Dixon and the City Council get a raise
The Baltimore Sun broke the story today of how Mayor Sheila Dixon, Comptroller John M. Pratt, Council President Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake and other city council members are receiving 2.5 percent cost-of-living adjustments through a quiet vote of the Board of Estimates.
The current pay raises, city officials note, are the result of a relatively new voter-approved process creating an independent commission to recommend salaries and annual cost of living adjustments. The panel recommendations become law unless the City Council votes them down, which didn't happen in 2007 -- the first time they were used. The process is designed to take politics out of the decision.
There's no way to remove politics from what is inherently a political decision. And the way the raises happened this year -- with no public discussion, and through an agenda item written in a way that obfuscates the matter -- is not likely to convince anybody that politics weren't involved.
Why shouldn't the public weigh in on cost of living adjustments, especially during a time of budget cuts? Why shouldn't elected officials explain why the time is right for them to get raises, when by all appearances it is not?
The money at issue is not large. But that's not the point. The desire to avoid a heated debate during which gadflies and government-haters excoriate their mayor is understandable, but wrong-headed.
What we're left with is a symbollic problem that Dixon, Pratt and Rawlings-Blake made themselves. They wanted to avoid exactly what is happening now. Let's see how they get out of it.
What's your suggestion for what Dixon et. al. should do with their raises? Chime in. The floor is yours.