The Nassau County Mangano-Kaiman Watch, March 29, 2014 – By George J. Marlin
The Bogus Kaiman Union Deal:
Collapsing Under Its Own Weight
As “The Watch” predicted, the plan to railroad approval of the bogus Kaiman Union Deal through the County Legislature and the NIFA board—without proper vetting and financial analysis—on Monday, March 31, 2014 has collapsed. The NIFA meeting schedule for that night has been canceled.
The plot failed for several reasons:
- Many County Legislators made it clear that they would not act until they received from Maurice Chalmers at the Office of Legislative Budget Review (OLBR) an analysis of the proposal;
- Kaiman finally relented and NIFA consulted qualified outside labor lawyers. The lawyers had problems with the pension clause that “would require that new employees go to a Tier 6 pension level that would require increased employee contributions.” Apparently, it may not be legal to negotiate pension contributions in an existing contract. In Kaiman’s desperate rush to get a deal done to promote his languishing political career, he agreed to concessions that union lawyers had to know were bogus. (Union lawyers, who took Kaiman to the cleaners, must have had trouble keeping straight faces during the Kaiman negotiations. It’s easy to see how this would have unfolded, with a new employee suing—and winning—perhaps a year from now, and unraveling the savings from the pension system.) It’s also important to note that the savings from lower pension costs are a key and significant component of the deal—a deal which already falls at least $150 million short of the mark even if everything in it works out.
Word is that the outside labor lawyers have pointed out that there are a number other financial and legal flaws in the Kaiman Union Deal.
Kaiman’s failure to do his homework before announcing an agreement nearly a month ago reminds one of Nancy Pelosi’s comment on Obamacare: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” Fortunately, unlike Obamacare, we are learning bit by bit what a disaster the Kaiman Union Deal is before passage.
Also predicted by “The Watch,” Kaiman’s board approval deadline date of March 31, 2014 proved to be a false one. A state judge has extended for two weeks the start of a new police class, and it has been revealed that the County could seek the judge’s permission to continue using the expired police test results.
As of today, the OLBR has not received the backup information needed to properly analyze the financial impact of the Kaiman Union Deal. Why so? Because a genuine analysis would reveal that the Kaiman Union Deal is not cost neutral but will be $150 million or more short of that goal. This may explain why it is rumored that Nassau County’s Chief Financial Officer refuses to testify that the Kaiman Union Deal is cost neutral before the County Legislature.
This is precisely what happens when the chairman of a financial control board which is supposed to be impartial becomes the chief negotiator. All objectivity is lost, the details don’t matter and getting any deal done becomes more important than getting a good deal done. It becomes not the County’s deal but “NIFA’s deal”—and NIFA’s board members should be wary of being associated with such a disaster-in-the-making. Hopefully those NIFA board members who were prepared to approve the Kaiman Union Deal have realized they have been had—and decide not to let it happen again.