Battalion chiefs sue or uninformed Council?


1. Choosing which is more astounding no easy task

Which is more astounding?
The fact that two city firefighters, retired Battalion Chief Ed Bozzo and likely-soon-to-retire Battalion Chief Phil King have filed a lawsuit in federal court against the city or the fact that City Administrator Tom Haglund apparently chose not to inform the City Council about the potential lawsuit.
We’re not sure which is the “winner.”
Something’s wrong with this communication picture, and if there’s a gap in a policy regarding the flow of information on potential lawsuits from the staff to the City Council action to close that gap needs to be taken immediately.
2. Bozzo’s furlough “loss” is less than one month’s pension pay

Never mind the merits – or in this case the demerits of the case. Ed Bozzo and Phil King were paid more than handsomely, $167,386 and $180,232, respectively, in total compensation in calendar year 2011 according to city records. Bozzo will receive more than $10,000 a month for life in retirement courtesy of the taxpayers. Yet they are suing for overtime pay under unfair labor practice laws related to furloughs which cost them each $8,077 in 2011.
It won’t happen, but we think the city should countersue for attorney’s fees and damages related to a frivolous lawsuit. Didn’t Bozzo and King agree to help the city during tough economic times when furloughs were instituted?
Our “public servants” – a term that should be reserved for those who serve without pay or benefits – are demanding back pay compensation, liquidated damages equal to their unpaid compensation, post-judgment interest, attorney fees and a reclassification of the division chief’s job so that in Gilroy’s Fire Department those top management posts are eligible for overtime pay.
It’s a shameful lawsuit by all measures of common sense, indicative of the power and money-hungry “new elite” now seemingly entrenched within the public safety unions.

3. Top question: Why wasn’t the City Council ever informed?

That said, the Council should have been informed from the get-go when the attorney representing Bozzo and King sent the city a pointed letter in November.
Why wasn’t anyone on the Council informed, or did our elected leaders just forget?
It’s extremely troubling that a lawsuit which could potentially cost taxpayers a tidy sum (maybe enough to keep the South Valley Middle School pool open, for example) isn’t brought to Council for discussion.
All in all, this is a lose-lose situation. The only good that might come from this down the road is that voters will remember this as representative of the powerful public safety unions which are out of control and vote accordingly to roll back pensions and hold the line on over-the-top pay scales.


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