Tuesday, October 11, 2016

WDT: Meter Runs and City Plays Possum With Bill

     The City has spent over $157K on outside legal bills in the current contract dispute with firefighters and that's only part of bill as City Hall split hairs with the WDT on just what their FOIL request covered. Because the paper didn't specifically request totals for what was spent on other grievences with the WFD, those numbers were withheld. 
       The money went to Bond Schoeneck and King, the firm employing labor law Svengali Terry O'Neill and it's also the go-to firm for other major city cases not handled by local attorney Robert Slye, who is the corporation counsel.  B S and K at one time employed Mr. Slye as well.
      The latest twist came when demoted captains were labled as "laid off" and then rehired as firefighters in an apparent legal correction of course.
       Proponents of the spending have argued the Fire Department contributes to a long term structural deficit in city finances and the spending now is peanuts to what can be saved if the action results in the deletion of minimum manning from the CBA.
       The union is spending on lawyers too but not as much and in an epic dispute the city's deep pockets could prevail. Time will tell.
       The city's apparent playing possum with the numbers and forcing the media to use FOIL requests is more evidence of a lack of transparency and a detachment of City Council from what's going on.
http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/news03/city-spending-on-lawyers-for-firefighter-labor-dispute-exceeds-160000-20161011

18 comments:

Anonymous said...


A complete and total disaster. The course chartered by the city is a very expensive and risks way to conduct negotiations. If we start adding things up we are taking about a lot of money here. $157,000 on Mr. O'Neil (and its not even close to over yet) , Likely another 30,000 to Mr. Slye to combat on-going labor issues, , turning down a $350,000 grant, forcing overtime to fill in for 12 vacant position (estimated EXTRA cost $300,000), plus the probability of having to give back pay and benefits to the illegally demoted Captains. All of this before possible fines and other damages when this matter reaches the courts.

I all likelihood, we are looking at over $1,000,000 of the taxpayers money here. There has to be better places to spend this kind of money. All of this with absolutely no guarantees that the city can win this thing. With the way they have conducted themselves, I think victory is unlikely. If they do lose what will be the environment of negotiations going forward, with any of the local labor organizations?

This is just poor management and a very bed way to conduct negotiations. How much more can the city taxpayers take? VIVA LA REVOLT!!!!! - NEW LEADERSHIP NOW!!!!

Anonymous said...

The council needs to step up and put a stop to this nonsense now. Addison continues to be evasive if not downright deceitful when media tries to get information. This is our taxpayer money she is playing with and to what end? A case they are not likely to win and if they do what does it gain us taxpayers other than less protection. I would rather pay for firemen than for lawyers. Council needs to step in and negotiate a contract just like every other capable manager prior to Addison. In all my years living in this city I have never seen such a mess and wasting of money as I have since she rode into town.

Anonymous said...

We get it. You and Perry don't want to save a single dime of the $8MM we spend each and ever year on the bloated blank check fire queen department. That is why Butler won the election.

As usual, it sounds like the city is not getting its money's worth from the contractor. In this case, the supposed expert in labor law. How could they not have agreed and established the proper way to classify the distinction without a difference of lay-off vs demotion, if it is legally advantageous to pick one way over the other?

Of course the real story here, (which is being ignored by perrykos), is the terrible one sided anti-taxpayer laws that require the tax payers to play these games in order to "negotiate" with the extortionist union. It is high time to eliminate the fire department all together and replace it with a contractor. Opening bid, anything less than $8 million per year. Hopefully the contractor will hire some women and minorities. A more inclusive department would be less corrupt and greedy.

Anonymous said...

These costs don't include the fees for having Slye leaching off this fight.

Jeff, you started this mess while mayor. And you gave us this disaster of a city manager. Thanks a lot.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know how much the captains went from being demoted by Council to being large d off and brought back as fire fighters. There is a high difference between those two actions. Watch the video, read the minutes they were demoted. The CM has an issue with facts. Such a waste of tax payer money.

Anonymous said...

This money is well spent if it loosens the grip the union has on the city taxpayers.
It will be recouped in saving in the future.
The union thugs blaming Addison and the city for this sound true to form and is exactly what one would expect from the CBA.
They have milked the city nearly dry over the years with their pension padding and extortionist ways.
Kudos for trying to bring them under control!!!

Anonymous said...


Hey 843, you accounting did not include the estimated $30,000 paid for sleigar to "consult". Have to add that in too.

351 there is ethical ways to do things and unethical way to do things. No one would deny the city from trying to find ways to make services more efficient and control costs. What I object to it these tactics. They are spending a fortune trying to fight something that would be better negotiated. No one is talking abut pension padding and you have a lot of nerve alleging extortion. We never had these types of problem before the spy came. Just saying

Anonymous said...

Two rights do make a wrong. The taxpayers will foot the bill; Addison is not a taxpayer. Enuff said, pay up!

Anonymous said...

12:41, There is not a big difference between being demoted and and being laid-off and brought back to a lower position. They are virtually the same thing. Contrary to popular ignorance, a demotion does not always mean what you think it means. Of course,if some time is allowed to pass before they are brought back, then it would not be the same.

It is really ludicrous that it would make a difference in how it was characterized in the eyes of the arbitrator. However, typically the phrasing that is used is, "the positions will be eliminated" but they would be "offered other positions within the organization".

Anonymous said...

The bldg you want torn down on high St was. Cited by code enforcement, and you gave the owner a pass.

Jeff Graham said...

I wish the Mayor could decide on enforcement issues.

Anonymous said...

What ever happen to the fire queens event at the park? I guess no support?

Anonymous said...

Wish you would put up a thread on your feeling about Factory Square. I am in complete agreement with you. What a great place for the city to make a conscious effort to revitalize. It is so close to downtown that I feel it would enhance efforts there as well and would only play into the work being done to link the water front parks and walking trail. Can you imagine if Jake and his financial backer bought the old scrap metal building and turned that into a BREWERY? A hotel and housing in the other old buildings would surely follow. Using the parcel on Van Duzzee for an indoor water park would be a much better use of the land because of it's proximity to the Arena and 81. Watertown doesn't need another place to buy a beer, they need activities for families.

Anonymous said...


737 you are just plain wrong, There is a tremendous difference between the two terms. Demotions carry an extremely negative connotation in that it implies that you did something to deserve the taking back of an earned recognition of your efforts and effectiveness. Just like the tern "Fired" carries the same type of negative connotation. Taken at face value it looks like "you did something wrong". We know however, that this is not always the case. Lay-off's are far more common place and are seen as actions that occur because of financial concern s rather than performance.

To demote, as the city did, was the same as slapping the Captains across the face in my opinion. This was not being done for financial reasons this was being done to be nasty and to give the city leverage in their ongoing dispute with the union. Now we see an about face because it was not done correctly. The city learned that demotions are for performance and that they way they did this was illegal. Where were these high prices attorney's on this one? We pay Bob Syle hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to advise on such matters. I think we should ask for our money back.

Anonymous said...

9:16, it doesn't matter if "demotion" has a negative connotation or not. It is a 100% true fact that they were demoted, even if some pedantic idiotic NYS labor law requires them to word it another way.
And BTW...it only has a negative connotation to the extent you allow it to have or to the extent you don't understand the true meaning of the word.

OTOH, one can assume the little darlings who were demoted, have no other options or they would take them instead of taking the demotion. So in that respect, yes it is a negative to be demoted. But the same can be said about anyone who is in a union or works for the government. People with those jobs are being paid more than they would otherwise be able to get on their own.

Anonymous said...

6:18 (Mr. Boner)
The event was called off both times, I believe because of bad weather. I suspect the unions have not pressed for another support rally because they don't want it in the first place. There was a group of citizens, yes paying citizens, UNLIKE yourself, who wanted to support the men who serve to protect them. New York State just held a commemorative ceremony in Albany showing support and honor for those who gave their life in this protection. Its really too bad you are such a cold man who doesn't support that. I suppose you too, are not in favor of the military men and women who serve to protect our country. Even though its the job they chose, they have many perks, money allocations, housing, etc.. which gives them a much better paying job and benefits than I received for my many years in the service years ago. But you would not Understand that either because you have never served your country either, and just milked the community any time you could in your capacity. I just hope you never need the police, fire or ambulance as you have insulted them many times, but yes, they are PROFESSIONALS and will come to your aide if you ever need them.

Anonymous said...

9:16, you are entitled to your opinion, even though you are wrong about EVERYTHING. although the word "demotion" often means it was done for punitive or competency reasons, it also means it can be done for no fault of the employee. At least according to any credible dictionary it means that.

The employees were not demoted as a slap in the face. They were demoted because the position is not needed. Sure they deserve an extra 25 cents an hour for being the one in charge of the truck and crew, but they don't deserve thousands extra with the responsibility of promotions demotions and disciplinary action. I should probably check before I ask, but please tell me you don't have a senior trash collector on each trash truck, earning thousands of extra taxpayer money. And using as an excuse for paying them that much, that they have disciplinary and training responsibility.

You shouldn't get to have it both ways. Either you are in a union where every last slug gets paid the same as the high performers, or you are in a meritocracy, where you get extra pay for being the senior shift leader at the drive thru or fire truck or whatever it is.
.

Anonymous said...

Hey 444 the cow has a long history of mistreatment of employees who stand up for themselves. The city comptroller WOULD Not PAY out of title pay employee even though the work was not in the scope of her job title, the city saved 30 cents per hour,odd the da got a 30k raise and that's the comptroller wife...ironic isn't it? And yes there was a boss of the garbage crew, until the city did away with it..