Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Metro Council Thanks Constituents by giving Themselves Lifetime Benefits


Reading a page out of Entitled-Are-R-Us Book of Shame, Nashville's Metro Council voted to give themselves and their family members lifetime healthcare benefits. Lifetime healthcare for eight years of service. Just in time for Thanksgiving, council members, who chose to run for office under no duress from the public, helped themselves to a whole pie that was baked without care for constituents they swore to serve. In the meantime, they cut, chopped, and diced benefits for Metro employees with less than 20 years of service.  How disappointing to realize early on that the promising new council members who were elected to be servant leaders are serving themselves first.

To counter criticism, council members are stating the healthcare benefits are needed as a perk to entice others to run for office. Statements like this are leaving many taxpayers flabbergasted. What happened to the months of non-stop campaigning where the public was bombarded with promises  from the candidates to make Nashville a better place by improving how the city government does business? There were no verbiage about getting health benefits on any of the junk mailers that were sent out for weeks? What happened to demanding fiscal responsibility and accountability of department heads and Metro employees? Are council members not held to that same standard? Why did ALL of the minority council members who were present voted for this bill? Why would part-time volunteers community leaders need such a costly perk? Council member counted the cost to run for office and the cost to serve. Were future personal insurance premiums part of the counting?

It is an honor and privilege to be elected by the people to serve in public office. But let us not be naive, many incentives come with being a  member of the council. Access to decision makers, the ability to network with global leaders while setting the tone for the future of the communities that make up Metropolitan Government of Nashville-Davidson County, and invites to events galore. Many would gladly accept having access and call it a day. The position that the council members voluntarily sought to hold is not being held for free, it pays $15,000 a year. There are no reports to date where a council member quit their job or was fired after becoming a council member. And there are no reports of a council member  becoming destitute because of their duties as an elected official. None.

There are many who serve on the council that I respect greatly. As a volunteer in the community, I have seen first hand many roll up their sleeves and dive in serving heart and soul first throughout our city. I hope and pray this self above service thinking is not going to be the new norm for our council. If so, the community needs to start organizing now to find suitable potential (and insured) candidates who are ready, willing, and able to serve our city in the next council election.

Minutes from the Tuesday, November 13, 2012 meeting can be found here.
Ordinance No. BL2012-266 can be found here.
Council Meeting Broadcast can be found here.

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