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The Tentacle


July 15, 2011

Ongoing Police Confusion

Roy Meachum

Over the years Frederick Alderman Karen Young is noted for plain-speaking. In the confusion over a new cop contract, Ms. Young was quoted in the Frederick News-Post: “In 2003, the police department budget was 29 percent of the General Fund. It will be 35 percent of the General Fund…WITHOUT THE PROPOSED STEP INCREASES.” (The caps were in the published quote.)

 

This was in response to the News-Post’s Patti Borda questioning her that followed Mayor Randy McClement’s press release about the state of negotiating a new agreement, catching Fraternal Order of Police President Charlie Snyder unaware. In last week’s TheTentacle.com column, having read the arguments from both sides, I attributed the FOP’s position strongly on Alderman Kelly Russell’s false assurances.

 

“As readers remember, I’ve never been a Kelly Russell fan; her reputation among City Hall employees confirms my low opinion,” I wrote. “I’m left to wonder how much the Fraternal Order of Police’s intransigency might derive from the alderman’s bad advice.”

 

The retired lieutenant continues to sing along with her union that a step increase is not a raise. Jumping belatedly into the rhubarb, Alderman Michael O’Connor agrees. As far as I can tell, my good friend understands little about how budgets work. Otherwise, his assertion that step increases are not raises makes little sense. By the way, not a penny will wind up in Ms. Russell’s pocket if the FOP wins its point.

 

Meanwhile fellow Alderman Carol Krimm seemingly backed away: “I encourage the mayor to work with the FOP representatives on contract terms that are fair, recognize the value of police service to the community, and ensure the city’s commitment to the police as they demonstrate their commitment to the community every day.”

 

This what Ms. Krimm emailed to the paper. After reading her statement several times, I have no idea what she said. While cuttingly in favor of the step increase last week, I sense she’s backed away, although I might be mistaken; mind numbed by poring over too many politicians’ utterances.

 

On his part, FOP President Snyder meticulously assembled “give backs” would be true for this budget only. He proposes cuts of $152,000 by the members giving up one of their 11 paid holidays, increasing contributions to the pension plan by one percent and foregoing three furlough hours.

 

As my last column on the negotiations pointed out, the average cop pay is about $65,000, while other city employees average $45,000; the numbers were furnished by Democrat Karen Young supported by fellow Alderman Republican Shelley Aloi. This is obviously a non-partisan issue.

 

GOP Mayor Randy McClement views the give-backs as robbing Peter for Paul, lightening the burden on taxpayers not a whit: “This (the FOP proposed package) is nothing more than moving one dollar from one silo to another without taking into consideration what moving those dollars will do,” the mayor told Reporter Borda.

 

Mr. Snyder promised he will go over the package next Tuesday with FOP members. Meanwhile Frederick is served and protected under a legal provision that prohibits strikes by cops. They risk their dwindling public support by reverting to “blue flu,” when officers perform what they must and absolutely nothing more.

 

Anyone tended to cry about the dangers police risk over other employees must look at their $20,000 pay difference. The city’s program of health and social services cannot be sacrificed in these very hard financial times, when more people need more simply to survive.

 



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