Cost of Living Adjustments Are Not “Pay Raises”

Cost of Living Adjustments Are Not “Pay Raises” By Susan M. Halpern Former Addison Councilmember (1992-1999)

Addison’s mayor has once again misled Addison’s residents, mischaracterizing an upcoming council vote regarding retirees as a vote about “pay raises.” The vote is actually about cost-of-living adjustments (“COLAs”), not “pay raises.” They are two very different animals.

COLAs are periodic increases in payments and/or benefits that compensate for a LOSS OF PURCHASING POWER DUE TO INFLATION. Without COLAs, benefits and payments lose their value over time. As an example, Social Security recipients have received COLAs for more than 40 years, by law. According to the Social Security Administration, the purpose of COLAs is to allow “Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits [to] keep pace with inflation.”

Given all this, calling cost-of-living adjustments “pay raises” is grossly misleading.

Remember as well that last year, Meier led the Council to vote against COLAs for Addison’s retirees. That hurt retirees who count on COLAs and who were promised COLAs during their employment. These are the very folks who worked tirelessly for decades to make Addison the special place it was before Meier arrived and began his assault on history and his campaign of destruction.

These retirees deserve our respect and our support, just as they were promised during their many years of exemplary service to Addison.

I expect Meier to employ alarmist tactics, as is typical when he doesn’t get his way. Meier has already circulated a distorted analysis of the future cost of the proposed COLA adjustment. It is beyond hypocritical: Where was the analysis of the future value of the money Meier spent forcing Lea Dunn out and conducting an expensive, unnecessary nationwide search for her replacement? Or of the hundreds of thousands of dollars Meier has supported spending on the boondoggle pie-in-the-sky nonsense about a park over the Tollway? Or how about the money paid to Meier’s hand-picked hatchet man, Larry Kanter, who was suspiciously retained without any request for proposals from any other accountant, and who ignored applicable AICPA principles to assist Meier in his 2016 campaign of lies? And, of course, we now face the consequences of the absurd decision to spend $6.5 million out of our maintenance and operations budget on the Midway/Beltway debacle.

If you want to know how concerned Meier has been about Addison’s budget, check your tax bill to confirm the dramatic increases in Addison’s taxes that have occurred during Meier’s misguided tenure, much of it wholly avoidable. In the face of this reality, Meier’s attacks on Addison’s retirees ring hollow.

Once again we are confronted with the sad reality that Meier’s ability to “succeed” – which in Meier’s world means only one thing: that he gets his way – has been wholly dependent on his ability to deceive. And that’s not what Addison needs. It’s not a good decision-making model and it’s not a sign of a healthy democracy. What Addison needs is TRUTH, and it’s time for the current Council and Addison’s residents to demand it from Meier.

Here’s the bottom line: If Meier thinks he’s right about COLAs or any other issue, then he should make an honest case for his views. Misrepresenting the facts is pure cowardice. It accomplishes nothing and is harmful to our democracy.

Addison deserves better. In the meantime, let’s hope our Council has the courage to reject Meier’s war on retirees.