Public Watchdog.org

Another Appropriate Veto From “Mayor No”

03.14.14

Mayor Dave Schmidt’s latest veto – of the new contract between the City and its public works employees represented by Local 150 of the Int’l Union of Operating Engineers (the “OEs”) – came with what might be his shortest veto message to date.

The contract Schmidt vetoed would require the City to pay the OEs to provide health insurance for the 28 public works employees it represents, rather than keep those employees on the City’s insurance.  The projected $70,000 savings to the City of that insurance off-loading purportedly justifies the multi-year pay raises the contract includes, which are to run through April 2017.

Schmidt is concerned “because the projected costs and purported savings for the 2016-17 fiscal years are too uncertain.”  That was the same theme advanced by Ald. Marc Mazzuca (6th) – one of the three aldermen (along with Alds. Dan Knight and Roger Shubert) who voted against the contract initially – in a letter to City Mgr. Shawn Hamilton last month.

Hamilton and HR Director Mike Suppan are endorsing this contract as buying labor peace for our time, or at least until April 2017.

That should be the concern of all Park Ridge taxpayers who have seen just how bogus “projections” can be, especially when they are created and/or endorsed by bureaucrats, politicians and private organizations trying to feed at the public trough.  Remember all those glowing Uptown TIF projections?  And how then-city manager Tim Schuenke waived them around like Neville Chamberlain returning from Munich with that white paper “accord”?

Replace Schuenke/Chamberlain with City Mgr. Shawn Hamilton and you’ve got the picture.

And any question about whether this contract is likely to be a good or bad deal for the taxpayers should be dispelled by one simple fact: the OEs are arguing that it will save the taxpayers money!

As reported in a recent Park Ridge Herald-Advocate (“Park Ridge mayor vetoes union contract over health care concerns,” March 6), Local 150 “spokesperson” Ed Maher chided Schmidt for not locking in protections for taxpayers and employees against possible future spikes in health care costs.  He also took a swipe at the ACA/Obamacare, calling it “completely unfunded” and contending that any suggestion that it will result in health care savings to the City is “absurd.”

A public sector union executive expressing concern for the taxpayers sounds about as sincere as Putin expressing concern for Ukrainian independence.

Schmidt is spot-on in asking that the contract be revised to at least include a wage and health insurance re-opener if all these projected savings don’t occur.  But, of course, the OEs want no part of anything that might add any accountability and real consequences if their projections turn out to be nothing but propaganda.

And Hamilton and City Staff just want to make a deal, any deal, to put to rest the continuing saga of what appears to have been their botched negotiations of this contract, as we wrote in our 06.14.13 postThey seem to have not even the vaguest grasp of how whatever they negotiate with one group of employees – be it unionized or non-unionized – impacts the demands of other groups; and how it can effectively become the baseline for what terms an arbitrator can impose on the City in connection with the police and firefighters’ contracts.

This latest veto surely won’t endear Schmidt to the OEs, who threw their support – and an unprecedented $1,000 contribution – to Schmidt’s opponent in last April’s election.  At least one of that opponent’s campaign signs was also reported to have been prominently displayed in the Public Works garage even weeks after the election – notwithstanding that Schmidt won handily, in large part because it seems the voting taxpayers respect a public official who actually walks his talk.

Since we don’t appear to have any City negotiators with the brains or the backbone necessary to protect City taxpayers from the OEs’ (and other unions’) demands,, and their possible chicanery, that task falls to the Mayor.

Fortunately, he’s not afraid to do his job, especially when others can’t seem to do theirs.

To read or post comments, click on title.

14 comments so far

Bravo. No one says health insurance shouldn’t be funded. But someone is saying we have to have some certainty as to the costs, and who will pay them. That’s what we call good government, people.

Excellent job Mayor and the 3 alderman with common sense. If the projections were so reliable, I would have expected the union to not have been concerned about a reopener clause. Obviously not the case and a clear sign of not willing to put a little skin in the game.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Exactly – and not unlike how all the public employees and their unions never really beefed for all those years that their pensions were going unfunded because that money was being used for, among other things…wait for it…RAISES!

With a consitutional guaranty of their pension benefits, they didn’t need to be concerned with robbing their pension funding in order to pay their raises. And since they would reap pension benefits far in excess of what they contributed AND also what they might have to pay in additional income taxes to fully fund their pensions if the state imposes such additional taxes, it was purely a win/win situation for them and the unions – at the expense of the taxpayers.

I think your Neville Chamberlain analogy is a bit much; I don’t think of you as one who has to jump on the rusty bandwagon of comparing politicians you don’t like to WWII villains. Nor is it necessary to demonize those who work for us because they’d like to be less helpless than Wal-Mart employees. It’s enough that Mayor Schmidt said no to a deal that had a problematic cost and that he saw through the iffy trade-off proposed.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We call ’em as we see ’em, and public employees who suck legally suck money out of the taxpayers for less than commensurate service will be identified as such.

And, no, it’s not “enough” that Schmidt had to stop another boneheaded deal done by a City Manager who arrived with a truckful of promise and has been a disappointment ever since. Not yet Hock-like, but moving more in that direction than the other way. You call it “demonizing,” we call it accountability. Potato, potahto.

You alluded to the people negotiating on behalf of Park Ridge. And that is a solid, though incomplete, point. THIS contract is not the first proposed contract that “Mayor No” has vetoed. Nor is it the second. By this time, the City negotiators should not be presenting proposals to the City Council that they know will be vetoed.

One way or another, the City’s negotiators need to grasp what will not pass muster. Failing that, they should be replaced with negotiators that are more attuned to what can be accepted by the Council and/or the mayor.

EDITOR’S NOTE: It appears that the “City’s negotiators” – in this case, presumably the City Manager and at least one attorney from the law firm of Clark Baird Smith in Rosemont, just want to make a “deal.”

As we’ve previously reported, the Mayor and the Council have directed the City Mgr. to negotiate “revenue neutral” contracts and he has disregarded their direction, seemingly without any real consequences. And because these negotiations are conducted in closed session, the taxpayers have no ability to see and hear exactly what kind of hi-jinks is going on in these negotiations.

Once again Mayor Dave has done the job of others by vetoing a contract that should never have been negotiated that way by the city’s team, and never should have been approved by the council. I really would like to see the resposible people do their jobs in such a way that they are done right the first time and don’t need bailouts from the mayor.

EDITOR’S NOTE: So would we.

I was referring to the rank and file with the temerity to unionize, not our very disappointing Mr. Hamilton and the coterie of consultants who can’t seem to grasp the Mayor’s simple requests.
It’s the passive-aggressive, “we’ll get to it when we get to it” mode that has worked so well for so long, and good riddance if Schmidt, Borelli and others like them are able to make some inroads into it.

Your Editor’s Note to 03.14.14 9:09 am’s comment is exactly correct re how public employees never cared about pension underfunding so long as they kept getting their raises. They want to portray themselves as victims of politicians, but they were willing collaborators in that underfunding.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Some of them even go so far as to try to blame their own unions and the politicians – as if they aren’t responsible for the unions whom they authorize to represent them and get them the raises while pensions go underfunded.

The OEs gave $1,000 to Schmidt’s opponent because they knew Schmidt would not go along with business as usual, where the unions get whatever they want. Thankfully the voters made the right choice and the OEs wasted $1,000. THat works for me.

EDITOR’S NOTE: And for us.

What’s your take on how the Char vs Cheryl fight will go?

EDITOR’S NOTE: We don’t have one, primarily because we don’t have a good sense of whether Team Madigan/Moylan will direct their Dem voters to pull Republican ballots for Teschky; and how effective that kind of Combine effort to help the Provenzano Payrollers’ RINO candidate can be.

If it were just traditional Republican voters, we’d give the edge to Char.

Watchdog, why do you answer commentators whose comments are totally off topic, like 12:29’s about Teschky v. Foss-Eggeman? That just encourages more tangential comments that distract from the topic of the post.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We know, but the level of political ignorance in a community this compact, affluent and allegedly educated is so troubling that we find it hard to resist any opportunity to help inform the masses, however irrelevant a comment may be to the topic of the post.

7:53;

A few off topic posts are thennature of a blog. There are times that they take the dialogue is valuable direction.

There were 9 posts on the thread prior to yours. Was that too confusing for
you?? Give me a break.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Care to explain how the Maine Township Republican Committeeman race provides a new and “valuable direction” for a post about the Park Ridge mayor’s veto of a public works employees contract?

On second thought, don’t strain yourself.

The idea of a reopener if the insurance savings don’t shake out makes so much sense it makes me wonder how inept or thoughtless the City’s negotiators (including a negotiations specialist attorney?) had to be to even recommend a pro-union/employee contract like this one. It also makes me wonder about the aldermen who voted for it. Thanks again to Mayor Schmidt for his vigilance and concern for the taxpayers. Now let’s hope his veto is upheld.

A blog is not a term paper for a high school class. If someone wants to pick the brains of our local poli-sci wiz on the fly, rather than waiting for the topic of his/her choice to possibly be introduced by another party, I don’t think a demerit is issued. The primary is tomorrow; when would you suggest an important topic like who’s gonna win it be introduced? After the vote? Sheesh.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We run the blog, we issue the demerits.

“Who’s gonna win” is really not an “important topic.” Who actually did win, on the other hand, is.

Yes, dear demerit decider.



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