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Letters to the Editor
Re: Seasonal, Not Marginal

 

Dear Editor,

I'm sure you've received plenty of response regarding the article by Jon Edelbrock; "Seasonal, Not Marginal".
My hope is that the city will consider that the beach here in Del Mar is one of our crown jewels and will make sure that the keepers of our waters are held in the highest regard when it comes to negotiations for their pay and benefits package.
I'm writing this letter belatedly due to a recent trip over seas (down under to be exact).  With a day off in Sydney I was able to speak with some of the professional lifeguards at the world famous Manly Beach.  With over 2 million visitors to that beach annually it makes a good comparison to our fair city.  Their professional lifeguards are making approximately $25.00 AUD per hour (that's $23.50 to you and I) to start.
I asked some of the Manly guards about some of the things that they might be involved in on an as needed or daily basis including, but not limited to;

Dive Team?  No.
Cliff Rescue Team? No.
Swift Water Rescue Team? No.

These kinds of rescue professionals are available in emergency situations, but not always manned by local lifeguards and not to the extent that we have here in Del Mar.  Our lifeguard department maintains these teams to be on call 24/7. When a swimmer goes missing at Torrey Pines State Beach or in Encinitas our Dive Team Lifeguards (along with any pertinent teams from those aforementioned areas) come running.  Swift Water Rescue gets up in the middle of the night and heads up to Olivenhain or below Lake Hodges in the dead of winter to save lives.
Our department works and trains to work with Police, Fire, Public Works,  U.S. Military, Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protections, the list goes on and on.  Lastly if you want to see the real deal in action look here  www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2wJBsnWiSk
That clip (since used by the D.M. lifeguards for training purposes) features a man who wouldn't be here today without these outstanding safety professionals. 

Let's make them a priority.

John O'Connell, Coast Boulevard, posted 09/23/13


Dear Editor,

As one who relies on the skills of the Del Mar Lifeguards, I found Lieutenant Edelbrook's article, disturbing. If we in Del Mar are grossly under compensating our seasonal lifeguards, a simple compensation study executed by the city administration should be done or if it has been done, it should be made public in the Sandpiper. The importance of our lifeguards, seasonal or full time, cannot be overstated.  I need to know that they are being compensated fairly.

Brad Allison, 10th Street, posted 09/13/13


Dear Editor,

The article by Jon Edelbrock is not only timely, as our summer comes to end, but critical as we face the continued loss of highly qualified and dedicated individuals. Many write as a member of the Del Mar community; as someone who enjoys the beach and is comforted knowing that the watchful eye of a Del Mar lifeguard is ever present.  So I want to write as a mother. I am proud to say that my son is a wonderful and amazing young man as a result of the training, mentorship, and leadership acquired as a Del Mar Lifeguard. Since he was 13 years old  he has spent every summer working hard, learning leadership, respect, and responsibility, and earning life long friends and colleagues.  Thanks to the effort of individuals like Pat Verne, Mark, Jon and others my son is a better person.  Our lifeguards record speaks for itself - in fact just recently they saved an older gentleman who was volunteering for the Wounded Warriors (another selfless act by the Del Mar guards). My son was involved in that rescue and to hear him speak about it fills me with pride. About 4 years ago I sat at lunch with my son Brendon, my husband Randy, his girlfriend and her mother.  We waited at the Poseidon for Brendon to go on his lunch break.  I recall clearly how he explained to his girlfriend’s mom that working, as a Del Mar guard was different than being a San Diego guard even though they were paid significantly less. He said it was because they were ‘family’; they were a team that supported each other, learned from each other, and enjoyed being together. They host volleyball tournaments, dodge-ball contests, and enjoy gatherings at each other’s homes.  Today some of Brendon's closest friends are those same guards he worked with every summer day.  The second story is a more difficult one. In April of 2008 Randy - my husband of 35 years and wonderful dad - was diagnosed with incurable brain cancer. For two years I knew that every individual in that tower would be there for me if I ever needed anything. When our sons moved home in Sept 2009 I knew that Brendon's time working was an opportunity given from the heart by Pat, Mark, and Jon as they knew he needed time away from the constant care-giving. And, in April 2010 when Randy died, every single Del Mar Lifeguard was there to help with our tribute to a wonderful husband, father, and member of the Del Mar community.  There are no words to express my gratitude.  So - I bring French toast to the lifeguards every Sunday morning during the summer.  I guess it is my small gift back to a wonderful group of individuals.  I only hope that the City of Del Mar can find it in their hearts to support the hard work of these dedicated individuals.

Linda Strause, PhD, Coast Boulevard, posted 09/12/13


Dear Editor,

Regarding Mayor Sinnott’s response to Jon Edelbrock’s piece on abhorrently low compensation for Del Mar’s seasonal lifeguards, perhaps Mr. Sinnott could review the notes from the past meetings (12 month period) to understand why the process of negotiation has failed to date. As a 30 year resident of Del Mar with 15 years of part time work with the Lifeguards, I attended one of the “negotiations” but left in disgust as the City’s hired team arrived 23 minutes late, was unprepared, and took a rude paternalistic stance toward my younger colleagues.  
The citizens of Del Mar need to know the facts such that the future state of one of their most valuable resources—seasonal lifeguards—can be debated in an open and transparent public sphere. Currently there is no active and earnest process in place that will lead to a mutually beneficial conclusion. I encourage the Mayor and City Manager to show leadership and revisit the issue with fresh eyes democratic intent.

Scott Tinley, Ph.D. Mira Montana Drive, posted 09/12/13


Dear Editor,

Del Mar seasonal guards start at a shade over $8 an hour. If that's not marginal then I suggest the mayor refer to a dictionary. In life you're paid for your level of responsibility and given the weight on these men and women all summer that figure is an abomination. My understanding is that is about half of what some other local cities pay their new seasonal guards. The maximum, for the record, is about $13 an hour. Even at fast food worker rates they love their jobs and perform admirably. They don't need a union as much as emancipation.

Joe Azzinaro, Del Mar Heights Road, posted 09/12/13


Dear Editor,

Thanks to Lt. Edelbrock for bringing to the attention of the public and the Del Mar City Council Members the issues of under-compensation of our seasonal lifeguards.   How else would we confront the pattern of compensation that is below market standards?  After a quick search of the public records of each beach city in San Diego and Orange counties and the State of California State Beach, I discovered that Del Mar ranks at the bottom in hourly wages for lifeguards.   If it is true that active and earnest wage negotiations are now in place, it behooves our Council Members to follow the practice of other municipalities and post these processes and contracts online.  Our community must come to terms with the revenue that the City of Del Mar needs to be a place of market competitive employment.  Options for more revenue were outlined in the August Sandpiper.   Don’t make our premier Lifeguard team bear the burden of waking us up to these realities.

Shirley King, Avenida Primavera, posted 09/10/10


Dear Editor, 

I am surprised that the Mayor of Del Mar questioned the timing of the Jon Edelbrock's article. Mr. Sinnott stated that the negotiation process is still on-going and urged readers to let the process run its course before passing judgement. The process has run its course. There has not been a negotiation meeting in over three months. Madge Blakey and Dan Kelley, who the City of Del Mar has hired to negotiate, tried to intimidate and insult my fellow community service employees and myself. Ms. Blakey relayed the city council's sentiment that we "were wasting their time and intelligence." It is safe to say that we are disenchanted with the bargaining process and the representatives chosen by the City. There has not been any good-faith negotiations for some time. 
Becoming a lifeguard in Del Mar is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Attending Del Mar Heights, Earl Warren, Torrey Pines, and then sitting in the tower as a Lifeguard, I felt honored to represent a community that brought me so much joy throughout my life. It is a shame that the Mayor and City Council do not seem to know what is occurring under their watch in Del Mar.

Sincerely,

Ari Crocker, Seasonal Del Mar Lifeguard, Boca Raton Street, posted 09/10/13


Dear Editor,

I am pleased Mayor Sinnott replied so speedily to the comments regarding adequate compensation for seasonal lifeguards. It is reassuring to know the matter is now in front of city management and the council or will be soon. But I could not find any specific point in the letter that would indicate the city intends to really deal with the issues outlined in the original Edelbrock letter, just bureaucratic palaver and broad generalizations of how all city workers are so well regarded. 

The point I tried to make is that the seasonal guards (and the permanent staff) are the only city employees that 999 of 1,000 of visitors ever meet. As such, it's key the city maintains the group in terms of training, experience and dedication. That means adequate compensation; there are many other area lifeguard staffs that would love to poach the Del Mar group, I am sure. This is a local issue worth following.

Joe Azzinaro, Del Mar Heights Road, posted 09/10/13


RE: “Seasonal, Not Marginal” in the September issue of the Sandpiper

Seasonal, Definitely Not Marginal
posted on 09/10/12

Dear Editor,

The City of Del Mar has over two miles of sandy beaches that entice thousands of summer visitors from near and far to the area. Protecting those visitors and residents is principal to the mission of the City and the staff responsible for beach and lifeguarding safety. Our Permanent Career Lifeguards and Seasonal Lifeguards make up one of the most well-trained, experienced
Lifeguarding Teams in the County. The City Council and I feel very fortunate to have such a dedicated group of employees.

When I read the recent article, “Seasonal, Not Marginal,” I was somewhat surprised to see such an article when we (the City) are right in the middle of negotiating with the Union that represents the Seasonal Lifeguards. The City’s labor relations policies and procedures are governed by the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, California legislation that provides reasonable methods to resolve disputes regarding wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment between public employers and public employee organizations. Our Seasonal Lifeguards chose to form a bargaining group in the fall of last year. Our City has been meeting with their representatives to negotiate a new agreement.

While it is not appropriate for me to discuss current negotiations with the Union in public, I would like to reinforce the fact that the City values all of our employees, and we are committed to providing fair compensation to all of them. Like any employer we are always trying to find the balance in what we pay our staff to be fair and competitive in the market place while accomplishing all of the needs of our Community. In the case of our Seasonal Lifeguards that is
what we are trying to do through our negotiations with their Union. Let’s give the process a chance before we pass judgment.

Sincerely,
Terry Sinnott
Mayor of Del Mar

 

CC: Scott W. Huth, City Manager (shuth@DelMar.ca.us)

 

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RE: “Seasonal, Not Marginal” in the September issue of the Sandpiper

Dear Editor,

Jon Edelbrock's article on seasonal lifeguards was revealing and disturbing. I don't know anything about the finances of the city but I do a lot about Del Mar lifeguards. They are superb frontline representatives of the city and in addition to brilliantly executing the responsibility of water safety they are unfailingly
courteous, intelligent and diligent with the public, residents and visitors alike. Just last week, I was eyewitness to the guards literally pulling a swimmer back from "dead" with over an hour of persistent resuscitation. We all should be proud of Chief Vergne and his permanent and seasonal staff. Now we learn that it's becoming more difficult to hire and retain seasonals. I hope the council and city management seriously consider the content of Edelbrock's article.

Joe Azzinaro, Del Mar Heights Road, posted on 09/09/13


RE: “Seasonal, Not Marginal” in the September issue of the Sandpiper

Dear Editor,

I read with dismay, the plight of Seasonal Lifeguards, in the article, “Seasonal, Not Marginal” from the current Sandpiper. Written by Lifeguard Lieutenant Jonathan Edelbrock, I am appalled that the City of Del Mar has allowed such a vital group, charged with protecting people at the city’s greatest asset, the beach, to be underpaid. Not just underpaid (no cost of living increase since last century), but, with almost unattainable steps for advancement.

As an avid bodysurfer, I see these wonderful, dedicated, hard working lifeguards perform amazing feats on a daily basis. Just this week, they worked on a heart attack victim for 45 minutes and brought him back to life! This did not happen by accident. These young men and women constantly train and prepare for such an incident.

Come on Del Mar, pay these people a decent wage and provide them an attainable path for advancement. They protect your greatest asset and they deserve it!

John Hughes, Ambervale Terrace, San Diego, posted on 09/09/13

 

 

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