Sunday, February 27, 2011

Whatever Happened To....

Dr. Culver's 6 Contract Proposals?
It's been several weeks.  No new "negotiation" meetings have been held.  It hasn't appeared as an agenda item. Whalen and Culver are still hiding behind a non-existent exclusion from Open Records laws and refuse to release the contract proposals.   We wonder why.  Two days ago, the SPEA and Local 60 contract proposals were openly shared with the public--as well as the board's counter offer.  So...why do they refuse to release the proposals?  No one ever wants to air their dirty laundry...right?  So something must be soiled.  Time to do a little investigating.
Let's take a look at the provisions of Culver's contract and see if we can ferret out what he might be up to...shall we?

[from Culver's contract] 3. Compensation
  • (a) salary & deferred compensation.  He's not so crazy as to suggest a raise, given the state fiscal landscape
  • (c) Salary adjustment - he already has a clause that doesn't allow REDUCING his salary.  So that isn't a concern
 Conclusion:  This can't be about a raise.

4. Benefits
  • (a) Payment for health and dental "as provided for other Administrators"...maybe hes looking to pay nothing?  Again, given Governor Walker's stance, not gonna happen 
  • (c) The board may require a physical exam and medical ability to work  if health is an issue"...maybe?
  • (d) Full payment of term life insurance at 4 times salary ($142,193 ) to the nearest $10,000 ($570,000).  According to the contract, we already provide Culver with over $500,000 of life insurance...surely he couldn't want more than that???  Who has that kind of term life insurance?  But....that would move us back to wondering about his health.
  • (e) The Board will pay the Administrators required contribution to the WRS?  Our stench-o-meter just went crazy. Did Culver have an early whiff of the Governor's plan?  Is he trying to solidify what already appears to be solid language?  
  • (f) Board already pays his share of Social Security
  • (15) days of non-designated leave (sick and emergency)...does he want more???
  • (28) vacation days....and can cash out 5 days per year.  He already doesn't lose unused leave days.  Maybe he wants to cash out more???
  • (j) Board pays required dues for 1 state and 1 national professional association...does he want a 3rd?  It would seem unlikely at this stage of the game.  Besides the board has already added payment for his membership in the Rotary Club.
  • (k) Flat monthly payment of $325 for use of personal car with Dane Co.  Gas prices are he looking for more?
  • (l) $125/month for "miscellaneous costs incurred in "carrying out his official duties".  Please!  He wouldn't even dare go here...would he?
  • (m)  District Administrator pays for Long Term Disability insurance at his own expense.  Maybe he wants it paid by the taxpayers?  Another health bell is ringing.
  • (o) Longevity separation pay : unused leave (section g)  up to 205 days at separation at year 12 is already 100% of per diem pay.  Paid in 2 installments... (1) Half w/in 30 days of leaving and (2) Half on 1st anniversary of leaving.  This one has the shenanigans meter twitching.   He could have as much as nearly a full year of pay banked.  That could cost a big tax hit.   Perhaps he's trying to spread this out longer?  It's noteworthy that the district pays interest on any amount not yet paid out.  Hmmm.
Conclusion:  This HAS to be about Culver finding a way to increase his pay during retirement...or...more to the point, reduce his taxes.  Remember, sports fans,  there's also the matter of the $109,962 we're already squirreling away from him in the Reserved/Designated Fund Balance.

Google Saves the Day
A few creative Google searches led us to the concept of pension boosting.  Since Culver is clearly zeroing in on retirement, and the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) bases retirement benefits on the 3 highest salary years, it's clear Culver is looking for ways  to increase his retirement benefit.  
How do you increase your salary without really increasing your salary?  Hmm.  We'll get back to that in just a minute.  Now it's time to recall how quickly the issue of Culver's proposals appeared relative to Scott Walker taking office.  The issue of the contract proposals and the timing MUST be linked to the Budget Repair Bill.  It seems clear that Culver needed to get something done quickly because of moves being made by Governor Walker.
"...pumping up pension payouts is among the newest -- and most lucrative -- benefits for administrators. Much of the added money comes when districts offer money in lieu of benefits such as health or dental insurance."
---IndyStar: School chiefs quietly pad pensions, collect perks  

BINGO! That one little sentence seems to put all the dominoes neatly in line.  It's brilliant.  All Culver has to do is offer to pay for things for which the school district already pays 100% of his Social Security, Medicare, WRS, and even health insurance.  In exchange, they could increase his salary so Culver recoups his costs.  It's beautiful.... it effectively increases his monthly retirement benefits, yet it's cost neutral for the school district.  And it has to happen before Walker rains on his parade.  This has got to be the angle Culver is shooting for.

There's only one teensy weensy problem with it.  Should the school board be working to pad the retirement of any one individual?  Are we offering the same deal for all employees?  And now we see the root problem.  Scott Walker is going to force people like Culver to pay their own way for the WRS and at least 12% of health insurance.  This neatly explains the rush to push this through.  Once Walker's Budget Bill goes through, Culver wouldn't be able to finagle this deal.  This is a singular opportunity to bump his salary by $8,0000-10,000...which would put more than a few dollars in his pocket every month for the rest of his life.
We won't know for sure until Culver/Whalen release those 6 proposals.  But our gut feel is that we're at least barking in the rights stand of trees.