Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mixed Bag on Salary Raises

On the August 17 M&C Public Meeting, ordinance #1455 was passed 5-1-0.  While it was a relief to hear that council members decided to keep their salaries unchanged, it appeared that salaries were increased 3.5% for the staff at borough hall not under collective bargaining.  Though the borough administrator added that the staff now contribute 1.5% of their salaries into their healthcare benefits (where there was no contribution before), I consider myself very fortunate that I do not have to try justifying that these are "tough terms" to someone who is either underemployed or unemployed and struggling to make ends meet.

Big deal, you say.  Why is this crazy blogger making a big deal out of seemingly nothing?  So we just pay a few dollars more, the staff is doing their job.  Is that not worth the aggravation?

For those who saw the estimated tax bill and can easily handle the new payment, let's see what our administration is paying for "performance" in a future post.

P.S. Those seeking adventure may find instructions on repealing this ordinance via referendum here.  By the time you have figured out how, it is probably too late.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Email Correspondence with Councilman Matt Carrick

The following is an email exchange with Councilman Matt Carrick when I asked him to instead oppose  Ordinance #1415.  The body of the correspondence appears without editing.  Keep in mind that Councilman Carrick served on the Dumont BOE as a board member before he was elected to the borough council:

KC:  I am writing today regarding Ordinance #1415 that passed first reading at the July 20 council meeting.  I recall that you voted to oppose the resolution to approve the amended budget because you felt that the cuts at borough hall were not deep enough considering the steep cuts imposed on BoE.  Do you find it troubling that the CFO, who prepared the ordinance, was cited two years in a row by the auditor as deficient in internal controls and record keeping according to public records?  Would it be appropriate to reward this performance with a raise? 

KC:  I respectfully ask that you oppose #1415 on second reading so that you may show the residents you feel their pain and show your shared sacrifice in this difficult economic climate.

MC:  Mr Chen you are a funny man. Ordinance #1415 is just a guide line. The budget is what sets the Raises. As I remember I was the one that abstained from the Budget Vote. Also the MONEY I receive as a Councilman is given back in DONATIONS to families in Dumont that are need. I do not like that you attack my fellow Council People with your incorrect information please get your facts straight before you put pen to paper. If you can not get the correct information feel free to call me. As Council Members are job is to keep the public informed let's us do are job that we were VOTED into office to do 

KC:  Thank you for responding.  Are you objecting to my speaking out?  What are you suggesting?  Kindly cite the specific statements I made that you feel were incorrect.

MC:  I have no problem responding to you. Just don't try to bait me as you have on your BLOG. Ordinance #1415 is just a guide line the BUDGET is what sets raises.  Your article in the twin boro states that the Council received raises not true for the last 10 years the amount has been the same. I know for a fact that Councilman Stylianou and myself Donate are SALIERS back to people or organizations in Dumont who need it.  

MC:  As far as PAY to PLAY you were at the meetings and you how hard me and Harry fought for it. Instead of writing something negative try write something positive. I take pride in being on this Council and also put what's best for this town first.  

MC:  Freedom of Speech is great and I like that you use it.

KC:  The accusations pile on, yet I am unable to see specifics.  While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, there is only one set of facts.  

KC:  With all due respect, It seems now you are telling me what types of stories I should write.  Feel free to write your own if you don't like mine, or simply stop reading my posts.  No one is forcing you to do so.  All I wrote in the email is respectfully requesting you to oppose ordinance 1415.  Either respond yes, no or ignore my request.  

KC:  You claim you are responsive to my requests.  If so, then what is the disposition of my request and sample resolution to enter closed session I emailed the mayor and council members last month?  Was there any discussion in the meeting last month, or is this the 'bait' you claim I am setting for you?

KC:  Mr. Carrick, I was very hopeful and optimistic when you came on board in January.  Based on the O&R committee meetings and the recent email exchange; however, I am left disappointed.

MC:  I can see this only goes one way your way good luck sorry you are Disappointed

Keep in mind we elected this person into office just months ago.  I think the conversation speaks for itself; I wish I could make this up.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Salary "Stimulus" on Resident Backs?

With the Mayor selectively vetoing Public Contracting Ordinance #1411 making a splash on the headlines, one is led to believe that a majority of the council is fiercely battling the mayor and his council support member minority.  According to the council president, the council is looking to protect the residents.

If that would have been the whole truth...

With the sole abstention coming from councilman Freeman, Ordinance #1415 was otherwise quietly passed with no public discussion.  Shrouded in vague doublespeak, this ordinance gives the ability to award salary raises for elected officials and top managers employed at borough hall without further discussion or approval public input or review.

Nevermind that we are in the middle of the most serious recession in decades, a doubling of unemployment in Dumont from recent years and scores of foreclosures with more on the way.  In an economic boom, these awards would appear rich.  In this climate, these awards seem unconscionable:

Council President's Salary - up to 50% increase;
Councilperson Salary - up to 50% increase;
Mayor's Salary - up to 20% increase;
Managerial & Confidential Title Salary - up to 20% increase.

Just weeks ago, the municipality of Bell, Calfornia, size modestly larger than Dumont, made national news because top officials were earning mid 6-digit salaries.  Though the appointed officials resigned in disgrace, I do not blame them.  As an employee, one has the right to negotiate a maximum salary and benefit for themselves.  The blame falls squarely on the elected officials who approved the lavish pay packages for those officials.

As a resident, you can show your appreciation to the council in the following ways:

- Email the council members.  Tell them how much they deserve the salary increase, after extracting concessions from our teachers and custodians in the BOE budget.  Never mind the public contracting ordinance was crippled by the mayor, it's the effort that counts, right?  Approve the raises!

- Tell the council members in person how much you appreciate them helping themselves at the expense of taxpayers.  Brings a whole new meaning to "Dumont Delivers", does it not?

- Attend the next council meeting scheduled at 7:30PM on Tuesday August 17 at Borough Hall.  Cheer them on with chants like "Full Rewards for Half Work" would give them the needed encouragement.

Anyone care to join?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Letter to the Editor, Twin-Boro News

Dear Editor,

I read Council President Harry Stylianou's letter to the editor on August 5th with interest as I have been to most of the committee meetings and have the video recordings online for anyone interested in viewing them.

In the letter, he appeared to congratulate himself and the three council members who voted with him for approving ordinance 1411, the so-called Public Contracting Ordinance.  On the same day, a Record article "Dumont Mayor Vetoes Most of Pay-to-Play Ordinance" reported our mayor vetoed portions of that ordinance, rendering it lame.

Why did Mr. Stylianou appear so eager to declare "mission accomplished"?  Did he and the others who voted for it anticipate the mayor to exercise his powers as granted by law?

In the same Record article, he said "I'm looking to protect the taxpayers of Dumont".  If so, what was he thinking when he and four other council members voted to approve ordinance 1415, which, if it passes second reading on August 17, allows pay increases of up to 50% for elected officials like himself and up to 20% for top managers in borough hall?  Curiously, only council member Freeman voted to abstain ordinance 1415, which I refer to affectionately as the "pay me" ordinance.

The public contracting ordinance is now broken.  I hope Mr. Stylianou makes it his first priority to fix it.  I hope our elected officials take care of the taxpayers first, before taking care of themselves.  He needs to set aside the pay raises for himself and other top officials until next year, at the very least.


Kai Chen