1/18/2011

Streets Chief Position

Posted by MJ

The Buffalo News and LUSJ reported on the Mayor's suggestion to remove the position of streets chief from the city employment roles while adding a new position of director of economic development and planning.

Highways and Parks Superintendent Michael E. Hoffman was dismissed by Mayor Michael W. Tucker late Thursday in what the mayor said was a cost-cutting move. “It’s part of the downsizing. We’re trying to do more with less,” Tucker said Friday.
He gave Hoffman’s duties to city Engineering Director Norman D. Allen, effective immediately.
Tucker said, “I told Mike this wasn’t a performance-based decision. We eliminated his job. He had no place to go.”
Hoffman, who would have marked five years on the job next month, remains on the payroll until Wednesday, when the Common Council is to vote on cutting his job out of the budget. He was to have earned $66,180 this year...
and from LUSJ:
...Pasceri said she has reservations about piecemeal removal and addition of job titles and salary lines in the budget. It’s understood Tucker’s reorganization plan anticipates two new mega administrative titles, director of public works and director of economic development and planning, but neither of those is in the budget at this point...

The council will vote on it this Wednesday. At least one council member appears against the move. I also received an e-mail about an on-line petition. I'm have no strong feelings on the reorganization itself but I hope the position of director of economic development and planning is filled with someone who has some new progressive ideas and is given the tools and leeway to implement them.

Some comments have already been posted over here.

UPDATE 1/19/11:
LUSJ talked with Hoffman and others.

Some interesting points:
Hoffman got his layoff notice about one month shy of the 5-year employment anniversary that would have made him eligible for lifetime city-paid health insurance.
Another reason pensions are out of control in the public sector? (note commentor below says this is false)
“Mike did not plow streets or cut grass, the men under his supervision did — and they still will,” Tucker said. “All weekend, I heard, “the streets are great, the trees are great, everything’s great. Well, that doesn’t matter. The title was gone regardless who had it,” Tucker said.
The change in supervision can be positive or negative depending on the supervisor and those below him. My curiousity though is the "trees are great". I've seen more than a handful come down for one dead branch. when the truncks are cut they are solid and healthy as can be.  This is a big deal when we are replacing "0" per year.

Buffalo News reported on the pending vote tonight.

UPDATE 01/20/11:
Buffalo News and LUSJ reported on the council meeting last night.

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

So we are going to put a person with a full time engineering job in charge of the parks and streets, where we already cut 2 of the three foreman?
So who is going to be in charge of day to day activities? Or who is going to do the engineering work? And are we are letting go a life time Lockport resident with an engineer who lives in Cambria?
This looks like another stupid move which will result in additional costs to the city by King Tuck.
Hopefully enough alderpersons will have the sense to tell the mayor no tonight At least until he can explain how you can save money by giving the engineer a raise, out sourcing all his engineering work and re-hiring foreman to do actual supervision.

Anonymous said...

Here is the correct petition link:
http://www.citizenspeak.org/campaign/mlhoffman/lockport-needs-superintendent-streets-parks-and-refuse

Rocketboy said...

Anon 2:15... you do realize that he was voted into office...

Anonymous said...

Ohh, so that makes him infallible and KING!

Anonymous said...

Let's hope that he won't see another term!

Anonymous said...

Hey here's a novel idea....HOFFMAN FOR MAYOR!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that in this city we woudld be served well without a superintendent of streets. What makes a community but its gathering spaces and freedom to travel about? The Parks are the one constant here since my childhood. Do we really want to risk the care of them to a split or part-time position? The nexr time it snows we will all be regretful.

Anonymous said...

Are we really going to be better served without a streets superintendent? What is the measure of success with these new positions. Doesn't seem to have accountablity for our tax money. The streets work is tangible and visible. We get it. What is the value of these new positions? Sounds like staff padding to me!

Anonymous said...

http://www.citizenspeak.org/campaign/mlhoffman/lockport-needs-superintendent-streets-parks-and-refuse
I signed this petition. Here is the link

Rocketboy said...

Anon 10:29...
No, that specifically makes him not a king, and able to removed.

Anonymous said...

Finally Lockport gets a professional degreed engineer with management experience and we cant dispute the good job he is doing. Performance is excellent and innovative. SO in political manuevers...delete the position so the rest of the team doesn't have to meet the challenge of better performance. Seems to me this will cost the city more money all the way around.

Anonymous said...

I find it funny that articles pertaining to this issue are implying that Hoffman supporters are under the assumption that the jobs of maintaining the streets and parks are not going to be done. This is simply not the case--we are fearful of the fact that these duties will not be carried out AS WELL without the direct supervision and organization of a superintendent of the department. How is the full-time city engineer with an already full plate going to be able to dedicate himself to the duties of a second position that frequently requires his attention 24/7?

Anonymous said...

He will be able to do it by outsourcing most of his engineering work plus hiring addition foreman for the parks and streets dept. And he will also probably add a secretary that retired that wasn't going to be replaced.
Cost savings or some ulterior motive by the King? I guess we will see in the future.

Anonymous said...

and also, did the city engineer who hadn't lived in Lockport since he was hired years ago (though the city charter says he must) ever moved to Lockport?

Rocketboy said...

Side note... I've never been a "you have to live here to have a job" kind of guy... I'm not sure what the end result is. How many people at private jobs use the product that the company that they work for create?

Anonymous said...

I just read this, it's another Lockport Journal screw up. City employees DO NOT GET medical benefits leaving after 5 years! As in any pension plan (I think it's by law) you are eligible for a pension after 5 years!!
MJ, you should correct the post so their screw up desn't get propagated any further.

Anonymous said...

Richard Nichols, owner of Precious Pets Groom & Boarding, Rich Auto says:

"In his private-sector work, Richard Nichols of Mill Street said, “I’ve laid off my best friends at times. Did I enjoy it? No. But the corporation will be better off for it."

Richard would know, he has had to lay-off some of his best dog washers! That's quite the "corporation" you have the Rchard!

Annual Sales (Estimated) Less than $500,000

Employees (Estimated) 1 to 4

SIC Code 075204, Pet Washing & Grooming

Anonymous said...

I think Phylis Green had it right. We have a mayor who has personal vendetta's against people and abuses his power in removing them.
I do think it's interesting his rants against policeman/fireman on disability leave, while his son has been on one since last March (as I was told last night). Gee, I haven't heard any yelling about him abusing the system.
Once again, between the extra costs we will see since one person can't do two jobs, and I will bet we will be in court over this one - there isn't any cost savings here!
And that is funny the one guy spoke in favor of it with all his layoff experience! Is Richard Rocketboy??????

Rocketboy said...

Anon 8:12...

Ahahahahahah... That's rich. MJ knows who I am (not that we've met, but I did give him some private background info when I asked to be made a contributor... not like MJ needs the help) and well, no.

Also, if you actually paid attention, I didn't say anything in support or protest against this. I honestly don't have enough information to say either way. So, I have no opinion on the layoff/new position issue.

Although, I generally don't mock someone for owning a business, nor making hard decisions that affect the lives of their employees. But that's just me.

I do just generally find it odd when it comes to the Fire Department, there is a segment of people who want the whole thing disbanded, but when it comes to this one position, it seems like people are circling the wagons to protect the position. Just making an observation.

Anonymous said...

I think people would be upset if they kept the fire department but decided to eliminate the fire chief, which this is the equivalent of. Oh, maybe a new idea - you could eliminate the fire chief and make the police chief a combination job!

Anonymous said...

I think that if Mr. Hoffman used the mind set to do his job as he did trying to safe it, he wouldnt be in this situation!! Phyllis Green was correct indeed, she has been complaining for 2 years about the parks in Lockport, and now they get rid of the guy incharge of taking care of the parks and she is against it!!!! She just likes to hear herself talk, everyone knows she holds a grudge against certain people, she talked about all the years she served as an alderwomen, and I know for a fact the city is better off now than it was when she was on the council!! She claims she loves the city soo much, if thats truly the case maybe she should try and do something positive(like grab a shovel and shovel the ice off at outwater) rather than complain 24/7!!!!

MJ said...

If we were privy to the consultant's report we could have a better informed conversation. No reason it should not be up on eLockport for all of us to see and comment on. Along with an overall organizational chart to see where they want things to head to.

Anonymous said...

That is a great idea, maybe the Lockport Journal could do a freedom of info act to get it.
Of course can you imagine how nervous all the supervisors in Lockport that aren't King Tuck's buddies are right now?
It will be interesting to see how many union highway people want to move up to a foremans job, knowing they could be cut at the mayors whim.
I just can't believe how spineless the council is though that no one except Kibler could see this is was a personal vendetta Tucker had against Hoffman. If it wasn' a decent person would have extended Hoffman a few weeks to give him his pension, pushing it through like he did was just plain an act of being a mean dictator.

Anonymous said...

A quick fyi... the city engineer has moved to into the city. He built his house himself (the reason it took so long). Also, the paper was incorrect in saying that Hasselhoffman gets free health insurance after five years, this is simply not true, Anon 10:28 is correct. Just the wonderful US&J misleading us all.

Anonymous said...

I bet if you ask city residents 2 months ago who was the super of highway and parks was, 60% would have no clue! Now they all want to save his job?? Why?? When delphi employees got their pay cut in half no one cared,that had a bigger effect on the city of Lockport than poor Mr. Hoffmans job!!! I watched as city employees cut trees down in Lockport, one guy cuts the tree and 5 watched him do it!!! Every see how they cut grass?? They dont weed wack or even get off the mower to move the picnic tables, they just cut around then!!! Mr. Hoffman may be a nice guy, but his statement in the US&J said all I need to know about him, " Im not here to save my job, Im here to save my $60,000 a year job" NICE!!

Anonymous said...

Hoffman did a great job in a trying time with less resources than we have all seen in 30 years. He brought innovation and common sense to a job that traditionally is run with the "staus quo" attitude. For instance when he auctioned off the city's retired equipment rather than sell it for scrap resulting in more money coming back to the city operations. I wouldnt be so quick to claim to know what others thoughts or motivations are. There are people who take pride in doing their work well. I personally know Mike was one of them.

Anonymous said...

This city is unreal...it all comes down to dollars not people...we could have new jobs in town already the recent canalside building...the ice rink...this town is against any progress or protecting what the people want and need...the only way to get anything done is of you drive a bently and your name is ulrich

Rocketboy said...

Anon 12:52... I can honestly say that when I first moved into the North End about 5 years or so ago, my streets were clean in the winter. Now, it's a crapshoot if they are plowed. And even if they are, the mounds of snow across the intersections are awful.

Anon 4:59... Who's against getting someone into Canal Street? Who's against the Ice Rink (which from what I've last heard is still trying to raise money)?

And I'm GLAD Ulrich could get things done. Or were you happy with the empty lot that was the South Block?

Anonymous said...

I just read that the vote on eliminatng the superintendent postion will alter our city charter that has been the working structure for the ciy for over 100 years. This is a budget issue not a structure issue. I think for starters the city shouldnt be paying consultants to think for the administration. The superintendent of streets is a thankless job...but wait until the person responsible cant be accountable since he is doing two jobs at once. This is a bad plan.

Anonymous said...

The jobs I wouldn't want would be the two (one which will be newly created) foremans jobs. They will basically be doing the superintendent job since the 'engineer' won't be able to look at the details of each job. Then the mayor can have his hissy fits against them!
And again, the state retirement offer the city gave last fall was dependent on the jobs not being replaced. How does the city get away with iring an Evert and a foreman replacemnt???

Anonymous said...

If I remember correctly the Supt. of Highways position was removed back in 1999 when the former Supt. retired. For 7 years the foreman ran the day by by operations of the department. Then in 2005 the council wanted a Supt. of highways was hired. As for the foreman position now being replaced the state incentive did say that the position had to show a 50% savings. One foreman retired before the incentive (June 2010) and the other retired in October 2010, so one can be filled. I don't remember any complaints for the 7 years that there was no Supt. and everything was still being taken care of.

Anonymous said...

And how do they justify hiring an Evert replacement?

And obviously there were problems or the supt wouldn't have been restored in 2005.

Every city worker knows what this is, it's a power play by the mayor to get rid of people he doesn't like or who might have different ideas.

After looking at his new proposed changes, why wasn't the youth and rec leader let go? Shouldn't that job come under his new engineering/streets/park czar postion?

Shouldn't the council have voted to eliminate her also?

And if the clerk isn't going to do the budget anymore, what are they going to fill their time in with? Shouldn't that pay be cut as they will have to raise the treasurer's pay for his extra duties.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

That's amazoing that the city tried this same structure 10 years ago (no supt and an engineer in charge) and discovered it didn't work at all, so Mayor TUCKER decided to hire a supt and go back to the way that works. Know, since he doesn't like Hoffman he's decide3d to try the way that he decided didn't work before again. I also heard in doing this he's giving the engineer a raise, he's giving the ass't engineer a big raise, plus he's adding a foreman AND raising their pay grades. Wow, do you think there are any saving there?

MJ said...

comment deleted above for name calling. please keep things civil.

Anonymous said...

This all boils down to the means by which it was done. You don't pretend to change the City Charter just to fire one guy. If Tucker & Ottaviano & Civil Service had done their jobs properly last week's dog and pony show would have been unnecessary.
When they messed up - over the last two years - then were in a hurry to dump the guy - they wound up giving Hoffman a beautiful lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

you are correct hoffman is gonna have a lawsuit for certain which will include lifetime health benefits so what did tucker save the tax payers nothing just another one of his power moves....next move is ours vote him out in november

Xavier said...

@ anon 4:48 - I sure wish anyone would see what Tucker does. He's wanted to get rid of Hoffman for years - probably because Hoffman talked back to him, which is not allowed.
So instead of doing it the right way, which maybe couldn't be done or they would have done it, they come up with this b.s. to change the City Charter. I think people that frighten him in any way are thrown out. He is so insecure that he surrounds himself with "yes men." If anyone disagrees with him their fired or beat up on.
What I really don't get is how the lawyer went along with this. Seems like he's willing to lose his law license to keep this political hack job. He's got enough of them, and Ulrich too, you'd think this one wouldn't matter so much.

Anonymous said...

its only a matter of time until norm allen does something he doesnt go for then back to square one its his way or the highway he thinks that this city belongs to him its become a dictatorship

Concerned said...

Plus I hope the actual 'savings' are documented for this job. So far Allen got a large raise, Tucker is adding another foreman, he is increasing the foremans salary from what they were, the assistant engineer is doing Allen's engineering job at Allen's old pay scale(!), bet on it that Allen will be demanding a secretary soon, plus I heard Hoffman is still getting paid.
And has anybody seen at pothole crews out? Nice management job!
I hope some councilman has the guts to ask Tucker for an accounting of all these extra costs to confirm them.

Anonymous said...

There will be not a cent of savings by the time his moves are complete. With Norms raise and his assistant getting his old salary and Hoffmans lawsuit they will be a huge burden put on taxpayers by Tucker. Just like a few years ago when he did a similar move to Paul Foster who was the head of youth dept. he got rid of him then hired Ms. Junke to his position after he eliminated the position ala hoffman. Paul sued recieved a settlement and lifetime health benefits. With the 67 thousand that is now paid to youth director a year how much did that move save the taxpayers?

Xavier said...

She's getting $67,000 per YEAR?!??? THAT blows me away. I should have paid more attention to this. Does this include the overruns over her tenure? The ones the Mayor pretends he doesn't know the amounts of? $20,000? $30,000? $40,000?
No wonder this city is in the toilet!

Anonymous said...

So far the savings cost of the letting go of Hoffman. O wait zero actually its gonna cost city residents about 180,000 more. But that doesnt matter he didnt like Hoffman so it didnt matter what it cost the taxpayers to get rid of him

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