As First Ward Councilwoman, I would like to take this opportunity to respond to recent events regarding the "longevity" issue and my support for it.First of all, let me say that my guide on the Council is my oath of office. I am committed to voting impartially, without prejudice and, of course, to uphold the law.
As Council members, we are faced with many difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions. Some issues we may personally agree with 100% and some issues are not so "cut and dry."
In this case, the entire City Council voted to hire Judge Michaels, an independent attorney, to render a legal decision. Judge Michaels validated the longevity issues, thus we had an obligation to uphold the law. Using my oath of office as a guide, I would have been remiss in upholding the law if I had voted any other way when the City Council recently met and discussed this issue.
As the meeting progressed, I asked myself the following questions. What happens if the Ordinance failed and nobody offered alternatives that made sense? If challenged in court, would the Ordinance be upheld? And the most important question, where does a "no"" vote leave the City?
I'll tell you where a "no" vote leaves the City. A "no" vote would have triggered the hiring of attorney after attorney, leaving the City wide-open to lawsuits and increased court fees at taxpayer expense. Add these unknown figures and the result of a "no" vote would have been very costly.
If challenged in court, this Ordinance would be upheld hands down. Recognition of past service through increased longevity has been the practice of the City since 1973 and has been researched and deemed legal.
I voted yes to pay individuals who legally qualify to receive their longevity payment. A yes vote also ensured that the payment figure would be capped, and have no chance of escalating further.
Thank you for taking the time to read my response. Please know that I will always stand by the oath of office that I took on July 1, 1995 and that I know those words will never fail me or the City and the constituents that I represent.
First Ward Councilwoman