Friday, July 9, 2010
Police Union Calls Loffredo "Childish," Council Defeats Police Scheduling Proposal
at 1:41 AM Posted by Middletown Eye (Ed McKeon)
Loffredo, for his part, said he has no intention of leaving the PRC.
A proposal to shift police patrol officers to a new 4-2 schedule (four days on, two days off) as opposed to the current 5-2, 6-1 schedule (five day on, with two off alternating with 6 on and 1 off), was presented by Acting Police Chief Patrick McMahon. The new schedule had been negotiated with the police union and vetted by the city's Personnel Director Deborah Milardo.
According to McMahon, the new schedule would allow him to more evenly distribute police patrols across the city, avoid overstaffing and shortfalls, and allow the chief to adopt a stricter control for scheduling and sick days. He also said it would provide untold morale benefits for patrol officers who have a stressful work life, and an unpredictable at-home schedule.
"This is a way to provide them more stability," McMahon testified.
He also said that the change would have no cost effect on the city, and this is where Council members opposed to the plan disagreed vehemently with McMahon. The new schedule would effectively reduce the yearly hours of each patrol officer from 2,088 to 1952, or 17.4 days less work each year. Officers annual pay would not be reduced.
Daley and Loffredo argued that in difficult financial times it would be hard to sell a reduction in hours without a reduction in pay to the taxpaying public.
Council member Phil Pessina, a former member of the Middletown Police Department, argued passionately in favor of implementing the new scheduling plan. In addition, he was angered by the introduction of a complex substitute resolution by Loffredo which was designed to reject the planned schedule change. In it, Loffredo cited what he termed an "illegal" arbitration modification by the mayor and the police union along with his financial objections, which he had aired at the recent PRC meeting at which he admitted he "became heated."
Pessina accused Loffredo and his Democratic colleagues of "dropping the resolution" at the last minute to avoid scrutiny by Republican members and the general public.
Pessina said the amended resolution should have been reviewed by the mayor, the personnel diretor and the finance director. He cited the difficult and dangerous work lives of police officers as the reason a schedule change, with less work days, and more weekends at home, should be adopted.
"If we don't adopt this change we are doing a disservice to the men and women who are working on our streets," Pessina said.
After the meeting, officer Puorro said that the police union would take the issue to binding arbitration where "it will cost the city thousands" to settle the matter.
"We're disappointed in the Democratic majority," Puorro said. "It's obvious they don't care about the police officers who work on patrol."
The substitute resolution to reject the proposed schedule change was adopted by a six to four vote along party lines.
In other business, the Common Council voted to $150,000 in funding for preliminary exploration of remediation of the former City landfill at the former Omo Manufacturing site. They also voted to inform the federal EPA that the city will pursue a lead role in cleanup at the site.
The Council also approved a waiver of building permit fees, amounting to $156,000 for the construction of the proposed new headquarters and medical building for the Community Health Center.