Thursday, June 15, 2006

It's Not Personal

But it should be city business. As I've mentioned many times (here and here, for example, eight months after the city laid off nearly 2/3 of its civilian (excluding police and fire departments) work force, the city has yet to take a serious look at upper level pay. Remember that early in Nagin's administration, in an effort to bring in a top-notch staff (seriously), huge pay increases were granted:
Mayor Nagin raises salaries for eight appointed city workers a total of $420,000. Now the Civil Service Commission wants another $440,000 for raises for eight civil servants

In all, about three dozen upper-level pay raises were sought, most were granted.

So, what else is new? I've been all over that. I realize that the amount of money is miniscule compared to the city's overall budget, but after the Picayune pointed out that:

The city can fill a lot of potholes and cut a lot of grass for $800,000.

and nobody seemed to agree with me, I had to wonder whether it was impossible for me, as one the laid off employees, to look at the situation objectively. I understood the layoffs, but the mayor's smug suggestion that the voters could give him the ultimate pay cut--in February--really ticked me off (I suppose that James Gill would have advised me to cover my ears). I also couldn't help but notice that, outside of the police and fire departments, the mayor's office was the cut branch of city government. The mayor's office cut 34 out of 100 positions--the mayor lost a much smaller percentage of his office staff than his city lost of its population.

But since nobody seemed to care (whether I put in terms of city debt or services the money could provide), I was ready to drop it as a personal pet peeve.

At least I was, until Gentilly Girl pointed out that our local firefighters could end up getting screwed because of the city's budget problems:

But on Thursday, the city contacted Engine House No. 12, along with four other companies living in similar situations, and informed them that their trailers were being repossessed.

Even at post-Katrina prices, how high can the monthly payments on five trailers be? To paraphrase the T/P: the city can make a lot of trailer payments for $800,000.

To be fair, I would imagine that there's more than one trailer at each site and there does seem to be a bit of a he said/she said aspect to the story:
Meanwhile, the city released an official statement saying payment had been delayed to one of the trailer vendors due to a miscommunication and intended to correct the situation Monday morning.

Felton said his understanding was that the city hasn't made a payment on the trailers since December.

I know who I believe--call me old-fashioned, but I believe that it's usually a mistake to give the benefit of the doubt to overly secretive administration's. If it was a miscommunication, what does it say about the efficacy of those pay raises? I suppose that it might indicate a need for even larger pay increases.

Two important points:

These aren't corporate executives being rewarded for the cost-saving measures that have benefited their shareholders--don't even think about that corporate parallel.

When the lay offs were announced, the mayor referred to them as "pretty permanent." That might seem just, just, a little exaggerated, but nobody expects the city, or its government, to reach its old size any time soon. There's is absolutely no justifiable reason to retain a top heavy work force. The city certainly doesn't need to keep its "top notch" upper level staff, because the entire work force will be back soon.

It's not just a matter of high level salaries, there's also the question of the need to have a director and assistant director for each agency or even combining agencies under one head. That would be the too lengthy a subject for this post, but it's obvious that, since Katrina, Greg Meffert has played more roles in city government than Harold Hecuba in the musical production of Hamlet. Nothing against Meffert, but it raises questions about other department heads. Did any that were unable to return, continue to collect pay after the layoffs?

Meffert's ubiquitousness implies that some consolidation has occurred. Was it all temporary and the result of attrition? Or, 8 1/2 months after the layoff announcement, has any thought or planning, whatsoever, gone into permanent consolidation?

However personal the beef might have been months ago, now it just seems like incredibly, unbelievably, objectively bad business.

It is personal, and they are screwing us.

I see folks with no hope in their eyes, and then I see a suit driving by in their Lexus.

This cannot stand.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Old Favorites
  • Political Boxing (untitled)
  • Did Bush Take His Ball and Go Home
  • Teratogens and Plan B
  • Foghorn Leghorn Republicans
  • Quote of the Day
  • October's News(Dec.1)
  • untitled, Nov.19 (offshore revenue)
  • Remember Upton Sinclair
  • Oct. Liar of thr month
  • Jindal's True Colors
  • No bid contracts