Oct 8, 2008

Pawlowski Contract Position Understandable

I do not have a problem with Pawlowski hiring professional negotiators for the contract talks with the police union, and not revealing details and costs, here's why; As all can agree, the last negotiation with the police union was a disaster for the taxpayers. The city has hired outside consultants for many mundane reasons, so why not for the most important issue in our city and the biggest item in our budget? If any agent can lower the bottom line in any transaction, it's worth the cost. If you believe pawlowski should have hired outside negotiators or not, since he has, why not wait to see what these pro's can produce? I understand the concept of right to know, and usually support it, but perhaps in this exceptional case, it's better to hold the cards close to the vest.

UPDATE: I have changed the title of this posting, from Pawlowski Police Position Proper to Pawlowski Contract Position Understandable

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am surprised at your take on this. I can see keeping some of the details secret so as to not foul up the contract negotiations, but it would be nice if the mayor was up front about what he paid these firms. Altho, as long as we get a good police contract in the end I'll be happy.

michael molovinsky said...

in the past we paid an engineering firm 100k to tell us the sewer plants smells like crap. we paid hunter associates to tell us the city would be better if clean and safe. negotiation is a skill which as a taxpayer i'm willing to pay for. answering questions is a slippery slope, the first one leads to the second one, and soon the peanut gallery is second guessing the negotiations

Anonymous said...

MM, I may consent to not letting the public know at this point, but I absolutely disagree w/ keeping City Council in the dark as well.

If they can't keep a secret then shame on the citizens of Allentown for electing them, but they do have an oversight and approval responsibility here that they can't meet without being in on the details.

The Banker

Joe Hilliard said...

Mike,

The Econsult contract revealed nothing about the negotiations.

Such details of negotiations could be redacted from the contract at this point. The paper, City Council and the citizens, have a right to know what he is paying these firms.

Anonymous said...

MM....i applaud this move. hopefully the professional negotiators won't give away the store again....like they have done year after year after year.

Anonymous said...

Council is supposed to be providing oversite of the administration.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Scott, unfortunately you are right and that is a shame.

Anon 9:55pm, I agree w/ the use of consultants - the City can't afford another bad contract, but that doesn't justify keeping Council in the dark.

The Banker

Bernie O'Hare said...

Pawlowski has no legal basis to keep this private. It must be disclosed.

Anonymous said...

MM -

Last I heard, Max Davison was somehow involved in negotiating the police contract. I think citizens deserve to at least know who is being paid to negotiate and what their qualifications are. Taxpayers are the ones who will be stuck with the tab for a bad contract if negotiations go poorly - as well as the tab for the consultants.

Also, City council should know what's going on in the negotiations. As you know, the last time council had the finished product dropped on them at the last minute and it didn't turn out too well.

Anonymous said...

MM - Anon 6:42 again.

Just for clarification, I do not have a problem with Pawlowski hiring the consultants for this issue - just with his not disclosing who and how much.

michael molovinsky said...

to those surprised at my take on this, please consider the following;
1. this council has approved 100% of the mayor's initiatives
2. two council members are former police officers, one was chief, who has both a son and grandson currently on the force.(just an observation, no implication intended)
3. I'm glad that council is finally upset about their oversight being compromised, but, all factors considered, this process of a professional negotiator is not the time to exert themselves

Anonymous said...

Well, if Bernie O'Hare says Pawlowski is wrong, how can anyone of us argue that? Can't argue with God.

Red Hill Ranger

Anonymous said...

Mr.Molovinsky, You stated the last A.P.D. contract was a disaster for the taxpayers.Was not Tom Anewalt the legal negotiator for the City of Allentown at the time of the current contract.Mr. Hoffman was diligent enough to post what the city pays to outside lawyers.Interestly Mr.Anewalt was paid $60,397 in 2007 and $54,163 in 2006 by the taxpayers of Allentown.If the Mayor is afraid to post these costs how do we know Anewalt is not involved this time

michael molovinsky said...

anon 6:22, by the end of this year we may have a total of over 100 officers who retired at more than 100% of their salary. young men in their early 40's, whose spouses will inherit their pensions. we are talking about paying a pension for 50 years!!! realizing that someone may be better to negotiate than himself, is the best move pawlowski has ever made. that 60k your referring to is peanuts compared to the consequences of the police pension.

Michael Donovan said...

Greetings:

I'm going to stand by my position that when the results of the negotiations are completed, I'll make my assessment of the Mayor's ability to carry out his responsibility to protect the property owners and residents of Allentown. If he fails, then we can take action.

I consider myself a rather astute individual. Knowing now what the amount of the contract is or the strategy being used to negotiate provides me insufficient information to critique anything. Until the results are in, There is not much I can do. Negotiating the contract is the administration's responsibilty, not the council's.

Other cases may prove different, and at those times, I'll want the data.

Why would anyone disagree with that?

Sincerely,

Michael Donovan

Anonymous said...

Mr. Donovan, thanks for being part of this and other blogs - your openness in addressing issues is greatly appreciated.

On the issue at hand, in my opinion the Administration keeping council in the dark until it's too late is not acceptable. I am ok with no public disclosure until it's wrapped up, but given the gravity of the issue, I believe Council needs to be informed.

I absolutely agree with the Administration's decision to hire experts, that was the right call.

The Banker

Anonymous said...

Mr. Donovan -

To paraphrase: those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

As an Allentown taxpayer, I have to live with the consequences of council's actions (or inaction). Waiting to see what happens is not an option. We all should know that by now.

When will council realize that they are a separately elected branch of local government and have some accountability to the taxpayers?

Michael Donovan said...

Good morning,

Banker, thank you for responding.

I believe I know myself well enough that if were asked to keep something secret, I will. (Even then, I'm human. It is always possible, that I may blurt something out that I should not have.)

The problem is that if I can can make a mistake, what if that is compounded by 7? Odds are that the information gets out at the wrong time. Of course, I want to know. And I will know most likely soon.

I am glad that experts were hired. From what I understand, although confirmation is still necessary, those whom were hired are indeed experts, not friends of the Mayor.

Let me put it this way. If I had been on council when the last contract was negotiated, I would have been screaming for experts, and I don't think we would have spent millions of dollars thwarting the horrible agreement that eventually was approved by a group of people who did not demand experts to be used. I suspect that the savings would have been substantial, far in excess would it would have cost for the experts.

I'll put it another way. Last year before my election, I favored the restructured financing that was implemented. I argued that the cost of the loan was like an insurance premium to protect against a disaster if funds could not be obtained to pay the very high balloon principal and interest payments that had been scheduled by prior administrations (I was so very surprised that the city originally would even create such a stupid payment schedule -- yes stupid).

Imagine, imagine, imagine where we would be right now given the national economy if we had to come up with 3 to 4 million dollars per year for the next 3 to 4 years!

The deal that was struck came as a result of Council (in particular, Michael D'Amore) asking for their own experts to examine the possibilities. The experts hired by council and the experts hired by the city worked together, and a common sense arrangement was designed.

My only regret is that if I had been on board at that time, I might have looked for a 3-way fix: some cost cuts, some tax or water/sewer rate increases, and the restructured financing. (Those are my opinions, not anyone else on council or the Mayor).

On the issue at hand, if I were the Mayor (which I am not, nor do I want to be), I would also have hired experts. If I felt, based on recommendations from the city lawyers, that it were best to keep the strategy close to the vest, so that all parties can achieve a fair result, I would do so.

I think there are bigger battles to fight than to worry about contracts a few weeks before the results of effort are in.

With the state of the economy, the issue really is next year's budget. I'm ready to face that challenge with openness and clarity. All contracts will be exposed, at the appropriate time for the best interests of our residents and property owners.

Finally, to the other responder, I do know how to read history, and I do know that unethical actions have been taken in the past. I would like to think that I can exercise sufficient judgment to know when something being done is unethical and when it is not. Somehow I think that if the mayor wants to get reelected next year, he will not hire cronies who mess up another contract. That would be a stupid strategy.

Best regards,

Michael Donovan

Anonymous said...

Mr. Dononvan, while we agree on just about everything else (especially so with hiring consultants to help the process, that was a crucial decision), I guess we'll agree to disagree on council oversight of the contract.

Good luck and I hope the City gets it done right this time!

The Banker

Michael Donovan said...

Dear Banker,

I'll be watching closely for performance!

Best regards,

Michael