‘People aren’t calling you because they don’t trust you’; aldermen jab at Troup over police contract, insurance problems

Farha Troup argue 06192023

Alderman Mike Farha (R-4), right, has words with Quincy Mayor Mike Troup, left, during Monday's Quincy City Council meeting. In the middle is Bruce Alford, corporation counsel for the city. | David Adam

QUINCY — Two aldermen had sharp words for Mayor Mike Troup when an invoice from a Chicago law firm for collective bargaining negotiations was discussed at Monday’s Quincy City Council meeting.

Before a vote by aldermen on a resolution to pay $8,412.15 to Ancel Glink, P.C., Richie Reis (D-6) asked for Troup to provide a “running total” on how much the city had paid to the law firm. Troup asked Jennifer Winking, director of human resources and risk management, to collect that information.

The Police Benevolent and Protective Association Labor Unit 12 represents Quincy police officers and supervisors who have worked without a contract since April 2021. The group and the city participated in an arbitration hearing about the contract in May. The arbitration judge will issue a decision by Aug. 31.

The PB&PA Unit No. 12 also has filed two unfair labor practice lawsuits against the city for failing to provide health insurance or vision coverage to all police officers. Those suits will be heard by an arbitrator in October.

Mike Farha (R-4) chimed in, saying that by the time the arbitration judge issues a ruling, the police department will have worked without a contract for 2½ years. He then offered thoughts to the aldermen.

“I know what they’re going to say. ‘Well, it’s a bill we made,’” Farha said. “When were you consulted and told we were going to go into arbitration? When were you consulted and told that the health insurance was going to be done the way it has? There are surprises everywhere. I know the mayor will contend … with all due respect, he’s wrong. 

“(Citizens) don’t call (Troup) because they’re afraid. They’re calling (other aldermen), and they’re calling me, and they call ad nauseam. They go to the clinic, their children are turned down. … Maybe the employees didn’t get a copy of what they signed up for, but there’s a lot of problems with Jim Baxter (with Coalition Health, the city’s secondary insurance provider) and the health insurance, and they haven’t gone away. It’s nice that we constantly say to the public, ‘Oh, we’re going to fix it. It’s fixed. It’s on its way to being fixed.’ But we’ve heard that for two years, and very little has been fixed.”

Farha then challenged aldermen to refuse paying Ancel Glink.

“There’s nowhere for you to hide on this vote,” he said. “If you vote against the Quincy Police Department, you’re voting against the citizens and the people who elected you. I’m not going to do it.”

Troup said aldermen are “not in a position” to fix questions or issues with health insurance.

“To do your job, you need to refer them to (human resources),” Troup said.

“Excuse me?” Farha blurted. “When did you become the king?”

“I’m not the king,” Troup replied.

“When did you become the king? The aldermen have a right. We have to guarantee what you do,” Farha yelled back. “You’re completely wrong. You’re out of line.”

“Did you refer anybody who called you to (human resources)?” Troup asked. “Did you refer anybody who called you to me?”

“No. They’re afraid,” Farha replied. “I haven’t, because I’m tired of it. I talked to you specifically. You lied to me. I asked you specifically. Don’t act like this. You specifically lied to me. Don’t even go there.”

“Well, we’ll agree to disagree,” Troup said.

Jeff Bergman (R-2) asked Troup how many phone calls he’s received about the city insurance. 

“Very few,” Troup said. “(Human resources) receives quite a few calls from either family members or employees with any issue that comes up. I don’t know what the count is, but I know in January, it was horrendous.”

“I don’t know what you hear on the street from people, but we hear it as aldermen,” Bergman said. “People aren’t calling you because they don’t trust you. They don’t believe in you, plain and simple. That’s what we hear as a public. You can ask every alderman here. I think there’s a problem and a disconnect with the public and employees’ faith in you to call you, so that’s why you’re not getting the phone calls. 

“I’m just letting you know what I hear as an alderman, doing my job, listening to the constituents in my ward, being their voice. So I’m passing that on to you. That’s what I hear.”

“Very good,” Troup said.

Aldermen voted to approve paying the invoice 8-5, with Farha, Bergman, Reis, Greg Fletcher (R-1) and Dave Bauer (D-2) voting against the resolution. Ben Uzelac (D-7) was absent.

Robert Megee, president of PB&PA Unit No. 12, agreed with Farha’s and Bergman’s comments.

“The employees do not trust the mayor, nor do they have any faith he will fix anything,” Megee said when contacted after the City Council meeting. “The mayor’s buddy, Jim Baxter, has been a cancer to this city and its employees. The mayor, however, refuses to look elsewhere for insurance needs.”

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