Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Pigout Day for Council & Frieden's fat in the fire

Here are a couple of interesting opinion pieces about the City Council and Board of Health:

"Pigout day for Council
NY Daily News, November 15, 2006

Barring an event on the order of an earthquake swallowing City Hall, the City Council today will vote itself a 25% pay raise while offering taxpayers zilch in return. As we've said before: oink, oink.

Speaker Christine Quinn and her band want to be taken seriously, but this type of piggish behavior provokes scorn. Serious legislatures - Congress, for example - cannot, and do not, conduct themselves as the Council is eager to conduct itself today.

Serious legislatures respect the principle that lawmakers should hike salaries for future officeholders, not their own salaries. In other words, you inform voters that you intend to boost pay before an election with the raise to take effect after a new legislature is sworn in. That way, the public can have a say, and self-dealing is minimized.

In voting today, Council members will line their own pockets with nary a nod to voter wishes. They must soften the insult by adopting a rule that would bar similar outrageous behavior in the future.

As for the money, a $22,500 hike from $90,000 to $112,500 for a part-time job is too much. Lawmakers argue that the Council hasn't had a raise in seven years, but they leave out the fact that 47 of 51 members have held office for less than five years. And the fact that 13 of them have lucrative private income. And the fact that they also get special stipends, called lulus, ranging up to $28,500 a year.

The Council will seek political cover for the raises by citing the fact that they were approved by a mayoral commission that also called for hiking the salaries of the mayor, public advocate, controller, borough presidents and district attorneys. But that same panel also said that in the future, the Council should avoid raising its own pay.

So far, only one Council member, Tony Avella of Queens, has proposed banning lulus and delaying the raise until 2010, after the next election. He's right, and that makes him the only clean one in the sty."

-Click to read "Frieden's fat in the fire"-