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Mayor Ford, and Getting Paid

News stories like this one, involving former interim county mayor Joe Ford insisting that he get county pension credit for city service he’s already been paid for, will invite an unsurprising flood of reader comments. Comments decrying bloated governments and overly generous public pension systems.

But lest we miss the forest for the trees in Ford’s case, the central issue is not double-dipping.

It’s the prevalence of discretion in government.

Cover a body like the City Council long enough, for example, and you come to learn the arcane body of parliamentary rules it has. Or, you think you learn.

As soon as you think you’ve mastered it, they go and pull a special “vote to suspend the rules.” Meaning, whenever they want, they can do – whatever they want.

And so it is in Ford’s case. The former interim county mayor can appeal his denial by the county pension board of $450 extra dollars a month onto his pension to the Shelby County Commission.

Even if all the rules have been followed and it was proper for the pension board to deny Ford’s higher pension amount, as I understand things, the commission could still give it to him anyway if it so chose.