ATL’s Mayor Mo: Pensions are out of control except for when I’m making sure my Police Chief gets his

Atlanta Mayor Mohammad K. Reed, during his campaign, talked quite a bit about how the city employee pension plans were going to cause serious havoc to the long-term growth of the city. As Mayor Mo said back in February:

“[Pensions are] putting the long-term health of our city in jeopardy,” the mayor said in a recent speech to the Buckhead Coalition.

The next month, in March, he was still singing the same tune:

“Pensions are easily the most significant threat to the city of Atlanta remaining a viable institution,” Reed said. “It’s worse than I thought during the campaign.”

If the issue is left unchecked, he said, Atlanta will be insolvent by 2017 or 2018. The capital of the New South could be without capital.

Last year, the unfunded pension liability ballooned to $1.5 billion. In 2001, it was $321 million.

This week, however, the “tone” has changed:

Atlanta’s Chief Operating Officer Peter Aman is floating a proposal to the City Council that would allow [Atlanta Police Department Chief George] Turner, 51, to “retire” on paper, but immediately be rehired as chief in order to start collecting his $100,000 pension.

Aman said that because Turner would have retired, he would collect his pension and the $200,000 salary that goes with being police chief. Although he commands perhaps the most significant unit in city government, at least four city employees earn more than Turner.

Aman’s proposal, which has the backing of Mayor Kasim Reed, has not been approved by the council yet.

Hope and change realized, yet again, Atlanta. The Machine™ rolls on.

48 comments

  1. polisavvy says:

    Very disappointed with his decision in this case. Off topic, but a huge problem for Reed is the fact that his Building and Permits Department is absolutely terrible at best. Contractors are waiting way too long to have permits issued — the contractors who have survived this economy need to be working and not waiting around for some lazy butt to finally issue a permit so work can begin. When they can’t get permits, they can’t put subcontractors to work either. Something needs to give. Reed needs to address this issue ASAP!

  2. Romegaguy says:

    Look! A story written about a black politician on Peach Pundit AND it is posted by Peter Randall. Surprising, I know.

      • bgsmallz says:

        I agree. I’m very confused.

        Pete has a tendency to cut and paste without really providing relevance.

        Oh well…

        I read this as a way to pay the Police Chief a market wage while not having to add additional salary since he is already sitting on a $100K pension. I actually though it was savvy. If you can’t get rid of the pension right away, at least you can use it to pay for services you are receiving now vs. paying it all out after the officer has retired.

        Oh well…

      • John Konop says:

        In fairness Peter tends to have an issue with black people. He seems to be on the look-out to make black leaders look bad. And on the other hand as demonstrated in another post he did not stand-up when racist action are spewed at black people.

        • polisavvy says:

          Thanks for the clarification, John. I was not aware of this. I don’t get the whole “racist spewing” PERIOD.

          • I haven’t met Pete Randall. He could be a real SOB or a saint for all I know. But I do feel he gets a bad rap. When he post about some absurdity about a white politico (see Hodges, Ken and Kidd, Jane or Barnes, Roy) people largely sleep through it. However, when his post is about a black politico there is much wailing and knashing of teeth, creating the perception that he is a flaming racist. This was initially a ploy the few liberals and Dems on this blog to discredit him, but has now been adopted by several of the constant malcontents around here to give them one other thing to complain about it.

            • John Konop says:

              I use to defend Peter on this blog. And yes like this issue he brings up good points. But as I said it seems rather clear he has an issue with black people.

              A classic example is when I pointed out how my kids needed a permission slip to hear Obama and or discus his education speech in class. The irony is I have been openly very critical about his education policy. BUT NO OTHER PRESIDENT have we ever required a permission slip. And it seems PETER has no issue with the only BLACK PRESIDENT having this standard.

              Agree or not with the PRESIDENT we should all respect the office and the person. I guess Peter agrees with above concept for whites only.

            • Gerald says:

              First off, he entirely misrepresented what Kasim Reed did in order to smear him. Reed did this to try and save money.

              Second, he calls him “Mohammed K. Reed.”

              Third, he links him to Obama.

              Does Randall do the same to white politicians?

              Race baiting is wrong when the NAACP types do it, and it is equally wrong when conservatives do it. It is just that conservatives get very upset when the left does it, but plays the “hear no evil/see no evil” tactic when it comes from their own side.

              • Doug Grammer says:

                I don’t consider Pete Randal a conservative. I’ve never met him, so I don’t really know what to call him. He does like to post about black people, and I’d guess that’s about 75 to 80% of the time.

                While I may not appreciate his fixation with race, occasionally he points out some interesting facts. Those facts tend to get watered down with his bias.

                I can’t speak for Randall, but I link Gov. Barnes to President Obama. Gov. Barnes likes him so much, he gave more than the legal limit and had to get a refund.

                Are there any white politicians in the US named Mohammed or Hussein? I don’t normally like at people in terms of just black or white. I think he is making it more about religion than race with the names, but that could be just me.

                • B Balz says:

                  Internet ID’s are one way to determine who’s who in the blog-o-sphere. I know this because I have seen it happen. Identification via triangulation of IP addresses.

                  Correlating what a known person says publicly, to the thoughts of an anonymous blogger is a less technical, yet remarkably reliable way of figuring out who’s who as well.
                  Triangulation of nearly identical points of view leads to identification.

                  I’ll just that rest, perhaps somebody else would like to pick up the matter.

              • Scott65 says:

                Pete’s use of Mayor Reed’s first name “Mohamed” is obvious race baiting and should be condemned for what it is…a red herring to send the discussion in another direction. A direction that serves no purpose for anything good or constructive. As for the pension…it’s not double dipping. He is owed the pension, so its already an expense on the city’s books. Paying it out now as salary, gradually, is smart in my opinion. Lets get the facts straight…ITS HIS MONEY. The Mayor just wants to pay it out gradually now to bring his salary to parity rather than pay it out as a lump sum later and still have to pay him more salary to bring him to parity. We are dealing with union contracts here. We might not like unions, but a contract is a contract and I think this is a creative way to save a little money. Calling him Mohamed was a stupid cheap gotcha…not worthy of anyone posting here. I am sure very few people here even knew it was his first name before this posting

        • MSBassSinger says:

          In defense of Pete, there are so many white people who suffer from “white guilt”, that often really bad politicians who are black are given a pass. Do you really think that white politicians who acted as stupidly as Jesse Jackson, Barney Frank, John Lewis, Bill and Cynthia McKinney, Obama, etc. would get the same “kids’ glove” treatment they have and do?

          Pete focuses a light on political stupidity that others suffering from “white guilt” are afraid to do. And sure enough, the “white guilt” crowd runs in here crying racist to reinforce the reason so many still suffer from “white guilt”.

          If more of you FPPs would get over your self-imposed “white guilt” and just treat politicians the same regardless of color, then Pete wouldn’t have to be the only one with the guts to tell it like it is.

          Just print out this certificate and proudly frame it so you know you have been pardoned.
          http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/wew/gift.html

              • polisavvy says:

                Of course you do. I didn’t say everything he said was accurate, I simply said that there is a whole lot (not everything) of truth in what MS said.

                • Progressive Dem says:

                  The fact that Paul Broun is both a doctor and congressman is like a horny chimp with a switchbade. It’s dumb and dangerous.

                  Paul Broun and Rand Paul are a couple of idiots that don’t need to get a pass. They are members of an organization called American Association of Physicians and Surgeons, an alternative to the AMA. Ht to Blake Aued http://blogs.onlineathens.com/blog/5
                  who found an article in the Louisville Courier Journal which cited the beliefs of this wacko organization:

                  • The AAPS opposes peer-review boards, which review complaints against doctors and punishes those who make mistakes, and it is critical of the federal government for charging physicians with crimes for over-prescribing pain medication.
                  • On its Website, the AAPS included an article in October 2008 titled, “Is Obama a Brilliant Orator … or a Hypnotist?” It cites an unsigned paper suggesting that Obama used hypnotic techniques and speech patterns in his 2008 campaign. The AAPS article notes that the Obama campaign logo “might just be the letter ‘O,’ but it also resembles a crystal ball, a favorite of hypnotists.” And it suggests that hypnosis is the reason some Jewish people backed him.
                  • The association included in its journal an article criticizing governmental efforts to encourage people to stop smoking as costly and ineffective and suggesting that the focus on the addictive nature of nicotine is wrong.
                  • And the group opposes mandatory vaccinations and promotes a now-discredited study linking thimerosal, a longtime component of many vaccines, to autism in children. An overwhelming majority of the medical community, however, doesn’t accept that there is a link. As recently as Sept. 13, the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics published a study funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found no evidence suggesting that thimerosal, a preservative containing mercury, causes autism.
                  • In its fall 2003 issue, the AAPS journal published a report suggesting that the twin towers at the World Trade Center collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001, because the New York City Port Authority, fearful of lawsuits and complying with new federal restrictions, stopped the use of flame-retardant asbestos midway through construction of the north tower. Hans Gesund, a professor of structural engineering at the University of Kentucky, said the government was right to stop the use of asbestos because of the danger it posed to those who worked with it. He said other suitable insulating materials were used in the World Trade Center’s twin towers, which were destroyed when planes hijacked by terrorists flew into them.
                  • On of their most disconcerting positions is to question whether the human immunodeficiency virus is the cause of AIDS. More than two decades ago, in 1988, a committee of the National Academy of Sciences asserted that the evidence linking AIDS and HIV is “scientifically conclusive.” Other medical authorities have reached the same conclusion. But this group published a report saying “both official reports and the peer-reviewed literature afford substantive grounds for doubting that HIV is the necessary and sufficient cause of AIDS and that anti-retroviral treatment is unambiguously beneficial.”

                    • Progressive Dem says:

                      MSBS was writing about free passes for certain politicians. I’m just making sure Broun doesn’t get a free pass for his lunacy

  3. John Konop says:

    This double dipping by political insiders and office holders is like throwing salt on a gushing wound! This goes on across the country by both parties. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

      • John Konop says:

        Bgsmallz,

        It is simple math tax payers are double paying. The pension concept was set up for when workers retire for their public service not a scam to get rich of tax payers while the system is going broke.

        • bgsmallz says:

          He is already owed the pension. That is the point. It isn’t a scam. It is money he is owed according to the current agreements.

          Now, you may be for abolishing the pension play going forward…I may be, too. But this is money he is owed based upon the agreements that the gov’t has made with the police union.

          My understanding is …rather than increase his salary and let him sit on the pension that he is already owed, the mayor wants him to take his pension early INSTEAD of a salary increase to get his pay to the market rate.

          This seems like the right thing to do if you DON’T want double dipping, correct? In fact, it seems like a solid example from the new chief to take the pension in lieu of taking a higher salary, which he would have a strong market argument for.

          I just think this is a case of people wanting to yell about taxes, money, “black people”, Atlanta government, waste, etc. without really analyzing what it trying to be accomplished and how they are trying to do it.

          One last note..Pete does his arguments a disservice and looks like an a-hole for calling Mr. Reid, Mohammed K. Reid. If you want to spout rhetoric for rhetoric’s sake, be my guest. I would hope that you would use the forum to try to reason/change minds. You don’t do that effectively by alienating a huge chunk of people by blatant race/religion bating.

          • John Konop says:

            bgsmallz,

            First he is being paid 200k a year by tax payers. Second the city is facing a pension crisis. Third why would a chief executive making 200k a year get a raise in the middle of a fiscal crisis? Forth if anything the city may need to roll-back high paid executives salaries to afford the people actually doing the work. Fifth what message does this send to the rank file workers facing lay-offs? Sixth what message does this send to tax payers with falling wages and lay-offs? Finally if I was mayor if I had an employee who wants to game the system I would show him the door in tough times like this as a message!

            …..My understanding is …rather than increase his salary and let him sit on the pension that he is already owed, the mayor wants him to take his pension early INSTEAD of a salary increase to get his pay to the market rate……

            • Scott65 says:

              …because its in their contract. You might not like it nor do I, but unless we are all willing to say we dont have to abide by our contractual obligations, we have to make the best out of it which is what Mayor Reed is doing

  4. Lea Thrace says:

    Pete,

    You show your true motives when you post the mayor’s name as “Mohammad K. Reed”. Why? Because he is not widely known by his first name. Now you may argue “Well thats his name, I’m just using it”, but as he is known as Kasim, why use only the initial of his widely known name?

    This kind of tactic truly stinks and it smacks of the kind of smearing that is used when people use the president’s middle name (Hussein Obama). What are you trying to prove? Because he has a name of islamic orgin he can’t be trusted? Come on! Your point which actually may have some validity is completely lost to someone like me because of your opening salvo.

    I have been a lurker on PP for about a year now and have seen many of your posts and comments. You are an intelligent guy. You are better than this!

    • georgiahack says:

      No, he is not better than this. This is all he is. I also find it telling that he has not come into the comments to defend his position even once.

  5. NoTeabagging says:

    Kasim Reed will be the Next Bill Campbell.
    Wasn’t there a recent double dipping scandal like this in Fulton Co. government?

    • Progressive Dem says:

      If you have any knowledge of either one, you could not come to that conclusion. They are wildly different.

      • Baker says:

        I don’t think “NoTeabagging” is from Fulton Co. Otherwise he’d know that Kasim Reed has nothing to do with the crazy commission there and is certainly no Bill Campbell. I’ll say it again, Kasim Reed is going to become what people thought Obama was going to be: A black man, not bound by race or ideology, but working towards smart solutions for everyone in the community.

  6. saltycracker says:

    Interesting – Do the math is a fair question:

    The Police Chief job pays $200K from the salary pot and apparently some feel he is entitled to retire at $100K and resume work collecting a total $300K from the taxpayer. That’s double dipping. The only argumentive response is that the new going rate for a Police Chief is $300K….that’s outrageous.

    Retiring from public service and then returning at full salary grade to the same or another public job is a rip off of the taxpayer. It gets way out of line considering the early out programs, annual COL increases, tenures and so on.

    Public to private or private to public doesn’t burn the taxpayer like public to public.

    Kyle Wingfield Wrong-way Reed wants police chief to double-dip (Updated)
    11:09 am September 30, 2010, by Kyle Wingfield

    Update at 5:50 p.m.: City officials say Chief Turner is withdrawing his request to collect a pension while remaining on the job. The original post is as follows:

    • AubieTurtle says:

      I believe that math is that by retiring earlier, he would get a lower pension amount than if he retires later. Based on life expectancy, the city would end up paying out less overall if he started drawing the pension early. It should also save the city money by allowing him to accept a lower salary than he would require otherwise.

      That’s the theory. I don’t know the numbers and I’m quite certain that not a single person on this message board does either. So pretty much this thread is about people showing their same old prejudices (Pete and Harry) and some of the usual apologetics rather than any actual facts. But this is about politics… facts don’t matter in that world.

      • Harry says:

        I’m prejudiced against thieves and scoundrels with their hand in the taxpayer pocket. Yes, a lot of ’em are black, Aubie. Can you accept that reality. Or, are you one of those public servants who chooses to keep the blinders on when it comes to your own race ….the flipside of what you purport to see in me?

  7. saltycracker says:

    “Chief Chief George N. Turner became a member of the Atlanta Police Department on July 24, 1981. ”

    Don’t know the fine details of the retirement numbers either but the yearly factor for public servants is well above the private world as are other calculations such as unused vacation or sick leave or even a special deal that can be approved.

    At 2% @ yr. x 29 that’s 58% before sweetheart actions, so it appears the media numbers are low.

    There is also the unknown that the mayor may implement some change, so get it now or negotiate a parachute.

    My “prejudices” are that over the long haul a fellow acts in his own best interest.

  8. saltycracker says:

    full disclosure: & my other “prejudice” is that defending the fiscal responsibility of the City of Atlanta is usually a lost cause.

  9. saltycracker says:

    Now the rest of the story:

    It didn’t make financial sense for him – he was making $107,000 and could have retired at age 51 on $100,000 per year (ya gotta love public pensions) but now he can work for $200,211 and get a super reset on retirement pay.

    “Over the past decade, Atlanta’s payments toward pensions has risen 13 percent annually. In 2009, the city paid out $144 million on pensions, compared to $55 million in 2001.”

    “About 20 percent of the city’s annual budget is spent on pension payments.”

    http://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta/turner-backs-off-pension-649350.html

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