December 22, 2008

Federal holiday on Friday crimps City Hall

A decision by President Bush to declare the day after Christmas a federal holiday this year may wind up socking city taxpayers for extra cash to keep City Hall open Friday.

A number of city offices – and the city libraries – will be shuttered to save money, while others will operate with less than full service.

The reason is that for the past 30 years, union pacts have required the city to grant days off to its clerical and “outside” workers if the state or federal government declares a special holiday.

Mayor Art Ward said that anyone in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers’ Local 233 or Local 1338 is entitled to a day off with pay on Friday, which means that if they are required to work, they earn double time.

Those that already had the day off, which many had requested already, won’t have to use up a vacation day to stay home because of Bush’s decision.

Ward said Monday he’s not too happy with the president.

 “Why they even think of something like this at this time is beyond me.” Ward said. His voice dripping with sarcasm, the mayor added, “it sure gave a big boost to our economic stimulus.”

The White House said that since 1952, federal workers have been excused from duty eight straight times on Dec. 26 when Christmas fell on a Thursday. The last time was in 2003.

In his Dec. 12 declaration of the holiday, Bush ordered that that executive branch agencies and departments close on Dec. 26.

The order doesn’t apply to the U.S. Post Office and it leaves the door open for key personnel to be called in to work, at holiday pay rates.

Bristol has agreed since 1978 to give its two biggest unions the day off whenever the state or federal government declares a holiday, which happens most often on the Friday after Thanksgiving and the days before and after Christmas.

Most of the time in the past decade, the city treated such presidential holidays the same as every other holiday.

This time, Ward said he wants department heads and others who are not covered to come to work and do what they can.

But union members won’t be called in unless it’s absolutely necessary, he said.

“It’s not an option. If it’s a paid holiday, it’s a paid holiday,” the mayor said.

But the day does pose some burdens for departmental operations.

For instance, the tax collector’s office is required to have one of its staff review money that comes in to make sure it’s all counted correctly. Without them, the office can’t operate, Ward said.

So the tax collector and her deputy will simply do paperwork behind closed doors, Ward said said.

Generally, the day after Christmas is almost painfully slow at City Hall, with almost nobody from the public showing up and phones mostly dead. It’s been a day for catching up with backlogged material for most of those who have worked.

Ward said the city is still reviewing exactly what’s going to happen on Friday.

He suggested that before anyone heads to City Hall for something on Friday, they call ahead and make sure the relevant office can handle it.

The libraries will reopen Saturday. City office will be functioning normally on Monday.

On Christmas Eve, City Hall is open only in the morning.


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Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

49 comments:

economic nightmare said...

I really think that Bush wishes to leave office wielding economic havoc on this country.
c'mon, January 20, 2009 can't come soon enough.

Merlin said...

Its been done before: what is Ward crying about?

Duh !!!!!! said...

Ward said Monday he’s not too happy with the president
`````````````````````````````

A Democrat not happy w/ PRESIDENT BUSH ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?


Now that really IS a news story which needs to be covered .

Anonymous said...

Didn't the mayor just renegotiate the 233 contract?

With that clause in it?

add it up said...

republican = negative & we're paying for it, you justify it.

Anonymous said...

This was caused by UNION contracts not the president. These are the same contracts Ward just negotiated. Typical democrat procedure...creat the problem (the union contract) then blame someone else for it's cost.

Come on Wardie boy...YOU caused this not President Bush.

Anonymous said...

I think the only reason this blog brings stuff out is to hear the BIG losers cry some more!

Burn Baby Burn said...

Hail to the Chief Dimwit!

Bush is a JERK! The worst President in the history of this country, and his sidekick Cheney should burn in HELL! Arrest and torture the criminals!

Eternal damnation to them both!

clueless said...

what part of Presidential Executive Order don't you wannabees understand?

Anonymous said...

Pity Party, Artie has to make a decision.

Anonymous said...

Uh, it was an executive decision, not "Wardie boy's"....(I sure hope you're about 10 years old, cuz if you're actually an adult, that's pretty sad)

Anonymous said...

"This was caused by UNION contracts..."

Right because no one in the private sector ever gets a paid holiday off, or a holiday bonus, or a golden handshake, or profit-sharing, or 401k matching, or stock options, or government bailouts, right?

Frank said...

Art should have looked more closely at the contracts, but that's 20-20 hindsight. Can't blame the President for it, though.

Maybe the union people will be good enough to give up the holiday. LOL

Anonymous said...

Good point by a previous poster - ironically, Mayor Ward is faced with a problem not created by his predecessors but by him - he was the mayor who signed, sealed and delivered these particular contracts which have this clause. I know that the Personnel office has had this item in their tickler file to remove based on the chaos it created last time - why didn't Mayor Ward bring it onto the table and get it done?

Anonymous said...

Steve,

You really know how to drop the little titillating stories to get the same crowd fired up again and again.

Nearly every city-related expenditure issue degrades into the same tired union versus nonunion shouting match as if that is the root cause of our current economic crisis.

It would be nice to see a thoughtful discussion about our new incoming president and whether or not his appointments, proposed policies and plans to revitalize the economy will be successful.

What we, the American people, need now is confidence in the leadership of our newly-elected president.

The answer does not lie in whether or not Art Ward had the foresight to have eliminated a federal holiday clause to guard against presidential declarations as the key to keeping our city solvent in tough economic times.

Since September over a trillion dollars in obligations to the American tax payer has been committed as money was passed out like candy to the leaders of the same financial institutions that helped cause this mess. It would be refreshing to see more written about the facts related to this issue and how the incoming president will handle it as opposed to repeated stories diverting our attention to highly politicized issues related to the modestly-paid government workers and other organized laborers, such as those in the automotive industry, whom have become economic scapegoats.

Anonymous said...

10:38;

because it would have been unpopular with his supporters.

get a life said...

read the history of this part of the contacts, this has been in the contracts for over 30 years.

Anonymous said...

Because his union friends didn't want to change it, Poster10:38pm, don't you get it? Mr. Ward has one perception but the reality is quite another. The president of the city hall union was his campaign manager!

Steve Collins said...

5:37 a.m. -- It doesn't take anything to get this crowd worked up.
I agree with you on the larger picture, but surely you understand that a local newspaper on the verge of closing is not going to be writing stories about what the agenda for the next president, who takes office after our doors may shut.

S.Claus said...

A Merry Merry Christmeas to All!!

S. Claus said...

A Merry Merry Christmeas to All!!

Anonymous said...

5:32

But ART WARD was the one that complained about the presidential DAY OFF order.

If he had kept his mouth shut, none of these comments would have been made.

Just like you, we are entitled to our opinions, but Ward opened the door.

amazed but not surprised said...

Steve, you are 100% right, it doesn't take much to get this blog crowd worked up - if any of these nit wits had a job, or actually worked the one they had, their focus would be on something important like making sure that they didn't become over worked.
what a bunch of pansie-butts.

Anonymous said...

Hey Merlin, Does that mean you approve ?

Anonymous said...

A Merry Merry Christmas to All!!
Hear Hear ! Even to all the grinches on here!

Merlin said...

6:18

It doesn't mean that I approve of Wards crying about the issue.

It has been done before, it is in the contract (he approved more than once), so why does HE feel agrieved?

He can't change the Executive Order, you can't change it, so lets move on.

looks like, feels like said...

Sure looks like another UNfunded mandate to me - feels like one too - thank you Mr. Bush.

Anonymous said...

So Merlin I guess that means you do approve.(As long as it's done by a republican.) Merry Christmas to you scrooge!

Frank said...

looks like, feels like said...
Sure looks like another UNfunded mandate to me - feels like one too - thank you Mr. Bush.

I don't think President Bush held a gun to Mayor Ward's head while he signed the contracts.

We have to start looking at who we elect locally. It really does make a difference.

Poboy said...

All the fed had to do was to call it a furlough instead of a federal holiday and there would be no problem. Nobody smart enough in federal state or municipal government to figure out how to get around such a simple technicality. That is why state and municipal unions fare so well in negotiations - not very many smart people in government.

Anonymous said...

8:07

The president isn't mandating that the city give people the day off: that was agreed to BY THE CITY.

Merlin said...

9:10

I approve of the Presidential Order, I don't approve of Wards whining.

Is that clear and concise enough?

And many other presidents have done similar things, both Dem and Rep.

Anonymous said...

alot of people are bashing bush he got relected so most of the country must of thought he was doing a good job. i did not vote for obama hell no i would vote for bush again anytime before voting for that sweet talker

waiting for Jan. 20, 2009 said...

amazing how proud the republicans are to avow and demonstrate their utmost disregard for the "real people" -you and me.
Bush screwed this whole economy up for eight years, cost our families thousands of unwarranted war dead, numerous of thousands identified wounded and countless future disabled veterans, millions of lost jobs, homes and futures, a devastated economy and this president only submits more costs to us as taxpayers.
thank goodness that he is on his way back to Texas, maybe they will secede to Mexico and take Bush with them.
Good bye, good ridance to the absolute worst president, elected official, that this country has ever suffered under - bar none.

Wait N See said...

10:40

The worst is yet to come, with Obama, Biden, Dodd, Franks, Pelosi.

You ain't seen nothing yet!

is too said...

4:48pm - right, versus bush, cheney and every other puppet in the last 8 years - at least have consideration and acknowledge the monetary burden that this horrible administration has levied on our future generations - yours/our children, nieces/nephews, geandchildren, great grandchildren.
explain to them the reasons to be able to justify the continual outpouring of the PRINTING OF NEW MONEY, everytime that we come up short.
Hopefully, the younger generation "gets it" rather than having it "stuck to them."
Thanks George.

Anonymous said...

Just to show there are differing opinions: President Bush did a fine job in office his first term, he got re-elected, and he did a fine job his second term. There were no scandals, there was no abuse of power, and there was no impeachment, unlike President Clinton. While Bush is not the speaker Reagan was and Obama is, he has been sincere and completely dedicated to our country.

Many of our presidents have done a far worse job than George Bush. He should return home to Texas with his head held high. Many Americans are proud that he has been our president.

A new day said...

7:01pm - right and the tooth fairy is dating a cavity.
Wake up - you, I and all of the future generations will be paying for this administration's failures for years beyond our lifetimes.

Anonymous said...

6:05

And where were Dodd, Franks, Pelosi during all of this? And who did Bidens son work for and get big bucks because his company got favored treatment form the dems?

How mant democrat approved bills did Bush veto??

Cover said...

11:04 - cover it up all that you want but you will eventually come to realize that bush did not discriminate with regard to screwing up this country - republicans, democrats, independents etc. we will all be paying and paying and paying for a long, long, long time.
If it looks like a pig, it smells like a pig, oinks like a pig, you can assume that IT IS A PIG.

Willing said...

11:04 - salvate and realize remorse for the realization as to the reason that even the gop isn't despondent that 8 years of this administration is enough.
no where, no how, can you, with any sense of sanity. not realize that the list of accomplishments for bush and company has been void of anything positive.
we have a lot of collabrative objectives to realize before we can get to your political rhetoric - take a deep breath, hold it for a second evaluation and properly assess the outcome - we will all pay..

Anonymous said...

Obama,with his support of the Unions, will do more damage to our country that you can imagine.

Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

under Obama we will all be equal. No more rich and poor, we will all be the same. Everyone will have homes and cars and food. Doctors won't be able to turn anyon away. This is the country we should had from the begining. Yes we can.

Is It Fair? said...

When is Chris Dodd going to explain his getting favored treatment for his huge mortgage, from an industry he was supposed to be regulating?

Will Obama make him equal too?

Anonymous said...

Bill Clinton screwed this whole economy up for eight years, cost our families thousands of unwarranted war dead, numerous of thousands identified wounded and countless future disabled veterans, millions of lost jobs, homes and futures, a devastated economy and he only submits more costs to us as taxpayers .

Anonymous said...

7:34 is a dreamer on top of being a sore loser. When are you jerks going to learn that you are the ones out of step with the country? You and your kind are what destroyed this country NOT Bush alone!

Anonymous said...

This country is not destroyed, look around. I don't see any charred ruins and tumbleweeds rolling through. No, there is the new Chili's and LA Fitness with a parking lot jammed with fairly new cars. An hour wait at Joey Garlic's is the norm, it seems. There's still a line for $5 coffees at Starbuck's. Big changes at Westfarms with more "upscale" stores coming in. How about Blueback square?

This country is not ruined, although some politicos and media people would like you to think it is. We haven't seen anything like destruction. And when you hear about "what did in the Bush administration," ask yourself if the Bush adminstration has actually been "done in." What does that mean? Think, people!

Anonymous said...

I love it!!! When times are bad everyone looks for someone to blame, now it's the Unions. For the Germans it was the Jews. Whose next?

Where is the Beef? said...

Hey Artie, we survived the "federal holiday"

Mayor, How much did it actually cost us?

what will you whine about next?