The latest from the Mulligan for Mayor campaign. Pretty hard-hitting stuff, even by Scranton standards.
Personally I don't feel that unionized employees in Scranton have been "burned". Have they been subject to inept political leadership? Sure they have, but that's life in Scranton, where we all have been burned by inept politicians. What's more, some of that inept leadership they helped elect. In the end though, it's tough to dispute the fact that city government has traditionally been over-influenced by the people that work in city government. In a political system that values votes & money over competence, police and firemen have always been able to deliver both.
I will note here that the Mulligan campaign is guilty of comparing apples & oranges in their press release. Citing a comparison between loaded (salary + benefits) and unloaded pay exaggerates something that actually doesn't need to be exaggerated. It would be enough to say that firemen earn "three times" what the average Scrantonian does; why the need to make it look worse is beyond me.
Regardless, the overall theme of the press release seems fairly well spot-on to me: Bill Courtright is more concerned with city employees, particularly police and firemen, than he is with city taxpayers.
Lastly, I'll gladly post any response(s) that the Courtright campaign chooses to provide unaltered on the blog; communications can be directed to my email address
. As I've done with the Mulligan material, I do reserve the right to comment on it as I see fit.
For Immediate Release
October 17, 2013
|Courtright/Union Romance A|
Recipe For Scranton Bankruptcy
Courtright Believes Unions Have Been "Burned"
SCRANTON, PA - At a time when Scranton's fiscal health is teetering on the brink, Scranton mayoral candidate Bill Courtright continues to campaign as a union lemming leading Scranton off the fiscal cliff that awaits the city - even defending the unions as having been "burned" in negotiations that have set Scranton down an unsustainable fiscal path.
But it's not as though the unions have been losing, Scranton's municipal unions currently cost the Scranton taxpayers FIVE TO SIX TIMES more per year than the average Scrantonian makes.
Scranton's municipal unions have time-and-time again sought more-and-more from the City of Scranton when negotiating contracts...
- The average Scrantonian earns $19,529 each year (SOURCE: US Census Bureau)
- The average Scranton police officer receives ~$120,000 annually in salary, benefits, and other forms of compensation and costs to the city (SOURCE: Approximate costs per employee within Department, 2013 Scranton budget, pages 26, 36, & 37)
- The average Scranton firefighter receives ~$140,000 annually in salary, benefits, and other forms of compensation and costs to the city (SOURCE: Approximate costs per employee with Department, 2013 Scranton budget, pages 26, 39, & 40)
... Making these demands at a time when Scranton's pension crisis has only deteriorated.
- "Scranton's police and fire unions want the state Commonwealth Court to reconsider its rejection in 2010 of an increase in maximum pension benefits, from 50 percent of salary to 70 percent that the unions had won in prior arbitration cases. At the time of that ruling, such an increase in pension benefits would have approximately doubled the city's annual mandatory minimum contributions to the police and fire pension systems." (SOURCE: "Scranton police, fire unions seek pension increase," Scranton Times-Tribune, June 20, 2013)
- "Raises in pension payouts and decreases in staff and pension contributions also have meant less funds going in and more going out, they said. "The amount of money we put into it isn't enough to pay the pensions," Mr. O'Shea said. And all that does not take into account the impact of a landmark state Supreme Court ruling in October regarding arbitration awards that favored the city's police and fire unions. While city officials have estimated the ruling could cost the city as much as $30 million, the impact to the pension system - and as a result city coffers - has not been determined, Mr. O'Shea said."(SOURCE: "Scranton's pension fund situation worsened," Scranton Times-Tribune, May 20, 2013)
Yet Scranton's municipal unions want more and, unfortunately for Scranton taxpayers, they've found their candidate in Bill Courtright.
- In a recent appearance on The David Maderia Show, Courtright acknowledged: "People say I'm going to give the store away to the unions." This was a charge he did not dispute, only saying that "there was no store to give away." (SOURCE: The David Madeira Show, October 8, 2013)
- But it's no wonder why Courtright has become the face of Scranton's public employee unions. Courtright proudly lists endorsements from the SAME UNIONS THAT HAVE THREATENED TO TAKE CITY HALL FROM THE TAXPAYERS, and doesn't even mention the countless other Scranton stakeholders who are impacted daily by the decisions made at City Hall (SOURCE: http://www.courtrightmayor.com/endorsements/, October 9, 2013).
- Courtright even admits: "This is self-serving, but they (unions) trust me. They said, 'If it's you, we're going to do it, if it's not we're not doing it, because we've been burned too many times." (SOURCE: "Courtright: No easy fix to city woes," Scranton Times-Tribune, October 16, 2013)
If Bill Courtright believes the unions have "been burned too many times," then it's clear that Scranton cannot afford Bill Courtright!
Paid for by Friends of Jim Mulligan
This is misleading. The letter, while clever, makes a false equivalence. The statistic from the Census Bureau only includes salary, not benefits. Somebody making less than $20,000, especially if that person has a family, would be eligible for a host of federal subsidies. So if he wants to compare the average salary of a Scrantonian to a firefighter, he absolutely needs to use the baseline salary. Firefights and cops start around $40,000 in this city.
Also, median income in the city is $36,968. The figure Mulligan used is per capita. I understand per capita is low. That's normal in cities, which tend to have high poverty rates. Blaming that on the unions is silly.
Mulligan's credibility took a huge hit with me over this piece.
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