Mayor Infurna last night announced that she will eliminate health benefits for the aldermen in next year’s budget. This should make many people on this message board happy.
That is of course absurd, obviously it would be a good move and should be applauded. My only questions is, since I did not see or have not heard the wording of this "pledge", will it eliminate benefits that are existing, or simply not allow additional ones?
Sorry Bud, but not a canard, though definitely relates to bird excrement.
At one point there were several aldermen who availed themselves of this costly insurance (Mortimer, MBMM, Boiselle, Tramontozzi, and Seaboyer), all of whom were offered this quid pro quo in exchange for voting in Dolan's 26% salary raise in a totally corrupt non-process. Dolan was intimately involved with all matters GIC, as he also sat on the GIC board and at one point chaired the MA Municipal Association as well (having a role in setting of rates, evaluation of benefits).
Just as it was wrong for Dolan to decide unilaterally to gift the very part-time BOA members with GIC coverage for themselves and their families, contrary to anything offered to any other part-time city employees, it is similarly improper for this unelected mayor to decide to undo this without a public process, even if it is ultimately the correct action. The public has a right to see how its government's decisions are made and its money to be spent. Instead, members of the public on Kate Lipper-Garabedian's mailing list received the following:
"I hope spring is treating you well. Tonight, in a joint meeting at 7pm, Mayor Infurna will address the Board of Aldermen and School Committee regarding the Fiscal Year 2019 (begins 7/1) budget. You may have seen in our local papers and/or on social media that Melrose is facing certain fiscal challenges. Mayor Infurna has been meeting with Board members to discuss options and plans, and we will aim to allocate our resources as effectively as possible. Although I have not had the opportunity to meet with the Mayor personally yet (see next paragraph), I expect to do so this week and already supplied her with some initial thoughts. For example, as we press all City departments to tighten their belts, I urged that we discontinue Board member eligibility for health insurance coverage through the City, a policy the Mayor implemented at the end of last month."
Claiming that this was a new policy that the new unelected mayor "implemented at the end of last month" after the urging from KL-G reveals that the idea of a legitimate, legal public governance process is as meaningless to KL-G as it has always been to Infurna, who has openly mocked public processes and violated them with abandon (many can attest to her routine chain communications behind the scenes and flagrant flaunting of open meeting laws for as long as she's been on that board).
The BOA should never have been gifted with health insurance benefits, and it is correct that those should be discontinued. But KL-G does not have the right to create policy behind the scenes with GI. This all just further illuminates that filthy way that these officials operate.
The original decision, probably correctly described as a bribe by Dolan - as you say if it quacks like a duck - to implement this was indeed way out of bounds, so in that regard, I applaud this action. It could be said that in this case, two wrongs do make a right, but your point is well made.
Awarding part-time employees and retirees health care coverage was done many years ago, when premiums were miniscule. It was done as an enticement, since part-time salaries were so low. Because they were so focused on that, they never foresaw the problem health care cost would become. It's not the retirement checks that are killing us. They're tiny, for the most part, but the cost of their health care is a killing drain. Part time employees should never be allowed to retire after 10 years with full health benefits. It should be a minimum of 20 years, with a severely modified health offering.
"Pledge" is a canard.
"budget crisis" is a manufactured crisis, not a real one. The budget data is faulty, as is the entire process, based on the sleight of hands and the phony budget philosophy of positioning every statement at every meeting for an override, just as was done before. Before any "crisis" is believable, a forensic audit is needed, a full one, not the quackery that Patrick and Rob engineered before to prove other perennial trumped-up crises. The quacks are once again crying wolf, and the gullible ignoranti are buying it hook, line, and sinker. Before any "crisis" could be claimed to be legitimate, there would need to be a full and open accounting of so many things, starting with the cemetery scandal and the actual full details, the full mess that this school administration/school committee has created, the full corrupt details about the way water and sewer rates have been calculate on lies, the full corrupt truth about the Enterprise funds, ... for starters.
Keep quacking all you want, "Pledge," but you have about as much credibility as those for whom you are shilling.
You know, if they hadn't wasted so many millions of dollars on things like that stupid learning common, I'd be a little more willing to consider it. When I dared to mention that in another post, some spinmaster tried to make the point that those costs weren't part of the school budget. Sure. They're not, but how are they paid for? Our tax dollars, that's how, just like the school budget is. So they blew millions of our tax dollars on stuff that wasn't necessary. If there's a crisis, and I don't believe a word they say, it's because they spent their way into it. Infurna insists it's not a spending problem, but a revenue problem. Baloney.
I agree with the necessity of a forensic audit. Until a comprehensive forensic audit is done, I won't believe a word they say. They've lied about too many things too many times to have even a shred of credibility.
Margolis dropped her insurance package and worked with Dolan to create a 10% fee on our cable bills to fund Melrose Ch. 3 where she works 2hrs per week and gets a massive salary and health care package for her family. Her work as an alderman seems full time in comparison as we're still stuck paying for her insurance unless you have Dish.
What do you mean there is a 10% fee on our cable bills to fund MMTV? Please tell me how I can verify this or see it on my bill. If this is true, I'm betting there is a city fee on my electric bill. That thing is out of control and nobody can explain why.
One of the many unexplained fees on Fios & Xfinity bills.
Call the 'franchise fee' whatever you want, it's another con job by Dolan to take care one of his BOA to work so little and benefit so much. The cemetery 'scandal' is one that's going to continue in the future when the whole story comes out.
‘Made Up’, I’m sorry to say that your cogent post lost all credibility with your statement about the cemetery ‘scandal’. It was of course not a single individual, we all know that, and it was even reported as such initially. It’s just that further investigation into the matter stopped at one individual because no one has had the testicular fortitude to go further. Hopefully that will still happen!
Most of all of the above comments about aldermen health benefits are very accurate. Especially that dropping it by Infurna only affects Tramomtozzi and I'd bet my last nickel he'll find his way to keep it. Yes, Mortimer and Boiselle get it for life through back-door retirement moves while remaining aldermen. And yes, Margolis gets it through MMTV PT job. As for MMTV, local cable providers are required to fund local access television as part of their contract. Also, there cant be a sole provider. So we have Comcast and Verizon. Can't avoid the local option so call that the "tax" if you will. Having been associated with MMTV since its birth it's too bad there is not more programming to bring salient issues for public viewing and discourse. Melrose culture is go-along to get-along. But only at the surface. The reality just below is petty back-stabbing local politics at its worst. And we all know that. It comes from a long lack of leadership to build solid management and education foundations. Instead we have polarized the city into who knows who for personal gain. The employee and retirements for PT work back all that up.
PS Yes all the aldermen health insurance stuff was a trade-off by Dolan for his 125K salary increase. He is now in line for a life pension of 35K at age 55, 50K at age 60 and 65K at age 65 and full health coverage at 18K a year. All for 16 years "work." Nice country, Melrose, eh?
PS PS: The common sense solution to the PT work for FT health is to hire retirees on Medicare for PT city-side jobs with hourly wages. They are allowed to work some 900 hours a year under retirement rules. Why has no alderman suggested such?
Yup. Retirees on Medicare cost the City considerably less. There's no additional retirement liability, the primary health care cost has disappeared onto Medicare (although most buy a supplemental through the City), and they can be paid significantly less in salary and wages. They are currently limited to 960 hours a year OR earning the difference between what their pension is and what they would have been earning if they had not retired, although there are two different measures before the legislature right now to increase that - one raises the hourly limit to 1500 a year - but I don't know if either addresses the retirement/earnings differential. If they don't, nothing really changes.
Is it a good idea, however? Maybe not - I'm sure the City would take it way too far and try to replace the majority of full time employees with retirees, and I just can't see a 75 year old guy down in a trench trying to replace a 16 inch water gate.
Obviously, meant appropriate use of retirees. One little secret Infurna and alderman have is approving Dolan's transfers of some of his city hall PR staff -- some of whom work PT for FT bennies -- to the Water and Sewer account. That way they pay for some salaries by jacking rates even more.
Of course you meant appropriate use of retirees, but do you really trust the City to be "appropriate", given the kind of shenanigans they all too often engage in, like the sleight of hand you mentioned with the water/sewer funds? I sure don't. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.