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Column Encore: Lots of feedback - including a weight poke, fact error

By Todd Franko (Contact)

Published February 28, 2011

Untitled document

There's been plenty of activity surrounding Sunday's column on Ohio's collective bargaining debate.

Seventy comments by Sunday night might be a personal high.

In addition to those comments, plenty of emails have come in. Here’s a glance at those to help further the chat.

The first comment came in Saturday night, before the column was out, but after my appearance with local police and fire in a charity hockey game for the Hartzell Foundation at the Covelli. The guy hasn’t liked my columns.
He also doesn’t care for my physique. That at least gave us one thing we can agree on. I have to believe he was further unhappy Sunday, but no othe remail came in. But here’s what he wrote pre-column and post hockey game.
John Citizen:
Week in and week out you fill your "newspaper" with stories bashing public employees.  Then you have the nerve to play in the police and fire games with the same people you bash.  You should be ashamed of yourself.  Typical vindy hypocrites.  Which is why I never would spend a dime of my hard earned money on that disgraceful paper.  I won't even take the handouts at the grocery store.  And please, if you should insult public workers again on the ice, get a shirt that fits.  It looked like a co-ed hockey match.

From J:
Todd, Private Email. Enjoyed your Sunday piece. This discussion is something that should have happened years ago. I am taking the liberty of sharing an article published in HOTAIR.COM that clearly defines and confirms the problem to me as you stated so well. The article makes sense and supports your position on politicians and Cartwright's letter to editor today on the pendulum. Hope you enjoy.
Here’s the HotAir commentary that J referenced.

Mr. Franko:  
My hat is off to you once again for your editorial comments of Sunday, February 27.  The Vindicator
 has done a superb job of keeping in front of us the unaffordable and inequitable disparities in both pay and benefits in the public sector.  Given the political demographics of this area the clarity of your views and the forcefulness of your expression are particularly commendable.  No one is ever going to say that the Vindicator and its editor are in the pockets of the local political machine.   
 My hope is that your continued presentation of the facts will ultimately influence  those in your readership whose views on the subject have yet to be heard.  
 Again, my hat's off to you!!!
Steve – Canfield

I erred, exaggerated, overstated, was wrong (pick a term that suits your mood) on some points in pensions statement. Two readers picked up on this, and here are their comments:

Hello Mr. Franko,
I have some questions re: your "Collective Thoughts of a Taxpayer" column in the 2/27 edition of the Vindicator.
Re: "your pension cannot be the average of your last three years unless you fund it 100% yourself.  You've manipulated that system with padded overtime, inflated income, and other enhancers that you load into your final three years.  Most of you did not pay into the system yourself..."
My questions re: this are:  (1) are you aware of the PERS plan, developed last year, prior to the Ohio Newspapers' investigation into public pensions, to address problems within that plan - which would raise the retirement age, use 5 years rather than three years as the basis for retirement, convert the fixed 3% cola to a TRUE cola, etc.    Pretty much the entire plan that PERS developed is incorporated into a bill that has been introduced in the Ohio legislature this session.   If you are aware of this plan, has the Vindicator given any coverage to it?  (2)  Re: the "you've manipulated that system with padded overtime, inflated income and other enhancers that you load into your final three years" - what is the source of the data on which you make this assertion?  What percentage of public retirees engage in this practice - do you have data on this?  Please share it if you do.   (3)  "Most of you did not pay into the system yourself."  What is the source of the data on which you make this assertion?   If you are stating that the majority of public employees do not pay their share of pension contributions - I would like to know the data source on this.    Finally, your last two paragraphs - we promise not to ask you to go back to the standard....... which concerns some of you.... "we're also not interested in going back to the last 15 years, which concerns us."   Who is "you?"  and Who is "us?"   Do you think public employees don't pay taxes?  Do you think public employees are not interested in fairness when it comes to pension reform?  If you do, where is your data on that?
Thank you,

Mr. Franko,
Some points in your column yesterday were well taken; however some of your argument falls apart when you included the "Your pension cannot be the average..." paragraph. It is an exaggeration in most cases. In society, some individuals will find a way to game the system, but not all. It is inappropriate for you to base your pension conclusions on what a select few did, and ignore the fact that 95% of us paid our contributions, did not pad our salaries, or accept high paid political appointments at the end of our careers.
"Spiking" has been much more difficult for many years. Each of the public retirement systems in Ohio has taken measures to try to control it. I don't know the exact details, but I do know that it happens much less often than you imply. Also I know many current & retired public employees. None of them had their employee share picked up by their employers.
If you want to affect change, challenge the legislators to correct the abuses. Please don't degrade those of us who contributed to our pensions and followed the rules.
I would like the opportunity to talk to you in person about these matters sometime.
Joe, retired public employee

John Russo and Sherry Linkon, c
o-directors of the Center for Working Class Studies at YSU, weighed in with a letter that tries to explain that paying out sick time as a benefit is better for the taxpayer in the long run. It starts:

Sick day conversion is a deferred benefit where unused sick days are prorated and converted into what might be called severance pay. For example, over 30 years, a teacher may have accumulated as many as 300 sick days, and if they retire they could be paid for 45 days or about 1.5 days per year. When critics of public unions talk about this practice, they usually ignore the fact that workers receive compensation for only a small percentage of their accumulated sick leave. 
Click here for their entire piece.


I just wanted to tell you that I thought your commentary yesterday was perfect!  I only wish that I had written it!  Thank you. Pat


Mr. Franko,
A friend in Youngstown sent me a copy of your recent article, since I am a former resident of the Y-town area.
After reading it, all I can say is: BRAVO!!!
Steve, Florida


Mr. Franko,
My hat is off to you sir for the excellent column written last sunday. Finally, someone who really tells it like it is. Most government and union workers are totally out of touch with the real world. Your column really puts things in the proper perspective.
Wasn't the government workers influential in moving the holidays(MLK-PRESIDENTS DAY AND VETERANS DAY) to hook up with a long weekend?
The blame however, must be placed on upper management. For 30+ years
I have worked in middle management and have witnessed ridiculous demands be accepted by upper management. Then the upper managers will get promoted because they fostered labor peace, and the line supervisors have to live with the ridiculous agreements.
Keep up the excellent writing, maybe some day the right person will come along and steer this ship in the right direction.




1author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Nice to see our local elected officials NOT getting a free ride from the SPINDY anymore.

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2valleyred(1103 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Todd, excellent article! It is my hope that more people in the silent majority speak up on this issue and show their support for SB5!

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3piak(508 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

It's about time "someone", somewhere came down on the side of the ordinary, non-public union taxpayer.

Standing in picket lines, shrieking and screaming imprecations at anyone who challenges their "perks" that are paid for by the common tax payer, these individuals have long lost their credibility to most of us.
Enough is enough.

When public unions have outfits like the Lordstown 1112 local available to stand in with them, and the Democrats bus in people from all over the counry (and quite probably from out of state...in fact I'd bet on it) you know there is a vast conspiracy afoot to milk the general public for all they can get in the way of perks.

And isn't it a "coincidence" that these public employee unions collect dues to help elect the very politicians who will grant them what they want, no matter what the future cost? The whole system is broken!

Good job; keep it up. No one really wants to deprive the public union employees of any bargaining rights, but we do want their negotiations to stay on salaries and safety issues. Not on bumping up their retirements and adding their sick and vacation days to retirement money.

Thank you. Like my old platoon sergeant used to say to us, "You done good".

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41970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago



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