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Tuesday, April 5, 2016


From Council Hearing last night:

Council President Clarke and the Court of Common Council,

 I am Richard Holton,  President of the Hartford Police Union. I am here to speak for my 400 plus members in opposition to any resolution supporting the Mayors proposes legislation in the form of SB 464.

There are three areas I would  like to cover.

First, is the so called comparison of the Mayor’s bill to the Waterbury bill. This is the furthest  thing from the truth, Hartford is not Waterbury. Never mind the difference in the make up of the oversight board and the denigration of the Council’s Governmental power, (like the loss of veto power and the right to approve employee contracts) as well as attacking the retirees.  Waterbury was and still is a Finicinal disaster, they were less than a month from making payroll, they borrowed from the pension fund to pay bills, they were in junk bond status, their pension fund was only funded at 4% and they failed to have a property revaluation for several years.

Waterbury Mayor O’Leary testified at the Capitol and he even said that Hartford is not in the shape Waterbury was in, even though he praised the Mayor for his efforts he failed to talk about the devastating effect the State oversight had on the City’s workforce, and currently he is seeking to increase the city's mill rate by almost 2 mills.

Even though previous Mayors have increased the mill rate Hartford is not in any danger of not making payroll, we are no way near Junk bond status, our pension fund is funded at 78%. So don't be fooled into thinking that SB 464 is the Waterbury bill it is not and Hartford is not Waterbury.

Secondly, every union leader has said the same thing, the Mayor has not had any serious discussions in regards to contract negotiations. He has not sat down and produced a budget mitigation plan showing us where he has made and identified cuts and where that puts him and where he needs to be with the help of the unions. By not doing this he has put this city severely behind the eight (8) ball.

 To say he needs the oversight to negotiate contracts with the Unions is absurd. Every Union has and will help the city. In our last contract we took two (2) years of no raises, reorganized our pension plan and retiree health care. By doing this we saved the city approximately 3 million dollars in wages, decreased the city’s pension liability annually by Five hundred ninety thousand (590,000) dollars  that's approx 2.3 million dollars since the contract was signed; by removing the six thousand (6,000) dollars for retiree medical stipend we have saved the city approx six hundred (600,000) thousand dollars  with additional savings going forward. So as you can see we have always worked with the city in “good faith”. A lot could be said for the Mayor’s actions and “good faith” is not one of them.

Third and finally, the issue of looking for solutions, one of the biggest obstacles of getting through this fiscal crisis is the fact that according to “hartford”’ the city has about 59% of tax exempt properties valued at approximately 3.7 billion dollars. No city in this country could operate with almost 60% of the property in a city that is  tax exempt. This has to be addressed. You can't balance the budget on the backs of the employees. We have to look at every option available to us. To say a savings in one area is not not good enough, as the Mayor has told us, in my opinion is irresponsible. We have even  suggested the idea of the City doing its own towing, it could create jobs and bring in revenue, road and 911 service fees on tickets sold at the City’s entertainment venues, as well as on renters who unless they register their vehicle in the city do not pay any taxes but use the city services. These are just a few of the ideas and I am sure you have a laundry list as well.

The Hartford delegation is not in favor of the Mayor’s bill as written, members of this council are not in favor of the Mayor’s bill as written and the workforce is not in favor of the mayor’s bill as written. As expressed during the public testimony at the Capitol members of the finance committee have said that the Mayor has put the cart before the horse, and I can't agree more. As a city facing a crisis we need to come together and work on solutions, some of these can be accomplished thru “good faith” negotiations, legislation changing the tax structure and brining all of the stakeholders together. By acting alone and alienating everyone is no way to accomplish what everyone wants and that is to make Hartford viable and sustainable.

Thank you for your time and consideration and I will be happy to answer any questions you have.

Sgt. Richard Holton
Hartford Police Union


Anonymous said...

Hey Sarge, you talk a good talk. But in many ways, unions have outlived their usefulness. I am the pay master here. I pay your bills. And so often, unions demand that certain chore s are performed only by union members per union contract. All you guys ever want is overtime. Would you agree to a max cutoff of overtime pay and to minimize it? Right, I didn't tink.

Anonymous said...

Honestly that is the dumbest comment on this blog yet. It doesn't make sense to of any argument from any blog ever.

peter brush said...

There may be plenty to criticize, but it would seem a stretch to suggest the Mayor is already in bad faith just a couple of months into his tenure. It may be fair to say that the Mayor should have consulted and collaborated with both Council and the Legislature. Or that he should have done likewise with the labor syndicates. Who knows?

Bottom line; there must be cutting in spending and zero increase in taxation. An oversight board sounds good to me. Property taxpayers have no representation on Council anyway, and historically I've not been impressed by the financial expertise or concern of our democratically elected guys, but if the Council can rein in its appetites, God bless.

Anonymous said...

Dark Helmet the mayor played his low pocket pair and called a ford esk 46 poker nite in cromwell bluff..... He lost. But the good news is that he cant really do much to HPD being down about 100 guys/ girls..
Start selling these blight properties and even though i think holton just wants the stinky pinky these days, i agree with taxing the 59 % of the city that eats for free....

Anonymous said...

Holton does like the pink. Plenty of traffic pink becuase of that eye sore baseball stadium. I hope segarra shows up on the first day. I bet he laughs at all of us with the pie on the faces

Good O'L AL said...

We need a Republican for Hartford. A fiscal conservative with money pitching values .

Joe Hill said...

Can King Luke be exchanged for Holton?

Alyssa said...

Am impressed you posted police union perspective, Kevin, as I know you've had your differences with them. Good effort to try to keep the blog fair and balanced.

Anonymous said...

As I dimly recall, good ole Al once maneuvered the city of Hartford to buy a property on Wethersfield Ave that belonged to a friend of his and the said property had asbestos and it cost the city 10s of thousands if not hundreds of thousands to remove it. Now I could be wrong and I don't want to besmirch the good reputation of this wizen senior citizen.

But if I am correct, would this be another example of people sucking of the dried up teats of Mother Hartford?

Anonymous said...

1) Holton is suggesting Hartford wait until it is as dire as Waterbury? You can drown in a lake or an ocean, but you have a better chance of surviving in a lake.

2) Unions. Why are they happy comparing how much they've saved taxpayer compared to what taxpayer's used to pay, instead of what it costs to provide those services in well run towns and cities or in the private sector? That's like saying, I like the criminals in the south end because when they rob you, they take less of your stuff.

3) Tax exempt doesn't mean they don't pay anything. PILOT - look it up. Granted, the state isn't paying its fair share, but this is a red-herring issue that isn't going to change even if Hartford sells all of it's tax exempt parks.

4) Renters pay property taxes because they pay rent to property owners that use that money to pay property taxes. Granted, it's not paid directly, but it's still property tax dollars coming out of renters' pockets. No wonder Holton has trouble understanding the fiscal problems the City is facing.

Four hollow arguments that no one called him on.

Anonymous said...

What about making all of these slum lords have to live on the properties? That will solve a bunch of isuues. These blight and disgusting properties need to be corrected. Most slum lords live out of state. Make them required to live in hartford.
And to respond to the west indian meeting last nite, there is no way on gods green earth that 400 cops would choose to live in the city. That would never happen. Brookman would win the 100 yard dash in the rio olympic games before that....

Anonymous said...

Trying to save $ yet the crook Sgt of narcotics is still working non stop unit OT, and it's nonsense look at this! Why is he allowed to do this??some one should be looking at the OT in narcotics and what it is producing beyond nothing

Anonymous said...

Does hartford have a pending hurricane of narcotics on the horizon? Yes. Do we have a money hungry shawn st john sucking the tap dry ?
How much money is enough shawn? How much do you need to fill the pockets on your expanding waistline?
And get rid of all these take home cars, suvs suck a lot of city fuel.

Anonymous said...

What does captain reathis do around here? 200 k a year and a take home car. Life is good for reckless reathis these days i guess.

Anonymous said...

Law enforcement is not an easy job. Educated officers are dedicated to protecting citizens. However, drugs is an epidemic world wide and not just in Hartford. Unions were organized to protect members. However, past Hartford Police union contracts have ruined it for present officers. It would have made a difference if over the years Hartford Police lived in Hartford. However, that never happened. We are in 2016 and Hartford is one of the poorest cities in the nation.

Anonymous said...

People seem to demonize unions as if they've done something wrong here. HPD officers have played by the rules agreed upon by the City over the years. No one was coerced into signing on the line. They have both gained and lost benefits in negotiations. These officers are not blank faces, they are the sons and daughters of Hartford. Many grew up here, moved here, and invested their lives, both literally and figuratively, in the city. Not to forget, the City gets a cut of every Private Job worked by officers, and officers pay into the pension plan as well. HPD officers DO NOT receive free medical benefits upon retirement. It is an out of pocket expense. The City acts like they have been robbed but its not so clear upon closer examination. Also, City politicians have received major benefits as well. If benefits and salary are cut there will be no incentive to take this job where everything you do is scrutinized and criticized for years. The weight of thousands of decisions made could cost you your job and that is what you pay for. it is a high stakes profession where a mistake could cost your job or jail. Funny, how many doctors have went to jail for mistakes made? The job of HPD officer will be not worth the trouble, especially if wages and benefits deteriorate. Attacking retirees will set off an alrm for new officers that HTFD doesn't live up to its agreements. Candidates will simply go elsewhere or get out all together and once again, the city will suffer with low standards and lower quality officers. I hear much about debt but nothing that curbs free spending in a welfare/sanctuary city. HTFD is a violent city, 4th nationwide at one time, and without security it will never recover.

Anonymous said...

In the past thirty years or more - How many HPD lived in Hartford? How many HPD sent their children to Hartford schools? Tired of listening to I used to live in Hartford. Well then move back and pay your fair share of taxes and tell your grown children and grandchildren to move back too. Then, Hartford would be the place to live, work and play.

peter brush said...

HPD officers have played by the rules agreed upon by the City over the years. No one was coerced into signing on the line.
No question that the police themselves are not to blame. And, the union is merely doing what the State has authorized it to do. But, the taxpayers here in the municipalities are coerced into dealing with the unions by the State. And, if a deal can't be reached in a particular instance, the State imposes the arbitration rules. There is no requirement that the Mayor or Council negotiate with any taxpayer organization.
(CONN. GEN. STAT. § 7-467, ET SEQ.)

The Municipal Employee Relations Act was enacted in 1965 and covers employees of local government with the exception of certified teachers and administrators. MERA governs the collective bargaining relationship between municipal employers and employee organizations representing municipal employees. It prohibits certain practices by employers and employee organizations. It provides procedures for filing, investigation and adjudication of election petitions and prohibited practice complaints. MERA prohibits strikes. Originally, MERA provided for mediation and advisory fact-finding to resolve impasses in collective bargaining. In 1975, the legislature amended the statute to provide for compulsory mediation and arbitration of unresolved issues.