The economy is down, but some businesses are still bustling. Take the business of running local government in Washington, D.C. Money must be rolling in. The mayor just asked the city council to raise the highest compensation level he is permitted to pay employees by $100,000.
No, not to $100,000. Mayor Vincent Gray wants to raise the top salary by $100,000 — from $179,000 to $279,000.
One council member called the new mayor “tone deaf”; another said the idea is DOA. “These [salaries] are in excess of federal Cabinet officials,” a third pointed out.
Sounds like the council is putting its collective feet down. It just isn’t going to overpay for manpower, right?
Well, not really.
The mayor stuck the new pay levels into a bill already asking the council to okay salaries for the police, fire and school system heads, all of which exceed the current legal limit. News reports say the council is “likely” to approve those.
That how DC “works.” Pay limits are set in law, and then, when the mayor wants to overpay, he has to get the council to approve the higher pay.
While allowing higher pay in some cases, the council is unlikely to make it easier for the mayor to overpay without their deliberated say-so. Why? To provide fiscal accountability? Or, more cynically, to give the council more political leverage to get more political spoils?
Did I mention that I’m pretty cynical about the motivations of politicians?
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.