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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The "Golden Parachute" Myth

I would love to rebut everything Janice Daniels said last night at the Troy City Council meeting, but I don't have a spare 2 hours today.
But there is one little bit of dis-information worth pointing out for instructional purposes.
TCU folks have begun talking about Golden Parachutes that council is offering to workers.
Let's examine the TCU Myth Formation Scheme, shall we?
1. Howrylak pretends at a city council meeting that the facts about the BUYOUTS are all brand new and he's never heard them before and they smell suspicious. All of that is fake posturing. He knows exactly what it's all about, but he's sending out his cue that something untoward is happening, even though it's not. (see Sue's piece, "The Martin Howrylak Show")
2. As the other councmembers explained to him that night last month, they all knew (as did Marty) that the buyont plan would only be offered to staff when it is advantageous to the city (saved money) or was cost neutral (but reduced staff).  
3. Howrylak and Fleming then made a stink -- "Why don't we already know how many will take the buyout!?" This is how they show fake "due-diligence" and make uninformed people think - Gee willigers they're asking questions to protect me! No he's not. Logic would tell anyone not in love with Mr. Howrylak that they couldn't know who would take the city up on the offer until they offer the offer!!!! 
4. The councilmembers explain some more of what Fleming/Howrylak already know. Yawn.
5. By the next meeting, the TCU had devised a name for the city action that is incorrect and leads people to make the wrong conclusion. In this case they claim these perfectly normal, responsible, well-intentioned buyouts are some sort of insidious ruse to get money out of the city, and give retiring workers millions of dollars--thus the name "Golden Parachute."
What does "Golden Parachute" mean? "An agreement that provides key executives with generous severance pay and other benefits in the event that their employment is terminated as a result of a change of ownership at their employer corporation; known more formally as a change-of-control agreement."

It has nothing at all to do with these buyout offers, yet we keep hearing the term from these people because they want us to believe our city workers are some kind of corporate welfare queens. Also it sets up handily for November, when Howrylak et al will claim that Troy doesn't need more revenue, it simply needs to get rid of all the greedy, lazy, overpaid people working for it.

Now, as I listened to all of this in February, I knew what it was. How can you have lived in Detroit for any amount of time and not know what a buyout is?
We've all seen the TV news video of people accepting buyouts from the automakers. Then they walk through the parking lot with boxes full of their desk contents and tell reporters why they took the buyouts.
I also remember pilots taking these buyouts a few decades back. Airlines got the older pilots with fat benefit packages to quit so they could replace them with younger pilots with lousy packages. It's the way corporations weed out the more expensive workers to either eliminate positions or to make room for cheaper workers (with no pensions, weaker healthcare, etc.) 
TCU should be thrilled!!!!!! It's exactly what they want!!!!!
But no. They have to pretend they aren't thrilled, in order to make people think the city can't be trusted.
So Janice Daniels stood there last night and said these are "Golden Parachutes."
They want people to believe that FAT CAT labor folks are being paid like CEOs, when she's really talking about middle class folks, just like the rest of us, who are having to make excruciating decisions about their family's future.
And that is only 1 of the many lies Janice told last night.
So despicable.
What makes people like her so horrible? So willing to lie?
It's the ideology. It's like big, ugly, dark ideological blinders over her eyes that prevent her from seeing anything but the belief that 
-all government is bad-no matter what good it does,
-all taxes are bad-no matter what good things they pay for (even libraries), and 
-all city workers are greedy scum, even though the people she scorns are our neighbors and friends and family.
Please help stop the madness.
Tell your friends that Janice Daniels, Howrylak and TCU are WRONG.
They are bad for Troy. 


  1. It's simple -- the end justifies the means!

  2. 'Cost Neutral'... great objective.. how about 'COST SAVING'? Cost Neutral is nothing to blow your horn about ... dummies.

  3. I do agree that there are right and wrong ways to go about ligitimate disagreements. While I am not willing to sign up for a general tax increase until City Managment negotiates new labor contracts, I do wish council would have the courage to vote yes to keep the library open. One year at a time is fine with me for now. I think what council said last night was sad. For now, one more year sounds great. Who is to say what might happen before next year (another millage vote that would guarantee funding). Let's deal with that next year, after all ICMA reports are in and we can see where things are going. To say no right now to the library is heart breaking.

    Also, even though I believe in some of what TCU says, I do not think that Janice Daniels is the best spokesperson and I too cringe when she steps forward to speak. Her tone is as condescending as the Mayors'. Her tone and attitude are disrespectful to council and the audience in attendance. Last night she sure sounded like she announced she is a candidate, but not all she says is inaccurate.

    I too have been bothered by the early retirement program. I am all in favor of it IF IT SAVES MONEY, cost neutral is not good enough. It is taking a lot of staff time to put this together and if is only a break even proposition, we have actually lost money by taking time to put the program in place as well losing the long-term experience of the employee.

    All government is not bad - not even TCU can believe this one. Government needs to exist to do what we cannot do for ourselves (police/fire/roads) or to do what is less expensive to do as a group (garbage collection).

    Nobody wants to see city workers suffer, any more than I'm sure they want to see us suffer. Unfortunately, people have and are continuing to suffer, city employees can't be picked on, but they cannot be immune either. Nobody is trying to take away their pensions or health care, just asking them to help support their own programs. Dragging their feet and not agreeing to help in tough times only hurts them more, loss of their fellow workers. Wouldn't it be nice if everyone gave a little so that more could keep their jobs?
    Is this so wrong or too much to ask?

    Why can't people see that this is not a black or white issue - it is so complicated it makes my head spin. If all sides gave a little we might be able to get somewhere.
    1. The library could be funded at today's levels. Put a millage together that takes into account falling values and build it into the millage rate, but don't try to restore 100% of what was. That is giving a little.
    2. Employees shold contribute more to their pensions, health care, salary reductions etc... Get to an overall fair number and see what it saves. This is giving a little.
    3. The city is too top heavy, reduce the number of people at the top and keep some of the workers who actually do the jobs. The ICMA report did mention how the org chart neeeds to be flattened.
    4. After doing all that they can, and have the numbers to back it up, City management/City Council comes to the people and asks for our help too. This will show that the first plan of attack was not to put out their hands and ask for more, it was to put out their hands to ask us to join them in helping keep Troy great.

    Somebody please tell me what is so wrong with this? How is this madness? Not everyone is a TCU person, in fact I doubt many are really TCU'ers. People have merely listened to them because they are the only ones not just parroting back what the city has said. They may not be right in all of their interpretations, but who says the city is right - for sure? They are doing what citizens should do, they are questioning their government and not blindly following? That is our obligation as citizens and as voters. You don't have to agree with them or their beliefs, but you do have to respect the process that we have established, and their right to be heard.

    Anon C

  4. Anon C - I agree with a great amount of what you say!
    Your points:
    1. The problem is, values are slipping so fast that if you started a millage that provided $2.5 million this year, it would be under 2 million next year. That why Proposal 1 started higher--it was for 10 years and they had to keep it sufficient.
    2. There are 2 tiers I believe. Some give more to pension, some less, depending on when hired. One purpose of buy-out (obviously) is to have more people on the high side leave.
    3. By following the ICMA report the city will be less top heavy. Do you know there is only 1 full-time Rec person now? Parks is absorbed into DPW and Rec doesn't even have a director. Do you know that? Does anyone know that? The director had her retirement party a few weeks ago.
    4. In a normal time I'd agree with that. But by the time of the millage in Feb of last year, there was already less going to the city, and most of us were paying less. It's not like they were status quo and suddenly started demanding money, they were already losing a lot of money. Many people had already been laid off from the city. TCU just a few months ago was telling Troy people that the city had done NOTHING and that was not true.
    I don't say the city is always right. I certainly agree with you that they should have saved the library with 4 votes, but the truth is in the middle.
    And I can't agree that TCU merely questions government. I have been following them (the leaders) for too long to agree that they innocently, kindly question.
    They intentionally dis-inform. "Golden Parachute" really? How about shrinking government?
    If they would simply stop the hysteria and question valid points, maybe we could all calm down a little and get stuff done.

  5. I haven't had the pleasure of watching the council meeting yet. Given this post, I can't wait to hear the diatribe live and in person. Sometimes I think the members of TCU border on delusional!!. I'm sure I'll have more after I listen. Maybe I'll correct another of the many "lies" she dribbled out.

  6. There is a two tier retirement system, defined benefit and defined contribution. The defined benefit costs the city much more in the long run, as the pension funds must pay the employee a set rate for life. If defined contributions run out, its too bad for that person.

    Any employee who has been around long enough to take advantage of the early retirement is probably topped out on their wage, and probably in a defined benefit pension. So the long run savings is hiring a new person as a much less pay rate, and that new person will not be in the defined benefit pension.

  7. Anon C, You stated: "You don't have to agree with them or their beliefs, but you do have to respect the process that we have established, and their right to be heard."

    I absolutely respect our democratic process, and I respect every citizen's right to be heard.

    But what I cannot and will not abide is blatant misrepresentation of fact, sensationalizing of circumstance or outright lies.

    Each and every time I catch a citizen guilty of that...I will point it out.

    And the anti-taxers had best respect MY RIGHT to be heard.