Mitchell, Moore, Bond Blast Mayor Reed’s Pension Scare Tactics

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(APN) ATLANTA — Council President Ceasar Mitchell and Council Members Felicia Moore (District 9) and Michael Julian Bond (Post 1-at-large) criticized Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed in scathing comments during the Full Council Meeting of the City Council of Atlanta on Monday June 06, 2011.

Mitchell, Moore, and Bond were responding to the ongoing scare tactics by Mayor Reed related to his call for pension reform.

Reed issued a press release June 06 while the Council meeting was taking place.

Reed praised a pension reform proposal by Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean (District 8), Chairwoman of the Finance/Exective Committee, which was introduced by Adrean on July 01 and adopted as a Committee substitute.

“This plan shows that leaders such as Councilwoman Adrean and Atlanta City Council members who are willing to actually do the hard work around pension reform can digest the data and develop options that complement the work done so far by my Administration and move the city forward,” Reed said.

“Their efforts stand in sharp contrast to the actions of the City Council President, who has repeatedly attempted to drag this process out until September under the guise of needing more time to study the issue.  I believe his [Mitchell’s] actions are not an attempt to devote more time for review, but rather an attempt to run out the clock and avoid reforming a broken system,” Reed said.

Councilwoman Moore was the first to make general remarks at the Council meeting in response to the press release.

“I know that the Mayor wants us to make a decision by June 30th, in relationship to help with the budget,” Moore said.

But she referred back to the budget process, saying she tried to re-craft the current fiscal year budget, “to get this Council to understand that the additional spending we are putting in the budget is going to come back to haunt us.  Probably somewhere around the figure of twenty million dollars did we put in this year’s budget and we had no new revenues coming in,” Moore said.

“Now, if you want to take the pension and use that as the cover that we spent money in this year’s budget that we didn’t have, then do that… I am not going to be fooled by the fact that we’re in this position because of that,” Moore said.

“Even if we force ourselves and rush and make a long-term decision for short-term gain for this budget, then next year I’ll be standing up here and saying, I told you, we’re still going to run into the same budget problem next year,” Moore said.

“You know, there’s only so many rabbits you can pull out of a hat because only so many rabbits will fit in it.  And if we try to use this pension as a way to cover our out-of-control spending without any revenue to cover it, I wonder what rabbit you’re going to pull out of the hat next year, because you’re going to come right back to the same place,” Moore said.

“So, no, I’m not saying we don’t deal with the pension… but I will not be addressing it in a rushed manner,” Moore said.  “I will not be moved by an artificial deadline.”

“Council Members, I think there’s been a lot of back and forth between this Council and the Administration around pension.  Some of it’s been substantive.  Some of it’s been a bunch of hogwash,” Council President Mitchell.

“Now, there’s this accusation that’s been made by the Mayor… that the City Council President… really is not concerned about pension reform and that I’m trying to kill pension reform and drag it out under the guise of not wanting to do anything but expand a schedule.  That is not true.  That is a flat-out lie,” Mitchell said.

“I’m a little bit offended personally by the comments of the Mayor,” Mitchell said.  “In other words, the Mayor is saying I’m a liar.”

“So my point to you Council Members, don’t get played, and don’t get fooled that if we don’t make a decision by June 30th… that that makes savings that this Council can’t do with a budget amendment,” Mitchell said.

“When fear mongering is used, scare tactics on our citizens are used to put pressure on this Council, we make bad decisions,” Mitchell said.

“I find it unfortunate the debate around pensions has become personal and apparently filled with vitriol and I want to implore the Mayor to step down from that type of negative communication with the Atlanta City Council and I’d like to ask them to withdraw those types of fear tactics to inflame the public about this debate,” Councilman Bond said.

“It doesn’t help to make good, sound decisions when someone screams fire in the theater,” Bond said.

“I hope the Mayor will apologize to you [Mitchell] from your personal slight,” Bond said.  “Statemanship should always rule the day; statesmanship and not dictatorship… Not threats, not intimidation, and not stones throwed.”

As Mayor Reed continues to set his political ambitions toward the national level–some insider sources believe he is angling for a federal government appointment with the President Barack Obama Administration–he continues to alienate and anger many citizens and elected officials locally.

Former Reed supporters, State Sen. Vincent Fort and Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education Chairman Khaatim El, have criticized Reed for allegedly siding both with the Governor and the business community regarding APS issues.

And the union workers who were instrumental in getting Reed elected are quickly jumping ship.

“In 2009, the employees, the unions’ dollars went to put the Mayor in office.  We paid for his ad, we paid to put him into office.  The same Mayor that we paid to put in office, is the same Mayor fitting to take our pension and also fittin’ tothrow us in the street,” Phyllis Hall, a city employee and union member, said during June 06 public remarks at the Full Council Meeting.

“He [Mayor Reed] is no different from the little girl or the little boy on the playground bullying people,” Hall said.

“We are the people who elected people in here.  We gave Mohammed Kasim Reed our money to run for Mayor.  I didn’t support him, but I bet you I’m a try to help him not have a second term.  He’s threatening me with privatization with the City, and I’m a taxpayer.  He’s threatening me with this pension.  I’m threatening him too,” Angela Green, another employee and union member, said.

Meanwhile, Atlanta’s two top circulation print news sources, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper and Creative Loafing Atlanta magazine, have been biased in favor of Reed on this issue.

The AJC printed an Editorial urging the Council to adopt Reed’s proposed deadline of June 30, and then printed an opinion article by Reed under the sub-heading “Another View,” even though it was the same view as theirs.

Creative Loafing’s Scott Henry provided the following analysis in a June 10 blog posting: “Now, I understand why Mitchell might be a little hurt by this [Reed’s] characterization, which is certainly a tad mean-spirited and arguably disingenuous.  It seems clear to me that Mitchell isn’t trying to derail pension reform, only to claim the issue as his own so he can later take credit for having guided the Council to a solution.”

“But Mitchell must be more than a little politically naive if he imagined Reed would allow him to hijack one of the central issues of his mayoral campaign.  And make no mistake, that’s effectively what Mitchell tried to do when he first rolled out his plan to stretch pension deliberations out till September.  (Why September? I’ve yet to hear why that month was chosen.),” Henry wrote.

“I acknowledge that there might be compelling reasons to keep studying the issue, but the mayor has made no secret that he wants it done sooner than later — as a position, that’s a political winner, by the way — and if you step in his way you should expect a fight,” Henry wrote.

“Great press release for Reed, Scott.  This kind of fawning, one-sided news coverage is priceless.  Or is it?” one commenter wrote on the Fresh Loaf blog.

“Well….I was going to comment on the whole reed fan boy thing put it appears as if there is no need,” wrote another.

(END / 2011)

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