Opinion: Back-doored?

2010 City Civil Budget

The following quote caught my eye in Ben Lanka’s Journal Gazette article in today’s paper about union contracts.

Jack Woodruff, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police union, said the city administration also negotiated a 1.5 percent salary increase for next year, and his members are preparing to vote on it next week.

“The City Council essentially back-doored the mayor,” he said. “I’m very disappointed.”

“Back-doored?”  Ok, perhaps I’m being too ridiculous, but that’s not a very polite phrase to use, especially from a respected Police Officer.

But what bothers me most about this issue, and I will try to confirm this later today, is that the anger is once again misdirected.

The City Council does not negotiate the City’s union contracts – the Administration does.  I have been told, and this is what I’ll try to re-confirm today, that the City Council was not briefed nor asked about what would be palatable in regards to wage increases for any of the union contracts.  Seeing as how the Council is the fiscal agent for the budget and really has the final say over budget matters, shouldn’t they be polled or asked for input on what would be acceptable?

But this is just another symptom of the bigger problem: the lack of cooperation and collaboration between the Council and Administration.  Yes, the Mayor is a Democrat while the majority of Council, 5-4, are Republicans, so you could easily write this off as politics as usual – nothing more, nothing less.  It is probably a lot easier for the Administration to play the victim rather than to take a stand and give us citizens what we want – government that works and plays well with others.

Mark my words:  this lack of cooperation and collaboration will become a major point of contention in the next Mayoral campaign.  It will join the issue of openness and transparency.

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  1. It is an adversarial relationship that need not be. There are no great ideological difference between most members of council and the administration. It is a matter of trust and city council members simply do not trust Mayor Henry, for a variety or reasons, including what you write above. They have been surprised on a number of occasions to find deals percolating for which they have not been consulted or give that simple courtesy call. There are the sneaky deals such as the terms of use of the skybridge between the Embassy and the new Marriott that raised every eyebrow on council, expect perhaps Marty’s. There are the outright lies concerning the casino effort. It is a matter of trust and what you write about and what Ben quoted are just new nails in the coffin of trust.


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