A feather-flying game of chicken is playing out between Mayor Bill Finch and city unions, particularly the police union, and the question is which one will be the first to lay an egg.
Cops, in general, don’t like anyone getting in their face, and this mayor–at least when it comes to the cops, so far–is living up to his words from several months ago that there’s a new sheriff in town.
The city budget is on the verge of blowing several pistons and if something isn’t done soon a whole lot of oil will be spewing from city departments. City finances haven’t been this shaky since 1991 when Mayor Joe Ganim managed to keep the levee from breaking on the heels of his predecessor Mary Moran’s federal bankruptcy filing, at the height of a catastrophic New England recession that resulted in institutional banks such as Citytrust folding. No mayor in the city’s history, other than Ganim, has secured the kind of union concessions that Finch must achieve to keep the city from financial meltdown.
The economy sucks, police overtime has gone bonkers and the mayor is looking at a major deficit just two months into the budget year following last year’s budget that was roughly $20 million in the tank, according to city officials. Every month that passes–without a definitive resolution–makes closing the budget gap that much more unreachable.
We have a bunch of accountants that read OIB. I hope they weigh in.
Finch is telling the unions, in general, I’ll give you job security in exchange for major concessions including a zero percent pay raise and one week unpaid furloughs. The police union, in particular, has said take a walk off the Pleasure Beach Bridge.
Which side will blink? Hard to say. It comes down to this: does the mayor have the stomach to actually lay off cops? It may take a wave of layoffs in some form for union leadership to appreciate the bomb ticking in the budget.
The mayor needs to set an example in his own shop, you say. Yes, but the mayor is down to maybe 50 discretionary appointments in government, hardly enough to make a dent under the circumstances. And he has offered to give up a week of his own pay to set that example.
Two Months Away
Two months before the general election, what’s hot, what’s not? Certainly Republican Congressman Chris Shays trying to fend off Jim Himes and Republican State Senator Rob Russo’s face-off with Anthony Musto are two of the highest profile local races. What else you hearing? Any potential upsets out there?
What A Hoot
Mo and I spent more than two hours at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo on Monday and the place was jammed with thousands of visitors. Shit, we stood in line for 15 minutes to pay admission and that’s okay by me. I love seeing a mix of suburbanites and city residents fill the zoo and Beardsley Park. We saw the last showing of the bird exhibit and it was a hoot. Damn owl almost plucked my eye out. And, then, there was the parrot singing Old McDonald’s Farm. EEEEEEEEE! Zoo Director Gregg Dancho and company have built a nice tourist attraction. Pack up the kids, take them to the zoo.