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Letter: Council Missed Historic Opportunity

Continued discussion of the resolution passed at the last Glen Cove City Council meeting of 2010, that gives the same 100 percent taxpayer-funded benefits to non-union city employees that are contractually provided to union employees, may seem like beating a dead horse, but it raises some very valid points about what may be a flawed process at best, and at worst… well, I’ll leave that to the reader.  

First – Mayor Suozzi introduced the resolution stating that it applied to full-time non-union city employees. After further prompting, it became apparent that it also applied to some who are not full-time city employees - city council members - who voted unanimously for its passage, and the city attorney.

Second – when chastised at more than one city council meeting about this resolution, the mayor passed it off as simply something that has always been done – an annual tradition if you will, going back years. Another way to state this is “business as usual” – nothing to be concerned about.

Taken in the context of the council’s recent “business as usual” decision, this administration has been disingenuous, if not downright deceitful, by its insistence that its hands are tied with regard to employee benefits. With this unanimously adopted resolution, the mayor and council missed an historic opportunity to begin the task of reinventing government, by failing to change one of the “business as usual” practices. The administration could have initiated a new funding formula for benefits for appointed, non-union employees, which would be a model for negotiations with bargaining unit employees. But the mayor and council showed that this administration has no intention whatsoever of taking any action that would make local government affordable to its constituents, if that action will mean that any municipal employee must share in the sacrifices being made by those residents and taxpayers working in the private sector. Indeed, this administration has not heard the newly elected governor of New York or the Nassau County executive state that our governments at every level cannot continue with “business as usual.”

Now, you may believe that perhaps the council did not realize the ramifications of their vote on this resolution. If that is their position, it is totally credible that the council members didn’t give it another thought because it was just a continuation of “what has always been done.” This is either because there is no political will to change anything, or the council doesn’t have an original thought among them. 

The unanimous council action on this resolution without discussion, to extend the 100 percent paid benefits package to the city’s well-compensated, full-time, non-union employees, and then belatedly to admit only under questioning, that it also applies to themselves (part-time employees), displays an attitude of “we’re entitled to it.” To say that this is merely an annual tradition and that it has always been done, only serves to make this action more egregious. It’s no wonder that most of the voters of this community fall into one of two camps: the uninformed and the cynical.

Dave Nieri