JURY STILL OUT ON LEGALITY OF BUS VOTE … plus … PSD’s SPOON-FED BUS NUMBERS DON’T HOLD UP TO INDEPENDENT ANALYSIS … TRUE COST TO TAXPAYERS OF RUNNING BUSES IN-HOUSE: $4.5 MILLION
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, APRIL 24, 2014) — First off, gang, after hearing from and consulting various authorities (city clerk’s office, former council president Kevin Sherman, self-appointed parliamentarians, and an attorney or two) it’s still very much an unanswered question THE PLANET raised (what, you think The Boring Broadsheet would raise a challenging question to its Masters? Shoot, man, The BB didn’t even have next-day coverage of Tuesday’s council meeting. That’s how pathetic the excremental rag has become.).
Here’s the question, in its crystalline essence: Was the city council vote on the bus bonding legal?
According to our interpretation of council rule 18, the answer is no. The city clerk was not in the office yesterday to weigh in on the matter. Of the four “experts” we asked (two parliamentarians and two lawyers) three said no and one said yes. Sherman said yes. Terry Kinnas said no. Remember, these are merely interpretations. It would appear the only definitive authority might be the state attorney general.
Here is what our Right Honorable Good Friend Sherman opined:
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KEVIN SHERMAN: In reading your column today and being the procedural/rules honk that I am, here is my unsolicited feedback regarding “Reconsideration.” The following is the text of Rule 18:
Rule 18. When a vote requiring a simple majority is carried, it shall be in order for any member voting with the majority to move reconsideration. When a vote requiring more than a simple majority fails of passage, it shall be in order for any member voting with the prevailing side, even though that side is not in the majority, to move for reconsideration. A move for reconsideration may be made only at the same session as the vote to be reconsidered and when a motion for reconsideration is decided that vote shall not be reconsidered.
The rule does not say “may be brought back for reconsideration” as you noted. Rule 18 is referring to the method in which a vote can be “reconsidered” at the same meeting that a vote occurred. It is the only opportunity for a “do-over” during the meeting in the event that there was confusion on the vote.
It would be out of order for a Councilor to move Reconsideration at a subsequent meeting but it is not out of order to bring back the matter in its entirety in a subsequent meeting as New Business. It’s not a common occurrence but it can happen. Typically it can occur when a narrow vote is taken and generally speaking the item may be re-introduced with modifications to the original proposal addressing the concerns of those who voted in the opposition.
While the Council was in essence asked last night to reconsider a vote, it was not under a motion for “Reconsideration” which is a term of art in this case. Any party can submit an item to be placed on the Council agenda for the Council to address at a subsequent meeting even if it failed previously. The one exception is a Special Permit application which requires typically at least a year to elapse before it can be re-introduced (I’d have to check on the time frame.)
Therefore, in my humble opinion, the vote last night was not illegal nor in conflict with Council rules.
Clear as mud?
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We thank Kev for his opinion and love his last three words, which well sum up the situation.
THE PLANET would only add that the mayor’s petition on bus bonding was not brought back under “New Business.” It was merely placed once again on the agenda, apparently without any time limit or any public discussion. As Sherman points out, while not a formal motion for reconsideration, the council on Tuesday night in point of fact reconsidered a previous vote — the one on the buses.
THE PLANET finds it hard to believe that the council’s new rules would allow “any party [to] submit an item to be placed on the Council agenda for the Council to address at a subsequent meeting, even if it failed previously.” Most parliamentary procedures prohibit this without an imposed time frame, such as the one Sherman noted for Special Permits. Otherwise, what would prevent “anyone” (let alone any councilor) from resubmitting the same petition over and over again. That would be an invitation for a type of gridlock that would make the workings of Congress seem as speedy as the Daytona 500.
Bottom line: It is still very much an open question as to whether the vote Tuesday night on the buses was legal. If not, it will have to be rescinded. THE PLANET wonders if Mayor What’s His Face will ask his Legal Eagle for an “opinion.” We all know what happens when that occurs
Tully’s Flip-Flop Seems Sincere, but Her School-Fed Figures Look to be Way off, More Propaganda than Factual
On another aspect of the bus vote, many questioned Ward 1 councilor Lisa Tully‘s flip-flop. THE PLANET, in another exclusive, published Tully’s lengthy explanation for her change. It would appear she had a genuine change of mind based on figures the school department gave her. Only Tully knows for sure her motivations, but THE PLANET accepts her switch on face value and, along with our friend and collegue Bill Sturgeon, commend her for having the courage to do it. We can fully respect the councilwoman for her stance.
However, we would point out that many questioned her “easy willingness” to accept school department figures. THE PLANET has learned over the years in dealing with the PSD that any figures must be considered suspect until their provenance can be proven genuine and reliable. As we have seen, even when the figures are technically correct, the presentation of the figures is often misleading and deceptive.
Tully writes: “I’ve updated my spreadsheet and calculated that, on average, we could expect to pay over $615,000 per year for 5 years to replace the fleet.” That would amount to a five-year cost of $3.075 million.
That’s a far different figure than THE PLANET’s, which we derived from three sources: The Scanlon audit, the FY14 school department budget, and the FY15 school department budget book. We calculated a yearly cost of operating school buses in house of about $4.6 million for a five-year total of $23 million. Our column earlier this week broke out the costs.
Add to that the figures Terry Kinnas presented to the city council Tuesday night. You have to believe these figures are much more accurate and reflective of the true costs that the numbers Kristen Behnke, Sue Carmel, and Bianchi spoon fed to Lisa Tully simply by the way Bianchi got red face and lost his cool when Kinnas delivered big-time for We the People. The mayor, as most of us have come to realize, doesn’t like “discordant notes.” He only wants “yes” people and bum kissers. We’ve got a message for Hizzoner: Not at this address, you unprofessional punk!
Here’s the Kinnas Analysis:
Transportation Salaries FY15
1 director 57,000
1 secretary 36,000
1 supervisor 42,000
3 bus mechanics 123,000
53 bus drivers 755,000
18 bus monitors 242,000
Direct Total Salaries……………$1,302,300
Health Insurance for bus-service personnel, based on 34 family plans and 11 single
Average Cost………………………… $760,000
Per year cost from old (but most recently available) Scanlon report
workman’s comp cost 55,000
life ins 3,300
Total Limited Benefits…………….$831,300
From the FY15 budget
bus operation truck 500
bus operations & maint 160,000
handicap trans 7D vehicles 88,300
Total Non-personnel Costs………………$548,800
Cost of New Buses
2,800,000 financed at 560,000 per year for five years
Total annual cost………………$3,242,400
Note that this figures does not include workman’s comp payouts, interest cost and fees for bonding, pension costs, unemployment costs, the $1.2 million to pay off the loan for old buses, utilities, depreciation of buses, or support functions for payroll, legal, health care etc.
In an interview last night with Kinnas, he said that once the true figures for these other “dis-included” costs were figured into the $3,242,400, the yearly cost would be “well over $4 million.”
Thus, an independent analysis using the school department’s own figures strongly suggests that the true cost of running the bus operation in house will be around $4.5 million a year.
Lies, lies, and more lies — and once again, taxpayers, you got hosed.
Anyone for a recall?
QUICK LOOK AHEAD TO TOMORROW’S POST: THE PLANET DEAL WITH THE APPOINTMENT OF JULIA BERKOWITZ SABOURIN, “Miss Scopes Money Trial of 2013.”
“It doesn’t take him very long to get a tumble. Oh, all the rhumba lovers go into their rumble. Oh, how I’d love to be his double.” — Xavier Cugat, “Yuba and His Tuba.”
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.