Wrong-way Reed wants police chief to double-dip (Updated)

Update at 5:50 p.m.: City officials say Chief Turner is withdrawing his request to collect a pension while remaining on the job. The original post is as follows:

If you want this:

Officials in Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration said Friday [April 23] they are preparing legislation to dramatically reduce pension benefits for city employees to the level of benefits a decade ago. The move would save millions for the city but is expected to set off an alarm among city workers and their unions.

then it seems to me that the exactly wrong thing to do is this:

Atlanta’s Chief Operating Officer Peter Aman is floating a proposal to the City Council that would allow [police chief George] Turner, 51, to “retire” on paper, but immediately be rehired as chief in order to start collecting his $100,000 pension.

Aman said that because Turner would have retired, he would collect his pension and the $200,000 salary that goes with being police chief. Although he commands perhaps the most significant unit in city government, at least four city employees earn more than Turner.

Aman’s proposal, which has the backing of Mayor Kasim Reed, has not been approved by the council yet.

This kind of double-dipping is one of the main ways that public pensions everywhere have gotten in trouble. Let’s hope the City Council has the backbone to shoot down this chicanery, and quickly.

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79 comments Add your comment

I Report :-) You Whine :-( mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

September 30th, 2010
11:11 am

Yeah, they could hire ten city workers that do nothing with that kind of money.

carlosgvv

September 30th, 2010
11:18 am

It would be interesting to know with what logic the Mayor is backing this proposal. Does he not know or care how infurated this will make so many other city workers?

DJ

September 30th, 2010
11:36 am

seems like greedy good-ol-boy insider-ism to me. Didn’t the guy JUST accept the job knowing it paid $200,000? (which is not chump change for anyone). Just because other gov’t officials make more than him? Sounds like extortion from a crybaby.

I have a better idea – he can shut up and accept his $200k salary, or he can quit and the city can search for and hire any number of qualified candidates (without a tainted insider history) who would gladly take the job for $200k, EVEN if you told them they would never get any pension option! (It’s about time we all moved from defined benefits to defined contribution plans anyway, and governments should be leading the way to make that switch).

Kevin

September 30th, 2010
11:40 am

The question is not how Mr. Reed’s administration will “game” the system to get the extra pay. Because they will.

The question is why on earth are there that many city employees making more than $200k? Kyle, I would love nothing more than to see a list of City of Atlanta positions with their corresponding salaries. A bloated, inefficient workforce filled with fat.

I’m a City of Atlanta resident. My property taxes went up and my home value went down. I pay more for water than my friends in Cobb pay for all utilities combined. The City of Atlanta is filled with waste (literally and proverbially), and Reed is pulling stunts like this?

Classy, Kasim. Really classy.

I voted for Mary

September 30th, 2010
11:49 am

This is nothing but crony-ism at its best. The way Turner got the job to begin with was sleazy. He’d been eliminated from the competition until Lisa Borders used her political favors to get him back in the mix – despite the protests of the neighborhoods and citizens of Atlanta!

Atlanta – you elected a sleazy mayor and these are the kind of actions you can expect!

songbird

September 30th, 2010
11:51 am

It’s a shame Mary Norwood isn’t Mayor. Maybe we wouldn’t be talking about this.

songbird

September 30th, 2010
11:53 am

I voted for Mary too, but thanks to Georgia’s antiquated laws about runoffs, we got Kasim Reed.

doouble

September 30th, 2010
11:55 am

Jobs are hard to find.Let him quit hire another.

Sick&Tired

September 30th, 2010
11:59 am

Oh please, Mary Norwood is a nutcase; who wouldn’t begin to know which “Wrong Way” to go.
I agree that it’s double dipping and if he retires; he should stay retired or at least not work for the City of Atlanta. But, don’t act like Double Dipping is specific to “Atlanta” or Mayor Reed. It’s a common practice in this country, state, county governments and many corporations. I think it’s crazy no matter where it falls.

kreedham

September 30th, 2010
12:01 pm

This happens with the state too! Have a friend that retired and gets that check. Hired back as a consultant at almost the same pay, doing almost the same job, not working near as many hours.

kreedham

September 30th, 2010
12:02 pm

Also teachers who retire and then get rehired for 1/2 days.

Intown

September 30th, 2010
12:07 pm

Agreed. Mary Norwood would’ve been a catastrophe. If Reed wants to pay his people more, he should just be transparent about it and raise their salary. Manipulating the pension system to do it is both hypocritical and wrong.

Scott

September 30th, 2010
12:07 pm

Of course this is Double Dipping, if they approve this then they are wasteing the tax payers money.

Maureen

September 30th, 2010
12:07 pm

So let’s see. Turner “wants” the job as sheriff, but not at it’s current salary alone. Hm… Seems to me he’s more interested in his own financial gains that the citizens his office is supposed to serve and protect. What a bunch of garbage. I guess because the involved parties are trying to “play nice” by “asking” is supposed to make it all okay. Well, it’s not!

KL

September 30th, 2010
12:07 pm

No wonder Atlanta has financial problems. Normally, you don’t look for ways to HELP people make more money from your business, but not so in the City offices.

Run it like a business, Mayor Reed. That’s what you said you’d do … reduce inefficiency, smarter management, etc. THIS IS JUST STUPID. THe chief can either work or retire. He took the job, he knew the pay, and had the choice to retire and not work at all.

But to allow him to have both a $200K/year job and full retirement pay is an insult to the citizens who have to pay twice for the same person’s skills.

booger

September 30th, 2010
12:07 pm

Public pension plans should be governed by the same regulations the goverenment applies to private pension plans. For years state and local officials have used the plan as a slush fund to get rid of undesirable employees, and to reward friends. This cannot be done in private pension programs, and should not be done in government. Do not rob the pension fund to reduce your personnel costs.

corruption fighter

September 30th, 2010
12:10 pm

Mary norwood would have won the election but democrats cheated as usual with voter fraud- they convinced “hundreds of bogus absentee ballot voters to vote”
they roused them in name of race to make sure a black man retains the power in atl.
no wonder, hard-working Americans are leaving atlanta city
who want to pay for MARTA, GRADY, Atlanta city worker’s and theIR FAT pensions.

Bob

September 30th, 2010
12:15 pm

It doesn’t “seem like double dipping”, it is double dipping. Don’t know what kind of kick back is expected, but to me “there is something rotten in Denmark”.

Cutty

September 30th, 2010
12:21 pm

Corruption Fighter- Isnt that the same thing Deal is trying to do to Barnes by invoking Obama every 5 seconds to keep the do nothing republicans in power?

gimmy skabbs

September 30th, 2010
12:21 pm

Ridiculous. Seem to remember hearing about this double-dipping at the State level too in past AJC articles. If he won’t work for the measly $200K, then retire and have a great life. With all of the cutbacks across all of the City/State governments across the country and Reed can’t find someone suitable? Must not be looking too hard.

TB

September 30th, 2010
12:22 pm

Of course it is crony-ism. It is rampant in City Hall. I know; I’m a city employee. Of course it hurts morale. There are untold numbers who do excellent work and work hard but are left behind when it comes to salaries/promotions — because we ain’t in the good ole boy group. And the City Council members are in on it — so nothing is going to change unless citizens of Atlanta let their voices be heard. But then most ATL citizens are as apathetic as the council members are.You get what you elect.

VOTE 4 NATHAN THE THIEF DEAL,CAUSE HE IS LIKE BUSH

September 30th, 2010
12:24 pm

THANK YOU THAT HICK MARY NORWOOD DID NOT GET ELECTED! FAKE UNDERCOVER REPUBLICAN THAT SHE IS!

Bhorsoft

September 30th, 2010
12:27 pm

As has been said before and is true on all levels(regardless of party affiliation): “We have the best government that money can buy.”

DJ

September 30th, 2010
12:27 pm

Another interesting question might be how the hell can this guy retire at 51 and collect $100k per year FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE. What kind of pensions do they give out in ATL City Government, and how can I get one (it is my money, isn’t it??)

AngryRedMarsWoman

September 30th, 2010
12:29 pm

I agree that it doesn’t smell right. I know people who retire from the military or a police department and then go and find work elsewhere while collecting their pension from the first employer, but in this case he wants to get a pension and a paycheck from the same employer. If you retire it means youdon’t work HERE anymore, so if you want the retirement check from HERE you can’t come back and work HERE…but you can go and work somewhere else. Folks, they only think we are that stupid because generally the electorate IS that stupid. Have a marvy day.

Kyle Wingfield

September 30th, 2010
12:29 pm

To whoever posted under the name of Shirley Franklin: I probably allow too much posting under the names of real politicians, but Franklin herself has been known to post on ajc.com blogs from time to time…that’s why I took down your post.

Jim Sanders

September 30th, 2010
12:31 pm

Double-Dip-Gate!

This will go down as Mayor Reed’s FIRST political BLUNDER, if not outright SCANDAL!

Cronyism and corruption at its finest worst. I don’t even think Bill Campbell w/could’ve exhibited THIS much CHUTZPAH in favoring his political friends…, and he went down on relative “chump-change”!

Mayor Reed, do not proceed with this proposal!
Mayor Reed,

jconservative

September 30th, 2010
12:38 pm

If the chief can do that can I also retire, get rehired and still get paid?

No?

Then maybe the chief should just retire and work as a consultant for a
$1.00 a year.

Doug McMillan

September 30th, 2010
12:39 pm

This is exactly the type of situation that makes City of Atlanta residents not trust their elected officials to do the right and responsible thing when it comes to managing the finances of the City of Atlanta. Fire stations close and our schools are in trouble and the Mayor proposes this….unbelievable in a normal world, but typical for City of Atlanta politics. The federal government switched their new employees to Social Security and a 401K type retirement system back in the 1980’s – its time city and local governments did the same. I surely hope some day we can get a mayor with some fiscal responsibility in situations like this – it looks like Mayor Reed is beholden to the same good ol boy City shenanigans.

Robert

September 30th, 2010
12:41 pm

Sick&Tired and Intown,

It’s unfair to say Mary Norwood is a nutcase or that if she were mayor it would have been a catastrophe. First of all, a “nutcase” wouldn’t have come that close to winning. Secondly, how do you know anything about what her performance “would have” been? It’s like trying to prove something that isn’t there. Are you one that also subscribes to the belief that the stimulus “saved or created” 2.5 million jobs? Or do you think we would have been better off if nearly a trillion that we don’t have wasn’t spent?

independent thinker

September 30th, 2010
12:49 pm

It’s true that people who retire under Teacher’s Retirement can be hired back, but only at 49% time. If it is more than that, they lose the pension while they are working. In addition, they don’t go back into the same job at the same salary.

Once you have retired and want the same job back, you would have to “un-retire” and by law, the job is open for the public to apply and hold interviews, etc.

Apparently, the City doesn’t have the same laws for its retirees, and can hire whomever they wish without holding interviews…sounds like discrimination, doesn’t it?
And $200K per year?!?!?! Incredible.

Pensions for everyone

September 30th, 2010
12:50 pm

The proposal might be logical if as part of him retiring (allowing him to draw on his pension now), the City never has to deposit one more cent as pension contributions on behalf of Chief Turner.

In fact, with that, I’d retire/rehire the entire force and stop this pension madness (put force into a 401k plan with a match).

Jefferson Jackson

September 30th, 2010
12:50 pm

Unfortunately this is typical of Atlanta city politics and its huge bureaucracy. It is the primary reason why Atlanta’s taxes are high and its services poor. They take care of each other before taking care of us silly little bothersome citizens.

bob

September 30th, 2010
12:52 pm

THANK YOU THAT HICK MARY NORWOOD DID NOT GET ELECTED! FAKE UNDERCOVER REPUBLICAN THAT SHE IS!

The reason she was forced into a runoff was that she admitted voting for Obama.

Taxpayer

September 30th, 2010
12:52 pm

Unbelievable! The guy hasn’t even begun his job and is already demanding a 50 percent raise. I wonder how that’d go over in the private sector? Turner must have video of Reed pulling an “Eddie Long.”

Rap Star

September 30th, 2010
12:57 pm

The city of Atlanta government needs a little more diversity! What do you mean it doesn’t go both ways???

JD

September 30th, 2010
12:57 pm

I think the city pension system would penalize Turner because of his age. (under 55) I don’t agree with the proposal, since the 200,000 per year is more than the VP of the United States. Either give him a raise if you want him to make more money, but do not screw with the city pension system. By the way, Turner was a good selection for Chief of Police. Especially with the options at the end of the selection process.

Bobby

September 30th, 2010
1:05 pm

The reason that Mary Norwood did not win is that the chair of the state democratic party,Jane Vandiver Kidd and Roy Barnes, found a way to inject race into the campaign by a suggestion that Norwood was a republican.

Good for Reed but bad for Atlanta, bad for Georgia and bad for Barnes.

CAIR Bears

September 30th, 2010
1:25 pm

“but Franklin herself has been known to post on ajc.com blogs from time to time”

And like every democrat, what a waste of taxpayer dollars.

CAIR Bears

September 30th, 2010
1:26 pm

“The city of Atlanta government needs a little more diversity! ”

Yeah, I only see black folk in Atlanta guvment. We need some more white people to make it a chocolate city, as Nagin said.

CAIR Bears

September 30th, 2010
1:27 pm

VOTE 4 NATHAN THE THIEF DEAL,CAUSE HE IS LIKE BUSH

Are you “God hates trash” by chance?

Kevin

September 30th, 2010
1:31 pm

Major, major mistake, Mayor Reed.

It’s the wrong time and the Atlanta electorate– or should I say the electorate that actually pays the bills- is at its wits end.

This will not be forgotten.

Road Scholar

September 30th, 2010
1:33 pm

Independant thinker; Really, they suspend the retirement pay when you sign up to work half time? I don’t think so. I know of people who retired from the state and got their full retirement. They kept it when signing a personal service contract back with the state and collected pay; their hours are limited to half time as per state law. They were paid a reduced rate that did not include retirement , healthcare, and other items.

Will the police cheif get paid $200K w/o additional benefits and any increase in his benefits, like retirement? If his retirement is based on his original salary of $100K, that might be a cost savings for the COA since their retirement system is over extended.

If he works for $200K w/o retiring, will his retirement increase?

JKL2

September 30th, 2010
1:44 pm

I understand this to mean he is whining about making $200k because others are making more. I would get rid of all of them and start over. I’m sure you could find plenty of qualified people to work for $120k without too much trouble.

I would think the union would have all kinds of rules about having to post jobs, especially one that high up.

Grumpy

September 30th, 2010
1:49 pm

There is no way to spin this. I hope the AJC keeps the pressure on the city to reject this foolishness!

Scott (the real Scott)

September 30th, 2010
1:50 pm

As for the pension…it’s not double dipping. He is owed the pension, so its already an expense on the city’s books. Paying it out now as salary, gradually, is smart in my opinion. Lets get the facts straight…ITS HIS MONEY. The Mayor just wants to pay it out gradually now to bring his salary to parity rather than pay it out as a lump sum later and still have to pay him more salary to bring him to parity. We are dealing with union contracts here. We might not like unions, but a contract is a contract and I think this is a creative way to save a little money. Its not double dipping. That claim is FALSE. He is covered under a union contract that requires pay parity. So cut the mayor a little slack. He is coming up with a creative solution that SAVES the city money

JF McNamara

September 30th, 2010
1:55 pm

How is this different from what goes on in private industry? My company is full of “retirees” who retired and are now contractors in the same job. My dad did the same thing for five years. As long as he’s eligible to retire, there’s nothing wrong with it.

Are they bending the rules to allow the retirement? If so, that’s shady. If not, its just the way business is done. He can do his job or get a new one paying more instead of making new rules for him.

Kevin

September 30th, 2010
2:04 pm

McNamara-

How is this different? Simple. This isn’t business. This is a public entity. I don’t pay for a business to participate in folly like this. I do, however, pay for the city to jerk me around like this. And I pay dearly.

I’m amazed when people compare public operations to that of a private corporations. It’s like comparing apples and unicorns.

Brad

September 30th, 2010
2:30 pm

So, Scott, you’re assuming that this IS NOT a “defined benefit” plan. If you are correct, your argument holds water; i.e., this would be like an IRA or 401-K.

If however, it IS a “defined benefit” plan, he’s essentially entitled to a set amount for life. In that case, it is clearly double dipping.

In any event, if Reed thinks he’s saving the city any money, he should have made damn clear how.

booger

September 30th, 2010
2:40 pm

Scot,

This is saving the city money? The pension fund is in worse shape than the cities finances, so we take money from the pension fund to bring his salary to where he wants it. If he’s worth the money, pay him if he’s not don’t.

This is exactly the reason private pension funds are not allowed to do this.