Mayor Sues Council
The City Council wants pay raise for police and firefighters, Kincaid says no way.
The councilor echoed Kincaid’s concern about other city employees, particularly those in the Public Works Departments. Abbott said that according to Gordon Graham, the former personnel director for the city of Birmingham, more employees in Public Works have been killed or injured on the job than police and firefighters. Still, she realizes that public safety employees—police and firefighters—are underpaid. “I do believe that public safety employees need to be taken care of, and we probably are behind what all the other cities are paying. But until you take a formal look at it, you don’t know that. And that 20-year retirement thing that we have in the city of Birmingham, it sounds really great, and that’s one of the benefits we give our people. Are all of the other municipalities giving that same benefit? And if they’re not, maybe what the city of Birmingham should do is go back to a standard 30- or 25-year retirement, and [then] pay officers and firemen more money.” Abbott added that Birmingham police should be paid more than officers in Mountain Brook, “where the chances of someone shooting at you are pretty slim. How much excitement or interest can there be in writing traffic citations?” She continued: “I’ve had officers in Birmingham tell me that part of the reason that they want to be policemen in Birmingham is that it’s an interesting job. It’s an opportunity to get interesting experience under your belt rather than just driving around the streets of the city all day hoping you see something. I do believe that our police and fire personnel need a raise. [But] I want to study the issues and be sure that we have the income to cover a raise before I vote to do it.”
Both city attorney Tamara Johnson and the council’s legal advisor, J. Richmond Pearson, have said they believe a judge should render a decision on who has the authority to give the raise, not the Personnel Board. Kincaid will be represented by attorney and former mayoral candidate Emory Anthony. The council has hired attorney Laveeda Morgan Battle, who has a decade of experience working with the Personnel Board, according to Council President Carole Smitherman. Councilor Abbott was not particularly pleased with the attorney hired, but she voted with the majority anyway. Noting that one councilor had a close relative with ties to the firm hired, Abbott said, “Although it was someone from Waldrep, Stewart & Kendrick, I figure one attorney is probably about as good as another attorney if you’ve gotta have one.” Abbott, who said that Pearson simply offers legal advice, added that the staff attorney’s “little salary doesn’t pay for him to go to court for us.” &