US - Courts have rejected San Diego city attorney Michael Aguirre's bid to prevent outgoing Municipal Employees Association (MEA) president Judie Italiano from receiving an enhanced retirement known as a presidential benefit.
Italiano announced her retirement last week, and has come under increased criticism both from Aguirre and within her own union.
Aguirre claimed Italiano’s application for the presidential benefit should not be allowed under the municipal code, and even accused Italiano of “pulling a fast one” and “trying to grab the money and run”.
“It’s wrong because the union members were given a memorandum of understanding that said her pension was based on her city salary, and she wanted a pension from city based upon her union salary, which means they would have to subsidise her pension to the tune of about US$120 000 per year,” he said.
But MEA attorney Ann Smith hit back at Aguirre after the courts rejected Aguirre’s case, and accused him of “treachery” and being “unwilling to let justice prevail”.
Italiano has also become the target of increased criticism from members within the MEA, most notably Linda French and Jeff Peterson.
Allegations have arisen that Italiano “misappropriated” as much as $100 000 of MEA money since 2002 a fact which has been much publicised by her opponents on the Vote For Reform Committee web site.
The site claims: “The Vote For Reform Committee is truly disappointed in [Italiano’s] actions that concealed these facts and the lack of leadership she has displayed.”
“How is it that Italiano believed it was ever OK to squander away our union dues on her personal items and family members?”
Italiano said she would not to make any public statement regarding the misappropriation allegations.
By Damian Clarkson
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