Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hershman: Overtime Abuse Nothing New in Allentown

Outspoken Allentown City Council candidate Lou Hershman is one of few people unsurprised by The Morning Call's recent shocking revelation that firefighters' sick-time abuse has depleted Allentown's budgeted overtime while increasing the pensions of 11 recent retirees. He's seen it before.

As a member of Allentown City Council during the Afflerbach reign, Lou spearheaded an investigation into astronomical police pensions, learning they were caused by excessive overtime. Nobody in the Finance Department could even confirm that the hours claimed were actually worked. There was no independent audit. What did exist were various double entries of four and five hours by the same officer for a single day. Forty-three police pensions were under close scrutiny until now Mayor Edwin Pawlowski begged Council to drop its review. "We'll never know how much that cost the city," notes Hershman.

Allentown City Council member Michael Donovan has already stated "we have little power over this issue until we address the 2010 budget in November." Wrong answer, says Hershman. "If there are no checks and balances by the Controller or Mayor Pawlowski, this could easily happen in other departments. This is why City Council needs to get involved now, to find out what this administration is doing to control overtime. We definitely should not wait until budget time, as Council VP Michael Donovan mentions on his blog."

Sometimes, the voice of experience should be heeded. Hershman pointed to a 2006 email from a city administrator conceding that a council review of overtime "could be useful in determining the need for external auditors."

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

did he vote for the firefighters contract too? investigations after the vote and damage do not replace preparation before the vote.

this guy can reasonably be connected to every bad contract that the city has had to deal with in the last decade. and I say this as a pawlowski opposer.

Anonymous said...

It is my understanding police and fire contracts were binding arbitration awards.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"this guy can reasonably be connected to every bad contract that the city has had to deal with in the last decade."

Sure, as a city council member for 7 years, Lou is "connected" with lots of things. The truth is that he acted as a budget watchdog, and it is Lou who had all kinds of reservations about the police pensions. He only dropped his inquiry because Pawlowski had assured him everything would be fine. Turns out Lou was misled, just as the current council is being misled. Lou did make one mistake, and that was to assume Pawlowski was being honest with him. But he is the clostst thing Allentown has had to a real check and balance in the last decade. That's whuy Pawlowski orchestratyed that anonymous roboccall against him.

The person who is most closelty connected to these bad contracts is Ed Pawlowski himself. When he disparages the Afflerbach administration, he usually fails to note that he was Afflerbach's right hand man.

Anonymous said...

"He only dropped his inquiry because Pawlowski had assured him everything would be fine."

So he made a mistake b/c an Afflerbach administration insider told him everything would be fine? I'm sorry, that's not reassuring.

I won't vote for the guy. His ticket mate, sure, but this guy talks a good game, might be right but seems to be a day late on every point he raises.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

This overtime story is just so Allentown. The city is being run into the ground from every angle by those running the city and by some who work for it.
Lou Hershman is trying to raise awareness on some of the many issues of concern and is being impugned for his efforts. What a surprise. The only thing critics can do now is document the demise.

Scott Armstrong