Heated Debate Over Domestic Partners Benefits
The vice mayor told SFGN that domestic partnership have not been included in the city’s insurance plan because "labor has not asked for that benefit on behalf of their employees."
A heated debate at Pembroke Pines City Hall turned into an online back and forth battle between a local activist and the city’s vice mayor.
During the city commission meeting on April 17, Commissioner Iris Siple filed a motion that would allow domestic partners to be included on the city’s health insurance plan for employees, something that "should have been acted upon long before now," she said, adding that Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Broward Sheriff’s Office and Broward County offer this to its employees, among others locally.
She also laid out how inexpensive the costs would be to the city.
It took 30 minutes from Siple reading the motion to finally vote unanimously for the city manager to research it, with plenty of back patting in between (relive the magic here: http://bit.ly/bZoZER).
However, it was what local activist Michael Rajner called "grandstanding" and "sounding like a king throwing scraps to the common person" by Vice Mayor Angelo Castillo when he blamed the unions for holding up equality in the city. The vice mayor, who was the CEO of Broward House for nine years, spoke for about five minutes about how the issue has not come forward in the past because unions had never done so.
"People have been talking to me about why we don’t have this in place, and the answer has always consistently been that in this city there has been a pattern in practice that goes back many, many years... that anything having to do with compensation or benefits comes forward to us from labor," Castillo said at the meeting. "In the bucket of money that we could use to benefit labor, each of them has their own agenda as we all know about how those dollars should be used."
Later, Castillo went on Facebook and posted the topic for friends and followers to discuss, claiming that "labor only favors it if the city pays the entire bill - without staff chipping in - making that one benefit unlike any other we offer."
Oddly enough, when public comments were allowed at the meeting, a representative from both the police and fire unions voiced support for the move.