Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

Keeping Up With the Joneses

Public Policy, Politics-Tosa, Gas Pains

Not my words - but those of Alderman Meaux.  Why keep up with the Joneses?   This, a rather succinct summation from the Second District Alderman who was speaking from the audience in attendance at last night's meeting of the Committee on Employee Relations.  He also reiterated the notion that  - More money doesn't guarantee a quality mayoral candidate.

Committee Chair Peter Donegan was conducting the third meeting on the matter of mayoral compensation.

Alders Birschel, Nikcevich, Herzog and Jay were in attendance too - the first three commenting and the latter observing.

Former Alderman Dick Bachman opened with a confirmation that the creation of the position of City Administrator dates back to a point in time when the position of Mayor was truthfully a part-time position.  I followed with an inquiry of Chairman Donegan seeking clarification of my understanding that our form of city government was defined as a strong council and weak mayor.

State statute identifies mayors as Chief Executive Officers.  However, the City Administrator carries-out those duties by Wauwatosa ordnance. 

That is not to say that our mayors do not make a full-time commitment to their duties.  They do.  My comments to the committee last night were meant to reinforce my position that we have got a good thing going here in Tosa.  We have had no shortage of candidates for public office.  Moreover, they have demonstrated a willingness to perform a valuable service to their community out of a sense of duty - not for financial renumeration.

Echoing my observations, Alderman Birschel paid a gracious compliment to this blogger by suggesting he agreed with me.  

(Did anybody besides me feel a disturbance in The Force?)

Seriously,  there was broad agreement with that time-tested idea that small government in the Jeffersonian mold can, and does, work for us. 

I am not convinced that everyone is in complete agreement with me about the notion of keeping partisan politics out of local government - but I think that there was some buy-in with the idea of keeping the pay of our mayors sufficiently low so as to not make it a lucrative enough proposition for some retread, full time politician to come scavenging and scrounging around for an opportunity to run for Mayor of Tosa Town and fatten their State pension. 

We'll have to wait and see how much we like that idea versus how badly we might want to keep up with those Joneses. 

From my own perspective no Committee nor Council has any business dictating, defining or otherwise meddling with the role or duties of our Mayors including how much (or little) time they spend at their official duties.  That is up to the voters to decide.

Arguments were made about the issue of fairness and equity.

Alderman Ewerdt suggested - It's a joke to have this salary at $22,500.  The Mayor should be able to live in Wauwatosa.

Excuse me?  All of our Mayors live in Wauwatosa.  For gosh sakes, they know the financial arrangement before they make a decision to run for office.  And by the way, I happen to think the fringe benefits are pretty darn good.  This Committee still hasn't explained why the value of the fringe benefits wasn't brought-up before the public from the get-go.  Get with the program folks. 

There was also discussion about automatic adjustments and cost of living increases for our mayors.


Any suggestion about an increase in pay or benefits should go back to committee and from there to the Council for review.  And a vote.

Mayors are not civil service or union.

If anybody thinks for a moment that big bucks and automatic pay adjustments will somehow buy you a better Mayor I suggest you conduct an examination of all levels of elected government and take a look at what measure of competence the cushy perquisites of public office have bought you.  Start with the County Supervisors, work your way through State Government, then Congress and report back to me.

Don't you think the influence of money and special interests would be less if these people all had real day-jobs?

I digress.

Here's the bottom line.  Motion passed for this discussion to be held in file until the first Employee Relations Committee meeting in July of 2011.  It will be revisited then and if it goes forward a decision will made about budgeting and implementation in 2012.

The Committeeman from District Five opined - Raising the salary will not change the quantity or quality of candidates.  It will increase the influence of partisanship.  And Committeeman Walsh was the lone dissenting vote on the motion.

In the interest of full and fair disclosure JSOnline is tighter than the bark on a tree.  They are stingy, dirt-cheap tight.  They virtually enslave Community Bloggers to swell their ranks of writers.  After more than two years of blogging my fingers to the damn bone all I have received for my efforts has been a pair of tickets to the Zoo.


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