MANAGER AND ATTORNEY GET RAISES IN WAKE OF NEW ORDINANCE
City Manager Curt Walton and City Attorney Robert Hagemann each received 6% raises in a year that most other city employees have received a maximum of 3% increase. Police and Fire first responders finally received a 3% raise, but have still only received the 1.5% “cost of living” increase (hard to say if this is accurate after so long without a raise, and so many increases in health care and other costs). Step Pay increases have not been paid yet.
Police are on mandatory 12-hour shifts right now protecting the city and visitors during the Democratic National Convention pre-events and for upcoming events.
While Walton and Hagemann were chiefly responsible for drafting and approving new ordinance for the city, and the City Council and Mayor voted approval, it’s written in such a way that has already been challenged in court: and lost. See link to the full ordinance at the end of this article.
Protesters who had erected tents in front of City Hall earlier this year after the ordinance was enacted had been charged with Obstructing and Delaying a police officer. A judge dismissed the charges.
MAYOR FOXX TAKES TWO STEPS BACK--AND PAYS FOR PORT-A-JOHNS?
“Our goal continues to be striking an appropriate balance between freedom of expression and the safety of all concerned,” Mayor Anthony Foxx said in a statement September 3rd, talking about Occupy Charlotte campers in Mecklenburg County-owned Marshall Park (Source: Charlotte Observer).
Is that Mayor Foxx’s way of saying they won’t stand behind an ordinance he pushed for?
This is an ordinance the City spent enormous resources to develop and enact in anticipation of this specific event: the DNC 2012 Convention, which Foxx championed for Charlotte. Now it seems the ordinance and enforcing it may be embarrassing for the party that keeps pronouncing itself “the most open and inclusive party.”
Commissioner Cogdell says “… If public health or safety issues arrive I am confident law enforcement will move quickly to remove people from Marshall Park.” *
What was the point of enacting an ordinance to begin with if there was no health or safety issue to address? The ordinance, as written, was misguided from the beginning and Foxx and company are taking steps away from it for now.
Torrential downpours and lightning are likely keeping down crowds, but the City further confused issues with installing port-a-johns on site at Marshall Park. It will be a really hard argument to make that the "violators" aren't allowed to camp there when the City is aiding them by paying for port-a-johns. Taxpayers will be further losers as County and City Attorneys we pay for would be fighting it out if anything goes more wrong.
Leader among the protestors Michael Zytkow says “The understanding right now is that during the time of the DNC, the police won’t be breaking any of our camps down.” * No details are given on what type of understanding that is. The understanding is in contradiction of the ordinance passed by City and County government specifically with preventing camping at the DNC 2012 Convention in mind.
Another protestor was “asking people to vote for her so she could abolish the government and give the White House to poor people.” *
COUNTY CONCERNS ABOUT A COUNTY PARK
Bill James is perturbed the CMPD won’t enforce the law which was specifically enacted for this “extraordinary event,” giving sole and extraordinary power (some would say potentially not constitutionally sound power) to one man, City Manager Curt Walton, to declare times and locations as “extraordinary events.” James stated in an email to Police Chief Rodney Monroe:
“While I understand that some folks are trying to thread the needle by allowing these fringe elements some access, it is troubling to see that the police would allow ‘camping’ after elected bodies took heat and did the right thing and banned camping some months back.” *
*(QUOTES SOURCE: CHARLOTTE OBSERVER Sept. 1, 2012 here by Cleve Wootsen, contributors Steve Harrison, Ames Alexander, Bruce Henderson and Joe Marusak )
City Officials, presumably with the approval of Curt Walton, have abdicated responsibility to Police Chief Rodney Monroe to decide whether to enforce any ordinances now.
SEE THE ORDINANCE HERE
HERE is the “Extraordinary Event” Ordinance, passed on January 23, 2012 in anticipation of the DNC 2012 Convention.
WHY DON’T CITY OF CHARLOTTE POLITICIANS WANT TO ENFORCE THEIR DNC ORDINANCE?
For now it seems the low number and actions of the current protestors are more easily tolerated than that potential backlash to the reputation of Charlotte’s “political leaders” if they were to actually enforce the ordinance they wrote.
Why did City Council, the City Manager, City Attorney, and City Staff, Chief Rodney Monroe, and so many other City employees spend endless hours drafting and enacting a new ordinance specifically for this event only to toss it aside?
Is the answer because it’s embarrassing? Possibly unconstitutional? Probably shouldn’t have happened in the first place? Makes references to individual officers having to divine the thoughts of people who are walking around before they can determine whether to begin attempting an arrest—risking their own personal liability as well as the City’s?
Was it a huge waste of political time and taxpayer money, all to throw their weight around?
MEANWHILE, FRONTLINE OFFICERS ARE CHARGED WITH ENFORCEMENT
The FOP #9—the Fraternal Order of Police local—has reportedly stated their intent to protest during the DNC. Most officers that have been in touch with Citynewswatch have emphatically said that any connection with active duty officers will not be protesting. Aside from all officers working 12 hour shifts, nobody wants to kill their careers by speaking up against Monroe’s practices, or those policies of the City Manager or the City of Charlotte. It will be interesting to see how many retired or other outside connections will be able to speak up for officers effectively and what they have to say.
One clue is the certified EEOC complaint that is progressing. Another is the Judge’s ruling that has already happened, finding the City/CMPD did not follow due process in the case of a now-retired, now-former RAC Sergeant who was #1 in the City when she was demoted.
There are other indications that will be in future columns.
More information can be found in an open letter about a review the FOP mentions on their web site and the implications for pay. They want a seat at the table to talk about compensation and it sounds like they can’t get a meeting with the right people to talk about it with City of Charlotte Officials.
From the FOP web site, part of their open release states:
The purpose of this memo is to provide you with the FY12-13 pay plan recommendations formulated by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #9 Fair Compensation Committee. The recommendations were a
result of numerous discussions and meetings with our members and personnel and warrant your consideration.
. . .
The mission of the Fair Compensation Committee is to provide CMPD Officer’s and Sergeant’s a voice to discuss and recommend issues to our leadership involving pay and benefits. As in the past, pay and benefits stand at the core of our mission. Crime has significantly declined from 2007 to 2011. There are a number of reasons for this which ultimately is a direct reflection of our leadership. From this reduction, we believe that the City has attracted a number of organizations and events to stimulate our economy and community.
. . .
The City of Charlotte is hosting the Democratic National Convention later this year.
Any officers, city officials, or citizens who have information or comments are encouraged to write to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below.