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Beline Obeid

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Special politics

To the Editor:

The Detroit Free Press reported on the termination of the employment contract with the city administrator for the city of Grosse Pointe Woods.

Ted Bidigare was hired in May 1999. By September 1999 a special clause by vote of the council in the retirement ordinance was changed to accommodate him. The sentence was added: “The city administrator may retire with five or more years of credited service and after having attained 61 years of age.” Special politics for special friends.

Ted Bidigare happened to be a former city council member, some 10 years before, who served with many of the current council members in place in 1999. When the administrator’s job was posted in 1999, many experienced, masters level, public administrators applied. One candidate was the well loved and respected former city manager from Farmington Hills, Bill Costick.

The hiring of Ted Bidigare, a former bus maintenance supervisor, was based on former relationships with council members, not in the best interests of the citizens.

His decision to award a 14 percent retroactive pay increase in a lump sum check of $8,100 to his confidential secretary, who has only a high school diploma, is absurd. Worse yet, this individual has had a $20,000 increase in salary in the last five years she has been employed full time and under the direction of the city administrator.

This was a smack in the face to the AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) employees who were in the middle of negotiations that were discussing getting to a 3 percent raise. It jeopardized contract negotiations.

Mr. Bidigare’s performance described above and other reasons that he is aware of, justifies these actions. He chose to have this meeting conducted in an open public meeting. He chose to be terminated and not discuss other options.

It is unfortunate that a spectacle occurred caused by disgruntled incumbent council members and the mayor because they set up this cozy special arrangement with Ted Bidigare in the first place.

Grosse Pointe Woods deserves professional and competent leadership. The old days of the ’50s are gone.

I applaud the council members who took this necessary action. Hard decisions have to be made by smart people.

Pamela Francis

Grosse Pointe Woods

Pamela Francis
March 30, 2004

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