Apr 29, 2014 12:40 PM by Sean Mooney
TUCSON - Last year's debate between the union that represents Tucson Police and the Tucson City Council continues to heat up.
The two sides wrangling again over sick leave pay and cashing out for long-time city employees.
The Tucson Police Officers Association further escalated the feud they have with Steve Kozachik by attacking the city councilman on their Facebook page with a post titled "enough is enough."
It begins by recounting an alleged profanity laced call from Steve Kozachik's office in response to the association pulling its endorsement of the councilman. It goes on to say, "We never thought though that he would ever sink to this level. It is now clear that Mr. Kozachik is nothing more than a vengeful politician, towards anyone who cares to disagree with him."
TPOA President, Bill Bonano says his association has good reason for posting the comments, "I think the straw that broke the camels back was his last newsletter that he came out with, the inaccuracies that he continues to put out week after week after week."
The latest salvo centers around recently published numbers documenting top police and fire brass cashing in on sick leave. According to the City of Tucson Department of Finance, over the last two years, Tucson Police Chief, Robert Villasenor, took in over $30,000 on top of his $160,000 plus salary. Tucson Fire Chief Robert Critchly, sold back nearly $30,000 dollars in sick leave in addition to his over $150,000 salary.
Steve Kozachik says the money amounts to a "$10,000 Christmas Turkey" that other city employees don't get. He also fired back when he learned the TPOA had looked into what he was being paid by the City of Tucson and the University of Arizona. The TPOA reported in its posting Kozachik made a total of $104,000. Kozachik says those numbers are inaccurate saying he receives $71,000 for his job at the U of A but confirmed the $24,000 he is paid by the city. Clearly miffed by the TPOA's interest Kozachik said in the latest ward six newsletter, "First, let me say there's something a bit off kilter when the police are investigating an elected official (or anybody) for things he does that are not in violation of the law."
In an interview with News 4, Kozachik said the situation involves the entire city administration, including the city manager, the mayor and the city council." If these guys are that unbalanced by making this a personality thing I guess the community ought to be concerned about guys like that running around with guns and billy clubs all over town."
Bill Bonano says the TPOA's door is open to Mr. Kozachik anytime he wants to discuss the situation. Steve Kozachik says this isn't a personal matter but about a city facing a more than $27 million deficit and an administration that has to make some very tough decisions.
The city council does have the power to vote to end sick leave payments entirely.