Sunday, April 20, 2008

Mayor, Council do the Right Thing, Accept Raise

Earlier this week, the Kansas City Council accepted a 4% raise which had been passed by the prior council.

Naturally, this triggered the predictable chorus of knee-jerk criticism. The local joke blogger claimed that the Mayor lost credibility over the move (the joke, for those who missed it, was that the joke blogger knows anything at all about credibility), the KC Blew Blog blew it again, inexplicably "blaming" the Mayor for a unanimous vote (Gottstein missed the vote), and Darla Jaye proved herself to be at the same low level of insight by claiming that the Mayor and council were tone-deaf to approve a raise when cutbacks in staff are on the horizon.

The Mayor and Council did the right thing, and should be applauded for their idealism and courage in the face of the predictable but ignorant attacks.

Kansas City's elected officials are expected to devote the vast majority of their time to their elected roles. As council service grows in complexity and the demands of service ratchet upward, it appears that the days of part-time public service are long past, at least at the level of Kansas City Council.

Long ago, the decision was made to pay a reasonable wage to our City Council for their service. Keeping that commitment up-to-date, though, requires the political courage and good judgment on behalf of the Council to approve reasonable raises.

Less serious critics, however, can have a field day attacking the correct decision. Don't take a raise while layoffs are coming, they cry. They mistakenly assert that there is somehow an inconsistency between being smart with the money and accepting a reasonable pay increase. At a time when the city struggles to find money for basic services, they argue, it is wrong to accept a reasonable pay increase.

The critics believe that they are entitled to something for nothing. They believe they are entitled to quality service without paying for it. They think that those who devote a portion of their career to serving the city should not be entitled to reasonable pay for that service.

It's a common enough misconception. But would we bat an eye if the CEO of a plumbing supply company earned 4 or 5 times as much as the mayor? Wouldn't we be shocked to find high-level managers in a company with a budget the size of Kansas City's to be earning as little as our city council?

Is it reasonable to expect good people to accept the often thankless job of public service, and, at the same time, expect them to turn down raises which were announced and expected at the time they filed for the election?

Alas, such clear thinking doesn't cross the mind of those who are looking to take a political cheapshot at public servants.

I admire the Mayor and City Council for standing up for the pay raise, and not buckling to the unthinking ignoramuses who have launched their depressingly predictable attacks.

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26 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which of the Council members make it a full-time job (to serve on the Council)?

4/20/2008 4:42 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Good question, and I'm not sure of the answer. Anyone out there?

4/20/2008 6:21 PM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

Dan, you neglected to mention an important point. By law city council cannot distinguish themselves apart from other city employees.

By voing themselves a raise they ensured every single city employee received a raise, everybody along the same scale.

That';s why the council supported the pay raise - to gov all city employees cost of living increase.

That's the important thing to realize here - most city council people don't need the money that badly, and would probably forego the raise for purely political (and appropriate) reasons.

But to give the City council no raise and city employees a raise involves very thorny legal issues. There's an important reason why the city council can't treat themselves differently.

he city council voted to give city hall an appropriate pay raise, and they did the right thing.

Note: Funk said some very regettable things regarding the pay raise that will hurt him in the long run. His comments missed the whole point and focused people on on the wrong things, and hurt the council as a whole.

4/20/2008 9:10 PM  
Anonymous You are a fake Dan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4/20/2008 9:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doesn't surprise me that Beth missed the vote. I hear she was in Baltimore sucking up to Cordish so they will back her Mayoral bid.

Besides, she wouldn't want to be called out for something like paying herself more when the next election comes around.

4/20/2008 11:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Talk about predictable. This post was the definition of it. I think that their criticsm, which you choose to call attacks, are good ones.

I would say that 109k plus a pension the size of a working class family income or a 56k position to do something that many local legislators do for far less is a reasonable pay.

I think the Funkhouser criticism is deserved. Knowing that it was going to pass unanimously he could've made this a moment to stand up for his soon to be laid off employees and instead of voting yes he could've just voted present. Unfortunately, he didn't.

You are all over the place on your beliefs.

4/20/2008 11:23 PM  
Anonymous travel said...

No matter which way you look at it in any business, when the top brass get a raise while the peons are being layed off, it's not going to be viewed in a positive light. If anyone deserves a raise, it's going to be the people who are left after the layoff since presumably they will be asked to pick up the extra work formerly done by the departing employees.

I read what Mainstream said about the city council not distinguishing themselves apart from other city employees, but I really find that hard to believe with respect to raises. Source Mainstream?

In any event, smart politics would call for the Mayor and Council to forgo the raise given the financial status of the city.

4/21/2008 8:23 AM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

Travel - I got that from several sources.

The thinking behind it is that to prevent the council from voting itself extraordinary pay raises, what they get EVERYBODY else gets.

I should know where, statutorily, where it is but I don't. 100 apologies, but I'm quite certain (in this case) I didn't make that up.

When I get a few free minutes I try and find it.

It's an interesting concept.

4/21/2008 8:44 AM  
Blogger DLC said...

if mainstream is right, then that changes the entire picture. Otherwise I just can't believe that accepting the raises exemplifies "political courage and good judgment." People have every right to be upset by this w/o being called ignoramuses (ignorami?)

4/21/2008 9:09 AM  
Blogger Capt. Geoffrey Spaulding said...

"People have every right to be upset by this w/o being called ignoramuses (ignorami?)"

I chased a herd of ignoramises once but lost them when they all ran into the City COuncil chambers.

G

-Groucho

4/21/2008 11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have a problem with the pay raise. I want "regular" folks to be able to be on the city council and not just the ultra rich that can afford the time off from their day job. Plus the raise was across the board.

The thing that ticks me off is Funks attitude. The "I gave up a higher paying job, so you regular folks owe me!" attitude is really a kick in the pants.

First off, what job did he give up that paid more? He said he had one, so lets hear what it was and see if he is telling the truth. Second, he new the pay scale going in, so don't give the tax payers a guilt trip.

Dan, do you know what job Funk gave up in order to be mayor?

4/21/2008 11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He had been city auditor. It paid more. When he agreed to run for Mayor, the raise had already set by the prior council. He had every right to expect it.

4/21/2008 1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is stunning how far people will go to defend the actions of this council. It is pure political spin and, dare I say it, B.S. to claim that the city employees can't get raises if the elected officials don't first give themselves raises. If it were true, then how did Cleaver and Barnes give out raises in years where they didn't get one? Exactly. Spin without substance. I for one find the council's actions repugnant to be voting themselves raises when tonight a former city staffer is trying to figure out how they will pay their mortgage, when this council is trying to figure out how they will spend their extra money. Let them eat cake I say!

4/21/2008 7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd have more sympathy for the council on this if they weren't simultaneously cutting the pay of their assistants. The council is made up of public servants, and they don't get nearly the credit they deserve for the hours and stress they put up with (whether they do a good our lousy job), but the council assistants have a helluva job, too. Certainly not one I would want. It doesn't seem fair for them to be cutting their aide's pay by a couple thousand bucks (at least in some cases, depending on what the person was already getting) while the council gets a bit more. I'm not sure, but I don't think anyone else at City Hall (who is lucky enough to keep their job) is being asked to take a pay cut. Also kind of belies the whole Council can only get a raise if everyone else does thing...

4/21/2008 8:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is one of your least intelligent posts. Every single one of these council members and mayor knew what they were signing up for when they ran. They knew the pay. The whining about the long hours means that they had no idea what the job entailed. That makes all of them liars.
I don't know what law mainstream is citing. The charter is silent on this point. But if indeed it's true, I would like to know which of the councilmembers will be laid off. After all, the council cannot distinguish itself from the rest of the employees.

4/21/2008 8:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

State and County Legislators work just as hard and get half the pay. Plus at the end of the year the council, the Mayor and their aides get massive yearly bonuses. Since this blog seems not to, will someone please stand up for the struggling hourly employee at the City

4/21/2008 8:35 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Since you're anonymous, I can't measure the lack of insight displayed in this post in comparison to the lack of insight of other thoughtless posts, but I should point out that the council ran for the office with the raises already slated by the prior council. They're only getting what they signed up for, no more.

4/21/2008 8:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I posted at 8:32.
I guess what you are saying is that the mayor and council are entitled to the raise.
I just saw a nifty little flyer on prime buzz. Are they also entitled to all of the perks? Tickets, free parking at City Hall (remember, employees have to pay $20 more per month for parking), computers, office space, telephones, and gas reimbursements?
You can hide behind the excuse that they are just ratifying the pay raise voted in by the previous council. The fact is that they could have taken the high road and refused the raise.
This council doesn't work nearly as hard as the previous one. They just like to tell everyone how hard they are working. They are prima donnas who love to throw staff under the bus.
If this was a pay for performance situation, some of the council members deserve the raise. Funkhouser doesn't.

4/21/2008 8:52 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

You are certainly entitled to that opinion - and I suppose that driving our city into ruinous debt is probably exhausting work. So you might be right about how hard the prior council worked.

4/21/2008 9:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

but I should point out that the council ran for the office with the raises already slated by the prior council.

Exactly. So why is Funk now giving us the sob story about how he took a big pay cut to be mayor? He knew the pay when he ran for office. If he didn't like it, then he should not have ran.

4/21/2008 9:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:08 nailed it on the head. Funk knew he'd be taking a pay cut when he ran.
Funk ran to settle scores. He is a vindictive man.

4/21/2008 9:37 PM  
Anonymous Funk Lies like a Dog said...

How can a man who is double dipping claim to have taken a pay cut?

4/21/2008 10:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She didn't "miss" the vote. She left during the vote. http://primebuzz.kcstar.com/?q=node/11197

4/22/2008 4:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good I'm glad she left during the vote. It was her way to not join the pack of those looking to milk every penny while others are about to lose their job.

Knowing that Kansas City would be pissed at the greedy decision to accept a pay raise, she should've made a statement though.

I mean give me a break Dan. If someone gave you a gift that you know you shouldn't accept, would you say "ohhh well..what the hell." and act like it wasn't your fault for accepting it by putting the blame on the person who gave it to you?

4/22/2008 12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Star says Mark made $140K as city auditor and will make $152K now. ( http://primebuzz.kcstar.com/?q=node/11197 )

Funk says he took a pay cut to be mayor?

Did Funk lie about that? What job did he leave that paid more than his current one?

Come on Dan, prove to us that Funk is not a lier.

4/23/2008 4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never mind. The 152K adds in his pension. So the comparison is 109K to 140K?

4/23/2008 4:59 PM  

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