Thursday, August 12, 2010

Assad is just wrong

Attorney Bruce Assad came before the Fall River City Council the other night to defend his hefty pay raise. Despite members of both the School Committee and the City Council praising him and saying the raise was justified, and despite Assad's many reasons why he is deserving of this raise, he's just plain wrong.

The School Committee unanimously voted to approve the raise, and maybe without fully realizing it so did the council. However a $33,100 increase is uncalled for at a time when we are asking municipal employees to once again take an 8% pay cut.

Councilor Pat Casey led the charge (a rarity to be sure) and pointed out that the increase was more than the yearly salary of many city employees.

I'm a bit irked at the arrogance that Attorney Assad displayed. He accused that bringing him before the council was a stunt to grab headlines and stated that Casey didn't bother to contact him or any of the School Committee before filing the resolution that brought him there.  Well I have two little words for Attorney Assad, too bad.

I think there is quite a bit of justification to having him come before the council in a public forum to explain to the people of Fall River why he deserves such a large increase. It's an insult to be told by some that NOW is the perfect time to do this because the school department budget is level funded. Who cares! The city budget certainly isn't. Assad deserves an extra 33k a year (and benefits) but a cop who may take a bullet is taking a pay cut? He gets a whopping $77,500 a year for 25 hours a week when a firefighter who may have to run into a burning building is being asking to take a pay cut? Even if the pay raise is justified now is not the time and certainly not all in one lump sum. This is a part time gig for Attorney Assad and he's making for his 25 hours what many of us WISH we were making for our 40. I have a friend, who is a law school graduate, who said for $77,500 they'd do the job full time, court and all! I think we should look into it.


Skoorey said...

I did the math and looked up the salaries/wages of lawyers on the Department of Labor site. Assad is now getting median wages for a private practice, public sector job.

What he was making before was the median wage for local government lawyers.

This is a terrible waste of money.

Anonymous said...

it also came out after the budget was passed, he now receives ( and accepted) health benefits.

Wasn't this one of the biggest costs of the union contracts?

Sick of Morons said...

This was clearly game played with a loaded die, where our city councilors were the rubes.

No doubt that none of the councilors has any experience or knowledge of the logic behind engaging in a debate to win it.

They let the issue get out of hand without sticking to the main points.

1. The City Council may have approved the School Budget, but it is not their job to micromanage and go through either their budget or the school budget's individual salaries and appropriations line by line. By that token, seeing as Assad has already made this case in the newspaper, the City Council should have been prepared and also demanded the attendance of the person ultimately responsible for the finalized School Budget, i.e. Big Meg. This point of the debate should have been a moot point. Just because it got by the City Council the first time does not justify the raise.

2. Did anyone question Assad on providing proof of the hours he claims to have worked? His claim being based on 25 hours a week - can he back that up with a record of hours dating to day one on the job (to show the increase)? Did anyone question him regarding the nature of his outside employment with other public and private agencies? The reasons being are simple:

A: I wholeheartedly doubt that he works 25 hours a week, with outside practice - given that the job, by his estimate, "used to" amount to 15 hours a week, and given that people (and especially lawyers) tend to exaggerate these types of things, even more so when they know that no one is watching or keeping track of their hours, I would peg the real hours at 5-10 per week. Also, at 25 hours per week, he wouldn't have much time to practice his other law and realistically, a lawyer with his experience needs to make over $100,000 a year in total to run his office and provide income based on the time in the industry and the cost of the level of education received. If he is only earning $46k as a part-time lawyer for the city, it stands to reason that he makes at least $54k from other employment, a number which would be hard for a lawyer on 15 hours a week to attain in this region.

B: The nature of negotiating school contracts is give and take boilerplate language. There is nothing terribly difficult or engaging about it. Any lawyer, even a new graduate of the worst law school in the state, could handle the task. The type of work does not justify the heavy increase.

C: Side note - If Assad cannot justify or provide a detailed itemization of his hours, then MMB should be called to answer why an employee (he is an employee, as he gets benefits) would be allowed to work without oversight of even the most basic item: his timecard.

D: The most important point about his hours is the best one - if neither he nor MMB could justify or back-up the hours he claims to work, then the issue of a raise should never have been approached if that is the crux of their argument. I would have been livid - you "Claim" to have undergone an increase of workload from 15 to 25 hours per week, but you cannot back these figures up with data and records? What does that say about his character (and loyalty to the city) and MMB's management style?

3. Any such increase in a time of severe restriction across the board is not appropriate given the state of the economy. What's their counter-point to this?

4. What about the job has changed so dramatically as to require a workload increase of allegedly 66%? My guess is probably nothing. Yes the budget has been tight, but contract work ebbs and flows. The contracts usually last 3 years (and add one year because this city usually lets them expire for at least one year before negotiating new ones). The process negotiating contracts has not undergone any radical changes to justify such an increase.

In summary, there is no way he should have been allowed to justify his salary increase, nor his boss, MMB. The City Council however, is mentally challenged, and makes Assad look like the victim.

Anonymous said...

If he was preeviously a "vendor" how was the Billing done in the past? Did he bill by the hour?

Anonymous said...

I have no doubt Attorney Assad worked extra hours when he ran the kangaroo court hearing of Mich Fischer.s

Anonymous said...

Nick Fischer*

Anonymous said...

The people to blame here are Ed Lambert and Bob Correia.

1) Lambert is to blame for raising the part-time counsel pay to approx. $75,000. That was too much money for part-time work. It also caused the problem that the Corporation Counsel's pay was set by ordinance at $45,000.

It didn't make sense that a department head would be paid substantially less than his subordinates.

2)So the Bob Correia comes a long and instead of reducing the pay of the part-time assistants, Correia decides to give Arthur Frank a HUGE pay rise to approx. $85,000, for part-time work.

Then Flanagan becomes Mayor and Torres wants a raise because he is now full-time and he shouldn't earn what the predecessor part-time corp. counsel earned.

So, in a matter of about 4 years, the Corp. Counsel's pay tripled.

Lazurusisus said...

Lambert and Correia did many, many questiopnable and bone headed things while mayor, but t6his is a Sylvanagan fiasco from jump street. MMB doea as she is told...period! Sylvanagan would never allow her to do otherwise...she is a lapdog with no honor...And the lawyer Sylvanagan, as chair of the committee, approved aqnd forwarded this through. Nope, the previous MAYORS BIT THE BIG ONE, BUT THIS ONE IS A WHOMPING HUGE CHOMP OF DUMBASS by mayor sylvanagan.

reality check said...

Mark Costa said there was a $200,000 surplus in the school dept., so there was money there to pay Assad? Why did no one ask him were this surplus came from? Could it be from the pay cut that custodians and others were forced to take. Assad should also give a big thank you to all those who had their salaries slashed.

Don't forget that Assad also said that he not only has a private practice, but that he also works for the Sheriff and the Town of Swansea. This guy must work an easy 100 hours per week.

Besides being less than forthcoming with his newly gained perks, has anyone asked if he will now be eligible for a pension. Can he now buy back those 16 years as a vendor when he was making less money, and now collect a pension at his $77,000 pay?