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Thursday, Sept. 18, 2003 04:58 pm

Aldermania

The City of Springfield has finally made an offer to Renatta Frazier in the race discrimination lawsuit filed by Frazier and other black current and former police officers.

The dollar amount remains secret--at least as of press time. But the response filed by Frazier's attorney, Courtney Cox, provides some detail.

Apparently, during a teleconference with Magistrate Judge Byron G. Cudmore on Monday, all parties agreed to begin settlement talks. When Cox reiterated an offer he had previously made, Cudmore told the city they had to respond to that offer "prior to the commencement of such mediation."

So the next day, the city responded. Only instead of a settlement offer, it responded with an Offer of Judgment.

There are significant differences between a settlement offer and an Offer of Judgment. The former says, "Hey, let's talk." It's a starting point from which negotiations can proceed. The latter says, "Here's the deal; take it or leave it."

If Frazier rejects this Offer of Judgment, she would be gambling on the outcome of a subsequent trial. For example, let's say the city offered $1 gazillion. If Frazier rejects it and proceeds to trial, she has to hope the jury awards her at least $1 gazillion. If she gets anything less, she could be responsible for all costs related to her case from the date she rejected the $1 gazillion offer.

Corporation Counsel Jenifer Johnson declined to comment, and sounded generally unhappy that news of the offer had leaked. Ironically, the existence of this offer would have remained secret had the city not filed it with the court, along with a Motion to Seal it.

Tuesday night, aldermen received a behemoth ordinance that will, if passed, enact changes recommended by Mayor Tim Davlin's transition team. A quick glance at the proposed salaries for two new cabinet-level positions reveals something about the city's priorities.

For Homeland Security, the $55,585 listed salary is to be split between a director and a clerk--$40,000 for the director, $15,000 for the clerk, says budget director Bill Hall. For Inspector General, the salary is listed at $30,000 for "just that person," he says. These figures are ballpark projections for six-month salaries. So multiply times two and you get annual salaries of $80,000 for the guy to protect us from terrorists and $60,000 for the guy to protect us from unethical behavior.

Which do you think is the greater threat?

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