GUILTY, EVEN IF INNOCENT
Innocent until proven guilty as a concept didn’t apply during Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation, which was not a review of his judicial record but a circus with decades-old, unproved sexual assault allegations. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker opined that it doesn’t matter whether Kavanaugh is guilty or innocent, while Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono still believed the accusations despite the gaps that developed. This is an affront to the American notion of justice, and it doesn’t only affect the powerful. A lawsuit was just filed in Pennsylvania by the parents of a boy falsely accused of a sexual assault by four girls. The lawsuit against the girls’ parents, school district, and county District Attorney’s office claims he was “forced to endure multiple court appearances, detention in a juvenile facility, detention at home, the loss of his liberty and other damages until several of the girls reluctantly admitted that their accusations were false.” So far, no charges have been filed against the girls. Students at his school rallied to the boy’s support. Yet, his high school experience is ruined, so I hope he hits the damages lottery and the girls get jail time. I’d also like to see defamation charges filed against the women and handlers of those who accused Kavanaugh. Kudos to President Trump for the apology he gave Kavanaugh and his family. But, the situation is getting worse, going racial. The New York Times, NBC News, and Time magazine ran editorials criticizing white women who came to Kavanaugh’s defense, with one author calling them “gender traitors.” It seems we are to believe only certain women when certain men are accused. Women’s accusation absolutely should be treated seriously when made then investigated thoroughly. If proven true, let the guilty pay. But, if proven false, let the accuser pay.
PAY PARITY, IS IT FAIR?
Firefighters are using pay parity as an alternative means of obtaining a raise, which means the Houston Fire Department (HFD) wants the same salary as the Houston Police officers. Should we vote to give HFD what will essentially be a 32 percent raise? Sylvester Turner, the mayor of Houston, stated the city cannot afford to give the firefighters this large of an increase due to the current state of the city’s finances. When a private sector company decides to hire employees or a human resource department reviews compensation for a position, they review turnover and also determine how much compensation is required to hire and retain quality individuals. It is that simple. Over the last three years, HFD has averaged a total of 4,015 firefighters. The number of firefighters who quit, were fired, or left for medical reasons (not pension eligible) averaged 77 over this same time period. This equals an annual turnover rate of 1.9 percent. This percentage is unheard of in the private sector. Why is the HFD turnover so low? Pay certainly isn’t the driving factor for turnover being low. It is the overall compensation package and benefits, which includes pension, work schedule, flexibility of schedule and health insurance benefits. In 2016, retiring firefighters had an average balance in their Deferred Retirement Option Program account of $880,000. This is on top of an amount equal up to 80 percent of their pay for the rest of their lives. A firefighter who joined the dept. at the age of 20, if retiring at the age of 50, would receive 75 percent of his highest pay for the rest of his life. What is a typical work schedule for HFD? Firefighters work one 24-hour shift every fourth day. This affords them many other business opportunities while being employed as a firefighter and thus many start up their own businesses. Firefighters are incredibly important and necessary to our community; however the City of Houston cannot afford a 32 percent pay raise under Proposition B.