Editor’s Note: Baristanet has corrected the final paragraph of this blog post to reflect the fact that Bob Russo is no longer president of the adjunct professors’ local union at Montclair State University. He was replaced two months ago by Bob Noonan.
As this Council nears the end of its term, some members are determined to push as much through as possible. Both spending, and pet projects such as the “Bike Storage Locker” proposal that the Mayor has been kicking around for years. Under that proposal developers would be required to set aside space — sometimes substantial space — for the storage of bicycles. Locked storage of bicycles. Although no one has asked the developers about the impact such an ordinance would have on them.
Then there’s the spending. Most of it could have waited the five weeks for the new Council. The spending is significant. Tonight, over SIX MILLION DOLLARS of new capital spending was approved! Some towns agonize over spending $20,000. Montclair glibly agrees to six million.
But what some people find infuriating is the inability of “management” to account for where all that money is going! Purchases are lumped together. Descriptions and totals vary depending on the report. And when some citizen seeks an explanation, like Sandy Sorkin did tonight, they are mocked and ridiculed.
Council Murnick did a terrific job of questioning the manager. He also led a discussion into the proposal, from the Manager, that gave increases to the 20 or so employees of the township (out of four hundred) who are the only ones that aren’t covered by union contracts. The manager’s justification was two-fold: a) let’s put together a “merit” program for people not covered under the union contract, or if not, b) it’s been “tradition” to give these people increases equivalent to that of the union, even though we don’t have to so let’s do it. Mind you, some of those people are the highest paid in the Township.
Union contracts are just that, contracts. They provide for increases over the years, as well as changes in benefits and work rules. They apply to everyone in the union.
Employees not under union rules, do not get that “benefit.”
Hopefully, this next Council will bring a measure of accountability to Township affairs, and we’ll be able to track spending.
And to the biggest chunk of our expenses — union payrolls — hopefully this new Council with
two union presidents one union president among its membership will be able to help us negotiate a mutually rewarding contractual arrangement.