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Ft. Myers News-Press May 20,2010 " Ft. Myers Police Department's Contract not Enough"
written by: Gabriella Souza
The Fort Myers Police Department has shaved $2.1 million in salaries, seniority pay and benefits from its new contract with the city.
But the department will now have to come up with another $4.5 million in cuts by June 3. The city has asked Chief Doug Baker to find 15 percent that could be sliced if the outlook for next year’s budget is as bleak as it seems.
Baker is looking at options, but doesn’t want to put buyouts or layoffs on the table. He said if either of those options were to happen, police protection is sure to suffer.
“No one wants to cut public safety,” Baker said. “If we have to do layoffs, we will cut services.”
The city is facing a $16 million deficit because of a reduction in property tax revenue. It recently sent a memo to department heads, asking them to come up with cuts worth 15 percent of their budgets.
That doesn’t mean the city will make all those cuts, said budget manager Christine Tenney.
“We need as many ideas as possible,” she said.
Cape Coral is in similar straits. Its police union negotiated a three-year contract last year, but city spokeswoman Connie Barron said council would probably take another look at wage and benefits clauses.
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office does not have a union contract with its employees. It’s not expecting any cuts in salaries or benefits, Sheriff Mike Scott said in an e-mail.
Next year’s budget loomed as Fort Myers and its police union came to an agreement on a new, three-year contract Tuesday.
Now, its 173 police officers will vote on it and, if approved, it will go before council for adoption. Along with more than $1 million in salary cuts beginning in July, the contract also would have officers pay for half of a 12 percent hike in benefits costs.
The police union’s contract with the city expired in September. The two sides had been at an impasse since March and resumed negotiations two weeks ago.
During earlier talks, the city told the department — which makes up 35 percent of city spending — it needed to shave off $2.9 million or risk laying off 47 officers.
As he looks ahead to more possible cuts, Baker wonders where they will come from. He contemplates not filling five vacant positions, which would save $457,000. Other than that, he’ll have to keep working.
“I don’t have any extra dollars,” Baker said. “When we start talking cuts we’re talking people.”
Dear SnoozePress reporter Gabriella Souza,in the last few days FMPD officers were sent a memorandum via the department e-mail system in reference to your May 20, 2010 article titled "Ft. Myers Police Department's Cuts Not Enough" . The memorandum was written and sent by Chief Douglas 's senior staff assistant on his behalf due to the fact that some upper management obviously do not have the skill set to type their own memorandums, even though they all have college degrees, are highly overpaid, and claim to be highly educated. Ms. Souza let me give you basically the cliff notes version of the memorandum , Chief Douglas basically titles the piece as *****URGENT**** and in it he basically attacks your journalistic integrity by stating that your whole story is a lie , and that all the quotes documented in your story were false. Chief Douglas also states in his memorandum that your very limited in your comprehension of the City of Ft. Myers financial crisis. Basically my interpretation of the that is simple. Chief Douglas thinks you have fecal matter for brains. Those are pretty strong words coming from the Tom Cruise wanna be of police chiefs. This chief has never seen a microphone , or t.v. camera he didn't like. Ms. Souza it is my understanding that the SnoozePress's policy is that when you interview a government official and quote him or her directly in your articles, the interview is usually tape recorded. So my question relates to the last quote in your story as how authentic the quote really is, and do you stand by this quote? Your news article is referenced above for all to see, because despite Chief Douglas's efforts to hide this article , the internet never seems to lose news stories when they hit the world wide web. Ms. Souza your integrity is on the line , as a sucker paying member of the P.B.A. we respectively request a copy of the audio of your interview, and or a written transcript of the exact interview. Basically what I gather from your story is ,due to Chief Douglas's quote, that even if the union votes Yes on the contract, that lay-offs are imminent . Ms, Souza if your story is false through and through , then I would expect that you would write an apology in Sunday's paper , stating that when you write stories you pretty much lie to sell newspapers. I would also expect your Chief Editor to write a letter of an apology to all his subscribers since he OK'd the printing of this fabricated story. Your editor and Chief Douglas have no problem calling out FMPD officers by name in your newspaper when they make life threatening split second decisions that turn into mistakes. I would also expect to see some type of suspension handed down to you Ms. Souza if your story is a lie. I do not want to see you fired , even though if officers lie while in an interview with Chief Douglas he would fire us on the spot. I unlike Chief Douglas do have a H.E.A.R.T. ! Now we also expect that if Ms. Souza stands by her story with transcript or audible proof, that Chief Douglas take a lie detector test to prove his truthfulness that your story is fabricated. You see Chief Douglas likes to administer lie detector tests on his officers to test truthfulness, so why should we expect any less of him. I'm sure PBA union members wouldn't mind dishing out some of their union dues to set up a televised lie detecter test administered to Chief Douglas to find out the real truth about his quote in this news story!
Ms. Souza my suggestion to you is that if the SnoozePress is going to continue to assign you to this news story involving police officer salary cuts, why don't you ask the movie star Chief Douglas how much of a salary cut he is willing to throw in by showing leadership by example? His Motto is Honor, Accountability, Ethics, Respect, and believe it or not Teamwork! That's where H.E.A.R.T. comes from in case you were wondering. Why don't you ask Chief Douglas how it is possible that during these hard financial times in the City of Palms how he is collecting salary and his pension simultaneously ? Ask him why he opened his big mouth in the media, to shut down any discussions about more buy-outs for senior officers which could have resulted in saving jobs, and produced less salary cuts. Ask him about why he spends like a drunken sailor to full fill his Accreditation fantasy five year Commie plan, at the expense of officers not being able to put food on the table for their family. Question the city how they justify spending millions of dollars to dig a water front ditch downtown , a convention hall with a hotel connected, with a new parking garage at the expense of laying off and cutting the salaries of cops and firemen 10%! The only thing they've managed to attract downtown despite spending millions in renovations , is disorderly drunkenness, Plies concerts, an unpaid NAACP Convention, and an expensive Presidential visit which still isn't paid for. Ms. Souza why don't who step up your journalistic abilities, stop asking softball questions , and stop writing news stories based on bloated talking points from paper pushing beaurocrates. Ms. Souza my motto is simple See No Evil , Hear No Evil!
Here you go again, why dont you stop you crying and man up! Dont blame the NAACP ,THE PREZ (YOUR PREZ) OR PLIEZ FOR CITY PROBLEMS. iF i AM NOT MISTAKE DIDNT YO BOY BUSH VISIT YEARS AGO! SEEMS AS IF YOU IS ALWAYS HATIN ON DA BOYZ IN DA HOOD. WE ALL KNOW YOU ARE JUST LIKE THE REST OF DEM FMPD BOYZ"""""" YALL DAT GHETTO BOOTY!!! THINK I DONT KNOW..... I KNOW ALOT.
Keylowlow came and visit me at the jail and she told me that may name is being run like a Mexican heading for the border. Right naw, I am on vacation right herrre at the stockcade! When I get out!! I am going to party like a ROCKSTAR!! Is .40-cent still talking trash? .40-cent, I've been thinking about you so much! Man!! I really do miss you and all my peeps over there in Dunbar Preserve. I'll holla. I got to go! Dem dang CO's are on my nutz again with all these unnessary cells checks!
there wont be ANY mass exit of officers. Where are they going to go? The older guys are to vested to leave, and the younger guys are still under contract. The middle of the road guys are established here with homes and families, and no one in the area is hiring. Theyd be dumb to leave too because they would than be the newest in another agency which means they would be the first to get laid off. Trust me, there will be no mass exit. maybe a small few, but no mass exit.
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