Opinion: Benefits debate should be held – ?????

Crowded Chamber

An article posted today on the News-Sentinel’s website and on the front page of today’s print edition caught my eye.

Especially this paragraph:

[…] the mere hint of fiscal restraint is enough to arouse a backlash, as City Council members discovered this week when more than 100 police officers and firefighters applauded an 8-1 vote against even considering an ordinance that would have required public safety retirees to bear at least some of the cost of their health insurance.

And this sentence:

[…] Nevertheless, Tuesday’s turnout illustrated the degree to which politics and pressure continue to trump economics.

I don’t remember seeing 100 police officers there this past Tuesday.  I do remember seeing them at the Council meeting the week before.

Then to confuse the issue even more:

[…] In fact, council on Tuesday approved a new three-year pact with city firefighters, and negotiations with the police continue.

Was that this past Tuesday or the Tuesday before?  For the record it was this past Tuesday.  However, they technically did not approve the contract yet.  They voted to pass it out of Committee Session with a “Do Pass” recommendation.  It still, and probably will, be given a final vote of approval at next Tuesday’s Council meeting.

At least he closed with a strong finish:

[…] The intent here is not to denigrate the contributions of public employees or to question whether they deserve the pay and benefits they receive. […] If public employees expect to be immune from the economic realities faced by most taxpayers, that can happen only by cutting services or raising taxes, as city unions have suggested. Neither is a good option, especially during a recession. So, despite her utter futility, Brown was the real winner this week. As Smith said, “What’s wonderful is that she put it on the table, and the administration and unions have been put on notice. Maybe a year or two down the road …”

But, it will probably be more than a year or two as the Fire Department’s contract is for three years and kick’s in this January, 2010.  I don’ t know how long the Police Department’s contract will be good for, but it’ll be at least a few years down the road.

Come to think of it, I don’t remember seeing Kevin Leininger at either of the Council meetings.  In fact, during the past year, there’s only been one Council meeting I remember ever seeing him at.  Yes, the wonder of modern technology allows one to watch Council meetings at home, but this precludes one from getting the behind the scenes happenings.  These include Council person’s reactions to each other as well as the volume and force with which statements are often delivered.

This last point was driven home to me after attending a Council meeting on September 9, 2008, then later watching the video I recorded of Councilman Glynn Hines blasting the Henry Administration during the Fire Merit Board veto override vote.  The diatribe was delivered with force, conviction and passion which the camera did not fully capture.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, that’s the true story.  I guess you really can’t believe everything you read in the paper, eh?

Related Images:


  1. This is what passes for journalism these days. Perhaps Mr. Leininger was watching a re-run and became confused. Or there’s the old journalism rag that says: “never let the facts get in the way of a good story”. These folks are either lazy, or think their audience is stupid and we, the great unwashed, have to turn to them for enlightenment to make our sad and meaningless lives more enjoyable.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here