Nov 22, 2008

New Police Contract

Most premium pensions, such as public school teacher, are based upon 35 years of service and yield the retiree about 70 percent of their ending salary. The expiring police contract allowed officers to buy their military time, go out with 16 years and base their retirement upon their last 30 days, including overtime. As a citizen and candidate, I attended the contract hearings in 2005 and spoke with FOP officers. They estimated probably about 12 officers would retire under Afflerbachs' plan, no more than 20. I believe about 80 officers have left the force in the last 47 months, with many receiving way over their base pay in retirement. I've been told the most harmful element of that contract, for the taxpayers, was the 30 day clause. Most such contracts are based on the last 3 years, or at the very least, the last 90 days. The new contract STILL HAS THE 30 DAY CLAUSE, but with a cap of 10% above base. Regardless of any projections, the taxpayers must assume a large part of the existing force will retire with a pension of 110% of their base salary. New officers hired after Jan. 1, will conform to state standards in pension, and the 20 year rule without buyout has been reinstated. The administration will allow existing officers between now and the end of the current contract, Dec.31, to qualify for the no cap pension and still remain working until they decide to actually stop working. Would you continue working if you could retire and receive more? These observations are based upon a report in today's Morning Call by Jarrett Renshaw.

UPDATE: Scott Kraus, on the Morning Call's Queen City Blog, suggests that the last time City Council interfered with the police contract the result was a disaster. I agree about that result, but never the less, Council must always be willing to intercede if necessary, to protect the interest of the taxpayers.

31 comments:

Michael Donovan said...

Dear Michael:

I think you have a misinterpretation. The 110% base (far less than the unlimited arrangement in the last agreement)is for computing the final retirement amount, which is always a fraction of the base.

From what I understand the % of the base has been reduced, too.

I'm sure the complete details will be out by Monday. I haven't heard all of them, yet. I understand the ruling is on my desk at City Hall. It was put there late yesterday afternoon.

Best regards,

Michael

michael molovinsky said...

michael, i hope your correct. retaining the 30 day clause makes me dubious. i hope you and your fellow council members will exercise much more due diligence than the former council, which was supposedly encouraged by candidate pawlowski to drop the lawsuit and "move forward". please make sure you understand the document, and not the interpretation presented by either the administration or the FOP, especially concerning projected retiree's.

Anonymous said...

this is one of those issues where it would be a travesty if not amended; and any council members who go along should be impeached rather than merely voted out of office.

the last wave of retirees is breaking us financially. all the cards are on the table now. we know where the public got bamboozled last time around. to not have fundamental reform this time is really a violation of the public trust.

any retirement figure over the 70% base is banditry . . . and any councilperson who supports it is not suited for public service.

michael donovan, with whom i seldom agree, is at least out front in discussing the arguments here. where are guridy, amore, schweyer and eichenwald. i would hate to see a vote on this issue without each providing some sort of rationale for their position.

Michael Donovan said...

Hi again,

I just checked my city email, and see that the agreement is available to me.

I'll be reading it later tonight and tomorrow. Have to drive to Baltimore with my daughter shortly. Will be back this evening. I may have wireless somewhere while I wait for her. May get a chance to read, then.

Best regards,

Michael

ps...yes, I'm sure we will look very closely at it. I know I will.

Anonymous said...

Mike,

City council's bungling attempts to fix the last contract only made a marginal difference. The original contract was a disaster. The end result was a slightly worse disaster. This new contract is less of a disaster than the last one however one wonders how the city will afford anything in the future with the escalating costs these contracts will impose.
By the way, why are we paying the salary of a human resource director and city manager if the negotiations for this contract were outsourced to a firm from Philly.


Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Mr. Armstrong we need to pay Philly law firms Allentown taxpayer money so they can funnel it to Rendell's campaign so he gets reelected and continues to support Pawloski.

Michael Donovan said...

Greetings:

I have learned to rely on those who can do the best job. Our HR director and managing are both very talented. However, their speciality is not negotiating complex labor contracts. Plus, they have other day to day duties.

I have read the agreement and it seems satisfactory for all parties. Perhaps not what either party would have liked to have, but reasonable. It saved the taxpayer money, far in excess of the cost of negotiation. That, I will say, is a good business decision.

I have no plans to mess with the contract. I have some questions, but that seems fair. I know enough not to disrupt something in which I know little. I do know enough to detect problems of understanding and to seek clarity.

Finally, there is a clause in the agreement that specifically shows that the 10% cap is for computing the final retirement-based salary. (A $4000 salary is capped including OT at $4400 or 110%) The actual retirement amount is a percentage of the salary. The ruling dismisses the 70% retirement payment and reverts to the limits of the 3rd class city code. That is how I read the agreement.

Best regards,

Michael Donovan

Anonymous said...

How do you know when you have reached a good deal?

... when both sides are unhappy.

Anonymous said...

the idea of hiring outside people to negotiate contracts is that they are so talented, they create savings well in excess of their fees. it seems like in allentown, the opposite happens . . . the city outsources contract negotiations and ends up paying even more.

Anonymous said...

does councilman "kumbaya" donovan every look at a proposal from the administration . . . and NOT immediately declare it "satisfactory"?

michael molovinsky said...

anon 8:02, in my opinion that's not a fair statement about donovan, he does submit proposals to evaluation. i have not agreed with all his conclusions, but he does perform due diligence

Anonymous said...

“I have learned to rely on those who can do the best job. Our HR director and managing are both very talented. However, their speciality is not negotiating complex labor contracts. Plus, they have other day to day duties.”

If this wasn’t there specialty then they shouldn’t have been hired and the positions eliminated! Then we could outsource whatever else they may be doing to another firm in Philly.
Since the Dem’s have taken over this town the city’s annual budget has ballooned by roughly fifty percent. Meanwhile crime is up and the quality of life is down. The school district is an even bigger mess. I just hope my two boys make it out before the situation become untenable for learning.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

michael, you are right... perhaps we are being unfair to mr. donovan. we tend to beat up on him exclusively because he presents as a visible target.

let's put it this way. of what use is all the dedication, time, energy, patriotism, etc. our city council put into their jobs if in the end all the do is rubber stamp whatever the administration wants? they are like the wall streeters and regulators lwho supposedly did "due diligence" on FNMA, Freddie Mac, Lehman Bros,.

good intentions must eventually result in good results.

Anonymous said...

The regulators raised concerns several years ago at congressional hearings regarding the then developing situation at Fred Mac and Fran May. They were name called by the Democrats and the Republicans lacked the will to risk the same treatment and chose to do nothing. So don’t blame the regulators. Sometime later John McCain tried to push through a reform bill but couldn’t find a Democrat co-sponsor.

Scott Armstrong

Bernie O'Hare said...

" perhaps we are being unfair to mr. donovan. we tend to beat up on him exclusively because he presents as a visible target"

You're lucky to have him on your side. I know very few elected officials who are willing publicly to discuss controversial issues like a police contract. He practices transparency and accountability. If you don't want him, can we borrow him in Northampton County Council? I doubt he would survive a meeting. Angle's grammatical errors, just by themselves, would probably kill him. But I'd love to have him on our side.

Anonymous said...

Please Bernie, don’t be a fool. Transparency in itself may only serve to reveal nothingness. Judge by acts rather than by mere banter. Forgive my harsh assessment but the circumstance that has resulted from eight years of bad government leaves little room for subtlety on my part.
It is interesting as well to note that this official who uses the rhetoric of inclusiveness self-righteously proclaims to be a Democrat for reasons of “social justice.” This would seem to imply that non Democrats don’t share this goal. Is this language “inclusive”?

Scott Armstrong

Bernie O'Hare said...

Fool? Moi?

You got me.

No one has a monopoly on social justice, Scott. You are right. To the extent Michael thinks his philosophy precludes that possibility in a conservative, I would disagree with him. You and that bastard Molovinsky are both examples of conservatives who believe in social justice.

I do like Donovan. But you would be excellent on city council, too.

Michael Donovan said...

Hello,

I think that you can see in my writings that I critique conservatives who choose to scream at the top of their voice at liberals and simultaneously present rhetoric that is racist and classist. Mr. Limbaugh is an example, as well as some locals who like to sound like him.

I don't scream at conservatives. I do politely question an intense traditionalism that can tend to be exclusionary. That is not being self-righteous. That is just my own belief. We all have beliefs. The question is can we debate beliefs without screaming.

On the other side, democrats who are unwilling to be pragmatic do present a problem in public policy, too. They can be unwilling to work with others, and as a result miss opportunities. I see that often. And I call attention to it. I even will strongly disagree with policies that are overly slanted to non-pragmatic ideology. The two parties do not have a monopoly on solutions to public problems. Unfortunately, some believe that all solutions rest within one train of thought. In a complex world, that is impossible.

Mr. Molovinsky may be a conservative (I really don't know. I see a person who expresses his ideas and those issues of importance to him.), but he is pragmatic and polite in raising issues. He does critique the administration, but his language is rarely, if ever, incendiary. He has his beliefs, which I respect are his. We may disagree, but we do not call each other names.

Scott, do you ever catch your breath, and stop blaming people? You might discover that progress can be made.

Best regards,

Michael Donovan

Anonymous said...

Mike Donovan,

I "blame" people because the damage is there, it exists we live with it, and life in Allentown has been diminished as a result. The damage that has been done to this city by those who are to "blame" is very real.
Before you came to town a non partisan group of people managed to achieve some extraordinary things for this city. It was an "inclusive" group. It was destroyed by the partisan activity of Roy Afflerbach and his willing Democrat cohorts.
The city is no longer "inclusive", it is controlled by a party that is more interested in power than good government. That is the progress they seek.
I don't see the need to stop "blaming" the guilty, I don't see the wisdom of forgetting the many misdeeds that can be laid at the feet of the guilty. The guilty dashed the hopes many shared for a better Allentown. The guilty have squandered the present and the future of this city. They have as well compromised the learning environment of the states 3rd largest school district.
No one should ever forget what has transpired here in this city for the past eight years.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

By the way Mike Donovan please provide examples of Rush Limbaugh using language that is classist or racist.This claim from your post is typical of the name calling and smearing that has become the left's new norm.


Scott Armstrong

Michael Donovan said...

Hello Scott:

I didn't know what to say in response to your last comment. I was just amazed.

Having listened from time to time to Mr. Limbaugh over the last 18 years or so, I can think of numerous times he has breeched the limit of neighborly civility.

Perhaps you have not heard what I hear. Perhaps that is selective hearing on your and my part. I do not know, but a google search of his comments and video archives does demonstrate his hatred for anything or anyone with whom he disagrees.

Scott, there are bad people and good people. The art of identifying the bad is not to label but to look at each person and examine what they are saying and doing. Indiscriminately categorizing and then screaming at people is an act of simplicity. I find Mr. Limbaugh's screaming simplistic. There are several Democratic/liberal zealots whom I find simplistic, too.

The city of Allentown started its decline long before the last two administrations. There is lots of blame to go around.

Fixing it will take cooperation, experience, public policy skill, and minimal partisanship.

You are invited to reduce your rhetoric and join the discussion. I agree that the cost of running this city went up far too much over the last 10 years, primarily because of the pension agreement.

As always, best regards,

Michael Donovan

Anonymous said...

Mike Donovan,

I’m not surprised that you are “amazed” at my post for all too often liberals such as yourself have the luxury of residing within an intellectual cocoon of likeminded people. Contrary opinion can be astounding and perhaps profoundly disturbing in such a situation. Perhaps this explains your use of the word “scream” to describe my replies to you.


Now to your points,

“Having listened from time to time to Mr. Limbaugh over the last 18 years or so, I can think of numerous times he has breeched the limit of neighborly civility.

Perhaps you have not heard what I hear. Perhaps that is selective hearing on your and my part. I do not know, but a google search of his comments and video archives does demonstrate his hatred for anything or anyone with whom he disagrees.”

Mike, it is no small thing to label someone a “racist;” yet you have done so. Reasonable rules of discourse would require evidence be provided to back up any serious allegation but you have yet to provide any. Instead you offer “google” has providing substantiation. I think we can all agree the internet is not a reliable source of the truth on any subject. Elvis is alive and we never landed on the moon websites and news sources abound in cyberspace. Yet you offer this same field of lies as your source.

Doesn’t the following thought of yours contradict your labeling of Rush as a “racist?

“Scott, there are bad people and good people. The art of identifying the bad is not to label but to look at each person and examine what they are saying and doing.”

Last, but most important, is your point regarding Allentown,

“The city of Allentown started its decline long before the last two administrations. There is lots of blame to go around.”

On Allentown, you write from a point of confident ignorance. You weren’t here five, six, seven or eight years ago so you can’t speak of that time period from a firsthand experience. Those who were here know the real truth (even if they won’t admit it publicly) and know who is to blame for the cataclysmic slide of the past eight years.
There is an ongoing attempt to portray this period in Allentown’s history in a way that favors those who now control. Are you a willing accomplice to this effort?

Happy Black Friday

Scott Armstrong

Michael Donovan said...

Dear Scott:

When I hear and read direct quotes from Mr. Limbaugh, I have an opinion. And yes, I consider him a racist. Indeed, he is a buffoon. If you wish to defend him as the voice of American conservatism, so be it. I can identify many more very bright and broad-thinking conservatives who mean very well, and with whom I would love to have a conversation. Mr. Limbaugh? I would simply laugh at him.

Two, his actions and comments more than indicate that the man has less than inclusionary beliefs.

Third, Scott, I have read the histories of Allentown, listened to hundreds of "longtimers" and gone through hundreds of Morning Call articles ranging back to the 50s. Allentown did not just, "poof," deteriorate. I did not defend the last 8 years at all. I took a broader view over many decades, which includes several interesting mayors and councilors and policies.

Allentown is no different than 300 other American cities its size, with the exception that critical decisions over a 50 year period led to a hollowing out of urban areas and a race for the suburbs. Political and social decisions produced an ever widening gap among racial and ethnic groups. State, local, and county decisions contributed to a concentration of poverty with little success in replacing the economic engines available in prior generations. The sad part is that data on those 300 cities show us near the bottom on many different scales. Some of that data is based on the 2000 census. Oh...that information is from 9 years ago?????

8 years does not make a city. Again, there is lots of blame to go around.

Again, stop complaining. What were your "collaborative" ideas from 6 or 8 years ago? I would like to hear them. You can put them on my blog, if you would like.

Best regards,

Michael

Anonymous said...

Armstrong; You are winning this debate. Mr. Donovan sounds like a pompous wind bag, who can never comprehend that Allentown's straight ticket Democrat voters don't even know who he is. Mr. Donovan's claim to fame is beating out far more experienced and talented candidates such as Tom Burke, Steve Bodner, Charlie Theil and Kim Beitler. Mr. Donovan's background in Allentown pales in comparison to any of these four truly worthy candidates. Keep up the minority dissent!

Anonymous said...

Mike,

Again, you offer no proof or evidence to back up your serious accusation that Rush is a racist. Instead, you offer only your opinion. Your opinion, Mike, is just that and nothing more. Anyone can make a slanderous claim and back it up with mere opinion. This is the basest level of discourse.
As to Allentown, your independent attempts at research have left you ill informed. Eight years ago the disastrous police contract wasn't signed, two ill advised bond restructuring weren't approved, ten million dollars wasn't borrowed to balance the books, long time and well respected city employees weren't fired or forced out, the city school district was in much better shape all around and the mood of residents was that there was reason to hope that the city could be turned around.
Your opinion, Mike, cannot change these facts. Facts are undeniable and all around up here in the city. These facts will saddle the city with an unbearable burden far into the future. I will never stop "complaining" about the who and why of these new facts. As to my ideas from 6 or 8 years ago, they not pertinent to this discussion.
Remembering history is the best remedy to avoid repeating it.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Simply, Mr Donorvan, what do you call Ms Pelosi and Mr Reid with respect to their calling the President, Senator McCain, Governor Palin and other republicans vile names. Whether you agree with Rush or not, calling him a racist is despicable.

Calling the President of the United States derogatory names, even if you disagree with him, is completely inappropriate.

I guess now that we are soon to have a black president, if we disagree with him we will be called "racist". God save us all. (Oops, shouldn't have said that. Now you will think I am a right wing religious zealot.)

Mr Donovan you simply can not speak about Allentown prior to your living here. Believe me, you would have enjoyed it a lot more than one does now.

Lastly Mr Donovan, name calling isn't the right practice for one who blieves in Inclusiveness. Think about it.

Dr Bob Romancheck

Michael Donovan said...

Greetings Dr. Romancheck (thank you for identifying yourself):

I'll assume that you have heard these people say things to which you disagree and feel deeply bothered. As I remember such political name calling has gone on for a long time on both sides, and is based on ideology, not physical characteristics.

Ok, well Mr. Limbaugh is someone with whom I disagree, and I will call a racist because he implies that physical differences implies rank in this world.

While I abhor any ideological name calling (like liberal and conservatives calling each other names) because it minimizes the chances for any constructive progress, I will never accept any statement that is derogatory toward physical, ethnic, religious, or gender differences. Listening to Mr. Limbaugh over the years causes me to feel he is the epitome of an archaic belief in superiority of his kind. And that is not an opinion, Scott, that is a reaction to actual statements.

I would welcome a conversation with him, if he would come off his mountain and embrace the fact that the world cannot be as he defines it should be.

My definition of inclusiveness is civic conversation. You will see in the above comments that I call on both sides to work on problems and not scream at each other. I was the one that was called "self-righteous" because I criticize members (remember, only certain members) of the republican party who will use words to establish barriers between people. If I am to be inclusive, I need to note those situations when people are not being inclusive, even though they might have disagreements.

Inclusiveness takes work. As I read and write in blogs, I try to have conversations, but what I get back usually is screaming. I asked Mr. Armstrong for his recommendations. He said they were not relevant. I offer my reaction to actual quotes, and it is described as only my "opinion." We only differ on the time frame that defines Allentown's problems.

An anonymous writer calls me "pompous." That's fine. If pompous means that I want to participate in conversations without being yelled at, then I'll accept the charge. I opened Mr. Molovinshy's blog entry with a comment that was an attempt to be helpful by clarifying language in the police contract. This has turned into a yelling match by no fault of my own.

Best regards,

Michael Donovan

michael molovinsky said...

michael donovan, i almost decided not to print the anonymous comment calling you pompous. as you probably know, i have an antagonist who comments for no other reason than to disrupt. it is because of him that i was forced to enable comment moderation, and as a consequence have accidentally excluded some comments that were sincerely opposed to other points of view. also, although scott declined to say, you should know that it was through his tireless efforts that the rental inspection law was passed, and also the west park historic district. i personally opposed those measures, but for the many who support them, they owe a debt of gratitude to armstrong.

Anonymous said...

"And that is not an opinion, Scott, that is a reaction to actual statements."

What actual statements? Again, a serious charge deserves actual evidence, not vague generalities.
Your use of this name calling tactic is troubling and reflects more on you than on Rush.

Scott Armstrong

Michael Donovan said...

Hello Michael,

You never have to pull something directed at me. I am aware of Scott's contributions to the city -- including both the rental ordinance and the West Park District. In no way have I diminished those accomplishments. Indeed, I have asked for suggestions on what he would do now. All I get is that the last 8 years are horrible, even though, for me, I've been in office only for 1 year.

Thank you, and best regards,

Michael Donovan

Anonymous said...

I'm not likely to work with any elected official who uses the word "racist" or any other slur so freely.

Scott Armstrong