We Just Ask For Fairness And Some Consideration On Fire And Police Pension Reform

Sunday, February 9, 2014

I have the honor of being a firefighter for the city of Chattanooga.  I have served the city for 27 years.  The men and women who serve to protect this city are some of the bravest, hardest-working individuals I have ever had the privilege to know.  Thank you each and all. 

     As all are aware, the Fire and Police in this city are in the middle of pension reform negotiations.  For better or worse our pension is going to change.  The way this seems to be coming about is through the Mayors' Task Force and our own Pension Board.  It was to be an open and upfront  process to achieve this.  For the most part it was.  Some closed-door sessions occurred that may not have been the best format.  Some feel there may have been some shady dealings.  Some think people were" bought off".  I don't think anyone was.  Turning on our own will solve nothing. Unfounded personnel attacks solve nothing.  Misinformation is rampant on both sides.  Transparency will end a lot of it. This process is ongoing.  Nothing has been set in stone.  Please keep that in mind.

      What I do believe is everyone has worked hard using their own judgment in what is fair to both the city and the departments.  We will never all agree on what is "fair".  The bottom line is we will work longer for less.  What we get at retirement will change.  The Cost Of Living (COLA) will change.  If this will fix the pension for all retirees, active and future employees, then fix it.  Do it right once and be done with it.  But do not make our rally cry be "It could have been worse."  Look at the problems we face longer and consider other ways.  Other ideas.

     We will have given, and now maybe the city can give some back.  Let our retirees use the Wellness Clinic and Pharmacy.  The city used their best years, now take care of them in the later ones.   Our health care was cut off at age 65.  At least let them use this facility for life.  Fix the Fire Department's crippling Injured on duty policy where, when we are hurt saving life or property, our pay is cut.  In this job it is not "if" but "when" and how bad.  Someone in the ICU needs full pay for themselves and their family.  If a few abuse this, then deal harshly with the few and not the masses. How about a cohesive pay plan?  How about market basing the COLA?  The money the city recoups from our pension reforms will be spent.  Spend some small part to help us.

     To the Mayor and City Council, we are not your enemy, nor you ours.  We all want a better city for everyone. We all want trust and respect.  I once said, "Lead us, lead us well and we will follow. Lead us all to a better tomorrow. Together we can move mountains.  My voice is a small one that carries only a small sound.   But with enough small voices the sound is thunderous.  And this great roar can lift up angels...or raise hell.  Me ,myself,  I look toward heaven.  I hope you do too.

Richard Meier


No More Money For Schools

Re: County Commission Told To Fully Fund County Schools Improvement Request Would Take 28 1/2-Cent Property Tax Increase; 78 School Personnel Would Be Added No. No way. Really, NO! is not a big enough word to express my sentiments here. Even the exclamation point doesn’t add enough to do the job properly.  Mr. Coppinger said, “They are saying if you do this, we’re ... (click for more)

Collegedale's Wreck Problem

Re: Speed Limits Being Lowered On Main Collegedale Thoroughfare  I just read your story on Collegedale lowers speed limit for main thoroughfare.  It's funny the city claims they will have TDOT put up dangerous intersection signs, because last summer when it was stated in a story (possibly not by your company) that they were dropping the speed limit from 55 to 50 on ... (click for more)

Kevin Muhammad Says City Programs Failing; More Attention And Funding Needed For Impoverished Inner City Youths

Nation of Islam leader Kevin Muhammad told a packed house at City Council on Tuesday night that a large segment of Chattanooga is impoverished, while parts of the city are enjoying a Renaissance. Given 20 minutes for a "State of the People" address, he said many city programs are failing, including the Violence Reduction Initiative and a Youth and Family Services reading program. ... (click for more)

County Commission Told To Fully Fund County Schools Improvement Request Would Take 28 1/2-Cent Property Tax Increase; 78 School Personnel Would Be Added

County Mayor Jim Coppinger told members of the County Commission at a budget workshop on Tuesday that it would take a 28 1/2-cent property tax increase to fully fund the county school budget request. The county schools are asking for $24,218,919 in new money for a focus on workforce readiness, literacy and low-performing schools. County Mayor Coppinger did not say whether ... (click for more)

Johnson Homers Twice As Baylor Beats Silverdale, 4-2

There’s nothing more fun than covering a softball game featuring two outstanding teams, ones who can get clutch hits, pitch through tough situations and even make spectacular defensive plays when the game is on the line. That was the case at Silverdale Tuesday afternoon where the Lady Seahawks were hosting the Baylor Lady Red Raiders. Silverdale had gone to Baylor on April ... (click for more)

Bradley Beats West, 8-1, To Wrap Up Impressive Regular Season

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Bradley Central wrapped up its regular season on Tuesday with an 8-1 non-district baseball victory over Knoxville West at Toby McKenzie Baseball Complex. In their final tune-up for the District 5-3A tournament that starts on Wednesday at Cleveland High School, the Bears improved to 23-6 and rode the five-hit pitching of Jacob Moses (3-2) to the impressive win ... (click for more)