Linda Abbott vs. The Taxpayers 2007: The Union Voting Block

Linda Abbott ran for Town Council in 2007 and, according to her campaign literature, she identified at the top of her priority list: “Protect the Taxpayer.” Did she? As you will see, Councilmember Abbott has been sticking it to the taxpayer, every step of the way through four years of “protecting the taxpayer.”

Ms. Abbott took her oath of office on June 10, 2007. Her first official public Council meeting was on June 19, 2007. During that meeting the Council had to make a decision on whether to retain the secondary property tax at $1.15 or reduce it. Two citizens spoke out, stating that while their property values had risen, their incomes had not. They pleaded with the Council to reduce this tax burden. Linda Abbott was the deciding vote (4-3) in keeping the rate at $1.15. Even Dave Crozier voted to lower it to $1.10. (He caved in later.)

With that vote, Ms. Abbott lost any credibility she might have had as someone who had any interest in “protecting” the taxpayer.

So, whose interests did she protect?

Before noting Ms. Abbott’s next item on her to do list, I will preface by stating that in a review of the Minutes beginning in January 2007 until she took office, there was never any reference to bringing in the Unions (“Meet and Confer”). Nor was there mention of rescinding Council Policy 1992-01 (see here) that forbids Unions.

On 7/10/2007, after voting to approve an 8% pay raise for the Town employees, there was a presentation for approval of the Employee Group Medical Plan. This is a luxurious plan by any standard. Sprinkled throughout the Minutes are Ms. Abbott’s concerns about “employee involvement in the benefit decisions” and how “they (employees) should have direct input into the process.”

On 8/17/2007 an Executive Session was convened to discuss a “proposed meet and confer ordinance.” ARS38-431.03. (A)(B) for discussion or legal consultation related to collective bargaining, labor law, proposed meet and confer ordinance.“ Please recall that “meet and confer” means “bring in the Unions.”

(If you aren’t familiar with Executive Sessions, these are meetings between the Town attorney and Council members. Citing “client-attorney privilege,” you, the taxpayer, are not allowed in these private meetings, nor are you allowed to view any Minutes of these meetings. My Universal Translator indicates it means: None of your business. There are certain matters that truly aren’t our business. For example, we shouldn’t be involved in personnel issues concerning specific employees. However, in some situations, some may argue that “the client” is in fact “the taxpayer.” After all, isn’t ours a representative form of government? This is why it is so important for citizens to hold officials accountable.)

Immediately following the 8/17 Executive Session, there was a public Council meeting. Here, the Council discussed rescinding Council Policy 1992-01. The Council went further and discussed a “Meet and Confer” (bring in the Unions) ordinance. Council eliminated the fact finder requirement and directed staff to bring the item to Council ASAP.

Quick fast and in a hurry, four days later, on 8/21/2007, in a regular public Council meeting, Councilmember Linda Abbott made a motion to repeal Policy 1992-01 (seconded by Dave Crozier—told ya), and authorized the Town Manager to secure professional services including special counsel to draft an ordinance including Meet and Confer activities by Town employees.

Following three more Executive Sessions devoted to “discussion or consultation for legal advice from Legal Counsel for the Town regarding a proposed meet and confer ordinance,” on 11/13/2007, all Council members signed the “Memorandum of Understanding – 2009-2010 Town of Gilbert and Service Employees International Union – Gilbert Chapter – SEIU Arizona Local 5. Council members who signed included Linda Abbott, Dave Crozier, Joan Krueger, Les Presmyk, Don Skousen, and Steve Urie. Mayor Steve Berman was a nay.

Was Union representation necessary? Did it help or hurt the taxpayers? What could be the motive for bringing in the Unions? Here are some facts. See if you can connect the dots. Among the top 4 employers in Gilbert are: Gilbert Unified School District (Unionized) employing 5038 people, and The Town of Gilbert (Unionized) employing 1270 employees. This is what we call a VOTING BLOCK. Now, the highest voter turnout occurs in the Fall of Even Years. Linda Abbott, Dave Crozier, Les Presmyk, and Ben Cooper favor Odd Years. Now why is that? Well, there is low turnout in odd years. So, who tends to vote in those odd year elections? The people whose salaries rely on higher taxes: the VOTING BLOCK. They are even more powerful with the Unions helping out. This is what we call the UNION VOTING BLOCK.

So, does this hurt the taxpayer? Of course it does! Now, with the Unions, we must not only face the UNION VOTING BLOCK who wants higher taxes, but we also see the amount of time that is taken up with third parties involved with Town staff in employee representation. Time is money, is it not?

So, does Councilmember Abbott go to bat for us, the lowly taxpayers, in 2008?

Take a guess.