Pete's Prep: Friday, May 25, 2018

posted by Pete Kaliner - 

NC lawmakers raise state employee pay

The minimum annual salary for state employees will go to $31,200 under the budget proposed by North Carolina General Assembly leaders. Currently, the lowest state employee salary is $24,332.

From the AP:

SEANC Executive Director Robert Broome praised the proposal as creating a “living wage” equating to $15 per hour. For workers who haven’t benefited much during the economic recovery, including road laborers, housekeepers and state hospital employees, he added, the increase would be “life-changing money.”

Corrections Officers, retirees, and state troopers will also be getting increases.

The Speaker of the House, Rep. Tim Moore, says the pay hikes are possible because of the Republicans' tax reforms and policies - which have been opposed by Democrats.

Overall, the budget will direct more than $200 million in additional funding toward pay raises for state employees and will include:

  • A 2 percent permanent salary increase for most state employees and a one-time cost-of-living supplement for retirees. 
  • Funding to raise the minimum salary for all full-time state employees from $24,332 to at least $31,200. 
  • A new pay plan for State Highway Patrol troopers that will raise starting pay to $44,000 and provide troopers a roughly eight percent average pay raise. The new plan will also accelerate the timeframe for a trooper to get to top pay to six years. 
  • Roughly $22 million to provide correctional officers working in state prisons a four percent salary increase. The budget will also expand the covered population for the line of duty death benefit, and double the benefit’s value from $50,000 to $100,000, ensuring all families of the victims from recent prison attacks receive that benefit. 
  • $20 million for pay raises for public university employees and $24 million for community college employees. 
  • A one-time 1% retirement supplement for retirees. 
  • Provides 5 non-expiring bonus leave days. The days cannot be cashed out or converted to sick leave and therefore have no impact on the Retirement System. 
  • Expands the covered population for the line of duty death benefit, and doubles the benefit’s value. This ensures all families of the victims from recent prison attacks receive the benefit.

Recent Compensation Increases for North Carolina State Employees:

  • 2014 – 2015: $1,000 pay raise for state employees
  • 2015 – 2016: $750 bonus for state employees
  • 2016 – 2017: 1.5% salary increase + 0.5% bonus for state employees
  • 2017 – 2018: $1,000 pay raise for state employees



NC GOP offers law enforcement training to teachers

It's a pretty simple idea - let teachers go through training to increase the number of resource officers on campus, and give a pay increase to those who do. The bill is proposed by two Republican state senators, and calls for a $4.7 million budget allocation to pay for creation of the "Teacher Resource Officer Grant Program." 

From the News & Observer:

Teachers could apply to the program through their school, which would have discretion over who qualifies. Teachers who have at least two years of experience in the military or as a law enforcement officer would get precedent.

A teacher would have to go through the same training that school resource officers complete. And, at least once every five years, complete training "to respond to an active shooter situation," the bill says.

The state would provide up to two weeks of additional paid leave to all teachers in the training program.

The president of the NC Association of Educators (don't call it a) union, Mark Jewell, told the N&O that it's a bad idea.

"NCAE opposes arming our teachers. We should be armed with resources to help our students be successful."

I wonder what a political debate would sound like if it did not include a false choice - like the one Jewell fabricated here.

Allowing teachers who get trained to conceal-carry is the quickest and easiest way to improve security at schools. It's not mandatory.

Meanwhile...

Abolishing Asheville's Civil Service Board

In a 4-3 vote, Asheville City Council agreed to ask NC lawmakers to let it abolish the Civil Service Board and replace it with another body that has more power.

The idea was opposed by representatives from local police and firefighters organizations.

Here is a good write up from Daniel Walton at the Mountain Xpress:

Members debated whether to suggest three pieces of legislation for consideration at the state level that would together abolish the Civil Service Board and create a new citizen review board with subpoena, oathing and disciplinary powers; permit the APD to release body camera recordings to Council and the new review board; and let the city manager release the results of disciplinary hearings against police officers.

While the suggestions on laws for body camera recordings and disciplinary hearings passed unanimously, Council was strongly divided about the citizen review board. Mayfield worried about going “from zero to 60” in this change to accountability practices, adding that she hasn’t yet seen the impact of previous changes to city personnel policies. Wisler agreed, saying that while she has criticized the Civil Service Board during her time on Council, completely replacing the body was too radical a move.

Councilman Vijay Kapoor explained the glaringly obvious:

Kapoor pointed out that the new citizen review board would have broader powers than even City Council regarding personnel matters. “We do not have the power to impose discipline on city employees, and for good reason,” he said. “We are not professionals in these areas, nor are we qualified to make these decisions.” 

Letting City Council appointees have access to workers' personnel records... what could possibly go wrong?



Filibustering is Council's kryptonite

Also, among the many embarrassing things that Asheville City Council did at its Tuesday meeting was its adoption of a policy just to make people stop talking.

From Mountain Xpress:

The action began as Council was poised to pass the meeting’s consent agenda, a typical collection of noncontroverisal resolutions. When Mayor Esther Manheimer called for public comment, recent Council candidate and community activist Kim Roney marched to the podium, trailed by a retinue that filled the aisle. She asked that Council add a resolution — which she displayed written in bold letters on a large paper pad — directing staff to adopt the policy recommendations suggested by Code for Asheville at Council’s April 24 meeting (see “Asheville Council takes step toward police data transparency,” Xpress, May 2).

Roney proceeded to open a copy of the literary collection “27 Views of Asheville” and read a poem by local artist and Hood Huggers founder DeWayne Barton, saying that she and her group of 25 supporters would continue to occupy the podium for their maximum allowable time until Council added the motion to the agenda.

It worked!

Council adopted... well... something.

Manheimer noted her confusion about the resolution’s wording: “I voted for it; I will just add that I don’t know what it means, exactly.”

In the discussion that followed, Council and city staff tried to hash out what new action the resolution would compel.

The city is being governed by children.


Pete Kaliner

Pete Kaliner

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