IS IT TRUE November 19, 2013

Mole #3 Nostradamus of Local Politics
Mole #3 Nostradamus of Local Politics

IS IT TRUE that last week the City County Observer was the first to publish the fact that the City of Evansville is sitting on a $5 Million liability for “comp time” on the books for city employees?…the City of Evansville’s practice of giving out “comp time” instead of paying employees overtime as is customary and required by federal labor laws?…the federal government limits the number of “comp time” hours to 480 for any given employee to have on the books at any given time yet it has been revealed that one City employee has 2,400 hours worth more than $50,000 on the books in comp time and that 51 city employees are currently above the Department of Labor limit of 480 hours on the books?…Mayor Winnecke has had two responses to this comp time revelation during the last two months?…when he was all about firing former EMA Director Sherman Greer Winnecke’s response was “The amassing of 1,100 hours, equating to almost $18,000 in comp time for a single individual without justification, is extremely troubling,”?…when confronted by WFIE over the story broken by the CCO about the $5 Million liability the City is facing Mayor Winnecke sounded more like President Obama trying to distance himself from the ObamaCare disaster by saying “I did not know that there were numbers that high?”

IS IT TRUE in all fairness to Mayor Winnecke, it has not been disclosed how many of the 110,000 hours of comp time on the books were there when he took office?…comp time has been used by the City of Evansville for many years in lieu of overtime to kick the compensation can down the road to future administrations to deal with?…the practice of compensation using comp time is so ingrained that an EMS class that the Fire Chief made every firefighter on the department go to cost the city over 2800 comp hours which is roughly $70,000.00 at the time they were accrued?…when these hours are cashed out they will be worth much more than they were when they are accrued?…the way this works is if one earns 100 hours of comp time say 10 years ago when they were making $15 per hour but keep them on the books until retirement the hours grow in value to the most recent hourly rate?…one could have gotten comp time at a new hire rate yet cash that same comp time out as a Department Head at a much higher rate?…this is pretty much a Madoff style scheme used to keep the City from having to fork over the cash but allowing the employees to bank the hours which pay a better interest rate than most banks do nowadays?…Mayor Winnecke fired a department head partially for allowing his employee to accumulate 1100 hours at an hourly rate well below a firefighter’?… the EMS class could have easily been taught in house since an instruction department and an EMS coordinator are on staff?…it will be interesting to see this play out as it will be learned if Mayor Winnecke chooses to be selective in how he distributes his punishments?…in a sane city the obvious first step is to cease the accrual of comp time above the federal limit of 480 hours AND make an immediate provision to buy the accrued time down over the next several years even if it means cutting something else from the budget?…the fact that this was known but withheld repeatedly during the budget processes undergone by the City of Evansville over a number of years is a federal violation and should be treated as such?…withholding material information in the real world of public company management is a prosecutable offense?

IS IT TRUE the CCO has learned that Evansville-Vanderburgh School Board President Sally Becker has disclosed that she will be resigning from this position at the end of the year to accommodate her relocation to another location?…this is the right thing to do and will leave a vacancy on the school board?…we hope to see some well qualified people who are not already on the payroll of the City or County seek this elected position?  … the CCO was the first to report  in a recent IS IT TRUE article that she sold her condo in Evansville and plans to move to Chicago.

IS IT TRUE the City of Evansville is having to resort to using the long arm of the lawsuit to attempt to recover the $350,000 overpayment issued to a Kansas City firm that did some work on the Ford Center?…while $350,000 is a small amount compared to the total cost of the Ford Center it is another symptom that the financial management of the City of Evansville has a history of incompetence?…between a failed accounting software integration (sound familiar to DC?), an inability to reconcile, three budgets ratified without a clean audit, $5 Million in illegal comp time, and other sloppiness coming home to roost, Evansville is beginning to look like a City that can’t count?…the worst part is that only a few city council members seems to care?…one has to ask, “how can a group that can’t count handle a Billion Dollars worth of infrastructure repairs?”


  1. With the way our local government has been doing business with its sneagaly tactics I would be ashamed to call myself a democrat or a republican , which is why I have no loyalty to any party what so ever , people we need to start voting for the individual and not the party ,we need less party government in politics if you catch my drift.

      • wrong o
        The people who run this town are an embarrassment to the Democrats in this town.

      • Our Mayor is a Republican, but he is just as much of the problem as any Democrat. It’s true that Democrats got L.W. elected through the assistance of the “political machine” who are mostly Democrats. They were afraid Rick Davis would clean house and expose their dirty secrets.

    • I agree to some degree. I’m not for everything that the party stands for.

      The firing of Sherman Greer was a political move IMHO. It had very little to do with comp time as has been proven by the fact that they are not firing others for the same problem. Where is the fairness in this?

      • Greer’s violation was overtime not comp time. One has a real monetary value, the other has an equivalent monetary value.

  2. Looks like Channel 14 and the City County Observer caught the Mayor talking out of both side of his mouth. Who knows that one day Channel 14 and the CCO could hook up and become media pattens. They could be called the “Dream Team of Local Investigating Reporting”!

    Right now the Courier and Press and Channel 25 are media partners. I have no idea what one would call this media partner agreement because both are in the tank of the Mayor.

  3. “IS IT TRUE the City of Evansville is having to resort to using the long arm of the lawsuit to attempt to recover the $350,000 overpayment issued to a Kansas City firm that did some work on the Ford Center?…”

    Who were the architects for this project and didn’t they sign off and certify that the payment was valid? If they did, then wouldn’t the, the architects, be responsible for making the city whole? Alternatively, the only way that the architect wouldn’t have been involved would be if the payment was a duplicate of a previously certified payment…in that case, the construction trustee as well as the city should be totally responsible.

    Finally, when do we sue for the return of the money?

    • “Who were the architects for this project and didn’t they sign off and certify that the payment was valid?”

      Not the way it works in this case. The City hired Kish to oversee the project and he was the one (not the architects) who “signed off” on work completed and payments and then presented them to the City for payment.

      He’s been paid, left the City and now the ball is in the City’s court to try to unravel the problems (same as Indy when he closed that one out too).

  4. Could the architectial firm be Ed Hafer and Associates? Isn’t this the same Ed Hafer that is President of the ERC and President of the Regional Business Committee that has a 7th floor office in the Vectren building?

    • At least back to making the stadium leak water on the remodel in the ’90’s. He’ll continue to get the non-bid gravy from the city because those 2 groups that run the show, and who’s on the podium acting like they’re in charge.

  5. Comp time is not real money. It is time off with pay that has a monetary equivalent to the time that you would have worked, but it is not a payment of any sort. If I make a salary of $500/wk on a 40 hour week and I am asked to work a sixth day and I earn a comp day for it. I am still paid $500 for the week that I worked six days and I’ll make $500 for the week that I work four days and use the comp time. Either way, it’s still $1000 for two weeks’ work. Reporting this as “money” owed is incorrect. It is “time” owed. If I were in the City government I would go into shutdown mode and make all non-essential employees with comp time go home until the amount of time owed is 40 hours or less. Once they are taken care of, I would work my way down the list starting with those that are owed the most and make them use 40 hours at a time.

    • In a compliant system you are exactly correct. The City of Evansville is not in compliance with federal labor laws and that opens up a real can of worms. For instance if anyone has left the employ of the city and gotten a check for those hours that would establish de-facto policy and would turn the comp time into real money. If one person either retired, resigned, or was even fired and left with check then everyone will be entitled to the same treatment. Mark my words, this is going to be a big ugly problem for the city that may go back decades. If the violations are intentional some people may go to jail. The HR department, the department heads, at least the last two mayors, and even the employees will be deposed if even one person files a charge. Big trouble in River City for this violation even if ignorance is the defense. The City is responsible for knowing federal labor laws. Ignorance is no defense.

      • You are right in the way you describe it..also the rate of pay you get compensated for is not the original pay other words your compensation for an hour’s work is higher after 20 years and some sort of blended higher rate is used to compute your payment..his works like an additional pension plan and when paid you get hit hard with taxes.

    • From WFIE website. It looks like Winnecke knew about it, knew it was against the law, and did it anyway. This statement turns comp time into real money and opens the door for a serious investigation. What will the defense be for violating federal law?

      “If that individual retires or left the job today, the city would be required to write a check for the full amount because of the approvals granted by the agency leadership,” Winnecke said in that September interview.

    • I totally disagree with your statements. My father retired from the EPD in the mid 80s. At that time, you could retire with full pension after 20 years. He worked about 19.5 years and with his built-up comp time took off for about 6 months and never worked again. As the editor stated, some of his comp time was accrued when he made less $ per hour than he did when he took the comp time. That was certainly real money and the city paid more than they would if they had paid him the overtime at the time he worked it. In addition, unless they wanted to be short-handed for nearly 6 months, they had to hire someone else or have other officers work overtime (earning more comp time) to cover his absence.

      • They still did not pay him more than they would have in the years that he accrued it or the year that he retired. Regardless, it cost the city the same amount that it would have paid your father.

        • If you made $10 per hour and when you retire and you now have a higher wage rate, the city has to pay you a blended higher rate for your comp time, and the city is paying more than otherwise it should..especially if the employee does not retire early..most work after they have fully qualified for retirement..

          The nasty question that is hard to answer because we don’t have a CAFR is the hpw much accrued liability the city has, which should be discounted some percentage to account for the TMV. This in some ways resemble an unfunded pension liability if comp time is not enforced as it should be.

    • Comp time is “real money” when someone takes their comp time off and someone else has to be paid (usually overtime) to fill in for them in their absence. Also “real money” when they bank their time until the quit or retire and then the City has to write a check to them for the comp time.

    • BS. Comp time is real money and you lie! It’s actually more valuable if one gets more pay for the comp time at the end of a career than at the beginning as was written in the above article.

      Please stop making a fool of yourself in here.

      If you earn comp time and at the end of your career you take off with pay for a year you are earing money for not working. That’s real in my book buddy. You are getting paid real money for not working the last few weeks, months or years of your career. That’s money dude.

      • +1 This comp time issue has been going on for years and the surprise that it has been going on reminds me of when the police chief on Casablanca was shocked gambling was going on as he was collecting his chips

      • That’s why there’s limits on how long you can accrue it. You’re are the one making a fool of yourself. Know more of the details before posting and trying to insult someone.

  6. It’s a little disturbing to note that (as of the date of this post), the following poll decision seems to be the most popular:

    “Pay them up to 480 hours that the federal law allows and write the rest off. Illegal benefits are not collectable.”

    According to these respondents, it’s okay to just tell folks who were called in to work and ‘paid’ in comp time that they essentially volunteered those hours, sorry for your luck? Is it true that some city employees are not given the option of collecting their accrued additional work hours in any manner except by adding it to their comp bank? Is it true that this seems an inherently unfair and mean-spirited poll selection?

    • You are correct and it is not fair. It is furthermore ILLEGAL. The city is in direct violation of federal labor laws. Could all 800 of the people carrying comp time be stupid enough to never check this out? It is time for some people at the city to be relieved of duty starting with that Fithian character who is responsible for knowing federal labor laws. As for the cheated employees, they need to look at this as receiving stolen property. You don’t get to keep it if someone pays you with stolen property. A class action lawsuit is appropriate and will result in a significant settlement for those who got bent over by the fools in the Civic Center. I bet that bastard loses sleep over this tonight. If a private business owner did what the city has done they would be thrown into prison.

      You know the old saying “if you lay with dogs you get fleas”. These are expensive fleas.

      • The problem with your stolen property argument is that the property (money = comp time) was taken from the very same people that should be getting the stolen property returned back to them. The city is the one who stole their labor from them. The city needs to compensate these people. That’s only fair. If one works a day then they should get a day’s pay for that work.

        If the city (city council & mayor’s executive branch directors) want these people to work for them then they need to pay them in full. either the city council votes to fund the payments or the directors stop ordering these people to work over time that’s not funded in the city budget.

        It’s akin to a city dept head going out and buying something that’s not budgeted by the city council. Is that not illegal?

        The Mayor can’t say he didn’t know about this and then fire Sherman Greer and say he fired him because he should have known about Sherman’s office assistant accruing so much comp time.

        Pot calling the kettle black! The Mayor should resign? no? Then tell me why he asked Sherman Greer to resign?

        • Again, you are making a fool of yourself. Compensatory time and overtime are not the same thing. Do you even consider what you are typing? Please go to a library or consult with a knowledgeable labor attorney or HR professional. We, adults, are trying to have an intelligent conversation and you’re messing that up.

          • Comp time and overtime are governed by the exact same federal statute. Comp time is actually accrued as a result of working overtime and is subject to the same “time and a half” laws as overtime. The are forever connected. Comp time is simply an alternative form of payment for overtime. The laws are quite clear. The other thing that is clear is that the City of Evansville has been managing comp time in a lawless way for many years. Please read the statute. Comp time and overtime while different are forever coupled by law.


    • The problem that I see is that maybe the employees were not aware of the law. Maybe a training session can be done to explain comp time to all municipal employees to prevent this from happening. There are two limits that we need to consider, the hour limit and the limit on how long that you can hold onto the time. In my opinion, the second limit is no different from the millions of employees that lose their earned vacation time at the end of every year, except we are aware of it because we’ve been warned about it since our first job. Did the city employees know that they only had a certain amount of time to use the comp time? Who knows? Did the employees know that there are limits on the amount of comp time that you can accrue? Only they can answer that. I really think that too many people are jumping way ahead of the news and throwing out speculative ideas on what has happened or what may happen and we don’t have the complete story and most of us are not part of the story.

  7. In the real world a salaried employee does not get compensated for working over 40 hours per week. They do not receive overtime or comp time. Once again government employees are still milking a system established long ago just like the retirement plans. Until this changes politicians will never be able to relate with outside world nor speak for it.

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