…still waiting on $124M approved disbursementRetired workers of the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) are contemplating legal action against the council for outstanding gratuity and other benefits owed to them dating back to 2015.Vice President of Pensioners’ Association, Kathy FowlerVice President of the Pensioners Association, Kathy Fowler on Wednesday said that the association has been pleading with the M&CC to disburse benefits owed to the pensioners, who would have worked with the municipality for more than 30 years. “There are pensioners that would have served the municipality well. Who would have served for 30 years, 33 years, 35 years. Persons that would have given their youth to the municipality and this is how they are being treated [at] the end of the day,” she said.Fowler, a member of the Guyana Local Government Union, explained that several attempts were made to retrieve the funds from the council, however, they are being ignored. The association has 35 members, all of whom are still awaiting their retirement benefits after four years.She added that a meeting was held under the stewardship of the new Mayor, Ubraj Narine, in early January where the Deputy Mayor, Town Clerk (ag), City Treasurer (ag) and Chairman of the Finance Committee also attended to update them on the issue of non-payments, however, no progress was made.The Mayor and team committed to putting measures in place for the pensioners to receive their benefits and two follow-up meetings were done in January month end and mid-February but to date, nothing has been done.Fowler said the M&CC had begun paying workers retroactive pay increase on salaries and the pensioners had picketed the exercise. This resulted in them being called to a meeting with the Mayor. She added that the meeting was attended by the Deputy Mayor and a few of the councillors but the Administration had abandoned the meeting. “To date, nobody has called us. Even though the media covered everything. Nobody called us. Nobody had the courtesy to sit with us or to acknowledge us,” she argued.Fowler disclosed that some of the pensioners attended the M&CC Commission of Inquiry in 2018 and spoke on the issue. She said subsequent to this, recommendations emerging from the CoI revealed that $124 million was given to the Communities Minister, Ronald Bulkan to address the pensioners’ issues.“Coming out of the CoI, based on the recommendations, the $124 million was given to the Minister of Communities, Mr Bulkan, to address the issues of pensioners’ gratuity, Guyana Public Service Credit Union and the National Insurance Scheme but we got nothing and not a word from them,” she explained.The money was given to begin to pay the retired pensioners, however, to date, none of them has received the payment.Fowler warned that they will be making efforts to meet with the Communities Minister soon before moving ahead with legal actions, which they have in the pipeline. “We do have legal actions in progress and we will also try to meet with the Minister before taking those steps,” she said.
Neither Villaraigosa nor Saenz could be reached for comment. The 11-member Committee on School District Organization reviews proposals for school district reorganizations and recommends to the state Board of Education whether to unify or create new districts. The state panel, not the committee, makes the final decision on district reorganizations. In 2000, for instance, the committee recommended against a plan that would have asked voters to break up the LAUSD and create two San Fernando Valley districts. Sophia Waugh, vice president of the seven-member Los Angeles County Board of Education, said she opposes the move to shift the committee’s duties to the board. “What we have in place right now is working so well and they’re very effective, a body elected by peers to serve on the committee,” she said. “Why make that change unless it wasn’t working well. The system is working as it is now.” Naush Boghossian, (818) 713-3722 firstname.lastname@example.org 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant “This seems under the radar,” said Jo Ann Yee, senior director for urban affairs for the California School Boards Association. “One has to wonder what the motivations behind this are.” With Villaraigosa’s chief counsel, Thomas Saenz, heading up the county board of education, the move has raised eyebrows. “Somebody’s playing cat and mouse,” LAUSD board member David Tokofsky said. “Whatever the motive is, it doesn’t bode well for public discussion and publicly elected officials to take things and make them the authority of an unelected body when issues of school district borders either on breakup or consolidation are among the most passionate issues the populace ever has. “Making this a nonpublic discussion in a nonelected body because of some alleged cost misses the real cost of losing a bit of democracy,” he said. The county Board of Education – whose president is a chief architect of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s plan to take over Los Angeles Unified – is quietly maneuvering to assume the duties of an elected committee in charge of reviewing school district reorganizations. The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, which appoints education board members, was set to discuss the plan today but has put it off for two weeks. Supervisors were to consider asking the state Board of Education to transfer the duties of the Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization – an elected body – to its panel of appointees. According to the Board of Supervisors’ resolution, the transfer would increase efficiency and reduce costs, but no savings is specified. But some education officials worry that the plan to put decisions impacting local school districts in the hands of an appointed body is politically motivated and would bolster Villaraigosa’s effort to reorganize LAUSD.