Fired Newark Police Officer Loses Appeal, Will Not Return To Work Following Alleged Threat About iPhone Delivery | WBNS-10TV Columbus, Ohio

NEWARK, Ohio – A former Newark police officer fired for allegedly threatening a FedEx employee will not return to the force.

Bobby Hartless filed a grievance earlier this year saying that he was wrongly fired and that he should be compensated for lost pay.

Hartless was fired after he allegedly threatened to ticket a FedEx employee for not delivering his iPhone.

An arbitrator denied his grievance.

Watch 10TV News and refresh 10TV.com for continuing coverage.

via Fired Newark Police Officer Loses Appeal, Will Not Return To Work Following Alleged Threat About iPhone Delivery | WBNS-10TV Columbus, Ohio.

Ex-officer will not return to force | The Newark Advocate | newarkadvocate.com

More than $30,000 spent on Hartless arbitration, city estimates

NEWARK — Former Newark police officer Bobby Hartless will not return to work or be compensated for back pay after an arbitrator denied his grievance this past week.

Taxypayers will foot the more than $30,000 bill for the arbitration proceedings, which included more than $2,300 for the city’s half of the arbitator’s fee and a yet undetermined amount for attorneys fees, Newark Human Resources Director Mike Buskirk said.

Hartless, 38, filed a grievance claiming city officials improperly applied progressive discipline — considering prior misconduct to determine incremental penalties — in firing him Feb. 2 after Hartless threatened FedEx employees when his cellphone was not delivered. Hartless had served almost 12 years with the department at the time of his dismissal.

Newark Safety Director Bill Spurgeon denied Hartless’ grievance in February, and Hartless appealed the decision to an arbitrator, selected through the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Panel.

This past week, arbitrator Bruce McIntosh denied Hartless’ grievance after determining that Spurgeon, Newark police Chief Steven Sarver and other city officials were not “arbitrary or capricious” in handling the grievance or firing Hartless, according to the opinion and award dated Oct. 2. Buskirk said he received the document Friday after work and provided it to the Advocate on Monday afternoon.

Hartless and the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 127, represented by attorneys Jonathan Downes and Matthew Whitman, could appeal the decision to the Licking County Common Pleas Court, but that is unlikely, Buskirk said.

“My opinion is it’s pretty much over,” Buskirk said.

Whitman declined to comment on the opinion.

Hartless’ dismissal stems from threats the ex-officer made to FedEx employees after a courier left Hartless’ Newark residence without delivering a cellphone Jan. 13. Hartless told FedEx personnel that if delivery was not reattempted that every FedEx driver “will be in trouble.” He also indicated he would tell others to ticket drivers involved in crashes or speeding.  read more…

via Ex-officer will not return to force | The Newark Advocate | newarkadvocate.com.

Union files complaint over prisoner transport | The Daily Journal | thedailyjournal.com

BRIDGETON — The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department is in a labor dispute over an undersheriff’s decision last month to personally transport a local man held at the county jail to a Maryland courthouse to answer a bench warrant.

Police Benevolent Association 229, which represents county sheriff’s officers below sergeant rank, filed a grievance a week ago against Executive Undersheriff Norman Franckle.

PBA President Sharon Burnett said Monday the union position is that a transportation run like the one Franckle handled should be made by one of its members. Burnett said she was limited in what she could say because the grievance procedure was continuing.

Sheriff Robert Austino said Monday he rejected the PBA complaint, saying it is within his discretion to assign personnel. The transportation also didn’t involve any overtime cost, he said.

The next step in the grievance process is to submit the complaint to the Human Resources department of county government. That was to be done on Monday, Burnett said.

Franckle said he has to decline comment because the grievance process is confidential.

The man transported was Lawrence Township resident Timothy Smith, owner and captain of the Port Norris-based charter vessel Bodacious. Smith was released after a hearing before a Maryland judge.

Smith was unaware of the PBA grievance when reached Monday. He declined to comment.

Smith was an inmate at the Cumberland County Jail until Sept. 13, according to the facility’s admissions desk.

He was transported then to Chestertown, Md. Smith was then brought back to Cumberland County after answering the warrant.

No information was available about what the charge was against Smith or how long he was in the county jail here. Austino said his understanding was that the charge related to Smith’s charter boat.

The spokesman for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, which would handle such a marine case, could not be reached on Monday.

Burnett said it was inappropriate for Franckle to transport a prisoner. She could not recall an undersheriff doing this sort of job before, she said.

“The highest-ranking official doing an extradition, that we (Cumberland) were asked to do, was a captain and that was due to a manpower shortage,” Burnett said, adding, “And an officer accompanied them.”

It is not unusual for a sheriff’s officer to take a prisoner from the county jail to another facility, even one out of state. It also is not unusual for another agency to instead send personnel to the jail to collect an inmate.

via Union files complaint over prisoner transport | The Daily Journal | thedailyjournal.com.

Christie, second-largest public employee union come to terms | NJ.com

Gov. Christie, above, at a town hall meeting in the Forked River section of Lacey last week. The state’s second-largest public workers union has approved a four-year contract with the state.

TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie and the state’s second-largest public employee union have agreed on a contract that freezes wages until the middle of next year, the administration announced today.

Christie said the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), which represents nearly 9,000 employees, adopted a new contract last month with a 2.75 percent raise built in over four years.

Under the terms of the contract, which is retroactive to 2011 and will run through 2015, union members will receive a 1 percent raise in 2013 and a 1.75 percent raise the following year.

Christie acknowledged it was a lean contract for difficult budget times.

“As we work to return New Jersey to a stable and sustainable fiscal position for the long-term benefit of all our residents and taxpayers, I appreciate the union membership’s collective understanding that we all must work together to achieve those goals for our state and its future,” he said in a statement.

Union officials did not respond to requests for comment.

The Communication Workers of America, the state’s largest public employee union representing nearly 40,000 workers, adopted a similar contract in June with the same 2.75 percent raise spread out over four years.

Kevin Roberts, a spokesman for Christie, said that “all of the major public employee unions in the state” representing a combined 54,000 workers have now agreed to the same terms, including the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers and the Service Employees International Union.

Officials of the CWA spent more than a year negotiating their union’s contract, and said they pushed back against Christie’s tougher demands.

The administration wanted workers to stop using state e-mail accounts for union business, but union leaders managed to keep that right with some modifications. The state also wanted to end clothing allowances for workers, but the unions instead negotiated a decrease in the allowance, from $750 to $550.

via Christie, second-largest public employee union come to terms | NJ.com.

Government Unions are Different

With our various levels of government grappling with revenues falling short of expenses, there is a long overdue focus being put on the state of government labor.  The recent Chicago teachers strike should be seen as an example of the excesses of government unions.  Reporting lumps all unionization into one category, and there is no distinction expressed between private and public unions. Public sector unions are different from private unions in that they have no “Free Market” competition to keep their demands in line.  In addition, the cozy relationship between the Democratic Party and public unions create a conflict of interest for elected officials.

In the private sector there are market restraints on what a union can demand.  If UPS (union) workers demand too much in compensation as to render their company non-competitive with FedEx (non-union), they will lose business.  This puts a “real world” restraint on what these unions can demand in terms of compensation and benefits.  Corporations can go out of business, which obviously would hurt the union employees.  GM & Chrysler notwithstanding, this market mechanism works well.  Government has no competition, and is in effect a monopoly in terms of the services that it supplies.  Therefore, there is no similar control placed upon public sector union demands.  If government workers go on strike, where else can consumers go to get their drivers licenses?

With the lack of market forces, taxpayers must rely exclusively upon management to say no to costly demands.  The managers who are sitting on the other side of the negotiating table are elected officials.  There is a political party, however, that is beholden to the very government unions they are supposed to be negotiating with.  The Democratic Party receives an overwhelming amount of money in political donations from public sector unions.  In fact, their top 4 donors are various government unions.  Many candidates go to union sponsored events, and pledge their support for union causes.  If a candidate for office received a donation from a corporation, then after being elected, gave a lucrative no-bid contract to that corporation it would be called corruption. How is this situation any different?

Considering most government entities (other than federal) must balance their budgets every year, you would think that politicians would be restricted from offering paybacks to the unions. They can’t give what they don’t have, right?  The problem with this argument is that the official has the ability to promise, and get passed into law, retirement and health benefits that will be paid for in the future. This takes away any current budgetary restraint that may exist, and puts us in the situation we find ourselves today all across the nation.

Our country is reaching a tipping point with all of the debts we have built up, and there needs to be a sober national conversation on these problems.  Without market forces, and the taxpayer representatives beholden to the unions, what chance do we have?  Nobody wants to talk about cutting pay or benefits, but the costs have simply gotten out of hand.  The taxes that will need to be levied to support this kind of uncontrollable spending will hit all Americans.  This issue is at the core of what kind of country, and opportunities we will pass on to our children.

via Government Unions are Different.

PolitiFact New Jersey | Chris Christie blasts Jon Corzine for giving away 14 percent raises and saying, ‘I will fight to get you a great contract’ at a union rally

Says Jon Corzine “gave away 14 percent raises over 4 years and he stood on the front steps of the Capitol at a public-sector union rally and said, ‘I will fight to get you a great contract.’”

Chris Christie blasts Jon Corzine for giving away 14 percent raises and saying, ‘I will fight to get you a great contract’ at a union rally

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Gov. Chris Christie criticizes former Gov. Jon Corzine in this YouTube video for giving away 14 percent in raises. Go to 4:50 to hear his comments.

Nearly 3,000 miles from Trenton, Gov. Chris Christie couldn’t pass up an opportunity to knock his predecessor, Jon Corzine.

The Republican governor appeared Aug. 9 at a campaign event in Bellevue, Wash., for GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna. Christie told the crowd public-sector union workers should pay their fair share toward pension and health benefits, and then criticized Corzine for giving away raises.

“My predecessor’s first negotiation with the public-sector unions, he gave away 14 percent raises over 4 years and he stood on the front steps of the Capitol at a public-sector union rally and said, ‘I will fight to get you a great contract,’” said Christie, according to a video posted on YouTube.

Corzine, a Democrat, did approve contracts providing 13 percent in raises over a four-year period for state workers. Corzine also spoke at a union rally where he vowed to “fight” for public employees, according to several news reports.

But Christie’s criticism that Corzine “gave away” those raises ignores the fact that the contracts included a number of union concessions.

First, let’s explain the events leading up to that union rally.

For the first budget of his tenure, Corzine in 2006 proposed increasing the sales tax to help cover a budget shortfall. The governor also called for increasing the contribution to the state’s pension system.

But instead of the tax hike, some Democratic legislators called for state worker unions to accept salary or fringe benefit givebacks. Another proposal was scaling back the proposed pension payment.

On June 19, 2006, thousands of public employees rallied outside the Statehouse to show support for Corzine’s plan. According to several news reports, the governor made comments at the union rally similar to those cited by Christie.

Star-Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine and Gannett New Jersey columnist Bob Ingle both quoted Corzine as saying, “We’re gonna fight for a fair contract.” The New York Times quoted the governor as saying, “I will fight for you.”

The final budget included the sales tax increase and a smaller pension contribution.

Now, we’ll address the raises mentioned by Christie.

Eight months after that union rally, the Corzine administration reached a deal with the largest state workers union for a new four-year agreement. Two other unions later agreed to similar deals. Those contracts, which went into effect in July 2007, provided a total of 13 percent in raises for each union.

However, by claiming Corzine “gave away” those raises, Christie failed to mention a number of union concessions built into the contracts.

For example, union workers agreed for the first time to contribute 1.5 percent of their salaries each year toward the cost of health benefits. The contracts also increased employees’ annual pension contributions by 0.5 percent.

In response to our findings, Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak said in part:

“For goodness sake, the fix was in for that fight, and Jon Corzine was taking a ‘fall’ in the first round. Who was representing the taxpayers? Where was the adversarial collective bargaining relationship? And, finally, how many people do any of us know got those kinds of raises in those years? It was a ‘giveaway’ in the fullest sense, and that’s exactly what Governor Christie was saying.”

Our ruling

At a campaign event in Bellevue, Wash., Christie said Corzine “gave away 14 percent raises over 4 years and he stood on the front steps of the Capitol at a public-sector union rally and said, ‘I will fight to get you a great contract.’”

Corzine did authorize four-year contracts with a total of 13 percent in raises, and vowed to “fight” for public employees at a union rally. But Christie’s criticism ignores how the contracts included certain union concessions.

We rate the statement Mostly True.

via PolitiFact New Jersey | Chris Christie blasts Jon Corzine for giving away 14 percent raises and saying, ‘I will fight to get you a great contract’ at a union rally.

New Jersey lawmakers approve judicial pension measure – chicagotribune.com

By Hilary Russ

Reuters

2:37 p.m. CDT, July 30, 2012

(Reuters) – New Jersey lawmakers voted on Monday to change the state constitution, in a swift retort to a decision by the state’s Supreme Court that judges were exempt from last year’s pension reform.

The resounding bi-partisan approval by both houses of the legislature allows the measure to be put before voters in November.

If approved by voters, the change would clarify that the legislature has the authority to pass laws that take amounts from judges’ salaries to put toward their benefits.

“This is not about penalizing judges,” New Jersey Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver said in a statement. “Public approval of this ballot measure will ensure that everyone contributes equally to a fiscally responsible plan that will help shore up our pension systems.”

Across the United States, most states are in some stage of reforming their public pension systems after years of underfunding, poor investment returns and growing liabilities have left them with an estimated collective shortfall of $1.38 trillion.

New Jersey, like other states, has more than one pension fund, including one that is only for its judges and justices.

Democratic state senators said on Monday that the judicial pension fund has about $280.5 million less than it needs to pay out to current and future retirees.

The fund has 52 percent of the money it should contain, making it the “most unstable” of New Jersey’s pension funds, the senators said.

On July 24, New Jersey Supreme Court justices ruled in a split decision that a 2011 law — which called for public employees in the state to increase their pension and healthcare contributions — violated the New Jersey constitution as ratified in 1947.

The reform amounted to a change in judges’ salaries, which are supposed to be protected from cuts by other branches of government in order to ensure an independent judiciary, they ruled. Judges and justices sometimes oppose actions by governors and legislatures.

The amendment to the constitution passed the state Assembly by a vote of 62 to 3 on Monday and swept through the state Senate by a vote of 28 to 0.

The New Jersey State Bar Association said last week that the amendment “represents a rash reaction… and a dangerous intrusion by one branch of government into the independence of another, co-equal, branch of government.”

Judges must be free to rule objectively without fear of retribution, the association said.

And unlike other public employees and lawmakers, they are barred from earning extra money from outside work and are not covered by collective bargaining agreements, among other restrictions, the association noted.

Republican Governor Chris Christie said in a statement on Monday that he backed the amendment.

“Rarely has the public seen such unanimity between the legislative and executive branches that the judicial branch was dead wrong,” he said.

via New Jersey lawmakers approve judicial pension measure – chicagotribune.com.

Senate Panel Advances Constitutional Amendment Effort For Judicial Pension Reform | njtoday.net – Everything New Jersey

TRENTON – The Senate Labor Committee held a public hearing today in response to Tuesday’s state Supreme Court ruling that sitting judges can’t be required to pay a larger share of the pension and benefit costs.

Lawmakers promised to let voters decide if judges should be exempt from efforts to rein in rising pension liabilities. In a 3-2 decision, the Court ruled that a constitutional prohibition against reducing a judge’s salary during their term in office meant that judges could not be required to pay a larger share of their pension and benefit costs.

Senate President Steve Sweeney and state Sen. Shirley Turner, both Democrats, have sponsored an amendment that would clarify the Legislature’s authority to impose pension and benefit reform on judges and justices. The measure has bipartisan support.

“The state’s pension funds are in serious financial trouble, and the burden of making them solvent should not fall exclusively upon the taxpayers of New Jersey,” said state Sen. Dawn Marie Addiego (R- Burlington/Camden/Atlantic). “Judges should share in the sacrifice needed to save their retirement system just like every other public employee. The Judicial Retirement System is the most generous in state government and cannot be sustained at current levels without asking more of those who stand to benefit from it.”

Voting sessions are scheduled in both houses on Monday. The proposed amendment needs to pass by a three-fifths majority so it can appear on the November general election ballot.

The New Jersey State Bar Association opposes the measure, issuing a statement saying that the amendment “represents a rash reaction to a Supreme Court decision and a dangerous intrusion by one branch of government into the independence of another, co-equal branch of government. Such a swift reaction – coming a mere day after the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the Legislature’s prior action was unconstitutional – illustrates exactly why these pending Resolutions are ill-advised.”

“[J]udges are not covered by any collective bargaining agreement that provides for increases in salaries or benefits over time — whether those increases are tied to cost of living increases of otherwise,” the NJSBA argues. “Thus, there is no guarantee that judges would have an opportunity to recoup any deducted amounts over time. Judges must rely on future legislative action for any compensation increases; they should not also have to be fearful of legislative action resulting in compensation decreases.”

via Senate Panel Advances Constitutional Amendment Effort For Judicial Pension Reform | njtoday.net – Everything New Jersey.

New Jersey judges not subject to pension reform – court | Reuters

(Reuters) – New Jersey Supreme Court justices ruled on Tuesday that they are exempt from last year’s state pension reform.

The reform, which called for judges and justices in the state to increase their pension and healthcare contributions, violates the New Jersey constitution, the court found in a split decision.

State Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat, said in a statement that he was disappointed in the court’s decision, which he said “will not be the final word on this issue.”

“The reforms we passed last year are essential to ensuring the health and viability of every one of the state’s pension systems,” he said.

The state Senate’s Republican leader, Tom Keane Jr., also blasted the court’s ruling.

“Judges should not be insulated from economic reality by a dubious claim that paying their fair share for the richest benefits in state government is an impediment to judicial independence,” he said in a statement.

Most U.S. states are changing their public pension and retiree healthcare systems after years of underfunding and other problems have left them with estimated unfunded liabilities of $1.38 trillion.

In June 2011, New Jersey enacted Chapter 78, which made changes to public employees’ retirement benefits, including the state’s sitting judges and justices.

But the New Jersey constitution says that judges’ salaries “shall not be diminished during the term of their appointment,” according to the opinion handed down on Tuesday.

The new law called for judges to boost their required pension contributions from 3 percent of their salaries to 12 percent over a seven-year, the opinion said.

Judges also would have had to more than double their healthcare contributions, from 1.5 percent of their salaries to 35 percent of the premium over the same period of time, the opinion said.

That would have left judges and justices effectively taking home about $17,000 less in salary, which would be about a 10 percent drop in their disposable income, according to the ruling.

Since courts sometimes strike down laws made by legislators and executives, protecting judges’ salaries from cuts can ensure an independent judiciary and “prevent those branches from placing a chokehold on the livelihood of jurists who might be required to oppose their actions,” the opinion said.

Three justices joined the court’s opinion. Two joined a dissent, saying that the majority’s decision was not supported by either the constitution or the deliberations of those who framed it.

The ruling does not affect judges hired after Chapter 78 was signed into law.

It also doesn’t stop New Jersey lawmakers from dedicating future judicial pay raises to increased retirement benefit contributions, as they have always done in the past.

via New Jersey judges not subject to pension reform – court | Reuters.

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NJ Supreme Court Rules Against Christie’s Pension Reform For Judges  Kevin-McArdleBy: Kevin McArdle  |  1 hour ago

The State Supreme Court this morning ruled that judges do not have to pay more for the pensions and health benefits. This is a defeat for Governor Chris Christie, but one he saw coming. Last year, Hudson County judge Paul DePascale sued the state claiming the new law requiring judges to contribute more for the pensions and health violated another law that says, once established judges salaries cannot be reduced.

Peter Dazeley, Getty Images

Christie argued that what judges pay for the benefits is separate and aside from the salaries. The High Court ruled 3-2 against the State and for DePascale. Christie has said that if the court ruled against him he would consider asking the voters in a November ballot question if they’d like to change the constitution to require judges to contribute more.

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon was one of the sponsors of the pension and health benefits reform law. He says, “I’m not happy about it (the ruling), but we’re going to have to live with it and figure out now what impact it’s going to have on the judges’ portion of the system. Does it have any implications for the legality of our reforms for other entities? It does not.”

“While I am disappointed in the Court’s ruling, it will not be the final word on this issue,” says State Senate President Steve Sweeney. “The reforms we passed last year are essential to ensuring the health and viability of every one of the state’s pension systems. My goal from the beginning has been to protect both the taxpayers who foot the bill and the public employees who were promised a pension. No one should be treated differently. The pension system of our judges can go bankrupt just as easily as any, and perhaps even more easily given its current poor health.”

Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean, Jr. says, “The pension and healthcare reform law does not diminish judges’ salaries as cited in the state constitution. Rather, it requires that judges’ contributions for their retirement benefits and healthcare keep up with the cost of providing them. The judicial pension system is in dire financial trouble that will be a tremendous burden to the taxpayers alone without increased contributions from judges themselves. Every single state employee in New Jersey is governed by the pension and healthcare reform law we passed last year, and judges should be no different.”