Mr Pohlmann; The pension problem was your doing, not mine …

Submited by :  Robert Ford <>    9:44 AM
The pension problem was your doing, not mine…
Ford_2012Mr. Pohlmann, the pension mess was your creation, not mine. For most of the period you were on council, pension costs skyrocketed, and pension debt grew exponentially. By 2006 when your council approved even more generous contracts, you assumed ownership for the exploding pension debt. No longer could you blame the previous mayor, since you all ratified an even more generous contract. The problem is that the City never properly funded properly the benefits to which they had agreed. As a result, pension-based debt exploded.
The argument that we paid what the actuaries asked does not hold water. For 10 years in a row, the actuaries were wrong. At what point during that 10 year period, does a responsible person seeing the growing debt to more than $ 40,000,000, does a responsible adult say “I am not going to believe the actuaries any more”.
By law the city must continue pay for the benefits that were obligated by contract and were not properly funded.  These obligations will haunt us for many years.  Pension debt ranged as high as 42 million, and is only slowly being paid down. This has resulted in more than $2,000,000a year in city payments for pension debt following a state mandated schedule. This was your doing, not mine.
Recent contracts which I have been involved in have realized more taxpayer affordable pensions, for example the cost for a firefighter hired this year is approximately 14.9% of salary similar in cost to our defined contribution programs.  Police and PEA pension costs for new hires have also significantly decreased. Over time these reductions will shrink city obligations.  We are making progress.  We are also paying our full pension bills.
 Let me ask a couple of questions.
Is your posting suggesting that we should reduce the pension benefits even further than we have and ask pensioners to supplement their pensions with food stamps in the future? Take a look at our current provisions for police, fire, and PEA and advise as to what more you want cut.
Why the anger at the unions? Over the last two to three years, police, fire, and public employees have ratified contracts that slashed their own pension benefits? They are paying a stiff price for all the years that you did not properly fund the benefits that your council agreed to. The unions have been responsible. They have ratified agreements that have substantially reduced pension benefits.  Were they overjoyed to slash their dreams and plans? Obviously, not.  However, the unions did the right thing and I applaud them.
Why are you attacking me on pensions?  I have done nothing other than try to clean up the mess you handed off to me in a manner equitable to both the taxpayers and the working men and women of Port Orange. I have also made and kept a promise to the taxpayer,  I will never agree to any expenditure that the City cannot afford.
Best, Bob Ford


Pohlmann2Hello Mr. Don Juan. I would agree with your proposal. Sitting on council for personal gain should not be allowed. It should be outlawed. When I ran for re-election in 2012 I was severely criticized for accepting campaign contributions from a local land developer/residential home builder. I was asked by my opponent at that time, Ted Noftall, if I would recuse myself from voting on any issues relating to this particular developer. I agreed to recuse myself from any votes and stated so publicly. I did not want to appear to favor anyone.

Conversely, I asked my opponent, Drew Bastian, a retired Port Orange Firefighter, with all the union support he needed, if he would recuse himself from voting on firefighter, union negotiated, contracts. Of course the answer was NO WAY. The union financial support paid for the vast majority of his campaign. Take now Councilman Ford, a retired Port Orange Police Chief, who has now won the endorsement of both the police and fire unions. Will Councilman Ford and Bastian recuse themselves from negotiating and voting on the new police and fire union contracts. I would say NO WAY. How will they vote after both have received heavy support from the unions and have secured two solid votes on their next contract.
Or will Ford, Bastian, and the unions delay the final contract negotiations until after the next city election in August or November and see if another former public safety officer, Scott Stiltner, wins election. Scott Stiltner also has the endorsements of both unions. Of course that will give the unions exactly what they want, 3 seats on the city council. Three votes will get the unions a great new contract costing the tax payers millions. Should we expect Mr. Stiltner to recuse himself from union votes as Mr. Don Juan expects of Mayor Green and Councilman Burnette. I would say Mr. Stiltner would say NO WAY. After all, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Mr. Don Juan, what would you say?

I would hope Ford, Bastian, and Stiltner, would do as I did, and publicly declare that they will recuse themselves from now, and in the future, voting on any union related issues. Don’t hold your breath citizens.
My comments should not be taken as a disparaging comment on the professional policeman and policewomen who protect our city every day. They do a great job under the direction of Chief Monahan. I would say the same thing about our professional firefighters. Under the direction of Chief Pozzo they serve our citizens well. The issue is not with all the public safety employees in Port Orange. Policeman and Firefighters deserve to make a decent living with reasonable benefits. The issue is the unions who are out to control the city council. The unions are the ones who will eventually bankrupt our great city.

So Mr. Don Juan, your proposal has great merit. Outside influence on our council should not be tolerated. The question remains, who will Ford, Bastain, and Stiltner support? The interests of the unions or the interests of 56,000 Port Orange residents.

 Bob Pholmann

12 thoughts on “Mr Pohlmann; The pension problem was your doing, not mine …

  • June 6, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    Hello Chief. I always enjoy hearing your perspective on the issues that face the city. Let me explain mine a little more clearly and the reasons for my comments. I wanted to hear something about the union issue as it relates to the city council. You were the one council member whom I expected to reply. Thank you. I would still like for the citizens to hear from Councilman Bastain and Candidate Stiltner about the union issue I raise but I doubt they will reply.
    I think you misread my comments. I said I believe public safety employees should receive fair compensation and reasonable benefits. No where did I moan and complain about the current pension. You
    are correct, the unions did give up some of their benefits from the 2006 contract with the new contract in 2012. Just like employees all over America gave up parts of their pensions to make the economics of those plans work. That did not just occur only in Port Orange. But I wasn’t talking about the current pensions, I am talking about the unions and their influence on council and future contracts. As a side note, I also had my pension cut back as did all members of FRS. I also took a $9,900 pay cut which affected my pension but that is another issue. I didn’t complain because that’s what it took to make the economics work. So hopes and dreams were curtailed for millions, not only in Port Orange. Their current benefit package is fair.
    Now on to the union issue which is what I was talking about, not the pensions. How come it is fair to attack other council members on their “possible” influence with the RiverWalk developers, and their “possible” ability to make money if RiverWalk ever comes out of the ground. Those are possibilities in the minds of many. Why are some council members attacked for knowing the developers. The perception is that because of knowing the developer there is a “possibility” that some council members “might” make money from the RiverWalk project. There is no proof of that. If there is show me. Well I say it’s the same thing if the union candidates get on the council. It is also “possible” that the unions might might expect their winning candidates to “maybe” negotiate a better contract. You know like the 2002 and 2006 contract. So if we call one “possibility” suspicious, maybe the other one should be suspicious also. That is my perception. I think it would be hypocritical to suspect one and not the other. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Just like me being criticized for accepting campaign contributions from a developer. There was a public comment that the developer was trying to influence me. Well I can say the same thing for union contributions. Are they trying to buy influence? I am not talking about local union stuff. I am talking about outside union influence from Orlando, Tallahassee, Seminole County, and so on. Why are they contributing so much money here in Port Orange? Influence? You tell me.
    So everyone, let’s not just pick on your least favorite council members. Look at the big picture.
    Chief, I am not trying pick on you, I respect you. You were fair during the last contract negotiations. I had to put your name in there because as I said, you were the only one of the three mentioned that would respond. Pension issues seem to be leveled out and fair. What do you think about the union influence with the possibility of three union favored council members?
    Bob Pohlmann

  • June 7, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Hank, that was awesome. What a great video. Thank you for posting that. That video completely explains where I am coming from. I am not anti-union. If you really listened to the video you heard me say the words ” I support reasonable benefits”. We have reasonable benefits now in Port Orange but we did not have reasonable benefits when that video was recorded. Contracts were not settled when you shot that video. I also said I support giving some benefits back to make the economics of a benefit work. I said let’s be fair. I stand by that video and exactly what I said.
    Hank, how are you? I haven’t talked to you in awhile. Please do not take my next comments as being insulting. Hank, you are way too negative. You have a tendency to look at everything as negative. You think everything is corrupt. I have tried to get you to see this. There is far too much negativity on the Port Orange blogs that I read about. Questioning is one thing and really is appropriate, suggestions for improvement would be helpful, working together to solves problems as a team, ( I know you don’t like that word), moves society forward. Progress happens when people work together, you know, as a team.
    I bring up the union issue as a means for the readers to see that when looking at the BIG picture, do we really want the unions to have 3 votes on council and the influence they may bring. It’s the same thing as when all the naysayers question Mayor Green’s and Councilman Burnette’s motives for supporting something pertaining to RiverWalk. Why question one side and not the other?
    Hank, please read my comments. I am not anti-union, I am not anti-pension for public employees. Reasonable and fair is what I support. I do not want to explain everything all over again to you. Hank, sometimes you really scare the hell out of me. Where did I hear that before?

  • June 8, 2014 at 12:11 am

    Mr. Pohlmann, Are you having lunch with Sonia after Greg has an hour breakfast with her? Your sudden postings and to whom they are directed towards….. smells like a motive.

  • June 8, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Hello P.O. Stalker. The last time I looked this was The United States of America. If I choose to support any candidate that is my right. I am just expressing my opinion. I do, however, think many readers on this website are intelligent folks who have their own strong opinions. I respect that. I don’t believe readers only want to hear negativity all the time. I would hope many more readers express themselves freely with facts.
    Bob Pohlmann

    • June 8, 2014 at 1:39 pm

      Hi Mr. Polhmann! I agree that who you have lunch with as well as how you vote is your own business, however some of us hope that you take that luncheon opportunity to ask Sonya Laney if she supports the city manager’s ploy of bringing in an FCCMA Range Rider to do an external revue of internal controls. As you surely read on the FCCMA website through the posted link that Concerned Senior so graciously supplied, FCCMA clearly states that they do not provide “CONSULTATIONS OR BACKGROUND INVESTIGATIONS”.
      The only thing that this FCCMA Range Rider has done to date is to recommend our current Lifesaver city manager to us for hire which is contrary to their stated services that they provide. Their webpage says they do not do background investigations. Lifesaver Kisela and the Range Rider are also committed to providing counseling services and to find high paying jobs for their member Managers In Transition who have been shit canned from their previous government assignments.
      We would all like to know if Sonya and you support this farce and what your position is on the city council giving the Lifesaver fox the proverbial key to the hen house in allowing his Range Rider friend to conduct this whitewash investigation? I know that you have already stated on this blog that when you were on council during the city manager’s selection process that you did not agree with the selection of Greg Kisela.
      This external investigation of recent internal controls deficiencies and infractions is directly related to Kisela’s organization, as well as the MIT department heads that he has hired. One of them is currently under investigation for other problems and has been hired by the Lifesaver without an employment application on file or conducting a background investigation, which if properly conducted would have revealed that he was forced to resign from a previous position for exactly what he is now being investigated for.
      Sonya’s and your position on this is something that everyone is interested in. Sonya and Ted Noftall are on the budget committee and we already know that Ted disapproves with such a farce of an investigation. You may not agree with what Bob Ford and Ted Noftall say all of the time but hopefully Sonya, yourself, Ted, and Mr. Ford will all agree that this Range Rider investigation farce needs to be stopped. We need an objective external review of these internal control deficiencies and Greg Kisela. and his two top MIT’s need to be excluded from the selection process.

      • June 9, 2014 at 8:21 pm

        Hello Mr. Don Juan. Quite frankly there are many things that I have agreed with coming from Bob Ford and Ted Noftall. This is one of them. We all learn from experience. Hindsight is always 20/20.
        During my last few meetings I did indicate that I did not prefer Mr. Kisela as a choice for city manager. I felt the city manager from Sebastian was a better choice. That is who I wanted after I read the resume from each candidate. As you know, I was on my way out the door so no one paid much attention to me or what I said. Also, I have admitted many times that when I served, I relied on the city managers opinion far too often. Perhaps the current council members are making the same mistake. The manager works for the council, not the other way around. Not sitting there anymore makes me see that. I did not realize how self serving the FCCMA is.
        That being the case I thought that maybe there was something the other council members liked with Mr. Kisela and his choice was unanimous with this current council. I hoped that Mr. Kisela came in, was successful, and brought the council together to work for the good of the city. It is far too divided right now. I don’t remember specifically if Parker or Kisela hired the current Public Works Director. My thoughts were wow! We had to go to Illinios or some place in the Midwest to get this director. Then I heard she moved to New Smyrna Beach, that was a kick in the ass. Not a good move by importing a director and her buying a home in NSB. Thought we could have hired from within the organization or the state. Then the Finance Director was brought in. That was one area where I thought it might be a good idea to go to private business and get a sharp mind about finances. I agreed with Ted on that one. Then the Utilities Director was brought in. After learning that we were hiring re-threads, former city managers, I said what the hell is going on. I don’t see that as being too progressive. So those three hires were a mistake in my mind. Where is their vested interest in Port Orange?
        As I said, we learn from experience and hindsight is 20/20. Yes, I think the Range riders have outlived their usefulness. Enough of this city manager, ex-city manager , you scratch my back ill scratch yours business. We need some help, maybe from the private side of business. It might be time for that. Something to think about. In a perfect world the city council does not interfere with who the CM hires. That is the way it is supposed to work under our city charter. It is not working right now in Port Orange.
        I have not met Sonya but I have spoken to her on the phone. She seems like an intelligent person concerned about what is going on. I will ask her that question if I talk to her. If you are asking me if I would vote to support the FCCMA in this process, or any process in the future, the answer is no way. It would send the wrong message to do so right now.

  • June 8, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    Hi Bob Pohlmann,
    Some one told me you mentioned me in your comments on this web site. And so I tuned in. I run hot and cold about Port Orange Politics. Sometimes I am running high with ideas even to meet with some influential people to see if we can start up a group which will stop taking pot shots at the city manager and city council, and direct its ammunition to only meaningful actions which have some potential to affect reform. As it is now with Mr. Kisela as city manager, no true reform is taking place, and things are going from bad to horrible.
    Other times, like the mood I am in now, I find it hard to stomach all of political comments, for or against negativity, skepticism, suspicion, and all the bad news. If you want good news, 23 billion people did not die yesterday (numbers not verified), there were no big commercial air craft crashes yesterday, and the city council did not pass any resolutions at the last city council meeting. LOL
    Since the you tube video of you supporting teachers’ wants came up, let me be brief. Before the video I suggested to you that you explain how you can support teachers wants but be hard on fire union wants.
    You mentioned during the video how teacher requests were reasonable,but you did not mention in the video that the teachers’ actions which you were participating in was not for pay, but for the tools to do their jobs in education. At least that is what you told me some time later after the video was published.
    I am surprised that you thought criticism of the backing of your campaign coming from developers was not fair. . Really now Bob. You came from the northeast and New Jersey, what in the world or who in the world ever convinced you that developers and city councils are not subject to scrutiny and skepticism?
    In regards to the present Grand Master Developer in our CRA Riverwalk project, some think that he has not been negotiable to being fair with the city, and wants a greater return on his investment than he is entitled to. After all, his 3 , seventeen story condos will be right in the middle of the Park, and the city’s park will be split in two, and the condos will be the most prominent, main attraction in the park. And,how convenient, the city will keep up a nice park it is presumed, which will benefit sales for the condos. Bob you might ask, as you are oft to do, did the master developer do anything illegal. And I would answer as I did to you about Mayor’s Green interests and activities — “certainly not, he is not a stupid man. ” And I really believe this, I am mature enough to understand that some people can take unfair advantage or
    take a course of action for personal advantages, without doing anything illegal.
    Bob it is always a pleasure to have a discourse with you. Thanks – hank .

  • June 9, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    Hello Hank. Always a pleasure talking to you also. I respect your opinion and yes, you are right, the developer probably wanted influence, although he has plenty of that around the state. I was a little guy to him, I know that. But, if you remember, I volunteered to recuse myself from voting on his issues.
    I would hope you feel the same about all the union money going my opponents campaign in 2012, and the current election cycle. I am not anti-union. I just cannot believe that no one but me is questioning their motives as well. Hank, what are their motives? Is it to buy influence also? Can you not see that it is the same thing as the developer donating to my campaign? Except that the union money is 5 times my donations. Please, can you or Ford, or Bastain, or Stiltner explain this? Should they recuse themselves? Did Bastain or Stiltner get sent to union school in Maryland or Virginia at union expense? If so, why?
    Hank, you are not an elected official or running for office. What is your opinion on all this union money from the past or current election cycle? Is it influence, control of council? What are the motives? Chief Ford completely ignored this in his response.

  • June 9, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    Mr. Pohlmann, just as you say Bob Ford is ignoring you, we are also anxiously awaiting your opinion about Lifesaver Kisela’s FCCMA Range Rider external review of internal controls. Hopefully Sonya Laney and you will share your opinion on this. Does it amaze you that Kisela is utilizing a man that recommended him to the city to be hired from an organization that clearly says it does not perform consultation? I know this is a tuff question to ask Sonya and yourself but the answer will tell tons about your true position on transparency.

  • June 10, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    Mr. Don Juan. I thought I replied to you last night at 8:21. Please see above. If you did not get the reply, let me know. I would be happy to speak with you at any time.
    Bob P.

  • June 10, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    Kudos Mr. Pohlmann, and not just for your concurrence on this issue because you are certainly entitled to your own opinion. I think that it is imperative for all of our current councilmen including the mayor, and any and all political candidates to come out of the closet and be counted. There are two important issues that we all need to take a stand on, and either you stand for something or you basically do not stand for anything. This should be the litmus test to determine whether our current city officials, campaigning political hopefuls, and the numerous political activists have any cojones, intelligence, or integrity.
    The two issues that I am referring to are as follows:
    1. Are you in favor of Greg Kisela being able to engage the FCCMA Range Rider Mr. Kelton who has originally recommended Mr. Kisela to the city council as their selection for city Manager? (Remember that the FCCMA website states that their scope of services does not include background investigations or consultations. Also remember that this investigation involves looking into continuous internal control deficiencies involving Mr. Kisela’s organization and initiatives through the actions of key employees, members of his senior management team, and two department heads that he has selected for employment who were previously fired or forced to retire from past assignments. These two department heads are FCCMA members and former managers in transition. If you have researched the FCCMA code of ethics, its charter, scope of services, and prospectus you will see that one of the primary functions of an FCCMA Range Rider is to council shit canned MIT’s while they are unemployed and identify a member Lifesaver who is in an influential organizational position that will provide these brethren MIT’s with a high paying government directorial job. Do you still think Range Rider Kelton should be investigating the organizational deficiencies of his friend and fellow Life Saver Greg Kisela and his MIT senior management team? As a matter of fact do you think Mr. Kisela should be involved in any way shape or form in the selection of an external review of the internal control deficiencies of his own organization or should this be the task of the city council and the budget and finance advisory committee? Should the city council be giving the fox the proverbial key to the hen house?)
    2. Do you believe that the city council should make a motion for a council resolution to establish a city ordinance that any current and future mayors or city councilmen cannot profit in any way shape or form while in office and after they retire from office from any and all city projects, developments, or economic interests that have transpired during their term or anything related to these that they have voted on or that have emerged during their political term? ( A classic example of this would be the development of the Riverwalk project, condominiums, restaurants, and marina including any financial gain and involvement in their construction, sales, or financing. This would prevent politicians from lining their pockets and pursuing self interest rather than the best interests of their constituency while being entrusted with tax payer dollars. This would also eliminate businessmen who have an agenda to further their own business interests in the community by exploiting their political power from being elected as city officials and abusing their political power and position for personal gain. With an ordinance like this in place running for council would only be attractive to individuals of high integrity for altruistic reasons and fiduciary trust.)
    Mr. Pohlmann, as you can see these key issues are not partisan issues but are prime examples of the law of commonality. You may be a liberal, Bob Ford may be a fiscal conservative, and Ted Noftall may be an ultra right wing conservative but you may all be honest men and embrace these two key issues and totally agree on them in common. These issues are not affected by your liberal or conservative positions, but whether you are honest, totally transparent, and have no corrupt agendas for personal gain or whether you are a corrupt self serving politician. To a large degree your position reveals your hidden motives or transparency.
    So now I am calling on the mayor, the city council, past council members, all of the citizen activists, and any citizen stakeholders that have the integrity to stand up and be counted and post their position on this blog regarding these two extremely important issues facing the integrity of the City of Port Orange. Come one and come all and post your position on these issues. I want to make it abundantly clear to the council members, political candidates, and political activists who are well known to read this blog that you need to stand up and be counted. Anyone that does not respond and stand up and be counted here then it will be assumed that you support the Range Rider investigation whitewash, and that you do not support the ordinance preventing city councilmen to financially benefit from the projects they vote on and you believe that they should be allowed to further their own economic interests as opposed to the best interests of their constituency while abusing their political office. Non participation will be assumed to be acceptance, and participation will explode into a dialogue and revelation that will determine whether we have any honest, intelligent, and courageous current and future leadership. I am making a commitment to not vote for any political candidate that refuses to participate and state their position on these issues and hope none of you will ever support anyone running for office that avoids standing up and being counted for their position regarding these important issues and that are not willing to take responsibility.


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