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Council tentatively approves massive funding cut to Human Rights, pay cut for themselves

City Hall in Mason City
City Hall in Mason City

MASON CITY – At Thursday’s city council work session, the Mason City council gave the tentative go ahead to a massive funding cut to Human Rights and its own pay.

Four council members gave Mayor Eric Bookmeyer approval to cut funding to Human Rights from $143,000 to $15,000. Council members Alex Kuhn and Jon Lee advocated for major cuts as well but less severe. Bookmeyer gave City Finance Director Kevin Jacobson the go ahead to add the cut to Human Rights to the tentative budget moving forward.

It was said at the council work session that at $15,000 the Mason City Human Rights Commission would still be the highest-funded commission in the state.

Earlier Thursday at a Human Rights Commission meeting, it was said that the agency will effectively be shut down with a cut that large. The commission was ready to offer the council a funding cut of $20,000.  An $85,000 federal grant will likely be lost due to the cut in local funding.

Human Rights Director Lionel Foster said that the commission will be out of business because currently it meets only once per month for one hour and there will be no one to take complaints from the public. The $143,000 in funding pays the salaries of Foster and an assistant; both will likely now be out of jobs. He further said that comparisons to Fort Dodge and other similar-sized cities in Iowa with commissions weren’t fair because they have been so underfunded. He says that the lack of funding in those cities has lead to fewer complaints being filed and followed through upon. “Human rights violations will occur… and people will just not file complaints,” Foster said.

Also OK’d on a tentative basis was a $2,500 cut to the pay for city council members. Their pay would drop from $7,400 per year to $4,900. “We should share the pain,” Council member Alex Kuhn stated. It was his idea to cut council pay. A former council member told NIT Thursday night that “lowering their wages is job security for them… only elites will take the job.”

The council, in its quest to erase the possibility of tax hikes for property owners in Mason City, needed to cut $295,000 from the proposed budget brought forward by Jacobson. That budget already dipped into reserves. Even after cuts to Human Rights and pay raise cuts for non-bargaining city employees (2% raise slashed to 1.5%) and the elimination of a supposed $45,000 compensation study, about $75,000 remained to be cut to reach $295,000. Several council members gave Bookmeyer the indication that they were fine with going back into reserves for more money to offset the budget shortfall. An additional $25,000 will be taken from retirement funds for police, fire and employees. Only Alex Kuhn opposed the move entirely.

More on these developments to come.

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@Anynoymous “I like your socialist ruling government there in Mason – Aldolf would be so proud of U all.”

That made me laugh! Well said.

Yeah right like we can leave race and stupidity out of the equation when were talking about the HRC.

here is a duplication of services here and those that need to file a complaint can do so with the state agency – who will visit Mason City on a routine basis.

It is not the same, and you know it. People do not like having to talk to some nameless faceless person on the phone with such a sensitive matter as what HRC deals with.

With the MC HRC, you had a face and name that was local and accountable. One cannot say the same about some bureaucrat in Des Moines, or where ever they pick up the phone (the way some here talk, it may as well be in Bombay, India).

I found everyone in that office professional, even if the particular problem was not in their area of expertise, which is refreshing.

This has all the appearances of heavy handed politics or payback for friends, however, there is no way I can quantify this other than gut reaction.

Yet in a four decades of examining local politics where that kind of thing occurs, it looks and smells the same. And it’s premeditated in nature.

Will this be the last we hear of this? I’ll put down a sawbuck that says no. I’ll let the assembled masses figure out why for themselves. But please, leave race and stupidity out of the equation.

I am a Democrat whose never voted Urdahl never will. He is not really a Democrat, ask the guys over to UPS thats in the Union with Jay. Him taking all that Blodgett money means he is all ways ready to do what ever Gary Blodgett says. Jay is out for Jay only Jay. He gets Phil to go along to. Thats not democracy thats rule by the rich.

We got a couple letters last fall signed by Dr. Blodgett asking us to vote to re-elect Phil Dougherty. I voted for Chris Watts but my husband voted for Dougherty. Can somebody tell me, why does this conservative Republican keep helping Democrats? “RINO” maybe?

Republican, you should know long as Gary Blodgett keeps making sure Urdahl and Dougherty has alot of campaign money, nothing will ever, ever change. I hear Blodgett already picked the guy he wants to put in Ameson seat next year. We got goverment for the rich and by the rich here. For shame this has been millionaire fascit gets money hungry bums like Urdahl and Dougherty do his dirty work, gets them to rubber stamp the GOP superviser thats from Clear lake. Just because your Republican don’t mean you have got to be so ignorant. Now do you understand.

Very interesting and disturbing. Lots of wrong here in River City!
Alot of talk about lowering the council salaries, but it doesn’t seem to bother the readers here about Jay Urdahl, Phil Dougherty & Bob Amosson-OUR County Supervisor’s and their lavish salaries, benefits, etc.
Oh by the way, have you noticed the Globe has printed what the other area Counties have decided and nothing about Cerro Gordo yet?

Depends on whether or not you choose to believe the editorial. It is just opinion and inuendo you do realize?

They sould ne ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES – they just set civil rights back 50 years – 100 bills must be taking control.

civil rights my azz…This office isn’t just for descrimination against minorities cases you know. What makes you think those cases should get prioritty? that would be descriminatin right there.
And they are not closing the office nor saying it’s of no use. But hey just keep spreading the hate manure if it makes you feel good.

FYI — A pay DECREASE wouldn’t take affect until 1/1/14, when the new council is sworn in.

LVS can type what ever he wants on this cite Julie, who says your the boss? Btw your wrong. Iowa code. If Blodgett branished a gun on somebody that didn’t have one, he could of went to jail.

LVS this is not about Todd Blodgett, its about the HRC. So what if Blodgett or his dad help Urdahl or Kuhn or Phil with money for there campaigns. If Blodgett pulled a gun on the carny who stole his money who cares. It was legal.

@Julie B.-whoever the hell you are. My response was an answer to John L. who said that Blodgett wouldn’t support a democrat and I stated he already did with Urdahl so he certainly COULD have with Kuhn. Read the post before you comment and if you can’t understand them ask for help.

Did big business pay these people of to get rid of HRC?

Does this mean they pulled off their socialist vendeta – like Adolph saying the jews are bad!

You are a very mean person Laker Forever. I looked up on the google what you said to Katie. You have no proof Mr. Blodgett broke the laws you say. Why do you talk on here in Spanish? If you like it so much then move to Mexico. Goodnight.

Correction Matt… Councilman Lee’s first name is “John”, not Jon. Thanks.

welcome to the world of 16 trillion of debt. Cuts are going to have to be made and this just the start

Your wrong Pete sorry. Its legal to take guns in bars and have a few belts you just cant be drunk and have a gun on your person at the time. Laker you are a dumb bitch. I am firmiliar with what your talking about yes. Even if Blodgett would of shot the thief took his money it would be legal all he had to say is he thinks his life is endanger.

Another law Blodgett broke, when he took a drink of alcohol in that bar he got cross wise. You can take a gun to a bar long as you have conceal carry but in Iowa you can’t drink no alcohol when a gun is on you in public.

From first hand experience both as an private employer and now as a employee I know that the HRC reaches out to many communities and entities far beyond Mason City.

I always wondered why other users where never expected to pony up for some of the operating costs of the HRC and is bothers me that most of the expense burden fell to the people of Mason City.

What law has he broken, Katie? What a card you are, dearie. It’s illegal to take a firearm into a bar in the state of Iowa and use it for non-self-defense purposes.

La ignorancia es felicedad, eh, Katie?

It’s felicidad, ignoranus.

The HRC does good things. I just think that Mr. Foster has burned too many bridges in this town. Every time one of his family members has a run in with the law, which happens on a regular basis, he’s right there to cry racial profiling. Maybe if we had someone else running the HRC it would be looked at differently. Maybe they need to get rid of Mr. Foster and go from there.

I would like to know why Mr. Blogett is not in prison.

Just what law has he broken?

OK Glen so how do you think Blodgetts old man knows Urdahl. Urdahl and Todd Blodgett are drinking buddys, they go way back. The trouble maker is him, you better believe it.

Todd’s daddy Gary is the family troublemaker. Gary Blodgett got Jay Urdahl in, and keeps that money mad faker there with his big bucks and checks he gets his rich friends to write.

Hey, Einstein, Kuhn is a Democrat. Todd Blodgett is a Republican. No way he helped him get elected.

@John L.-why not, he helped Urdahl.

@ LVS Just because Dr. Blodgett helped Urdahl doesn’t mean his son did! Gary Blodgett helped Phil Dougherty too, but that does not mean Todd Blodgett did. What politician wants a drug addict advising him?

@John L. The point was Urdahl is a Democrat and so is Kuhn. Blodgett helped Urdahl (democrat) so he could help Kuhn (Democrat) as well.

Your right Aryan Nations could not of did this better them selfs. When Kuhn and Beermonger was running I read comments on here said Todd Blodgett was giving them advise on how to win. Well they sure done that didn’t they, I bet Todd Blodgett is one happy Hitler Jr today.

I think this agency is the unfortunate recipient of the revenge of our Aryan race poster child and the Foster family’s non stop trouble leaving the perception of playing the race card one to many times. Hopefully with enough calls and email’s a common ground can be found.

Oh come on blog, this is nonsense. There is a duplication of services here and those that need to file a complaint can do so with the state agency – who will visit Mason City on a routine basis. As a taxpayer I am all for elimination of duplicative services.

Just wait until people start taking things into their own hands because the Human Rights department is gone. Currently that entity assists at times in acting as somewhat of a buffer between parties. Desperate people without this department to offer them guidance and recourse will act with desperate measures. I can promise you the MCPD will be much busier. Watch, wait and see. All that glitters is not gold.

No one causes anyone to be a vigilante except the person their self. What you’re basically doing is making up an excuse for someone to be a vigilante. You don’t hear of people “taking it upon themselves” in other cities. You sound like a crook. If they’re too unambitious to file the papers then their case prob. isn’t worth it.

ever hear of the american revolution? you back people into a corner and they will fight. just listen to people talk about gun control.

Go to the city’s website and download the council packet:

After you’ve read it, please explain why the wages and benefits for the HRC went from $48,323.87 in FY 2009-10 to $157,435.99 in FY 2011-12…. anybody??

That’s an increase of $109,112.12 – JUST IN WAGES AND BENEFITS in TWO YEARS!

I think something is starting to stink…

@sicka-If I had to guess and that is what I am doing, I would say they changed something in accounting. Probably they were carrying Lionel’s salary in another account and moved it. Maybe they were showing his salary coming out of the grant money which would kind of make sense. I wouldn’t put it past our mayor to move it just to get at him. But, then again I don’t really know. Just makes sense.

@sicka-I read the report and as I am not a lawyer I am assuming a lot here but Anonymous Also is correct. There are three staff members in the HRC with one being grant supported. However, I am not real sure of a lot of the legalese but I think the city just could be getting itself into a legal bind here. There are contracts and claims already started that are protected and they could be liable. This may get real interesting before it is all over. Now, I am going to say something I have been reluctant to say. I have heard for years that the HRC would not be real interested in taking your case unless you were a minority and knowing Fosters I would say that is possible. Just saying.

They can’t move figures from one fund to another. That’s illegal and the state would be on them immediately. So something increased in that year – another two employees or something – to warrant that increase.

The grant money pays for rent, utilities, etc, not payroll. That’s city money only.

Something is not right.

@sicka-I read in the report that the investigator is paid from grant funds when he is investigating out of the city. Maybe that is where it came from. I think it was 28K or something like that. I would have to go back on your link to see it. It was the top item on the list.

The HRC has three employees, not two. One is grant supported, but nonetheless, they have three folks working there, not two.

Sicka, the wages actually didn’t increase that much between 2009 and 2012. If you take a look at the worksheet you’ll see that the number under 2009-2010 is the same as the year to date expenditures shown under 2012-2012 (which should probably be 2012-2013). I have heard from someone inside City Hall that this was an issue on all of the budget worksheets every department filled out. The number shown for 2009-2010 isn’t correct on the attachment to the report- it wasn’t correct on any budget worksheet. You can call city hall to verify.

I can answer your question; you may not accept it but then the real truth is sometimes difficult to swallow. The reason for the abrupt change was the fact that for years this city was paying L. Foster in the dark, a wage far below that was even close to what others in the same position were being paid; finally they had to match that being paid to like positions in other cities….hence the increase.

Not true. Take a look at the memo and ALL of the budget worksheets. It’s an error made by the finance department. The year to date expenses as of October 2012 were put in two columns, the year to date column and the 2008 column.

Also, if what you are saying we’re true, and I guarantee you it is not, that means that Lionel and Amy combined were making less than $50,000 per year. Not happening.

Well, they looked to the future last year and spent enough that they were able to get rid of the commission. Very thoughtful of them.

Thank you Matt. I can’t support Foster on this one and the people who need the service will suffer.

why would put the salaries on the same line as Human Rights….what did they cut a dollar of fatmyers and his lapdogs….lowerclass and middleclass don’t count anymore..we have no voice!

what are you drinking? you made no sense.

143K for salaries for TWO people? Are you kidding? Who approved these bloated salaries?

How dare they cry about these cuts? Shame on them!

@sicka-I think that $143K is for salaries, benefits, office rental and some other stuff. The last I remember seeing I think Lionel was around 78K. I could be wrong there but I think I saw that in the paper. I don’t know what his assistant makes but would guess around 30K. What people are upset about is the HRC has always been there and the budget loss is due to the Fat Man and his cronies wasting it on remodeling city hall and buying worthless statues. In other words they gave away our money and now want to cut something that helps the common person. It is a vendetta on the Fat Mans part to repay one of his backers when he ran for mayor.

Helps the “common person”? HRC helps “evrerybody”. Not just poor people. Working people making good money get descriminated against also. This commision handle ALL types of complaints. Sexual harassment, unfair job promotions, on the job harassment just to name a few. HRC is only a liason not a problem solver.

@sicka-I stand corrected. I was sure I saw Lionels salary in the paper at 78K. I can’t believe his assistant was getting 63K but maybe she was. Matt says it is all salary so I would say he is right, which makes you right as well. Must make you feel pretty special.

And you can’t figure out I’m so hostile sometimes. Was that last comment really necessary? Did it add anything? Or are you just trying to be insulting?

@Sick – I agree. That last sentence was totally uncalled for.

@sicka-just habit I guess. Being a smart ass. Sorry. Citzen-who made you judge and jury?

@LVS – It was just so out of character for you. Rather surprised me. And I guess I’m like you. I speak my mind. Kind of a double-edged sword. Apologies.

@A Citizen-No problem. I had just read another post where I was attacked and called names and it got to me a little bit. I guess I am just getting cranky in my old age. I would much rather have intelligent discussions without the name calling. We can all learn something if we will just listen but it is hard to do when someone attacks instead of discusses. Sicka can make some really intelligent, constructive comments when she wants to.

The best action to this is flood the council with e-mails and letters to let them know your opinion before if is finalized.

NO ONE CAN RUN A DEPARTMENT ON 15 grand – city council knooows that – driving to Des Moines will be a hardship on the HONEST PRIVATE CITIZEN – people in surrounding counties will also be hurt – F your figures you socialist.

Des Moines will send people out so citizens do not have to travel, this is how it works everywhere else in the state. Every other city in our entire state runs this “department” on less than $15,000, so why should we be any different?

Cutting 90% of funding and it will STILL be the highest funded in the state and people are seriously going to complain?????

15000 dollars won’t pay the heat bills – snot burgers for the major and all his private social army.

This was a given with this bunch. They were not going to stop until they shut down the HRC. Kuhn makes me sick. he always makes a comment about taking care of the people and then votes the opposite.

anyone think getting rid of that BAD Max was still a good idea – who has the reins on these swamp rats.

HRC used up $228,000 last year so I’m going to assume you’re referring to the HRC as swamp rats…..
Yes getting rid of Max was an excellant idea. He doesn’t know how to act like a grown up with brains. He’s rude and expects to be treated like royalty. He never did a thing to better his N End ganghangout. He just got more money for his pocket so he didn’t haave to punch a timeclock.

I like your socialist ruling government there in Mason – Aldolf would be so proud of U all.

Anyone have real numbers on what the total HRC budget is a year with the city’s money and grants and out of this how much was salaries.

Glad the council made the tough decision. Those salary’s were way out of line.

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