Portage mayor vetoes collective bargaining ordinance

2012-06-21T17:45:00Z 2012-06-22T11:11:34Z Portage mayor vetoes collective bargaining ordinanceBy Joyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | Mayor James Snyder vetoed an ordinance Thursday giving Portage City Council members the authority to have a seat at the bargaining table.

Council members, who support the measure, said they will garner support to override Snyder's veto.

Snyder said, as executive officer of the city, even if the council succeeds in overriding the veto, the fight won't be over.

"The mayor of Portage and the City Council of Portage will not be in closed door union negotiations, period," Snyder said during a Thursday press conference at City Hall.

It was the second ordinance he vetoed in a week. Earlier he pocket vetoed an ordinance approving increases in ambulance fee.

Thursday's veto was the first signed by a Portage mayor since March 1985 when then Republican Mayor Robert Goin vetoed an ordinance regarding the rezoning of a parcel of land. Council members attempted, but failed, to override Goin's veto.

Snyder gave two reasons for vetoing the measure. He cited a statement made by Councilman Matt Scheuer at the June 5 meeting that the ordinance was used to "make a statement to the mayor."

Secondly, Snyder said elected officials should not be involved in bargaining because if threatened by the loss of political support, it could "lead to corruption and bad deals on behalf of the residents."

Both Scheuer and City Council President Sue Lynch disagreed, saying they will work to override Snyder's veto at the City Council meeting on July 3.

Scheuer said his comment at the June meeting about the ordinance making a statement to the mayor was later later clarified. He said  he was not being political, but was letting them know even if the ordinance passed, the mayor would not abide by the council's wishes.

"We need to be in the room as a silent partner. It is asinine not to be part of the process," said Scheuer, criticizing the mayor for backing off on being directly involved in negotiations because of politics.

"Because we could get a political backlash, we should shirk our responsibilities? We need people to stand up even when they are faced with adversity," he said.

"I will continue to fight for council representation in negotiations," Lynch said. "He's sending a message to us that he's going to go around us."

Snyder said all Portage city contract negotiations will be led by Director of Public Works A.J. Monroe. Monroe will meet with Snyder, Lynch and her representatives before and during negotiations and will be responsible to report back to elected officials on the progress of the negotiations.

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