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CNB Archives September 2009: Taxpayers Give Police Chiefs a "Nice Farewell"...$100,000 Each!

6a00d8341bf7d953ef01bb07cd860f970d-800wiCNB Archives: Published Monday, September 21, 2009

By William E. Cleary Sr.

  

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GLOUCESTER CITY NJ (CNBNEWSNET)--Former Gloucester City Police Chief William Crothers and Deputy Police Chief Michael Kaye walked out of the Police Department with a “suitcase” of money according to a settlement agreement that recently came into my possession. Crothers, with 28 years of service and Kaye with 27 years retired on August 31. The “suitcase of money”, $100,000 for each, came about as a result of a lawsuit being settled. 

When Mayor Bill James was asked about the settlement he said there was a lot of turmoil in the department and it had to be done. “During my many years in the department I never saw anything like what has been going on these past three years.” Deputy Chief James retired in 2006. 

In 2008 Crothers and Kaye sued the city of Gloucester City because council voted to eliminate the longevity perk for department heads in an effort to save tax dollars. The chief's longevity was 7% of their base salary.  Crothers and Kaye argued that it was illegal for the City to reduce their pay without negotiation.   They were seeking longevity pay going back to 2005.

The City also held back on negotiating a new contract with the twosome leaving them at the 2005 salary pay scale; Crothers annual pay then being $101,000 and Kaye $97,000. 

Crothers and Kaye circled the wagons and refused to budge on their demand for the longevity pay. Mayor James and City Council held to their position and so the standoff begun which lasted for three plus years.

Sometime around May or June a breakthrough was reached. Although no formal announcement was made by any City official you knew something was up in July when council passed an ordinance increasing the salaries of Police Chief Crothers to $120,292 and the salary of Deputy Chief to $115,528.

According to the settlement agreement that I found in my mailbox, the Chiefs not only received the pay increase but also were given the back pay that included longevity. It was the longevity that was the sticking point from the very beginning.

The retroactive pay worksheet included in the settlement shows that from July 1, 2005, to August 31, 2009, Crothers gross pay was $411,308. As a result of the two sides coming to terms, his salary increased with longevity payments of 3.9 percent for 2006, 3.5 percent for 2007 and 3.5 percent for 2008 to $463,580. The difference of $52,272 was paid to him on August 31.

As for Kaye his gross pay from July 1, 2005, to August 31, 2009, was $395,048. The agreement reached with the same percentage longevity payments as Crothers increased his gross to $445,221. The difference being $50,173 paid to him on August 31. 

But wait there is more. As part of the settlement agreement the twosome agreed to drop their lawsuit against the City of Gloucester City (us taxpayers) in exchange for a payment of $47,728 to Plaintiff Crothers and $49,827 to Plaintiff Kaye.

Also, the arrangement called for both Plaintiffs’ to be able to utilize any unused sick or vacation time accrued for June, July and August of 2009 prior to Plaintiffs’ last day of employment, August 31.

Plus it was agreed that the City of Gloucester City (us taxpayers) will provide a health benefit plan equal to or better than the current coverage to both Plaintiffs and their dependents for the rest of their lives at no cost to either man.

The Plaintiffs, former Chief and former Deputy Chief and their respective dependents, shall be provided with dental, optical and prescription coverage equal to or better that the current coverage with a City selective carrier. This coverage will remain in effect upon retirement and during the course of their respective retirement.

During this entire period of discord the moral of the rank and file sunk to an all time low. The union members filed a number of grievances against the Chiefs, who they felt were harassing them. The union was successful in defending the members and won the majority of those grievances. 

Incidentally, the membership has been working without a contract since December 2008. Presently the matter is in arbitration, a procedure that is costing both the union and the city $20,000 each.

Not only did Crothers and Kaye cause pandemonium in the department their actions against one particular officer have left the City with a possibility of having to pay a multi-million lawsuit. That case was filed by Patrolman John Driscoll. 

Driscoll alleges that his First and Fourteenth amendments were violated by Crothers and Kaye. He filed a lawsuit in United States District Court, Camden NJ on February 24, 2009. Driscoll is the former president of PBA Local #40 the union that represents the rank and file. 

Named in Driscoll’s lawsuit besides Crothers and Kaye were the City of Gloucester City and former councilwoman Jean Kaye, Michael Kaye’s wife.

In 2006, according to court documents, Driscoll told former Deputy Chief James that he would make a good candidate for town council. On or about August of 2006, Driscoll received a telephone call from Defendant, Councilwoman, Jean Kaye, who threatened him for supporting opposing council candidates. She threatened to put him on night work.

Chris Gray, of the Alterman Law Firm, (Cherry Hill NJ) who represents Driscoll, said in a March interview that from that point on (August 2006) Driscoll was harassed by his superiors, specifically Chief Crothers and Deputy Chief Kaye. 

“For example as part of their harassment he (Driscoll) was removed from the DARE program, a course he enjoyed teaching to City school children. The defendants’ violated the department drug testing policy by subjecting my client to testing while off duty. He should have been tested upon return to duty.”

Grey continued, “May 2007 the Defendant, Chief Crothers, changed my client’s shift to 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. in place of an officer with the least amount of seniority. This was in response to being nominated for President of Local PBA Union on May 7, 2007.”

“In  December of 2007, Defendants, Deputy Chief Kaye and Chief Crothers, demanded the Union (PBA #40) to pay for their contract negotiation to get them a good retirement contract. The Union refused and explained the illegibility of representation. After Patrolman Driscoll, who was president of PBA Local #40 at the time, denied their request he received another shift change” said Grey. 

Court documents state the new shift was 7:10 p.m. to 3:30 a.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Driscoll was the only officer in the department to work this shift while others had 12 hour shift with every other weekend off. 

The lawyers for both sides had discovery last month and will appear before a federal magistrate in October. Driscoll is asking the Court to award him back pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages and pay his attorney fees and costs in this action.

Click t0 read the March 2009 Was a Police Officer Punished for His Political View ”

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-Comments

1
rp said...

what a total disgrace!! They ought to be ashamed of themselves all around. My husband too is an officer, and when he retires, WE will have to pay for our own benefits monthly. With the money they received, why do we, the taxpayers, have to foot the bill for their health insurance?! At the same time, i'm glad to see them go. We need some fresh faces to do the job of these two and hopefully it helps to bring back the morale to our officers! 

Disgusted! 

 
 
2
BIG BUCKS said...

Rumor has it that only 1 important thing is missing from your story- they got to cash in any unused sick and vacation time from the last 5 years; which was on a separate purchase order(different then the agreement you found in your mailbox)
Oh!,and they claim they used almost none of it-Big Bucks for Kay and Crothers

 
 
3
TD said in reply to rp...

Where is your husband a cop because it is standard to get your benefits when you retire, and whatever your contract says you pay then that is what you pay

 
 
4
Taxed said...

To my way of thinking the mayor and council are the ones we the taxpayers should blame for such a rotten outcome. If they knew what they were doing there would have been no basis for a lawsuit.

Once again, action without a plan. When will we learn that popularity isn't good criteria for running a city. 

 
 
5
stabbed in the back by both sides said...

Why didn't the Mayor and Council force these two out with disciplinary action like they did to Paul Kain? The unions handed them the Chief's heads on a silver platter with there vote of no confidence, 20 or so grievances, and two lawsuits. What a bunch of cowards. The sad part is that the union is the one who supported this mayor and concil. What did they get for supporting them? They got harassed by the chiefs, thrown under the bus by the mayor and council, and just to really slap them in the face, they are now in arbitration because the city wants to force a zero percent raise on them. Class act guys. Oh, but they have no problem jamming up Paul Kain because he wouldn't give the Mayor a document unless he filled out an OPRA request. Way to go Hawk!!!

 
 

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