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Barbara's Response to Questions from IBPO Local 378
August 21, 2007

To: Officer Edward Saucier, President IBPO Local 378 and Officer Donald Cummings, President IBPO Local 504

I do seek your endorsement; however, I am compelled to answer your questions honestly.

My answers are driven by my sense of responsibility to the residents and taxpayers of the city, especially District 4 which I represent.

The issues you raise are ones that are important to the police officers and officials, largely from a financial gain perspective. I believe that city employees should be fairly compensated for their service to our city, but I do not believe that I should commit to a stand on issues that are part of the collective bargaining arena or clearly within the City Manager's authority.

I am, as you are well aware, a strong supporter of the Worcester Police Department. I have repeatedly advocated for the Police Chief's presented budget, including overtime, because I believe that public safety, especially police protection, is a core municipal service that cannot be denied. I am willing to vote to raise property taxes above the 2 ½ limit so as to protect the police budget, this despite clear and understandable opposition from voters on tax increases. I have supported the Chief's plan to stabilize the number of officers by putting on more frequent classes. Community policing has my full support as does the many activities that the WPD is involved in with our youth, elderly, and at-risk populations.

Should you choose to endorse me, I will be grateful. If not, my support for the WPD will continue because I believe that the WPD's professional work in our neighborhoods is what keeps Worcester a livable city. I thank you either way.

1. Do you support the Quinn bill? Yes.

2. Do you support coalition bargaining for health insurance? I don't know enough about this issue to answer the question. In general I support reduced costs to the city in an efficient manner. If coalition bargaining does this without negative side-effects then I would tend to support it. I am not convinced at this point that this would be the case. I need to study this more before answering.

3. Do you support fully funding an independent arbitor's decision? No, although in general the answer is yes. I voted to reject one of the arbitration decisions regarding the Fire Department contract and feel that that option must remain for extreme cases.

4. Do you support off-duty police officers at construction sites? Yes and No. I believe that detailed guidelines are needed for determining when uniformed officers are necessary. While it is certainly true that officers on paid duty have provided useful service to the community, there are also cases where officers have appeared to be unnecessary. This is a point of contention with taxpayers who are asking for reform on paid details at construction sites. I believe that there is a middle ground that can provide adequate police presence where needed on a case-by-case basis.

5. Do you support fully funding retirees Part B costs? I have gone on record asking the City Manager to find a way to soften the increased costs facing some of our retirees being switched to Medicare. The issue is a bit more complex in that it appears that the city would need to pick up the $93.50 cost for all retirees, not just the 350-450 retirees that are affected by the adoption of Section 18. This is a much more expensive proposition.

6. Do you support fully funding the authorized complement of the WPD?

This is a budget decision and as such needs to be discussed within that context each year. I will continue to support the Chief's recommendation on this issue, while advocating for a stable number of officers because I believe that it is in the best interests of the city.

7. Will you support a home rule petition to increase the COLA? I don't know. I will need to study the impact of this on our unfunded liabilities. The unfunded liabilities are substantial and threaten our future viability and must be considered when deciding things like COLA increases.

Barbara G. Haller
Moving forward together.

Moving Forward
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