To understand this weeks column simply go to my last column, "The $103,445 Question"
In that column Council Member Wizner calls me to task over the big retirement that I am receiving and what part I had in making it happen.
Ordinarily I don't go prying around into other persons finances but since this is public money I do have an obligation to answer certain questions especially highly personal ones that state what part I had in it all.
To read Mr. Wizner's comments one would think that I alone engineered passing a fat retirement for myself and the other members including the mayor. Folks, I just do not and have never had the power to do such a thing.
Secondly, the retirement is hardly a great deal by anyones standard and is certainly not fat. I invite Mr. Wizner to write down a number that he thinks that I receive each month and send that to this column.
Next, here is how this all came about. It did not just happen on December 4, 2011 when I did indeed make the motion to change the amount of retirement. Nor did it just happen after I lost the election to Mr. Wizner, my Doc for six years.
No, it began about two years ago when a former council member who was ill and going to retire his seat. He had asked me if I would see if his retirement could be changed and did not want to bring it up himself which was understandable.
I approached the Mayor about it and thought that we had an agreement. She thought that we could simply do this via the budget process without specifically mentioning the increase.
For some reason she reneged on this and the matter just floated around but most members thought that we did deserve some kind of increase since our numbers matched or below that of other cities. I had the unfortunate duty to try and explain this to the retiring member.
This past fall, before the election (September and October) it was brought up again. I suggested we bring it out before the election. The Mayor said "no, we should wait until after the elections"!
I never did have any problem explaining this to citizens. If opponents wanted to use the issue I would simply ask them to put it in writing that they would not want to receive the increase if elected and stayed in office beyond seven years which was supposed to be the new norm for serving before receiving a pension.
After the election the Mayor and another member had me into her office and explained that the amount that we were to receive had changed downward. Naturally, I thought that this was the wrong thing to do for everyone and of course I would be the first one to receive the new amounts. However, it is important to know that two other former council members also received increased retirements. That is that in a nutshell.
Like his other posts he fails to direct his comments to the topics of the column. You can read for yourself that I brought up some very important issues that he needs to address.
He has also failed to address the water rate issue or the sanitation budget matter. I would not be writing all of these things if he and others would address the issues to begin with. Why is it that only two members can be counted on to raise issues?
Where is the Mayor and the other three members? He was not at the Council meeting (he was in Mexico for his birthday) when I spoke about the First Amendment and our right to access the government and to redress grievances, which he and others find to be annoying.
Elsewhere: I received an e-mail letter from Mayor Vaughn this past Saturday. It was long so I will address only one part that she seems to be especially upset about.
In my last column I mentioned the fact that she had asked council members, two at a time, for a meeting with her at her office in City Hall. I suggested that this was in violation of the open meetings law.
She has told others that no it is not that she had asked the AG himself. I called the same person at the Ag's office, Stephan Ritter, his legal clerk called me back and I explained the matter.
She told me absolutely it was a violation and that I could write a complaint. The problem here is the way the mayor addressed the question. She asked if the Mayor and two council persons meet in the halls and have a brief conversation about some issue coming before the council then is that legal?
Of course it is, but thats not what happened. No, as stated above and affirmed by two council members, she asked that they come to her office for a meeting. That part is a violation of the law and certainly of the spirit.
Why do these things keep happening? I suggest that you read comments by Member Wizner and you will find that he and the Mayor are fixated on keeping issues, real issues, away from the public and even other members. When that stops I will be happy to go onto other matters.
thanks for reading,