Sheila Dixon and the politics of raises
Sometimes you wonder what Sheila Dixon is thinking. For someone who's been in office as long as she has, she seems awfully tone-deaf sometimes on the politics of her job. Yesterday, the Board of Estimates approved 5 percent raises for the two guys who accompany her to events -- they don't actually drive her or provide security; they're sort of like Charlie on the West Wing, only they're retired cops instead of a college student. The city now pays them more than $60,000 a year, on top of whatever they already get in police pensions.
"Are they deserving of it? Yes. Just like everyone else who got theirs," Dixon said.
Like, who exactly? Who's getting 5 percent raises these days?
Certainly not the mayor herself. She had to settle for miserly 2.5 percent raise, and after getting whacked by public outrage, she had to drop her initial defense of it and give the money to charity.
Even if that little object lesson wasn't in the back of her mind as she was answering questions about the raises for Howard Dixon (no relation) and Bobby Potts yesterday, you'd think the political radar would be tipped off to the sensitivity of the issue by the question a reporter asked her immediately before bringing it up yesterday.
According to Annie Linskey, here's how the press conference went down:
Reporter: Will there be layoffs of city employees?
Reporter: So what about the pay raises for these guys?
Dixon: They deserve it.
Now, does a few thousand dollars for these two guys make much difference in the city's multi-billion dollar budget? Not really. But on top of the pay raises snuck through the Board of Estimates for the mayor and other city elected officials, and on top of the city's abortive effort to set a policy that could have led to taxpayers picking up Dixon's legal fees, and at a time when lots of people are being forced to take pay cuts or lose their jobs altogether, it seems like the kind of thing any half-competent political advisor would tell you is a dumb move.