City of WPB vs. IAFF part1

I want to start this story on a positive note so lets begin.

I attended the budget meeting held on 9/10/2020 and listened to the presentation. When finished the City Commissioners had questions and comments. The 5 commissioners share 2 clerks, and I’m sure they are kept busy between 5 commissioners. Let me break it down for you. One clerk works for 21/2 commissioners. It was suggested both clerks be furloughed. Commissioner’s Neering and Peduzzi both suggested they forgo their $500.00/month car allowance in order to keep the clerks jobs.

IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighter) and the City of WPB have been in negotiations over a new 3 year contract and the Mayor (James) and City Administrator (Johnson) have announced they are at an impasse.
The city claims the IAFF want to much. The IAFF claims the city wont give firefighters what they deserve.

What you are reading here is my opinion, but shared by many residents.
Part 2 will be the city’s, IATT and a firemen’s opinion.

When first elected Mayor James was like Santa Clause at Christmas time handing out promotions and pay raises like the well would never go dry. Traveling to cities along with his Police Security Detail spending thousands more.

The Carona Virus struck hurting the economy and the well started drying up. If James handled the city’s finances in a responsible manner from day 1 WPB outlook may not seem so dire that the only alternative the city could see was eliminate blue collar workers.

Residents protested and the city found another way. Fight the firefighters (IAFF) and police (PBA) union and deny them a decent wage.

If the sanitation department went on strike I would find that an inconvenience. If firemen didn’t show up for work (which I don’t believe they would ever do) who could residents depend on when they suddenly feel pressure in their chest, wake up in the middle of the night smelling smoke or a loved one is involved in a serious accident? I can’t afford to take these men and women of the fire department for granted and neither should the city.

Here is one example of the Mayor James generosity with taxpayer money.

“Verdenia Baker, PBC Administrator began her career with Palm Beach County in 1987 as a budget analyst. She was promoted to impact fee coordinator and eventually became a division director with the Financial Management Department. Verdenia’s experience in financial management was a prelude to her promotion to assistant county administrator and, within a year, to deputy county administrator. She served in that capacity for 15 years before being selected county administrator by the Board of County Commissioners in 2015.”

I placed a PRR to the county asking about Ms. Baker’s annual salary and received a response within 20 minutes.  After 33 years working for the County her salary is $298,513.28.

August 2019 James hired Faye Johnson at $220,000.00 annual pay.
October 2019 James named Assistant City Administrator Faye Johnson interim administrator.
Jan. 03, 2020 West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James formally introduced Faye Johnson as the new city administrator.
Jan. 13, 2020. City Commission Meeting: Establishing the salary and other compensation for the City Administrator and amending the pay grade information for the City Administrator job classification. Mayor is recommending to the Commission a starting salary of $249,000. Upon successful completion of a six (6) month probationary period, Ms. Johnson’s salary will increase by 5% to $261,450. After 11 months Ms. Johnson is at the top of her pay grade. All 5 commissioners voted approval. If I were in Ms. Johnson’s shoes believe me when I say I would have done all that is necessary to insure top pay and benefits for myself.

My question: Ms. Johnson’s increase from $249,000 00 after 6 months probation was due in July 2020. Did she accept the $12,450.00 raise?

I would once again recommend City Commissioners listen more to residents and less to staff. Please do your homework, as the city is advising you on their opinion and you need to listen to the other side of the coin. That would be the residents who’s life is impacted by your votes and decisions.

California, Oregon and Washington are ablaze with wild fires. Millions of acres burned, with loss of life. People are running for their lives while firemen run toward the inferno, risking their lives to try and save property and residents just like the Twin Towers where 343 fire fighters died and many more damaged inhaling the aftermath. Ask New Yorkers and residents of California, Oregon and Washington if their firemen are overpaid or deserve a raise then ask WPB officials what a firemen’s life is worth to them.

News just reported tropical storm heading for east coast of Florida winds at 35mph, may intensify. Please don’t worry about Mayor James keeping safe as he hunkers down at fire station #5 with a generator and full pantry.

Firefighters are always prepared. Shame the mayor isn’t.