Carmel changes tune on benefits for employees deployed to military service.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Carmel-by-the-Sea's decision to terminate benefits for an employee deployed to National Guard service in Afghanistan has caught the attention of a San Francisco news station--and stoked outcry closer to home.
When Carmel Building Official John Hanson deployed in September, he and his wife expected the city to continue making up the difference between his city and military paychecks, and paying the family's medical coverage, as it did during Hanson's last deployment to Iraq.
Instead, the city notified Annette Hanson in a Sept. 16 letter that the benefits would end by the New Year. (As the Weekly reported Oct. 29, Hanson gave a deposition in a harassment lawsuit against City Administrator Rich Guillen in July.)
Now, under intense public scrutiny, the city has reversed its position and reinstated the patriotic perks.
ABC7 news in San Franciso--which had done an earlier profile of Hanson--followed up Nov. 2, reporting on the city's about-face. Reporter Cheryl Jennings called Mayor Sue McCloud to task for changing her story:
"I've had several conversations with the mayor of Carmel, Sue McCloud, who at first told me she didn't know anything about the controversy, even though she was sent a copy of a letter in early October from first. Sgt. Hanson's commanding officer, Colonel Eric Grimm, asking all agreements between the city and John Hanson be continued," Jennings reported."Today, she told me she couldn't speak then, because lawyers were involved."
Residents in support of Hanson (including veterans Monte Miller and Mike Brown, a former councilman) started a petition pressuring the council to address the issue. On Oct. 31, officials amended the City Council's Nov. 3 agenda, adding a resolution "authorizing the payment of salary and benefit difference to city employees who have been activated into military service from the National Guard or from the inactive military reserves."
After a thorough chewing-out by residents, the City Council passed the resolution. But councilmembers did not discuss issuing an apology to the Hanson family, as several speakers had demanded.
This post was updated Nov. 4 at 10:30am to reflect the council's Nov. 2 decision.