The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Saturday, April 14, 2012

PMUA: Making the Workers Pay the Settlement??

PMUA workers at 2011 Environmental Fair

I received a blog comment from a resident who has been following the PMUA debacle very closely. In his comment, he forwarded minutes from the February 9, 2012 PMUA Committee Meeting, wherein the discussion included ways to pay the "settlement" (an annual $182,000) to former directors Watson and Ervin, a settlement made unethically (in my view) by new PMUA Commissioners Dunn and Sanders, who hadn't sat in on the arbitration process but who decided to circumvent the process to make an unconscionable "backroom" deal, for which I feel they should resign immediately--of course, they won't because they clearly are proud of their reprehensible actions.  

It turns out that there is an idea--called in the minutes one of "several scenarios"--to make the WORKERS pay for the settlement through furlough days--again, what happened to the "family" Mr. Dunn so cynically alluded to caring about? How any commissioner could even develop the mindset to consider putting the burden for his or her "sins" upon the front-line workers and office staff is beyond my ability to comprehend, given the golden parachute the commissioners have chosen to give to their favored sons.  In addition, Mr. Dunn made a suggestion to hire Watson and Ervin as "consultants, if needed." Flabbergasting!
"To be led by the thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen." --OEB

Unconscionable.  Read for yourself--the comments that jumped out at me are bold and highlighted in red.

From the February 9, 2012 PMUA Board of Commissioners Committee Meeting Minutes:

"Several scenarios on how to pay for the former executive’s settlement of $182,000 per year. In the meantime, Alt. Commissioner Sanders is in favor of delaying the hiring of a Deputy Director and that Director Young can continue to perform two jobs. Commissioner Brown is in favor of the furlough of two days or so by current employees of the Authority and Commissioner Brokaw agreed and offering furloughs in conjunction with holidays could be more attractive. Commissioner Mitchell indicated that the last time there were furloughs, the former administration hired even more people after the furloughs were over with and defeating the purpose. We must keep those savings this time. Director Young expressed that if he continues to work two positions, the company will save an additional $72,000. Commissioner Dunn expressed the desire to pay the former executives their first installment regardless by this coming Tuesday. We can hire them as consultants if needed. Commissioner Brokaw wants the issue done with right now as well, however Eric Watson and David Ervin should not come back as vendors or anything else for that matter. It would not be good for the Authority, public or the employees and we need to discuss in executive session.
Commissioner[s] Dunn and Sanders expressed that we need to find the money from somewhere."
"To be led by a liar is to ask to be lied to."--OEB

As Councilman Storch stated at the Monday, April 9 city council meeting, the worst enemies of the frontline PMUA workers and office staff are the commissioners themselves. 

All best,



  1. Thanks for posting this. The call and reasons for disbanding the PMUA couldn't be more clear. The commissioners either use the workers or taxpayers for their egregious acts. It's time to end the madness.

  2. The mayor appoints the commissioners. What they (the commissioners) end up with is thousands of dollars of ratepayer money in their pockets--the $4,500 stipend and health benefits to the tune of many, many, many thousands $$$ more. The criticism should be against the mayor for putting up her friends, supporters, and cronies who lack any actual knowledge about the policies and operations of a utility authority. The council cannot put forward names.

    I am sure that if there was any hint that Dunn and Sanders would do what they ended up doing--circumventing the arbitration process to make a back-door deal (called a "settlement") for Watson and Ervin to the tune over over $1 million--that at least some of the councilors who voted to end the holdover status of the mayor's other appointments by saying yes to these ones would likely not have done so. The council is criticized either way--for action as well as for inaction. I do know that four councilors voted in favor of the state-mandated study to look at dissolution.

    The idea of furloughing workers while the commissioners continue to collect thousands of $$$ in cash and benefits is unconscionable. Keep in mind the totality of this mayor's record of appointments. Reflect and weep.


  3. The mayor nominates the commissioners and the council votes to approve or not. I'm sorry that the council approved these guys!

  4. Thanks for this information, Rebecca. This clearly shows that it's business as usual at the PMUA. It also convinces me that I could not vote for Rev. Tracy Brown. She seems too much like Sharon for me to trust her. Keep up the good work.

    Bob Bolmer

  5. To 9:43 pm,

    You are right. However, in attempting to blame the council, many people seem to forget that the mayor comes up with the names--the council cannot put forward names. Why don't you ask the mayor what value she saw in bringing these individuals forward in the first place (Toliver, Brown, Dunn, Sanders, Mitchell, etc.)?


  6. Please ask the other councilors directly about why they voted in favor of the commissioners the mayor submitted. The votes were not unanimous.


  7. What astonishes me is that now that these commissioners have been appointed, nothing can be done to remove them! There MUST be some recourse for employees, ratepayers, council members...

  8. The American RaceApril 25, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    Rebecca - in reading this excerpt yes it seems like nothing is new. But I also wonder, the minutes allude to Sanders wanting Duane Young to continue working two positions to also save money to pass over to Eric & David Ervin. Is this for real? Also, hire these guys back as consultants is suggested. How would that be possible when they've pulled that place appart in the first place?