Houston firefighter pension battle gets personal

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HOUSTON, TX – It’s become little short of a fist fight between Mayor Annise Parker and Houston Firefighter Pension Board Chair Todd Clark. After months of bickering about money, the Mayor and the Firefighters Union reached a tentative agreement on a new contract for firefighters. But it comes with a hitch. The new contract would remove the full-time position of pension chair.

“It’s retaliation against me,” Clark says, pointing out a comment the mayor made five years ago.

In 2009, then City Controller Parker – running for mayor – admitted telling a director with the Firefighters Association quote: “You guys didn’t endorse me when I ran at-large, you didn’t endorse me when I ran for Controller, and you didn’t endorse me this time, and I’m not going to forget it.” But the Mayor said the comment was only a joke.

“This is a business transaction with a strong and well-organized union,” the Mayor said of the new contract, “and the fact that we’ve been able to successfully – it hasn’t been voted on – but we have successfully concluded our third negotiation speaks to the fact that we can get things done when we work together.”

Whether the joke turns out to be so funny for Todd Clark will be seen when the union and City Council vote on the new contract later this month.