No police contract as city elects negotiator

Washington Mayor Brenda Davis and Councilman Joe Manning exchanged terse words during Thursday night’s City Council meeting. Order a Print

Negotiations between Washington officials and the police union are at a stalemate as blame continues to pass in the city between Mayor Brenda Davis and the police union president for the impasse.

“It’s a male-female thing,” said Davis. “It’s a good old boy’s club.”
Davis contends the organization caused the holdup by continuing to refuse to produce an arbitrator.

John Hritz, a city police officer and president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 95, said it was not his place to respond to Davis’ accusations. He said the contract could easily be settled without costly arbitration and asked during a June meeting for more members of council to participate in talks.

“We haven’t refused to talk,” said Hritz.

By a 3-2 vote, council approved Councilman Terry Faust as lead negotiator for the labor contract negotiations. Councilwoman Tracie Graham and Davis voted against the action.

“The police department hasn’t liked the fact that I’m a female since Day 1,” Davis said after the meeting.

Police Chief Chris Luppino said he couldn’t comment on negotiations, but said certain remarks made during the meeting were inappropriate.

The department’s 31 police officers have been working without a contract since the end of 2014.

Davis, who oversees the department in her role as mayor, said health care and wages continue to be an issue. She noted all city employees, including elected officials, pay nothing for health insurance.

“Citizens of the city of Washington, taxes are going to go up,” Davis said. “Health care should not be paid at 100 percent.”

As the meeting in which she and Councilman Joseph Manning exchanged heated words concluded, Davis expressed her frustrations.

“Lord, help us all,” Davis said. “This council just does not care.”

http://www.observer-reporter.com/article/20150806/NEWS01/150809645