Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Police and Fire Associations Finally Consider Compromise

It was good to see police and fire willing to consider compromise in the makeup of the pension board, as indicated in today's "Springfield News-Leader" article:

"The police and fire associations initially objected to the reduction in employee representation on the board but struck a tentative compromise during meetings with city leaders with the inclusion of the non-voting alternates."

Something that bothered me during the Police and Fire Pension Task Force's discussions was the unwillingness of the police and fire associations to even consider any compromise or concession to their pension plan's benefits.

I think everyone was well aware that the City and its residents should honor promises made in the past regarding benefits but, that wouldn't have stopped the associations from voluntarily offering compromise for the good of the City. The only thing they offered was the threat of a lawsuit every time the subject of change to benefits was even broached, and to be clear, that was their right.



Anonymous said...

why are these 2 departments EXPECTED to keep giving up their benefits? They are underpaid as it is with a dangerous job, and yet this city still wants to take more. Are these public servents just supposed to willingly give up their benefits? These are not lucrative jobs, they are decent paying jobs that are dangerous yet we still say more. Some will say "I don't get that benefit, so why should they?" Did you go to school to get the education or did you even apply for the job? Does your desk job entail dealing with death, danger, vomit, blood, fire, etc, etc? The threat of a lawsuit and the like did not come as a knee jerk reaction. The city kept taking and kept taking, and finally the line was crossed. It's not that the fire and police departemts are not willing to give up benefits, it's that they are unwilling to give up any MORE benefits. Are you not aware of the pay reductions, raises forgone, contributions increased, etc, etc? The people in this city have zero respect for the men and women of these departments and the comments on the issue over the past year have proven that. The city screws the fire and police departments, and yet somehow fd and pd are blamed and portrayed as unreasonable or greedy for not wanting to give still MORE?

Where does this chronic hatred for these 2 agencies that you and the likes of the newsleader share come from?

Jackie Melton said...


My name is Jackie Melton and I stand by what I wrote in this entry. I would suggest you re-read it as you seem to have read something somewhere that does not exist.

I nor anyone else "EXPECTED" police or fire to give up benefits, what bothered me was an attitude of unwillingness to even consider looking at other options. I think there might have been more give and take. Some changes might have been a win/win for both the City AND the pension plan recipients.

It seems that anyone that even suggests looking at all the options and keeping an open mind is to be labeled by those of your mind-set as having no respect for those departments. That's a shame, and while I can't speak for every other resident in this City, I can tell you I do have respect for those who hold these often dangerous jobs.

Anonymous said...

Working at a conveinence store is a dangerous job, with limited benefits.

You could be shot and killed long before the police arrive.

Anonymous said...

as for the convenience store worker, you are right that is a dangerous job. Good luck and be safe.

Anonymous said...

"I nor anyone else "EXPECTED" police or fire to give up benefits, what bothered me was an attitude of unwillingness to even consider looking at other options. I think there might have been more give and take. Some changes might have been a win/win for both the City AND the pension plan recipients.

It seems that anyone that even suggests looking at all the options and keeping an open mind is to be labeled by those of your mind-set as having no respect for those departments. That's a shame, and while I can't speak for every other resident in this City, I can tell you I do have respect for those who hold these often dangerous jobs."

Jackie, first off there were a lot of people that expected these employees to just give up their benefits, just crack open the newsleader to see that. Second, you contradict yourself in your last post. You said you didn't expect them to give up anything, and yet you turn right around and express dissapointment that they would not consider other options? Not only have these options been looked at, they have been looked at multiple times by multiple people. We both know those options are not going to be INCREASED benefits, so what else could it be? Those options are cuts; MORE cuts. Whats being forgotten here is the history of this issue and the fact the city ignored actuary suggestions as well as fd and pd requests to boost the pension fund when times were good. The city ignored that advice and then came to these employees (and the citizens)asking for them to sacrifice for their mistake under the banner of "compromise". This current attitude from the fd and pd which you described as "unwilling to compromise or even discuss options" is a direct result of years of doing exactly that; discussing options and making compromises. Every time a compromise is made, the fd and pd are the ones compromising. Each time an option is discussed, it costs these employees something. I'm personally surprised they were willing to work with the city as long as they did. However if you have options that have not been discussed and are a win/win, I'm all ears.

While you may not mean to be disrespectful of these departments,(which fyi I do not think you intended to be) the fact that people are always expecting them to always be open minded and willing to discuss/sacrifice their pay is. Put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel if year after year of your benefits slowly being picked at and tweaked; after silently letting it happen and "compromising" you finally protest, and you are accused of suddenly not being open minded or willing to reach a compromise? Did everyone else completly forget the last decade of pay cuts, reduced benefits and "compromise" from people that are already underpaid to begin with? You asked for more give and take. The history of that is very one sided. The employee gives and the city takes. Yes times are tough and we all had to make cuts. The difference is that these employees were taking cuts before we all had to because of the economy. And we wonder why they refuse to discuss a compromise? When is enough enough?

While I agree with you that options are a good thing, your letter was written as if options were not discussed when the exact opposite is true.

Jackie Melton said...

Anon. 2:40,

First of all, let me thank you for not accusing me of harboring a "chronic hatred" of the police and fire departments this time.

I'll tell you something else that bothers me while we're giving each other pieces of our minds ;). Those who play semantic games and twist the words of others. Do you really see no difference between "expecting" someone to do something and being "disappointed" that someone didn't offer to do something? Do you really see no difference between considering options which might balance a loss in one area with a more valuable benefit in another area so that the loss and the gain might cancel each other out? That is the sort of options I am talking about but, you'll have to excuse me if I am a little rusty about EVERY SINGLE option that has been offered over the course of this long pension debate. I'm not the expert that you seem to be on the issue and I certainly do understand that police and fire have worked with the City in the past but, to suggest that the police and fire departments have done all the compromising and the City has offered NOTHING??? Are you for real??? And what has the taxpayer recently offered you???

Why do I get the impression you are trying to guilt me into shame because I dared to have an opinion? By your interpretation I could claim you were "EXPECTING" I shouldn't have that right.

There is always more than one side to every issue. On an issue so complicated it is easy to overlook valid points and cherry pick others, especially when you are one with something at stake personally, and clearly you have something personally at stake here.

While I do think you have raised many very valid points I feel you've overlooked other valid points, I don't blame you for that because I do understand you have a personal interest. I would hope you'd respect my position of trying to offer a bit more objectivity to the issue than you appear to be capable of, and I say that respectfully, not spitefully.

Anonymous said...

You took the liberty of assuming I am a police officer or fire fighter so for the record I am not. I have many friends (2 lifelong friends) and a cousin that are so yes I am up to speed and no, the city has not done anything for me other than continue police and fire services citywide. I care about this issue, these men and women that serve, how our tax dollars are used and rampant misinformation and thus my initial reply here. Now that I've cleared that up, lets move on to part B.

You said, "Those who play semantic games and twist the words of others. Do you really see no difference between "expecting" someone to do something and being "disappointed" that someone didn't offer to do something?"

Now who is playing word games Jackie? Your argument is akin to arguing about which fly is bigger on the same pile of crap. But to split hairs here, yes of course I see the difference between the loss and gain options you mentioned and expecting and dissapointment, I never claimed not too. That is why (if you would of read my last post) you would of seen that so do the pd, fd and the city. That is exactly why they went over them again and again for the last few years. The reason you are dissapointed they didn't do something is because they have done something(s)for so long you have come to expect it. You might not even realize it. This city is full of people with that viewpoint.

You seem to be missing one of my main points. I agree with you that options must be considered but you fail to grasp that the point is they already have been countless times. When do you find it acceptable to stop reviewing the options and make a decision? When the pension fund is 300 million in the hole? 400 million? A billion?

I'm not trying to guilt you or shame you and I'm really not trying to insult you either. Any feelings you have in relation to those are from your own mind and heart or embaressment from being misinformed and speaking on it. My shame here comes from my lack of spelling ability because it really is horrible but I digress. You are free to have an opinion and it may surprise you to know I am glad you have that right even if I disagree with you, which (surprise, surprise) I obviously do. The problem comes not in you expressing your opinion, it's when your opinion is based on misinformation.

You express varying levels of dissapointment for a large segment of our cities employees based on incorrect information. I can't continue to read comments like yours without speaking up and thus, our little love fest here. You aren't alone though, most people in this town aren't informed and yet still so opinionated. I can appreciate someone trying to lend some objectivity to a topic, and your heart may be in the right place but Jackie, is misinformed objectivity what you want to base your opinions/comments on?

On a side note, Happy New Year to everyone reading this....all 3 of us.

Jackie Melton said...

Look Anon 11:19, I didn't take "the liberty of assuming (you are) a police officer or fire fighter," only that you have a personal interest."

I simply offered an opinion based on my experience and knowledge of the pension issue, experience and knowledge obtained when I attended many meetings as I covered the issue for my blog and for the Community Free Press, where I contributed for nearly two years.

I have made an effort to share a very general opinion, not to get into an argument about, basically, unprovable variants related to the issue but, if I'm mistaken about a fact, I'd welcome you to identify the mistake, in fact, I think you OWE it to me and my readers (all three of us :) to point it out so that I can correct it and they can be made aware of it but, you need to show me the error based on real fact, not just because you don't happen to like my opinion, and you say it ain't so.

Beyond that, I have no intention of continuing to argue with you or qualify my knowledge and/or opinions to you.

Thanks and happy new year.

Chestnut expressway said...

Looks like the JackeHammer site is warming up for the new season.

JH, don't let some of these people affect your health.

I would guess that 90% of the yes votes in the pension election came from the govt employess and the school staff.

Anonymous said...

:) Very clever tactic attempting to turn the issue back on me, but I'm game for debating the facts, thats why I replied to begin with. Attempting to dismiss me as "just not liking your opinion" is a cop out. YOU are the reporter here and for a newspaper no less so if anybody owes anybody the facts it is YOU. I wasn't the one writing for a newspaper with pseudofacts. It's sad to think that you reported on such a serious issue with so little understanding of it. So where shall we begin? What aspect(s) of the pension issue would you care to debate?

I'll start with 2 possible topics and we can hammer out the details.

In your initial post you stated that you were dissapointed by the lack of willingness to compromise by the fd/pd. I'd like to discuss that and exactly what you felt should of been compromised. What SPECIFIC benefit was that? vacation caps? A compromise was made and benefits were reduced. Pay raise eliminations? A compromise was made and benefits were reduced. Social security? PD and FD do not pay SS and do not get SS. That is a federal law and the attempt to add that "benefit" was to costly to implement. The fd and pd did not want that benefit anyways. Nothing was changed. Contribution levels? They were increased and will be increased yet again in this coming summer by another 3%. (the are going up but I will admit I am not sure if that 3% is official yet. That number has moved from 2-5 and keeps moving) Regardless, more money out of the employees paycheck. Was there one I didn't include on my list you wanted to discuss? What specific benefit or aspect of the issue did the fd/pd not compromise or discuss? If you can tell me that maybe I can provide the reason why.

Or, if that topic does not take to your liking, how about the issue of raises forgone by the employees and having that money put into the pension fund approx. 10 years ago?

Or how about the lack of manpower? The workload goes up and the manpower goes down? We could discuss that?

Is their pension multiplier something that was of contention?

There, you asked and I have spoon fed you a few topics we can discuss in detail. I'm not talking about (nor have I ever been) "unprovable variants". I don't have a problem if after the facts are presented, you walk away with a differing opinion. A healthy debate does not always produce an agreement, but that debate needs to be based on facts.

The ball is in your court.

PS Not that you would care, but the fact you reported for the community free press just moved you about 100 notches up in my book. I actually like that newspaper a lot. The springfield newsleader is a joke.

Fred B. Ellison said...

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