City of DeKalb to Honor Contracts When It Feels Like It

Last night I once again spent four hours in Bizzaro World. It was very hot inside and about the same hot outside, yet the exit from the city council meeting felt like a breath of fresh air.

Well, it did until a certain city official tracked me down as we stood outside in little groups to process what had happened. He wanted to take me to task for “not providing context” to my gym membership figures when I spoke at the last council meeting. Seems he felt I should have gone into detail about which portion comes from payroll deduction vs. how much from the city, etc.

[rant on]

Here is my context: NOT ONE DOLLAR FROM MY TAX MONEY SHOULD GO TO GYM MEMBERSHIPS FOR ALDERMEN AND THEIR FAMILIES WHILE WE ARE TALKING ABOUT CUTTING SOCIAL SERVICE ALLOCATIONS AND LAYING OFF PUBLIC SAFETY WORKERS.

Aahhhh, context-y goodness.

That’s one.

So Alderman Baker starts off with, “If we decide to honor the [firefighters’ union] contract…”

Yep, honoring real contracts appears to be optional now.

Then there’s the fake contract for management. Management has “agreed to” a wage freeze. Excuse me, but if you are thinking about laying off firefighters, you CUT wages for management. I know a guy in management who just got cut 20% — and if his salary had been just a few hundred more, he would have been cut 30%. SO THAT HIS ORGANIZATION CAN RETAIN FRONTLINE STAFF. This has not yet been done in DeKalb, so I don’t wanna hear anymore how we have “no other alternative” to public safety layoffs.

That’s two.

Can pecksniffery rot your brain? You decide. Alderman Naylor says council has been working hard to “right the ship” for two years, somehow forgetting that last year they allowed Community Development to get shiny new SUVs, handed out another generous management pay plan and approved the AFSCME contract with all the usual raises.

Which some of us begged you not to do. Which some of us predicted would lead to the need for layoffs this year.

That’s three.

[/rant off]

There were several bizzaro-quality gems last night, from Mayor Povlsen comparing social services funding to buying an extra SUV, to Alderman Gallagher insinuating that a resident who doesn’t have all the details on the dumpster cam line item shouldn’t be commenting on it. If you have a fave, by all means share it here.

22 thoughts on “City of DeKalb to Honor Contracts When It Feels Like It”

  1. Try not to honor Mark Biernacki’s contract and see what happens.

    Why is a contract not a contract? I think the Firefighters union has a real court case here and the real question can be this.

    How much money and time is the city legal department willing to spend defending this attitude of not honoring the contract and cutting 3 additional firefighters? I think the Firefighters union is better financed and has some better legal guns. Not to mention, the national cannot allow the City of DeKalb to get away with this. This could be precedent setting for many other communities and they will come in full strenght to defend this local. Sycamore is a similar situation and I’ve been told that both the City of DeKalb and the City of Sycamore are using the same attorney to fight the Firefighter unions in both cities.

    We actually may be seeing a battle field in formation here for a really nasty fight.

    Oh Lynn, my money was on you against that city official. That city official was out of line with his questioning. Hopefully he will learn when the time is right for that type of conversation.

  2. Bizzaro Item from Last Night:

    I am some what befuddled and disappointed by Ald Gallagher’s “Quasi defense” of the $40,000.00 dumpster cameras. Although he did vote correctly on the issue, he made NO SENSE whatsoever in his remarks when he questioned me about understanding the Dumpster Camera budget item.

    So, Mr Gallagher, I ask you this question, can you truthfully tell me that YOU (personally) have investigated every line item in the budget before you voted on the budget? Your comments we’re out of line!

    What don’t you understand. I have asked you and the Aldermen to examine the budget “PRIORITIES”. As I see it, with the exception of Ald Naylor, most of the council believes $40K for Dumpster cameras is NOT a Priority

    I expect you, Mr Gallagher, as my Alderman, to question things in the budget. I need you to look at the city check register and ask “WHY”? Up to this point, I have been somewhat pleased your performance as alderman. Last night’s BIZARRO antics, however, leave me in doubt.

    Mr Gallagher, you have told me in three conversations now that you plan to question and perhaps change the “CULTURE” of the way city council is run. The OLD BOYS CLUB has got to go. Mr Gallagher, you took twos steps forward over the past few weeks, but unfortunately last night you have taken a BIG STEP BACKWARD

    No more:

    -Free Lunches
    -$860.00 DVD Players
    -$100.00 Late fees because someone at city hall did not pay the Credit card Bill

    P R I O R I T I E S!

  3. LOL, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time! I really get tired of hearing citizens get lectured when they dare to comment.

    Also I really really get tired of the attitude that the only reason we oppose certain decisions is because we “don’t understand.” Some of us DO understand. We disagree. It would be more respectful if they acknowledged DISAGREEMENT instead of insinuating we’re ignorant.

  4. FYI. It would appear we lost some folks during the upgrade who like to use pseudonyms sometimes or always. We have not instituted any rule that you have to post under your real name so I hope you will re-register your pseudonym if you like. However, in view of the potential for another “Romanian invasion” it is imperative that I know who you are so I don’t delete your registration.

    Two exceptions: public officials must use their real name always, and there should be no sock puppetry.

  5. TEST
    Ivan not sure what the basis of any action would be. Management always has the right to set the number of employees in any labor agreement. It may have taken another step when the city said we will not RIF people if we can come to another agreement but I don’t see any comntract action at this time. ( Not saying I agree with the decision I just donlt see any action simple because the city reduces staff)

    Now the bigger question? With flat or lower revenues and no real surplus to speak of where is the mony going to come from to give pay raises next year. Is every thing always dependant of the economy turning the corner? What if that does no happen this year or next?

    I know that the the impact fees on the 800 new homes will bring in lots of revenue ( meant as a joke) but were are they planning on getting the funds to pay these raises next year.

    I am really afraid that the CC is really just pushing the issue forward with no real plan.

    One can look at it this way.

    The City leaders have decided that we can get by with 3 fewer AFSCME workers going forward. BUT a labor agreement says don’t reduce the work force and we will forgo a pay raise. One may ask the question if the city leaders think we can get by with 3 less people why are we not doing that regardless as to what the union agrees to?.

    More later I am just testing signing on the new system

    Pevo

  6. I get what you are saying, Pevo. Layoffs don’t violate the contract, but failing to pay the wage increases would. (Maybe that’s why layoffs tend to be popular.)

    There are two main areas of concern for me and they dovetail with yours. One is that the threat of layoffs is being used to club the unions into compliance on the wage concessions instead of the decisions being made on the basis of NEED. That means the unions themselves are being put into the position of deciding staffing levels. That’s great from a standpoint of having handy scapegoats for shortfalls in services, but what a cop out on the part of city leaders.

    The other concern I have is: how to go forward. Because of decisions made LESS THAN A YEAR AGO, such as approval of an AFSCME contract not based in reality, there is not much confidence that council–regardless of such hyperbole as “there’s not going to be a DeKalb”–truly understands what needs to happen in the coming year, two years, three years out and more.

    Although current indicators suggest we will not have to deal too much with inflationary pressures, economic recovery will not be seen much outside of the markets. IOW, it will be another jobless recovery and this will be the reality for several years. Revenues will remain pretty flat and energy prices are a wild card. Frugality MUST be the watch word.

    I am hoping to be able to post some thoughts on what should happen next, later today or early tomorrow.

  7. Lots more to be written on this issue but I have a quick question. You state that current indicators suggest we wil not have to deal too much with inflationary pressures. If that is the case why is a COLA built into every agreement for every year of the existing contracts.

    IMO that is the problem we are really facing, now and in the future. Salaries have been increased because of the COLA’s in these contracts when in reality the rate of inflation has been much lower than what has beed paid in increses. This equals the spot we are in== we now are paying salaries we cannot afford.

    more later
    Pevo

  8. I’m talking about the big inflation, Ed, like what we had in the 70s (when one of my next-door neighbors signed a mortgage at a 13% interest rate!). Stagflation. That was a concern a few months ago but unless energy prices get out of control the big problem will be lagging unemployment instead. If the goal is to save jobs as well as balance the budget, COLA has to be rethunk.

    I changed the settings to allow up to 3 links per comment. If you are properly registered and have more than 3 links, your comment does not disappear, it just goes into moderation until I approve it.

  9. I know it’s not budget saving but I have made it known through out DeKalb that I am very interested in leasing about 2,000 square feet of sidewalk on 2nd and Lincoln. I am willing to pay the $1,000.00 to lease this space annually and am willing to sign a 5 or 10 year lease to do so.

    I would encourage all to think about a business that they can promote that would work just fine with a sidewalk area for outdoor sitting. I feel that I have the right to take advantage of this new income maker for DeKalb just as the other 3 businesses that have agreed to the lease arrangments. How about you?

  10. Ivan, a hot dog stand would work very well as a sidewalk-only business. After Corn Fest, perhaps one of those food vendors could be persuaded to stay and set up shop on the sidewalk. DeKalb residents would not have to wait until the next year to enjoy alligator on a stick, turkey on a stick, doughnut on a stick, or any of the other fine carnival cuisine offerings served on a stick.

  11. The sock puppet story was hilarious Kay. Of course on this blog I’d think by virtue of their position alone any city administrator would look more like a nylon than a sock. BTY Ivan, I’d like to get in on some of your action with the flea for all sidewalk market. Can I sublet about a 10’x10’ space now? If the economy doesn’t pick up you may see me out there with an organ grinder and a monkey. I’ll stop by and get the permit from Steve to be on the safe side. I’m sure I can put it in the proper context for him.

    Legal latitude aside it still creases me that the city feels they can take a can opener to a contract whenever they feel like it, moreover because of inept planning. If indeed there is a no RIF clause in the firefighters contract you can “Guess” what’s going to happen. As stated previously imagine what would happen if someone did that to Mark B’s meal ticket? I’ll tell you, the city would get sued. I also find it hilarious that they are suggesting they work on a five year plan when it was 7 months ago that they signed the AFSCME contract which they can’t honor. They couldn’t plan on getting wet if it were raining.

    Another thing that has my fur up is Vic referring to social services as “non-essential”. I don’t even know where to begin on this obtuse statement… Give me time. I’m sure I can elaborate with some appropriate adjectives. I can’t imagine how many TV sets were smashed with canes in his ward after that quip.

  12. Yinn. Speaking only for the city:

    The city generates most of it’s revenue from sales tax.

    If Inflation causes prices to rise by 10%

    Revenues generated from Sales tax would then increase by 10%

    This City revenues increase by 10%

    If the city holds the line on expenses wouldn’t the total revenue go up for the city??

    In other words if your revenue is based on taxing sales why is inflation a bad thing. Just a thought! ( Granted there may be a little leakage but not the entire 10%)

    18 below Pevo

  13. Oh. Glad you are feeling better.

    First of all, thanks for the laugh about the city’s holding the line on expenses.

    Secondly, inflation is a bad thing for me and my neighbors, especially if unemployment remains high, wages are depressed and energy costs go up. More and more of my friends and neighbors are being hit: wage cuts, shortened work weeks, layoffs. They are shutting off their cable to make mortgage payments, taking no voluntary time off in case they’ll need the vacay time to weather layoffs, selling collections on e-bay to meet the property tax payments. An underground economy based on barter is being established also. None of this activity will translate into sales tax revenue dollars.

  14. Hey Max et al, the firefighters’ contract is online. I am most familiar with the PD’s contract since it’s been up for renewal but if the heat chases me back indoors early enough I’ll have a look-see (I was going to post today but that’s gone badly, needs to stew a bit longer I guess).

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