Caution Please Wear Hip Waders Before Going Further.

The council can’t seriously be considering the Mayors numbers again can they? At least not before they put on their Hip Waders. Not long ago he came before this council and sold them his savings on healthcare. Almost two years later not only is there not a savings the city is paying more. That savings was wrapped up in the patrol officers contract. He came before you (the council) and said you have to sign the contract in-order for the city to realize the healthcare savings. Maybe you forgot this was the same man that sold you a balanced budget based on his numbers passed by the majority of you only to find out later we have a deficit. How many times are you going to do the same thing and expect different results?
When this new plan came before the council it was to keep our senior employees and find a savings for the city. The employee can buy years get their pension and come back to work for the city at half the salary and work full time. A real savings for the city and the employees would still be getting about the same salary as they do now it would be combined pension and salary. Councilman Berry was right at the last meeting when he said this is what was suppose to happen. That’s not how this is turning out.
Council members Badalow and Horvath both have questions and major concerns about this. While councilman Apigan has full confidence in all things the Mayor says and does even he asked the Mayor to show him the savings. Councilwoman Horvath had a spreadsheet of old numbers big surprise you’d think that something this important they (the council) would have every number every employee down to the penny to how much the city will save if they approve this. Something the Mayor should’ve given them well in advance of the meeting.

Those of you who follow along over the years are not surprised at this for those who are new to the city and how things are done let me reassure you this is very typical. The Mayor does one thing very well not give the information to the council to let them make a decision with all the facts. What the Mayor wants to do now is bring back those department heads who take an early out at full salary. Not what the council thought they were agreeing on. He said the reason for this is because the council did not approve giving them 3 years and letting them buy 3 years, but when the council did not agree to the 3 years he decided to offer them full salary.

It’s only been the first reading of the proposed ordinance they (the council) don’t have to have a second reading. They don’t have to agree to letting people come back at full salary. They don’t have to believe what the Mayor is saying . Why would they?  The Mayor has a proven track record the numbers are always off, council never has all the information, and he isn’t always the most honest of people. Maybe for once the council will stop hoping for a better result from the same players and proceed with caution.

Just listening to the exchange between him and councilwoman Horvath the red flag went up. She ask for numbers he says for sure, of course we will get those to you just go ahead and have the first reading. What? For goodness sake how many times has he done the same thing. Who’s to say the numbers are even correct when have they been in the last years. Dealing with this man is like walking through a mine field you never know if the foot you put down is going to land on a mine that will Blow.

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25 thoughts on “Caution Please Wear Hip Waders Before Going Further.”

  1. Private,
    Private,

    Yes, I am aware that the DROP participants receive a reduced pension if they take out their pension contributions. But, what fool wouldn’t? To receive an extra hundred or so dollars a month? I’m not positive of the actual figure, but I’m sure I can find out. If it were ME, I would take the lump sum pay out of my contributions. That’s like wining the lottery and NOT taking the lump sum. I don’t believe there is any person that has entered the DROP that has not taken the lump sum. Please let me know if I am incorrect!

    As for the DROP not being available to other city employees….. what do you think is going on with the DPW supervisors? They’re not actually calling it a DROP, but they are letting them retire and bringing them back to work. Same thing, don’t you think?

    As far as your statement “The drop does benefit the city because the city no longer contributes to that employee’s health care”. Who do you think pays into the pension fund? THE CITY. Please. Get real!!!

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  2. Kathy,

    I just submitted a comment addressed to Annoyed – I meant to direct it to Private – can you correct my error? if not, just post this comment. thank You!

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  3. Annoyed,
    The fire and police drop is not available to all persons and that is a government rule. As far as I know the government only makes drop programs available to police, fire and school teachers. DPW and civilian employee’s are not eligable. You are correct that a employee has the option to withdraw his/her pension contributions out at time of retirement, but if they choose to make the withdraw they will get a reduced monthly pension. The drop does benefit the city because the city no longer contributes to that employee’s health care and yes most month’s the drop does earn the
    pension system interest.

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  4. Private,
    They contribute to their pension, but that doesn’t save the city anything. They get their contributions in one lump sum when they retire. The DROP is NOT good for the city. It only benefits the employee!!! If they retired, a new person, making less, would be hired. I’m not sure how this is cost effective for the city. I do believe that YOU should do a bit of homework yourself! And before you call ME jealous, no jealousy here. If you are an employee, maybe police and fire, don’t you think this DROP program should be offered to ALL city employees since “the money is reinvested into the pension system earning interest for the employee and the pension system.” Honestly if this was really a benefit to the city, ALL employees would have it offered to them. But, sweet deals are ONLY made to who the “powers that be” like! Just look at what is going on now!

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  5. Ava2
    I agree that the police and fire do retire with a good pension, but they contribute and work for it. I may not agree with all the roll-in’s, but some of them I do. As far as the police and fire drop it is a good program for the employee and the city. If they were to retire and go get another job they would still collect there pension which would remove the money out of the pension system. By staying the money is reinvested into the pension system earning interest for the employee and the pension system. Before
    you talk about something make sure you so your homework and not talk out
    of jealousy. And remember these benefits were given to police and fire.

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  6. I’m sorry, but the police officers in Dearborn Heights are amongst the highest paid in the state of Michigan. As for your claim that you’re “likely to die 15 – 20 years than the average person” is a MYTH!!!! Here are some REAL facts to back up your false claim.

    http://davisvanguard.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2977:calpers-debunks-myth-of-shorter-life-expectancy-for-safety-employees&Itemid=79%20

    I have many police officers in my family. They have my utmost respect as do ALL police officers. But, please do not boo-hoo here that you don’t make enough money to live in this city. I do not make a fraction of what you do, but live here without holding a second job. (I also take care of my family). I know that the police officers have NOT taken a 10% cut like the AFSCME or department heads (and others) have taken. I think that you gave up your uniform allowance. Please correct me if I’m wrong. But, maybe you can use your uniforms from last year. I can’t imagine they’re ruined. I wish I received a clothing allowance for my job. I am required to dress a certain way, but my employer would never give me a clothing allowance.

    You are going to receive an excellent pension that is completely paid for by the residents of Dearborn Heights. Suck it up. Finish out your time. Enter the DROP as you ALL do and collect your enormous pension. And last but not least, be safe!

    One last thing – do you think that the police officers are the only employees that care about the city? Highly unlikely.

    Sorry if this comes off as a little harsh. But, the police officers working for the city should be the LAST to complain!

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  7. Kathy,
    The fact is he originally made a statement that a city council person should know better. Then I expressed a concern about it and you went ahead and changed it (whether he asked you to or not) and refused to post my valid critique of his wrong statement. Call it cherry-picking, call it bias, call it fixing, call it whatever you want, but it really says something that you protect certain people from ligitimate criticism (as small as it may be). So much for being an open forum for all sides.

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  8. So, is your mayoral campaign starting now?

    It’s said that confession is good for the soul and I hope you feel better for this purging of your sins. It’s also good for us to know that up until now you haven’t been “thinking and deciding” on your own. Who, then, has been doing it for you?

    Since you have issued this mea culpa, do you plan on voting “yes” for the special retirement program aimed at a select few supervisors? You can write all you like here about your “frustration”, but it’s nothing compared to what the residents of this city feel. How can someone who is charged with providing leadership be so out of touch with what is really happening?

    This city will provide handsomely for a few retirees and when it’s time for the rest of the employees to retire, the pension cupboard will be bare. I feel that the administration and the council have gone well beyond being merely irresponsible.

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  9. Anonymous,

    I too work in a very stressful job. I have been threatened many times. I had one person pull a gun on me. I, however, do not carry a weapon on my job. I am at the mercy of others. I am not able to defend myself. My family relies on my income. My stress levels are very high. The difference between us is that I will not walk away with a huge pension. I cannot enter a DROP program and roll into it my longevity pay, uniform allowance etc. We all know what a sweetheart deal the DROP program is. And, at the taxpayers expense! At least admit to that.

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  10. I explained why I didn’t post it he shouldn’t get the blame for my not getting to it in a timely manner there was no cherry picking going on and sorry you feel that way.

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  11. I am sad for you Mr. Berry about how uninformed and uneducated you are about how some of those things came about. Your irresponsible speculation may have an affect on the lives and families of employees of the city. Instead of expecting others to inform you of things, maybe take the initiative to find out for yourself. I am a cop. I love my job and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. As a cop in your city, when I started I wasn’t even able to afford a house here. We have gotten no raises as you claim and the cost of living has risen so much that’s it’s almost impossible to keep up. My wife and children depend on my income and benefits to survive. With loss of manpower over the past few years, we have been stretched to levels of stress in what already was one of the most stressful jobs one could have. Loss of wages, benefits, and increase in cost of living have decimated my monthly income to a point that I have sacrificed even more time away from my family to work a second job. I have higher levels of stress related illness symptoms than the average person. I have been in situations that I truely believed I was going to die and not see my children ever again. And I am likely to die 15-20 years than the average person from all the stress related illnesses. For the years that I will be dead and my family will not spend with me, all I ask is fair pay for the time I work for this city. Barley being able to afford to live in the city I police is NOT going overboard. The decimation of city service employee pay and benefits has to stop. If you think that uncut grass brings property values down, what do you think will happen to the value when the city refuses to pay for quality employees who care.

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  12. Kathy,
    I’d appreciate it if you’d post my comment as submitted. If you have something to add to it then do so, but cherry-picking what you want to post and not post gives a definite impression of bias. (If I had made my comment about the mayor I know you would have put it up.)
    Thanks.

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  13. Forgot…I read a copy of the DHFD contract which the council approved.
    Very nice contract with a lot of hidden benefits, future raises, and promotions. Why are we so top heavy in the fire department. You jump on the DPW and police, but what about the FD. I am thankful for all city workers and what they do, but you have to be fair Mr. Berry.

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  14. This should not only be in reference to the police, but also the fire. The firemen also get the drop, holiday & longevity, LALS pay, FAC with roll-in’s, 13th check, and other benefits.
    I agree we need all new blood within our city government.

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  15. Thank you for being humble, councilman.
    It’s something us residents haven’t seem from a lot of folks at city hall. In the past I have thought different of u. Now I change my opinion. It’s more positive now. Thank you.

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  16. Linda, you are so right. New blood is needed. I can think of several qualified officers in our DHPD that could step in and take the chief’s place. We need an infustion of new blood.

    Thank you, councilman Berry for being accountable. We all make mistakes but it takes a big person to admit them and learn from them.

    I have been at those meetings and have heard the Mayor smoozing his numbers. It all sounds good to the ears and I must admit I fell for the Headlee Amendment over-ride smooze from the Mayor. I went door to door endorsing it, thinking I was helping the city only to find out later the only one being helped was the Mayor.

    Suzanne

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  17. Councilman Berry

    I under stand your frustration I would like to remind you that the Mayor did play a very big part in the decision you and the rest made in approving that contract. If memory serves me he told the council that it was vital to pass the contract as is. He said that the city had to give those sweeteners (my words not his.) to the officers in-order to get the healthcare savings.
    It seems to me that the council can only make good decisions when they are presented with all the facts and clear information in a timely fashion.
    With this latest go around I see the same pattern that’s been in use by this administration forever. The numbers not given, the dollar amount the city is going to save based on the number of employees who are going to do this not available. Sorry but his majesty sitting on his chair and dropping the amount of 100,000.00 a year without giving you any evidence to back it up is unacceptable.

    Thank you so much for your honesty you’re welcome here any time.

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  18. I feel compelled to reply to the latest entery on your page ‘Caution Please Wear Hip Waders Before Going Further’. No doubt there is a great deal of disappointment with the recent decisions made by Council but I will not throw any Councilmember under the bus except for myself.

    I don’t hold a crystal ball and if I could have predicted the significant increase in health care use I would not have voted in favor of the proposal. We are self-insured and we pay medical bills up to a predetermined amount. This is not the issue to apologize for.

    My frustration and disappointment in myself are from other decisions I made. They are in my vote in favor of the Police contract (POAC), plus and including the D.R.O.P. program and the approval of the AFSME (sp) contract.

    The POAC contract is now public so we can discuss it. My original objects to the POAC were and are;

    1. 13th Check – Retirees receive an additional 13th check if the fund balance in the pension did well enough to create a ‘surplus’ in the fund. In my opinion any surplus should go back into the fund and used to offset the city’s required contribution.

    2. Uniform Allowance – 2% of the Officers annual base salary, according to the contract, is reimbursed to them for the laundry and care of their uniforms. Do the math; in my opinion a flat rate of $1,000.00 would have been appropriate.

    3. Senior Patrol – Patrol officers with a predetermined number of years receive an additional 2% because they are ‘seniors’??? Come-on, that’s a raise!

    4. Longevity – Really is another term for cost-of-living increase or yearly bonus. Eliminating this would have saved over $400,000.00 a year. Instead a concession was made to give-up holiday pay. Most senior officers receive the greatest amount of longevity; young officers receive little to nothing. Well again the senior officers continue to receive longevity and they forced all the officers to temporarily give-up holiday pay. Longevity has and always will be a target of elimination. Eliminating Longevity will save $600,000.00 a year.

    5. Final Average Compensation (FAC) – Elements making-up FAC for retirees are embarrassing. When an officer retires their average pay for the best 3 years of their ‘career’ are calculated into their compensation along with sick-days, comp-time, longevity, senior patrol and whatever the health care program was at the time of their departure was. A retiree should receive FAC based upon the last 3 years of their careers, period… No average sick days, comp-time, longevity, senior patrol etc. I should wage a war against Social Security to include the same for me.

    6. DROP – Unfortunately shifted a great deal of dollars from the general fund to ACT 345. There was no savings to the taxpayer but a relief to the General Fund. We paid for it, I’m sorry for not recognizing it. Those people who spoke against it were absolutely correct and we should have never approved the DROP.

    So, 2% for uniforms, 2% for senior patrol and 5% (average) for longevity adds-up to a 9% raise… we did not gain, we traded and lost.

    Enough with the POAC and a short comment on the AFSME (sp) workers, these people are heart and core of our property values and city services. Moving them to a 4-day workweek is a huge disservice to us and the contract should be repealed returning them to a 5-day schedule.

    Grass is not being cut, streets are not being swept, and the hall is not available to contractors or residents needing to apply for permits to remodel or build. Talking about falling property values, what is a person impression when they drive down Telegraph and see Taylors median cut, Dearborn’s median cut but the Heights for two years now without a program??? What do you think is happening over the weekend if you can’t get a permit to repair or remodel on Friday? I think the work is being completed without permits…

    I apologize for being long-winded but honestly you’ve heard a short version of my frustration. Again, I will not throw any council person under the bus but I do take responsibility for my action or lack there of and I deserve any ridicule you have of me.

    I have turned a page and I will work to make the balance of my tenure one of thinking and deciding on my own.

    Thank you for allowing me to post on your site.

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  19. Keeping “experienced” people (retirees) is just putting off the inevitable. They’re not going to live forever. Instead, successful businesses engage in succession planning, identifying and grooming talented people who are on the way up so that they can assume the top spots. (Ford has an excellent succession planning program. As a former Ford employee, you would think the Mayor would be familiar with its merits.)

    I would offer these choices: (1) Don’t retire and remain on the job or (2) retire and go away. Retiring and returning would not be an option.

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