UPDATE - Mansoor Lays A Smokescreen
Since my last post earlier today more information regarding the intent of two items on the City Council agenda on Tuesday, March 17th has been posted on the agenda report for that meeting. Two memos, dated today, Friday, the 13th, may turn out to be not very lucky for our young jailer/mayor. I guess I understand now why the information on these items was delayed. Intentional or not, it gives those of us who question these plans very little time to gather data and comment.
Mayor Allan Mansoor, in what can only be described as a grandstanding move intended to demonstrate that he and the city council are "doing their part" during these difficult financial times, has proposed two changes via city ordinances that affect city council salaries and benefits.
REDUCING THEIR SALARIES?
In item 9, 2(a) he recommends that the council, by ordinance, consider reducing the amount each council member is paid. Presently each member receives a salary of $952.00 per month.
MANSOOR DOESN'T REALLY CARE - HE'S TERMED OUT!
However, as "patriotic" as this may seem, it's all a smoke screen. The council is prohibited by law from making any changes to their own compensation, either up or down, immediately. Such changes can only be made effective following the next general election - in 2010! And guess what, folks? Mansoor is termed out at that time, so anything he proposes now won't affect him one teeny, weeny little bit. What a hypocrite!
VAGUE "BENEFITS TIMING" ISSUE
The second item, 9, 2(b) deals with the timing of adjustments in health benefits for council members. In the very brief staff report - another memo signed by Mansoor - the intent is more than a little vague. It tells us that each council member receives $1,483.00 per month for health benefits and that Mansoor wants a discussion of the timing and implementation of future health benefits. Presently such benefit amounts are adjusted each calendar year. Options to be considered would be adjusting them on January 1st, as is presently the case; adjusting them every other year or adjusting them following each general election as salary adjustments are currently done.
DID YOU KNOW? I DIDN'T...
By the way, did you know that each council member gets paid more for their health benefits than they do in salary? I didn't, and find it very interesting, to say the least. And we're not even addressing pension eligibility!
AGAIN, NOTHING TO LOSE...
Once again, this is nothing but grandstanding by Mansoor, who will personally have very little to lose, regardless what the council does.
DOES HE THINK WE'RE IDIOTS?
I suspect this little ploy is simply a little theater - a show designed to be a bargaining tool when dealing with the four public employee unions. Mansoor obviously thinks they (and we) are complete idiots, who won't see this for what it is. Who knows? Maybe he's right. Maybe no one will care enough about this charade to bother commenting on it to them Tuesday night. Maybe no one will care enough to send a message to them via email.
HERE'S A SUGGESTION... GIVE IT BACK!
I have a suggestion for Mansoor and the other council members. If they are serious about helping with our current budget dilemma, don't just try to fool us with some irrelevant window-dressing - do something significant. They can't, by law, reduce nor raise their own salaries until 2010, but nothing says they have to take those pay checks. If they are serious I suggest they just endorse them back to the city for the duration of our financial crisis. That would make a real statement to the unions, and to the voters of this city, that they really do care and are willing to do their part. Too much? OK, then how about every other check? Still too much? Every third check? C'mon, council members, show us what you're made of!
MONAHAN HAS THE MOST TO LOSE, AND WON'T BE THERE!
An interesting sidebar on this little bit of drama is that the council will consider these two items on St. Patrick's Day - when councilman Gary Monahan will be absent, pulling the taps on kegs of green beer at his pub on what is probably one of his biggest days of the year. Monahan, among all the council members, probably has the most to lose with six kids to feed... That would mean he would have to get by on only a dip-and-a-half - his full load from the Sanitary District and whatever he gets from the city following the changes. And, don't forget his pub, although I understand things are not going all that well at Skosh's. Maybe someone can toddle on over there after the meeting and tell him how it went.