The debate over public employee compensation has arrived in Joliet.
In response to The Herald News' challenge to city council candidates to respond to the question, "When union negotiations begin will you seek -pay cuts, -a pay freeze, -pay raise, -a hike in employee contributions for benefits, -to keep benefits and contributions the same," Joliet City Council Candidate Richard Rodriguez has released the following press release:
"The Herald News recently listed the City of Joliet’s 2010 payroll, and issued a challenge to all city council candidates and incumbents to put forth their proposals to resolve the city’s fiscal crisis as contract negotiations approach.
“I don’t blame the employees, I blame the previous and current city council for the fiscal crisis,” said Richard Rodriguez. “City council has refused to live within their means, and they are the ones who have allowed the city’s payroll to grow out of control. I want to go on the record saying we need an honest and open dialogue, and a collaborative approach to resolve our fiscal situation.”
Rodriguez, a candidate for City Council District 3, is running against incumbent council member John Gerl who was appointed in 2010, and former council member Robert Hacker who did not win his re-election in 2005.
“As a candidate for city council, I am fortunate to have conversations every day with city employees, concerned citizens, union working families, and many others who are passionate about our great city,” Rodriguez said. “If we are going to resolve our city’s financial problems we need to have an open, honest conversation with all the stakeholders. Whether or not I am elected to the city council, I want to be at the table with the council members, the city employees, the unions, and most importantly the residents and taxpayers of the City of Joliet as we collaborate to return Joliet to a stable financial footing.”
Rodriguez has laid out a four part plant to address Joliet’s financial future:
City of Joliet: A Sound Future for a Great City
There is no magic wand and no single silver bullet that will resolve Joliet’s fiscal crisis. A nuanced and deliberate approach is crucial to tackling the complex problems the city faces.
My four part plan creates the framework for tackling these issues:
1) Prioritize Spending. We must first and foremost prioritize our spending. One of my top priorities is to re-assess spending that does not provide a financial or ‘public good’ return on investment towards the city.
2) City Finances Community Advisory Board. Create a City Finances Community Advisory Board comprised of members of the community to work with the city as it evaluates where to cut and where to prioritize spending.
3) Equitable Evaluation. In looking at cuts in payroll, finding an equitable solution that evaluates levels of pay, experience, tenure, overtime accrued, and many other factors must be the guide instead of a blanket 20% cut that would inflict hardship on the lowest paid working men and women.
4) Share in the Sacrifice. I was proud to help lead the charge at www.SaveJoliet.com to eliminate free lifetime health care for former council members and mayors. It was crucial as the city council asked others to make sacrifices, that very same council lead by example. The same will go for everyone working for the city and the community as a whole. "