Andy Berke campaigned for mayor on a platform that stressed five Issues: 1) Economic Development, 2) Education, 3) Government Accountability, 4) Public Safety, and 5) Transparency and Civic Engagement.
City voters were seldom given details by Candidate Berke during the mayoral campaign on how he planned to accomplish his platform objectives.
During the mayoral race he did not campaign on extending health care benefits at the expense of city taxpayers to partners of city employees who are unmarried or same-sex couples.
This is the reality we now know:
1. Economic Development: seven months after the mayoral election, the city is still in debt over $400 million. The city unemployment rate has steadily risen from 7.4 percent in March 2013, the month the new mayor was elected, to its present 7.9 percent.
2. Government Accountability & Transparency: The city will spend $100,000 to contract with an out-of-town accounting firm associated with the mayor’s wife to complete a city budget.
3. Public Safety: Mayor Berke proposes cutting fire and police pensions to save money but yet believes the city can afford to pay for ity employee same-sex and unmarried partner health care benefits. Chattanooga’s shootings and gang-related crime activity continues unabated.
Our city is heading down the same road of debt and careless spending that plague our nation. Let your City Council representative and the mayor himself know how wrong these proposals are for our city.
Brenda and Tom McConnell
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Approximately two years ago, the city of Chattanooga voted to cut health insurance benefits for retirees as a cost saving measure, and now the city is cutting the pension of the fire and police.
At the same time, the city is working towards expanding health insurance benefits to the roommates of city workers. Bizarre. Does the city just hate older workers, or believe that the roommates of city workers deserve the health benefits more than the employees that served the city for 20 plus years.
The problem here is the city has consistently reduced benefits for the older workers through loss of retirement health insurance and is currently reducing their pension, and then giving millions to the roommates for workers. Why is the city taking directly from the older workers?
Yes, just two years ago, the city took away health retirement benefits directly from older workers, some in their 50’s that had worked their entire career for that benefit. After taking the health insurance from older workers, they are willing to expand health insurances to the roommates of workers.
The actually workers lose retirement benefits, but the roommates of workers gain.
Absurd nonsense absent of logic.
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I have a very different take on Berke's job performance. I think he has been delivering on everything he campaigned on. He has added more officers to the force and obviously its working, because I just read that they arrested dozens of thugs today.
He has been responsible with dollars, something I never thought I'd say about a liberal. The mayor asked people to look at the fire pension because it was already underfunded and it will just keep getting worse. Everyone knows that. Just look at Detroit.
He took McKamey to task for missing funds and he didn't increase the overall city budget this year. When Tubman got too expensive, the mayor bailed because he knew the property wasn't worth that amount. When was the last time a politician bailed on a pet project because it would cost the taxpayers too much?
And one more thing that people keep getting confused on. Berke isn't proposing same-sex benefits, City Council is doing that. So I'm not sure what all the complaining is about except for people wanting to have something to complain about.
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I thought April Eidson was against gubmint handouts. Former Chattanooga city employees drawing a taxpayer funded pension, and taxpayer funded insurance plans; are living off gubmint benefits funded by the taxpayers.
Free market wisdom would ask why you have Chattanooga city funded retirement plans in the first place. Adding new people onto the present Chattanooga city employee insurance plan will generate new funds because there will be a corresponding increase in the insurance premiums.
I can see the logic in this clearly. City employees will be paying more premiums for being able to add people to their insurance plans. City retirees only mooch off the gubmint anyway. Right?
Stephen Durham (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Loyalty from employees is expected. However, the city of Chattanooga failed to be loyal or respect those persons having worked over two decades for the city. The removal of insurance coverage was a major error by the former mayor. If anything should be considered this long promised benefit should be restored.
Restoration of this benefit would be the right thing to do. The city makes promises and should keep those promises. Yanking away a promise, again, after 20-plus years is not a minor thing when people make plans based on this promise and try to budget survival on retirement on expectations from a promise.