Sunday, March 01, 2009

Layoff Crisis

On Friday union leaders reported that the city will layoff almost 100 police and fire department members. Of course the layoffs don't stop there, the Mayor has previously stated that a minimum of 175 municipal workers would need to be laid off to close the budget gap that the city faces. The cuts will likely affect every government department and certainly have an impact on city services.

The Herald News story has the Mayor's spokesperson saying that the Mayor and his financial team are tyring to save as many jobs as possible. This has me believing that the cuts will likely be less severe than we are hearing.

Still what will be the impact of all these layoffs?

Look, I've played sim city trust me when I tell you what will happen if you cut
police and fire, your tax base will shrink, houses will burn! - from a
conversation I've recently had


Let's be honest, Fall River is a city with problems and challenges. Our police department has its hands full with gang issues, drugs, and the types of crimes that go with it. Our fire department is challenged by the city itself! Fall River is a tapestry of congested neighborhoods filled with 100 year old wood structures, with balloon construction, that practically touch. The mills that once made this city an economic power house contain timbers soaked with machine oil, making them gigantic prestone logs!

“One thing that concerned me,” Saucier said, “is no one had an answer on
what’s the number of police and firefighters they can lay off before you can no
longer provide adequate protection to citizens.- Fall River Herald News


How will this impact public safety and how will this impact the safety of the men and women who serve our city?

What of the public outrage over the city's rat problem? Is that likely to get better with cuts to our DPW? You practically need a jeep to get over the rutted pot hole filled streets now, is this likely to get better?

Now, I do feel some sympathy for our Mayor. The current budget situation is not an easy one. But laying off people is not the answer. It's time to consider innovate ideas and to scrutinize city government to see where we can save money. It's time to consider a moderate increase in taxes because the city needs revenue and as citizens we need the city services that are going to be impaired.

Lefty's View: The old saying goes 'desperate times call for desperate measures', but desperate times call for real leadership. Real leadership is not just about making difficult decisions it's about coming up with difficult solutions. As a citizen I urge the Mayor to go back to the drawing board and look for ways to close the budget gap without destroying city services. Certainly there has got to be a better solution than drastic pay cuts or drastic layoffs.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

city website press release:
Mayor Correia Working on Solutions for Shortfall 2-26-09

Mayor joined Mayors from across the state yesterday at the Massachusetts Mayors' Association Meeting

Cambridge, MA - Mayor Robert Correia this week met with House Speaker Robert DeLeo at the February meeting of the Massachusetts Mayors' Association, a member group of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, to discuss the need for stronger and more dependable state support and funding for communities. The session was held in the City of Cambridge.

On Wednesday, February 25, Mayor Correia joined with his colleagues from across the state in a wide-ranging discussion on the national and Massachusetts economy, the federal Recovery and Reinvestment Act recently signed into law by President Obama, and the fiscal challenges confronting cities as they work to deliver services that are essential to the region's economic strength even as revenues decline due to deep local aid cuts implemented by the governor last month.

During the meeting, Mayor Correia, a long time friend and colleague of House Speaker Robert DeLeo, stressed to the Speaker how "there is no more important issue facing our city than preparing for and dealing with this recession. We must do all that is necessary to protect essential services, and work with state and federal leaders to get the reforms, resources and tools we need to manage during very difficult times." He also added how "Fall River would realize significant savings if the Legislature modified the present law regarding health care plans to allow cities to join the GIC Plan or to devise their own comparable design build health care plan."

After the meeting, Mayor Correia joined dozens of Mayors who issued a joint statement calling on the state to empower cities and towns to modernize their health insurance plans outside of collective bargaining by giving local officials the same power the state has to update health plans, a reform proposal that would save more money, more quickly and more efficiently than any other option, including joining the state plan, which doesn't work for many municipalities.

In his speech, Speaker DeLeo outlined the dramatic impact that the national recession has had on Massachusetts, as the state budget has lost over $2 billion in expected revenues this year, and faces a $3.5 billion budget gap for next year. The Speaker said that the recession will deal a serious blow to the state and its communities, and stressed that he is committed to working in partnership with local leaders to navigate through the fiscal crisis in the best way possible.

The Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA) also provided an analysis of the deteriorating fiscal condition in cities and towns, triggered by the tumbling economy. The MMA update stressed the need for reform and revenue options to protect essential services, balance local budgets, reduce the number of layoffs of municipal and school employees, and lessen reliance on property taxes. The reform agenda calls on the state to allow cities and towns to modernize their health insurance plans outside of collective bargaining, authorize local option meals and hotel taxes, close the telecommunications tax loopholes that cost communities as much as $75 million statewide, and fix the flaws in charter school funding that harm school districts all across the state.

The Mayors explained that cities and towns have worked hard to control health insurance costs as best they can, but they operate under a state law that reflects a double standard. Municipalities are required to negotiate and receive union approval to implement significant changes in their health insurance plans, while the state has exempted itself from this requirement, and implements basic decisions on health insurance outside of collective bargaining. The reform legislation would end this double standard, and give cities and towns the same authority as the state in designing health insurance plans for employees. This one reform is the most effective way to bring immediate fiscal relief to all cities and towns, and is urgently overdue, said the Mayors.

"I am very pleased that Mayor Correia attended and participated in this important meeting," said Mayor Robert Dolan of Melrose, the President of the Massachusetts Mayors' Association. "Cities will only make progress if the state and federal government work in concert with Massachusetts communities to protect local revenues, create jobs and invest in local services that are vital to sustaining the economy, and Mayor Correia is a leader in this vital work." ###

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me! The impression i get is it is my way or the highway.You think he is a leader. He didn't even go out and speak to the people outside goverment center. When he fires someone he sends in a lawyer and an officer. He doesn't even give them the courtesy of doing it himself! He originally wanted people to take a 24% pay cut. He tried to sneak that in. He told dept heads he would like them to volunteer to take a pay cut!! that means you better or your life will be miserable. He treats his employees like crap!

Anonymous said...

Worst
Mayor
Ever!

Anonymous said...

Without proper police coverage, the gangs will RULE and no one will be able to go out... day or night. Better move if you can. If you own real estate and can't get out, get your license to carry and stay ready!

just anonymous said...

I want to know if one of his overpaid lawyers is going to run into a burning building to pull someone out the way a firefighter or police office would?

Anonymous said...

what happened to brotherhood??

Anonymous said...

What happened to the Mayor's loudly and frequently proclaimed "Leadership"???!!!

Anonymous said...

No because they don't live in fall river, they will just leave town.

Roger Williams said...

In boom times, Fall River would simply go to the state and ask for an increase in state aid. And why not? Fall River had certainly grown addicted to it (only Springfield, New Bedford and Holyoke had a larger portion of their budgets from state aid, IIRC), and had always put off balancing the books until later.

Well, guess what, Fall River? Later is now! Taxpayers in Amesbury, New Braintree and beyond have their own problems now, and can't bail you out this time. There's another way out - it's called "raising taxes". Since Fall River can't afford to lose more residents and businesses to a tax hike, cutting services is the only way to balance the books.

Think Fall River could pass a prop 2 1/2 override? Seriously?

Anonymous said...

I'm no fan of the afternoon talk host at WSAR, but yesterday for the first time he stopped pitching the Mayor softballs long enough to ask two pointed questions neither of which the Mayor answered. When asked whether he had considered raising taxes to reduce the number of layoffs, the Mayor went off in an entirely different direction. When asked if the layoffs would result in unsatisfactory conditions regarding public safety and other city services he did the same thing. Which leads me to ask is the Mayor handling this situation in a manner which is first and foremost protecting him politically?

Anonymous said...

I'm a property owner and I would be willing to pay extra. With crime at an all time high and the gangs (oops we don't have them) in the city, can you really afford to lay off this many officers? And when you call 911 and need help doing CPR, just pray that there is a dispatcher to answer and help you through it. So my next question is: Why no layoffs on the second floor of the police station, which appears "stacked" with clerical help. And lastly, hopefully there is a working fire truck that is properly staffed to save your house when it's on fire.......

Anonymous said...

I think clarkin is trying to break the unions- that is why he wouldn't negotiate with them.

Anonymous said...

Who will run against the mayor? Who can beat him. 2 very different questions. Let's be realistic with our answers.

brightman said...

In Bernie Sullivan's latest atrocious slantitorial he said 4 city councilors were running. I have heard the rumors of hague, steve camara, and Cathy ann...but who else? Joe camara?

Anonymous said...

yeah he stated and didn't say they were contemplating running- have any of them actually announced? Talk about bad journalism!! Get your facts right for once washed up newspaper guy.

Anonymous said...

Jenny86753092 hours ago

I implore each and everyone to contact EVERY member of the City Council. Let them know that you are demanding that they put aside ego's and do what's right for the citizens of Fall River. The police and fire layoffs are of the upmost importance. This should be a no brainer, however, some of them seem to need a push in the right direction.

This is the generic telephone number of the City Council at Government Center: 508-324-2232 .

These are the telephone numbers for each individual. This information is found at: http://wingstv.com/fall_river_candidates.htm

Joseph Camara ~ 508-674-4361
Pat Casey ~ 508-676-8004
Steve Camara ~ 508-678-1463
Ray Hague ~ 508-673-0043
Thomas Kozak ~ 508-677-2123
Leo Pelletier ~ 508-678-0209
Linda Pereira ~ 508-678-3506
Cathy Ann Viveiros ~ 508-674-5000
Michael Lund ~ 508-994-3728

I spoke with Joan Menard's office yesterday. The office stated that when stimulus money comes into Fall River that the City Council would be the ones that citizens had to watch to insure that any stimulus monies were being spend in appropriate ways. ie. getting back our public safety officers.

We all need to be proactive and not just sit back and complain. Make phone calls, emails, visits to the council meetings. Let the city leaders know what you expect and demand.

Anonymous said...

We need to look at all the fat in city hall and see if we can bring back police and firefighters.
I was looking at the FY09 budget and found some interesting info:

First of all why do we need all these lawyers? Why are we paying Jay Clarkin $93,530.00 (75,000.00 base salary plus $18,172.00 in benefits). Is he a full time employee or part time? If part time, why do we pay him benefits?

Second: We are paying Arthur Frank $104,692.00 (85,000.00 base salary plus $19,692.00 in benefits). Is he a full time employee or part time? If part time, why do we pay him benefits?

If we eliminate those two positions we will have $198,222.00 available to bring back police or firefighters.

Now onto the mayor's office: We pay Ines Leite (Director of Communications) $66,561.00 (50,000.00 base salary plus $16,561.00 in benefits) and Colleen Whipp (Director of Inter Government) $61,130.00 ($52,000.00 base salary plus $9,130.00 in benefits). Why don't we combine these positions into just one. There is another police/ firefighter that we can bring back ...

There is also the Mayor's receptionist; Bernadette Varao $38,286.00 ($35,000.00 plus $3,286.00 in benefits)Does he need one? Isn't there already a receptionist in the first floor when you come into City Hall?

Now I know that eliminating these positions will not fix the gap that we have. But its a start... We need to look at each department in the FY09 budget and look to see where we can cut. Cuts to public safety should be the last option ...

Anonymous said...

Has anyone heard the rumblings that the Mayor is going to step down? He is awful, but Mayor Joe Camara would be even worse.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Correia will step down but later in the year so that there isn't a special election and the Karams can control the Mayor's Office through Joe Camara until the end of the year.

Anonymous said...

If Joe Camara takes over as Mayor, who becomes President of the council ? And will the council only have 8 members ?

Anonymous said...

If I recall correctly, when Whitty became Mayor, he also maintained his seat as City Council President.

So, to answer your question, it can be possible that Joe Camara remains City Council President.

If Joe Camara were to resign as City Council President, the empty seat will be filled by the next highest vote-getter from the last election, Michael Miozza, and the Council would vote again for a new President.

There is no succession from Vice President to President.

THE TRUTH said...

http://whistleblowerfr.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

The council president remains council president while he also serves as acting Mayor. If he gave up his council seat he could not be the acting Mayor.

Anonymous said...

Real Leadership!!!!! RUN LEFT RUN

You are the one person who can lead us into a new era.

Your ideas will work.

You will solve all of Fall River's problems.

FALL RIVER NEEDS LEFTY

Anonymous said...

If the Acting Mayor resigned the City Council Presidency, he would still remain as Acting Mayor.

Anonymous said...

Back when The Herald news was printing WSAR editorials..Lisa Stratton was trying to get an afternoon talk show on WSAR to go with her other blatantly based media job.
Karams said she'd get the show if The HN endorsd Correia.
Lisa gave Correis the endorsement, but trhe Karams welched on the deal and gave the show to Hurricane. They already had the endorsement, so they decided they didn't have to pay off.

That's why HN hates Correia

08 March, 2009 17:30

Anonymous said...

The only reason herren would be offered an afternoon show is desperation. The Herald does not hate Bob, they are just repoting the facts.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Are you people CRAZY???? whether you love or hate the Hurricane you cant argue with the success of his show.... advertisers are lined up, sales are up, ratings are way up,. Hurricane has moved the product into New Bedford and Taunton. The demographic has changed.Listen WillFlannagan is the anti establishment candidate and his first ad buy was the hurricanes show..People need to be honest and more objective on the blogs or they will lose momentum that they have gained.Put your personal issues and your petty jealousies aside in the intrest of integrity please