by Scott McClallen
The Warren City Council on Tuesday unanimously rescinded a September vote that granted lame-duck city council members and their eligible dependents health care benefits for life.
September 10 meeting minutes show the amendment piggybacked on item number 11: “CONSIDERATION AND ADOPTION OF A RESOLUTION approving the continuation of city Health Insurance.”
That amendment cut the elected officials’ fully vested period from 25 to eight years, The Macomb Daily reported, an idea approved 29 seconds from its introduction.
That decision trailed a 25-minute discussion regarding waste receptacles.
A video of the meeting (1:07:52) depicts the resolution, including the amendment, was approved about 29 seconds after its introduction.
The council on September 24 approved the previous meeting’s minutes without discussion.
One city council member, Ronald Papandrea, was reelected in the November 5 election while four councilmen hit their respective term limits. Those member were identified as Cecil St. Pierre Jr., Steven Warner, Scott Stevens, and Robert Boccomino.
Patrick Green, the council’s new president, told The Center Square it took 10 weeks to notice the amendment attached to the resolution, although all city council meeting documents are sent to the mayor’s office for review.
Green questioned why Mayor James Fouts didn’t see the amendment.
“His claim was. ‘I was blindsided.’ I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that for a minute,” Green said. “That’s your one job.”
Green would have been fully vested under the change.
“I would have had lifetime medical benefits for me and my spouse, and that’s great. It’s awesome, but it’s not right.”
Mayor James Fouts issued a press release on November 18, announcing the benefits change that “blindsided” him wouldn’t stand.
“I’m outraged and angry about this unbelievable action by the city council to vote unanimously for a golden parachute benefit package without proper notification to the Mayor, City Attorney, Human Resources Director or any person of responsibility in city hall,” Fouts said.
“This was purposely not communicated with my administration and myself personally until after the 72-hour period for the Mayor’s veto.”
Fouts said the amendment was “dead on arrival” and that future city council correspondence will be time-stamped and hand-delivered to his office.
“We will be researching to find out who was the author of this illegal resolution and when that is determined, we will deal with the person severely including termination,” Fouts said in the statement.
Green said the new city council requested help from legal counsel to carefully “unwind” the rule.
Warren Human Resources Director George Dimas, Fouts and City Attorney Ethan Vinson didn’t respond to interview requests on Wednesday.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.
Photo “Warren City Hall” by City of Warren.