Metro Council votes to keep lifetime health benefits for members

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 11:12pm

Future Metro Council members will still have the chance to qualify for lifetime health benefits, after current members voted down a bill that would have done away with the perk.

Despite receiving 19 votes several weeks ago, passing on second reading, Councilman Phil Claiborne’s bill was defeated Tuesday by a vote of 14 to 23. The bill would have ended a Metro policy that offers two-term council members the chance to continue buying into the city’s health care plan for life.

Claiborne has said that the bill was an important opportunity for the council to “lead by example” when it comes to cutting costs in Metro. He repeated that argument Tuesday night, telling the council that it should include itself in the process of trimming costs.

A representative from Metro’s Human Resources Department told The City Paper last month that 24 current council members and 33 former council members are in the Metro health insurance system. The total cost for current and former members is approximately $550,000 annually.

The primary opposition against the bill Tuesday night, however, came in response to the fact that the bill would not apply to current council members, thereby not including them in the cost-trimming effort at all.

“If a public policy is good for this government, then we should include ourselves when we vote for it,” said Councilman Jerry Maynard, before the vote. “If it is not good enough to pass while including us, then that should tell us something.”

Maynard is among those thought to be mulling a 2015 mayoral run, and as part of his comments he suggested that council members with future political ambitions should be willing to include themselves if they believed it was a good bill. He said it would be “hypocritical” to vote to take away the benefit from future council members, when he intended to take advantage of it.

In other council action:

Tuesday’s meeting was the first for Councilmen Darren Jernigan and Bo Mitchell since their election to higher office. Both were victorious as Democrats in state House races in districts 60 and 50 respectively.

Both told The City Paper they intend to give up their seats on the council, though it will be some time until they do so. In an effort to avoid the cost to the city that would come with a special election, Jernigan and Mitchell are planning on waiting to resign their council seats until the next scheduled elections in 2014. That means they would both serve their first full terms — including two legislative sessions — in the General Assembly while simultaneously serving on the council.

The next chance for the council seats to be filled without a special election is in August 2014, when the county general and state primary elections are held. By resigning then, Jernigan and Mitchell would be leaving with a year left on their council terms.

13 Comments on this post:

By: Rasputin72 on 11/14/12 at 12:56

Now why would anyone think that any group in America with the privilege of determing their
own benefits not vote for a lifetime supply of anything good.

By: BASPUD on 11/14/12 at 2:19

BUD it is wrong to have life time benefits after you leave a job when tax payers are still footing the bill how come they voted among themself,s without letting the public vote even though they still pay it is at a discount to them two years on the job and you get these kind of benefits guess i worked at the wrong job and most every body else give them the dam obamacare

By: Ask01 on 11/14/12 at 6:09

I see the concept of a greedy sense of entitlment can be applied to not only the Romneyesque 47%, but to those who preach sacrifice for the good of all. Refering to the property tax increase, of course, and the looming, I believe inevitable, burden of the MCC.

I hope voters remember this little betrayal, but considering the lack of electoral action after all the past betrayals, I doubt our elected servants have any fear of their bosses.

There is, of course, always hope the voters will react, but I fear apathy is rampant.

By: govskeptic on 11/14/12 at 7:37

What a pathetic group of petty actors pretending to be concerned with the public
interest. Self-serving interest and benefit builders would describe 90% of this
oversized body. Our Term limit votes has turned into a disaster. Now, we have
the sick and lame of mind and body running for these offices just for pay and
benefits versus public service. The Vice-Mayor is the poorest of leadership
this council has ever had when years ago there was great leadership that was
built on trust by the public and fellow council members. State and Metro interest
are often in conflict, how will these two "double dippers" handle that between
now and 2014. We should have a law that if elected to another, there must be
a resignation from the council. Keep smiling and stretching your wallets!

By: Jughead on 11/15/12 at 10:03

I hate government on any level. Self-serving crooks who laugh at taxpayers.

By: Jughead on 11/15/12 at 10:04

America is nothing but a big money-grab...blacks and white trash grabbing welfare, politicians voting themselves lifetime benefits. PUKES!

By: trisha40422 on 11/15/12 at 3:43

Trisha74

I can't say I'm surprised by these self-serving bozos. The Metro g Council is obscenely large but I seriously doubt that its size will ever be reduced. Big Council equals half a million $ a year for their health care. The foxes are devouring the henhouse.

By: trisha40422 on 11/15/12 at 3:43

Trisha74

I can't say I'm surprised by these self-serving bozos. The Metro g Council is obscenely large but I seriously doubt that its size will ever be reduced. Big Council equals half a million $ a year for their health care. The foxes are devouring the henhouse.

By: trisha40422 on 11/15/12 at 3:43

Trisha74

I can't say I'm surprised by these self-serving bozos. The Metro g Council is obscenely large but I seriously doubt that its size will ever be reduced. Big Council equals half a million $ a year for their health care. The foxes are devouring the henhouse.

By: frodo on 11/16/12 at 9:20

I agree with you Trisha, all three times ; ]

But don't you know that the public servants have become royalty and rulers in today's America, with compensation nearly double their counterparts in private work. Nashville Councilmembers are just going with the flow. So cut them a little slack, and remember to bow when they go down the street.

By: Ask01 on 11/18/12 at 10:14

Don't give our elected employees any ideas, frodo.

On the other hand, given the opportunity to fire some of these greedy, untrustworthy folks, Nashville voters continue to send the same evils back to office year after year, so perhaps they enjoy being abused.

The electorate knew Mayor Dean rammed the MCC through without allowing a voter voice, yet still returned him to office, whereupon he promptly turned on us with a tax increase.

It is no wonder our feckless representatives have no problem voting themselves benefits for life. Look for the next step to be increasing their compensation for the grueling part time job of being on the Metro council.

By: ConservativeSailor on 1/24/13 at 2:09

It's my belief that the Founders of the US never conceived of career politicians. It's my belief that the founders of Tennessee, Davidson County and Nashville were equally naive.
The US Congress, Executive and Judicial Branches have better pay (X4) than the average voter, get 2.5% per year of their highest salary as retiredment after serving 4 years, continue to receive this pay until they die and then their spouse or other "contingent beneficiary" gets it until they pass. They receive the same medical benefits they receive, at the same subsidy as while they serve. They don't do Medicare, although they can do Social Security on top of the golden parachute.
The Nashville Metro Council have voted themselves lifetime medical benefits, subsidized at 75% by those of us they govern. Same mind-set as the US Congress (a pox on both its houses).
In my humble opinion, no elected official at any level from POTUS to council member should receive a pension or any other benefit that's paid for by the taxpayer after leaving office. A possible exception would be a Sherrif, since they put their lives on the line. That is the only justification for paying benefits after leaving office.
I talked with my councilman today and he agrees with me (to an extent). I believe that since Dean raised property taxes we need to undo some expenses. Lifetime medical for part-time politicians, their wivew, dependent mothers, children and other "contingent beneficiaries" should be removed from the statutes and should be canceled for retired members as a subsidized benefit. Let them buy the policy, but let them pay 100% of the cost. Present and future council members should not receive any consideration after leaving office whether after two terms or twenty.
John Lowery

By: ConservativeSailor on 1/24/13 at 2:18

In response to ASK01, voters are funny folks. Congress has an approval rating around 10-18% but incumbents continue to get re-elected. The reason is that voters see Congress as bad, but not their members.
Look at the voters in Washington DC. Mayor Barry was
filmed with a prostitute while smoking crack cocaine,
was arrested,
was tried,
was convicted,
served his time
and was re-elected.
The Founders expected more of We The People than we give as thinking voters. We get the government we deserve at every level where we vote since we vote, for the most part, without much study and with less thought about consequence.
John Lowery