller.

There are lots of people who are interested in what goes on here and want to witness it for themselves.  These events cater to elite members of the community, business owners and members of the Chamber of Commerce, so the average Simi Valley citizen cannot attend this middle-of-the-day event.  I think it’s important to see and hear these things for yourself, to be present for tone of voice and hear quotes in context.  But most people most directly impacted by the state of city affairs, the citizens, will be hard at work at their day jobs.

Sponsorship opportunities are available at the following levels: Table Sponsors – $600 for a table of eight or $350 for a table of four. Sponsors will receive preferred seating, table placard, acknowledgement in the Chamber’s Mid Month Mailer and the event program. Tickets are $40 for members and $55 for non-members.

As a business owner and member of the Chamber of Commerce, I’ll invest the $40 to learn more about where things stand with the City of Simi Valley.  However, I’ve tried to bring my camera and microphone to Chamber sponsored events, and it’s a no-go, so unfortunately, most of the rest of us will have to read about it in the newspaper.  If you plan on being there as well, please let me know and perhaps we can meet up afterward to discuss.

Simi Valley Employment Survey

I’m currently in the midst of completing, among several other web based projects, an employment portal specifically geared towards the Simi Valley community.  Personally, I think we have a troubling couple of quarters ahead of us and I’d like to see our community work together to keep us all out of harms way.

To give me a better sense of how to prepare my site content, could you please assist me by taking the following survey?  I promise you, it’s extremely painless and super fast.  It’ll give me a clear sense of the minds of the Simi Valley working class.

http://www.polldaddy.com/s/422487E04994F8AC/

Thanks so much for your help!

City Officials Manage Budget Effectively

Weeks ago, I sat in the City Council meeting anxious to hear news about the city budget, knowing the city was pressured to cut just more than 3 million dollars from the budget without eliminating jobs.  City employees sat near me, even more anxious, seemingly unsure where things stood.

City Manager Mike Sedell began going through the proposed budget modifications line by line, with brief explanations of the impact of each decision.  For example, when we heard the DARE program was being cut, Sedell quickly clarified that the cut was not a permanent removal of the program, but rather a postponement.  DARE would begin again later in the year and the city would look at ways to reduce the expense.  Even Mayor Miller suggested having the program led by a retired officer rather than pulling an office out of the field.

Programs like Shop Simi Valley First will certainly be effected, though I can’t recall specifically whether or not it was mentioned that night at the council meeting.  In the past, I’ve been critical of the city’s spending on this program, not because the program itself is a bad one, but rather because I believe with the vested interest of business owners, the cost of the program should be a shared cost.  It will be interesting to see how organizations like the Chamber of Commerce step-up during this crisis to ensure the program stays alive.  It should be noted that if the city or the Chamber are looking for volunteers, here I am! 🙂

In economic situations like these, I couldn’t be more delighted to see how important it is to the city to retain their employees.  Unemployment is the harshest aspect of a recession, making things much worse before they get better.  The City of Simi Valley has done an amazing job of keeping people employed.  I read the following in the Ventura County Star the other day:

Some of the people in the positions eliminated already had planned to leave their jobs. Others were sent to different city assignments, officials said.

Simi is waiting for an eventual resolution to the state’s fiscal crisis, and “it will undoubtedly bring further damage to the revenue which we rely upon to provide services to our residents,” Sedell said.

Sedell said Simi officials have managed taxpayers’ resources well, and unlike state legislators, haven’t overspent.

“We will find a way to provide the quality local services that residents have come to expect,” Sedell said.

Read the whole article online here.

Cheers to the City of Simi Valley for a job well done.

Writers Wanted – New Community Website

I’ve been working for several months now on a web project for the community. It’s a social network of sorts, but the staple content revolves around blogs that focus on Simi Valley. I’m looking for interested writers for the following Simi Valley related blogs:

* Restaurant/Entertainment Blog – Rate, review and discuss Simi Valley’s dining options and entertainment venues
* Fitness Blog – How best to stay fit and in shape in Simi Valley
* Neighborhood Blog – Meet your Simi Valley neighbors, a blog about stars in the community
* Business Blog – The ins and outs of doing business in Simi Valley

Of course, we’ll defer to Brian Dennert for those interested in reading about local government!

This website will be free for everyone who joins, and ANYONE who joins is free to create and publish their own blog. Each member blog is hosted free and uses the powerful WordPress blogging engine, a professional level tool that is easy to customize. Members will be encouraged to create personal profiles, meet new Simi Valley friends online, join groups, discuss issues in the forums and promote their events and businesses free.

Technology is a terrific way to promote unity and to give all members of the Simi Valley Community a voice. For those interested in participating and helping me launch this online community, please contact me.

Candlelight Nightclub and Campaign Reform

An email from Brad Jashinsky, former candidate for Simi Valley School Board, to Brian Dennert sparked my interest in this story. According to Brad, Candlelight Nightclub in Simi Valley is the source of drunk drivers that have a bad habit of destroying property in nearby neighborhoods. This is the partial story according to Brad:

At 2am on Saturday November 29th I heard a loud explosive noise, and ran outside to see what had happened. I came out to see my sister’s car in the condition above with the obvious drunk driver getting away up the street.

Brad emailed me and told me he planned to be at the City Council meeting tonight to speak about the issue. I strapped on my video camera and made my way to council chambers to record the issue. More to come on this issue… That video is being edited as we speak!

Campaign Reform was another topic touched on this evening. Here’s a brief video of Steve Sojka who brought up the subject. Apparently, the Council will cover the topic of campaign reform and address the recent issues about campaign financing over the course of multiple sessions. Meanwhile, please watch the video and share your thoughts.