Craig said Tuesday he not only hopes to get the teachers the bonus eventually, but also he wants to definitely reimburse the school system for the money it paid the other 2,200 employees.
He said Tomback had been upfront about how the superintendent was going to handle paying his employees and had told Craig from the beginning he would distribute the money as the county executive wished.
"I doubt I would have paid anyone until I actually had the money," Craig added, "but they [Tomback and his staff] told us what they wanted to do and why."
'We were misled'
County council members and Craig seemed taken aback by HCEA's response to the bonus funding bill's passage last week.
On Friday, Billy Boniface, the county council president, said it was his understanding that the HCEA would sign the memorandum of understanding accepting the bonuses after the bill was passed as amended.
"I spoke to [Craig] last night [Thursday] and he said he was concerned about the fact that we were misled. I agreed with him," Boniface said.
"They reneged on what they said they would do," Boniface said of the teachers. "[Craig] was concerned and said that was unacceptable."
Boniface said the council can consider overriding the veto during its next legislative meeting on Jan. 3. Five votes would be needed to override the veto, and based on statements on the teachers union's website, that's what HCEA's leadership wants to the council to do. Before the veto controversy erupted, the council had already canceled a meeting scheduled for this week.
"I do support the county executive in that it was everybody's understanding that they would sign the MOU after we passed that legislation," Boniface said.
Origin of amendments
Some disagreement between council members and Craig arose Tuesday, when questions were raised by The Aegis about the origin of the amendments that led to the veto.
The changes are listed as being introduced by Boniface, along with four other council members, James McMahan, Joe Woods, Richard Slutzky and Mary Ann Lisanti. Both Boniface and Lisanti, however, said Craig actually requested the amendments
Boniface also said Craig was essentially vetoing his own bill.
Craig's spokesman Lloyd, however, dismissed any suggestion of differences in opinion between executive and county council.
"There's no disagreement between the administration and the Council on this. The administration and the Council were all on the same page with respect to the amendments, because that was what we were led to believe would allow teachers to get their bonuses," Lloyd wrote in an e-mail.
Contacted by telephone late Tuesday afternoon, Craig concurred and said the teachers had requested a change in the wording of the legislation from a "one-time bonus" to a "payment," which he said he mistakenly agreed to after receiving assurances from the council members and others it amounted to a technicality that would allow the teachers union to accept the bonus.
When he found out, however, that the wording change would be used as a pretext by the union to make its case before the labor relations board in its 2011 contract dispute, Craig said he took action and vetoed the entire money transfer to the school system, the only way he could act under the county charter and protect the payments going to the county government, sheriff's and library employees.
"We will definitely do this differently when we ask for the second half [of the bonus] next spring," Craig added, saying he may ask that the money for the school system be broken down by budget category and not placed in a single account, as happened with the bill he vetoed.