The Colorado Springs Police Protective Association sent out an email calling mayoral candidate Steve Bach a “local developer” who would slash city employees’ pay and benefits to solve the city’s financial problems if he’s elected.
The email was sent to about a dozen city employees at work, prompting Steve Cox, acting city manager, to issue a warning to all employees to stay out of politics while they’re on the clock.
Here’s a copy of the letter sent via email by the PPA:
Dear City Employee,
Please consider the well-researched information in this letter about the upcoming runoff election for Mayor. There are long-term, serious consequences to YOU, whether you are a general City, Hospital or Utilities employee.
On November 16, 2009, an email by Stephen Bartolin (President and CEO of the Broadmoor Hotel) was sent to Mayor Lionel Rivera and City Council, complaining about budget cuts and water rate increases impacting his particular business. He felt these were unfair and unnecessary, and that Council should make cuts in what he called the “Ferrari” package of City employee pay and benefits. He suggested that City employees should receive pay and benefits more in line with those of his hotel’s employees.
In his letter, Mr. Bartolin provided the following “constructive comments” or suggestions about City budget problems:
1. Reduce all City staffing from 1805 to 1550 employees
2. Reduce payroll cost from 70% to 30%
3. Reduce the average per employee cost from $89,196 to $24,460 (including benefits)
4. Reduce the number of salaried employees making more than $100,000 from 67 to the
neighborhood of 13
5. Drive City vehicles at least 200,000 miles and then look at buying used vehicles
6. Move (minimum) retirement age to 60 – no matter how many years of service – both
for collection of pension benefits and for medical insurance
7. Restructure the health insurance program to one comparable to what is being offered
in the private sector and examine the costs shared by the employee
8. Move any retirees reaching age 65 to Medicare and off the City plan
Suggestions 7 and 8 were actually implemented in the 2011 budget. The effect was immediately apparent in your cost of health insurance.
Suggestion 8 was implemented in September of 2010 when the Council adopted
Ordinance 10-74. The long-term effect of this ordinance may increase the after retirement costs of the average Police and Fire retiree currently under the age of 55 by as much as $6,000 per year — excluding inflation of medical costs and any future Medicare reforms. The practical effect may well be that you will never be able to afford to retire.
Mayor Rivera and Council asked Mr. Bartolin to “create an independent advisory group” to consult with the City. The advisory group was formed but had no City managers or employees as members. Not surprisingly, this group agreed with Mr. Bartolin about the “Ferrari” pay and benefits plan. (See Bartolin letter and Mayor Rivera letter on file at the Office of the Mayor)
So what do Mr. Bartolin’s letter and the advisory group have to do with the current race for Mayor?
Steve Bach, a local developer, is a candidate for Mayor and has never held public office.
Most significantly to YOU, Mr. Bach totally espouses the Bartolin and advisory group recommendations drastically cuttings employee pay and benefits – they are the foundation of his “plan” to solve the City’s financial problems as he sees them. (See his web site under the Action Plan tab at http://www.stevebachmayor.com). Mr. Bach’s candidacy is supported by the Broadmoor Hotel and Steve Bartolin and many private sector interests who stand to profit from his “outsourcing” ideas. He has been publically endorsed by the Colorado director of Americans for Prosperity, a partisan political group started and funded by Kansas oil billionaires which is targeting public employees and their pay and benefits across the country (Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Tennesee and New Jersey, for example). Another partisan political group, Magellan Strategies, has made telephone “push-polls” to Colorado Springs voters, supporting Mr. Bach and distorting his opponent’s record, values and proposals. Just ask yourself – should there be a “partisan” way to provide police or fire services or medical care, to pave streets or plow snow, or provide electricity and clean water? Or to compensate public employees for their service?
Richard Skorman is also running for Mayor. You may know Richard or recognize his name. For over twenty years he has been a Colorado Springs resident, and a downtown business owner whose employees enjoy a living wage and health insurance. He has real experience in City government, having been a Councilman, a Vice Mayor, and Chairman of the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments. He understands the complicated nature of governmental, economic and legal issues facing the City. He has proved his respect for City employees and his willingness to work with them. (See http://www.skorman4mayor.com)
There are many challenges facing the City in the next four years. These are difficult times and many people are struggling. Any solution must involve shared sacrifices. However, Mr. Bach and his supporters have targeted YOU as a City employee as the key problem, and drastic cuts in your pay and benefits as the key solution. Do you feel this is a “shared” sacrifice or a fair one? Do you think you have a “Ferrari” benefits plan? Do you think you can support yourself and your family on a proposed salary of $24,460 including benefits as Mr. Bach seems to believe?
The stakes of this election are high for all City employees. PLEASE – please take the time to vote for Richard Skorman for Mayor. Please consider contributing to his runoff campaign, and contact your friends and neighbors and ask them to support Richard for Mayor. And remember to vote by mailing or dropping off your ballot so it is received by May 17th.