JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A day after an impasse was declared between the city of Jacksonville and the Fraternal Order of Police, the fight over police pensions has intensified, with the FOP posting a video on its Facebook page.
The video was taken in December of 2010, before Alvin Brown was elected mayor. It shows him talking to the police union, promising to preserve the pension program.
In the video, Brown says, "Here's what I believe. I think, one, the current system should stay. I think it needs some tweaking, but I believe in a strong pension system." He goes on to say, "I don't think you make a promise to those who protect us, and go back on their word. I believe promise made, promise kept."
Fast forward two years. Alvin Brown is now Mayor Brown, and his retirement reform plan includes changes to police pensions. His reform plan raises the retirement age for police officers, eliminates cost of living increases, and doubles the amount officers have to contribute to their retirement.
Union President Nelson Cuba says it's clear, Mayor Brown hasn't kept that campaign promise. "He was clear then. I don't know what's happened between now and then, except that maybe he doesn't want true pension reform."
Now, the union and the city are at an impasse. The union says the city must negotiate with a separate city department called the Police and Fire Pension Fund.
"It's been clear by previous administrations," said Cuba, "Every time there's been a pension benefit change, they go to the Police and Fire Pension Fund."
The Mayor's Chief of Staff, Chris Hand, says negotiations must happen directly with the union. "Florida law's crystal clear. Retirement benefits are a mandatory subject of collective bargaining."
Hand says he's seen on the FOP's Facebook page, in which the mayor says, "We have to get with the trustee board of the pension fund, and the key stake holders, and come together. And make sure at the end of the day, we're doing what's right."
Action News' Leslie Coursey asked Hand about that part in particular. She said, "The video shows that the mayor says that he will negotiate with the Police and Fire Pension Board. That's where they're saying the discrepancy lies. Can you explain that for me?"
Hand replied, "Well, I've seen the video, and I don't think that's what it says at all. What he said was he wanted to sit down and discuss this issue with a variety of stakeholders. And Leslie, that's exactly what the city has been doing."
The city says it hopes Cuba will come back to the table and negotiate. Cuba says that's not going to happen, and that the issue will wind up in court.