City Pension Double Standard - And Response

Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Re: Chattanooga City Council OKs pension plan amendment 8-26-14

The Chattanooga City Council voted Tuesday to keep future retirees who are re-employed by the city from dipping into their current retirement while contributing to a new city pension.

But first council members gave an exemption to two of their colleagues and one other city employee.

Councilman Moses Freeman said this was a fair solution because his colleagues are all contributing to a new pension plan and it’s a promise the city has already made to him and Councilman Yusuf Hakeem.

“That was not the time to say you couldn’t (draw from your pension). The way you do it is what they did now, it’s for anyone in the future,” Freeman said. “It’s fair and it’s appropriate. It’s moral. It’s legal and it’s ethical.”

But yet, Fire/Police pension reform to our cost of living adjustments was also promised, I requote "That was not the time to say you couldn’t. The way you do it is what they did now, it’s for anyone in the future.”

Double standard?

James Appugliese, Retired CPD

* * *

Earlier this year, the City Council voted unanimously to cut pension benefits for all retired firefighters and police officers starting in January of 2015. The City Council voted unanimously yesterday to not allow council double dipping in the city general pension fund, except Councilman Freeman and Councilman Hakeem. They will be allowed to still double dip. Below is a statement Councilman Freeman made.

"Councilman Moses Freeman said this was a fair solution because his colleagues are all contributing to a new pension plan and it’s a promise the city has already made to him and Councilman Yusuf Hakeem."

“That was not the time to say you couldn’t (draw from your pension). The way you do it is what they did now, it’s for anyone in the future,” Freeman said. “It’s fair and it’s appropriate. It’s moral. It’s legal and it’s ethical.”

My question to all of the City Council, especially Mr. Freeman, is the following:

When you and all of the other members of the City Council voted to take away benefits from fire and police retiree's, was that fair and appropriate to the fire and police retirees?  Was it ethical to the fire and police retirees? Was it moral to the fire and police retirees? Was it legal what you did to the fire and police retirees?

The answer to all of these questions is No. But it seems to be yes for Mr. Freeman and Mr. Hakeem. We also were promised our benefits for our service to the city just as Mr. Freeman stated above. I worked 28 years for the Chattanooga Fire Department and have been retired almost six years, yet they voted to reduce my benefits and all other retired fire and police members. This decision was nothing but politics at its best.

The good ole buddy system is alive and well in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Bill Melhorn


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