This article by Jim Hill, president of the Police Officers of Scottsdale Association, appeared in the most recent POSA newsletter.
Scottsdale, what are YOUR Priorities?
Last month I told all of you that the December 10th City Council meeting was going to be very important because the City Manager was going to ask the City Council what their priorities are for the next budget year. Well for those of us who watched that discussion, it was quite an eye opener.
However, before the Priorities discussion got started the stage was set for Scottsdale politics as usual. When the majority of Council awarded a sweetheart contract for the vending and catering for all the events at Westworld, they also gave the company $200,000 to market the venue (thereby helping his company.)
The kicker was that the final contract (120 pages) was given to Council only 90 minutes before the start of the meeting and none of the Council members had read the contract prior to approving it. How do we know that? They were asked who read it and no one admitted to reading it.
Where have we heard, “You need to pass it to find out what’s in it” before? And we all know how wonderful that’s working.
Then the City Manager began his presentation of money available and asked the Council to set their priorities. (Keep in mind this is the same Council that has been told and has seen Cops and other PD employees leaving the City for better pay and has “said” that Public Safety is a priority).
When the City Manager told the Council that they could give all City employees a 3% pay raise in the next budget, the majority of Council just shrugged indifferently. Other than Littlefield and Phillips, no one mentioned giving any specific consideration to the needs of Public Safety.
Councilwoman Linda “the garbage men are just as important as the police” Milhaven even made false claims that the PD pay issues had been fixed. I guess she forgot that even with the last market adjustment our cops are still below the market average, even though POSA has repeatedly made that fact abundantly clear.
Councilwoman Milhaven later said that she’d like the City Manager to come back to Council at some point with a compensation “system” so that pay wouldn’t be an issue every year. You mean a system that POSA has been asking for, for the past 3 years?
We’ve made it clear time and time again that re-instituting the 5% yearly merit raise is the industry standard. We’ve pulled the numbers many times for Councilwoman Milhaven over the past 3 years and so has the PD Command staff. Unfortunately, she always seems to need more “information,” code for “I don’t like those numbers and don’t want to vote for what you need, try again.”
So, when we hear Councilwoman Milhaven say she wants a study done to find a “system” we know that really means delay, dissemble and obstruct. Funny how she needs repeated studies done on our pay issues, but can approve a 120 page contract without ever reading it.
Another voice that we hoped to hear from, who vowed to carry the Public Safety is the #1 priority banner, was Councilwoman Virginia Korte. Unfortunately, she never mentioned fixing the police department at all during the priorities discussion.
Later when the Priorities discussion turned to funding the Cultural Council, a private entity that we pay over 4 million dollars to run the Scottsdale Center for the Arts and get no return on that money, it fairly sailed through. Again, Littlefield and Phillips questioned taxpayer support for a private entity, to no avail.
In fact, Councilman Littlefield pointed out that the new Fire Station that was defeated in the bond election could be paid outright with less than what the Cultural Council gets from the taxpayers every year. Still the majority of Council decided that the Cultural Council, a private entity, was a priority even over Public Safety.
So I ask again, Scottsdale, what are YOUR Priorities? I’m betting the first one is Public Safety. If it is…it is time to make it known to Council.
Editor’s Note: Councilwoman Milhaven and her voting partner Councilman Dennis Robbins are up for reelection this year.