Non-Agenda Address to City Council

(The following is a transcription of a non-agenda presentation from retired Portsmouth Fire Captain Robert Turner to City Council and the public at the regular council meeting of January 22, 2013. It appears here with some stylistic and clarifying edits.)

City Manager, City Council, Mayor:

My name is Robert Turner (most of you know me). I’m the President of the Portsmouth Fire and Police Retirement Association, and I have brought three different situations to your attention in the past. [I have met] with Mayor Wright two times and the City Manager once [as well as one conversation] on the phone. Yet, I have not had the first phone call or seen any of the subjects brought up at work sessions or [in] the council meetings. I did get one remark from Councilman Moody suggesting you look again at the discrimination . . . towards approximately seventy retirees (although several have died while waiting for action. . . .) Mayor Wright’s reply is what can we do to fix it at the least cost — where can we compromise. Fix what’s wrong. We constantly hear there is no money, yet we keep seeing you finding some for different projects.

  1. [Those who] retired prior to 1993 were, and still are, paying a premium for their death benefit. Yet those who retired since then, with two to three times the amount of retirement [benefits had] their premium bought out by the city. . . . If that is not discrimination, what is? One person tells me that amounts to fraud!
  2. Those retirees who were working in 1978 were given a booklet for planning and figuring their retirement [which] stated there would be cost of living raises yearly. [In practice], ours doesn’t come close even to Social Security. We don’t pay half taxes and fees, [so] why is our cost of living [adjustment] cut in half compared to [that of] others?
  3. Our retirement system has lost over forty per cent [of its value] in the past seven year even with larger contributions by the city. I recently witnessed one retiree get 120% of his base salary while . . . another received 96.2%. Because of the city or, maybe, Chief Horton failing to replace retirees and giving overtime to small groups of people, [one particular individual received unusually] high compensation and retirement benefits [of] $76,000 for the rest of his life. . . .
  4. I think the city should be looking into the [previous] city manager – Chief Horton situation for wrongful acts. Horton was a buddy . . . brought here by [that] manager and [may not have qualified] to be Chief [under] our published requirements for that position!

I know this is a lot to swallow for our two new council members, but the rest should be aware of everything I have mentioned. I would love to hear some feedback from this. Also, I would be more than glad to discuss this at a work session where there are no gag orders, if I [were] invited!

Thank you for [your] time and, I hope, your consideration concerning this matters.

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