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December 7, 2010


3+3=4.5? Only in the mayor’s office

by Deena Winter

So let’s say I still worked for the paper and I got a 3 percent raise this week, and then another 3 percent in February.
After nearly dying of shock — given the fact that they haven’t given raises out for years — I would call my husband and say, “Guess what? I’m getting a 4.5 percent raise!”
Of course not. I’d say, “Honey! I’m getting a 6 percent raise! I haven’t gotten that kind of raise since that one promotion back in 1993!”
Not in Rick Hoppe’s world. The mayor’s chief of staff characterizes it this way: Since the second 3 percent won’t come until February, about halfway through the fiscal year, really it’s only a 4.5 percent raise.
At least that’s how he’s selling the firefighters labor agreement that goes to the City Council for public hearing Monday. They’d get a 3 percent raise retroactive to August (because they’ve been working without a contract since then, as negotiations dragged on) and another 3 percent in February.
That’s a 6 percent raise this fiscal year any way you cut it. When the next fiscal year rolls around, everybody’s salaries will be 6 percent higher. Period.
But leave it to the spin doctor, Hoppe, to teach us this New Math. Not content to adjust 6 percent down to 4.5 percent, he also points out that since firefighters didn’t get a raise last year, really it’s more like a 2.25 percent raise over the two-year period.
Believe me, the firefighters didn’t take a 0 percent raise last year for nothing. They got something, and it’s called minimum staffing. That’s a guarantee that the city will always have at least 76 firefighters on duty. They’d been fighting for that for a long time, and they finally got it. Critics say it’s really about giving them more job security in an era when firefighters respond to more medical emergencies than actual fires.
Is anybody buying Hoppe’s math? Here’s the lede in the Journal Star today: “Lincoln firefighters are getting a 2.3 percent raise, or a 4.5 percent raise, or a 6 percent raise, depending on who’s doing the math.”
Here’s who’s doing that math: Hoppe, Hoppe, and the rest of the world.

1 Comment Post a comment
  1. Don Carlson
    Dec 7 2010

    It’s not as difficult of a concept as you’re trying to make it into. The 3% this year and 3% next year, calculated proportionally for 2010 would be 4.5% this year, factoring in the last year when they didn’t get a raise it’s 2.25% annually. Different results from different accounting methods. I don’t understand the implication that anyone is misleading anybody. Reading the article it’s very clear what Mr. Hoppe was saying.

    You’re grasping at straws Deena.


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