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Mesa Mayor Scott Smith tries to justify a $42,000 raise for himself

by Mesa Mayor Scott Smith Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012 at 4:06 AM

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith tries to justify a $42,000 raise for himself. He thinks he deserves $80,000 for the part time job of being the Mesa Mayor.

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith voted to more then double his
pay from $38,000 to $80,000 and now he has written
this letter to the editor or My Turn piece trying to justify it.

While Mesa Mayor Scott Smith may think he deserves
$80,000 for a part time job as mayor of Mesa, I think
most of the serfs in Mesa whom he rules over disagree with that.

Hell, for that matter most of us think Mayor Scott Smith is
grossly overpaid with the $38,000 he receives for the PART TIME JOB of being Mesa Mayor. And the jerk wants to more then double his salary to $80,000.

Raising pay takes courage

Dec. 16, 2012 08:12 PM

The Republic |

"Profiles in Courage" stories, the kind made famous by then-U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy, seldom involve politicians voting on pay raises for themselves.

So it was no surprise that a majority of the Mesa City Council made the spineless decision to vote down pay raises that clearly will be necessary at some point. Not only was the 4-3 vote cowardly, but it reeked of politics and self-interest by at least some members who appear more interested in the effect on their future political races.

A pay raise would be in the public interest. The current salaries of $38,000 for the mayor and $19,000 for council members are outdated for one of America's 40 largest cities.

They limit the pool of applicants and even the professionalism of future office-holders.

Recognizing this, the Mesa Chamber of Commerce pushed for a public vote on possible pay raises. The council stopped short, instead setting up a process for a citizens committee to recommend pay levels.

At first, after listening to hours of testimony about the rigors of the job, the panel recommended $80,000 for the mayor and $60,000 for council members. Then, the citizens panel decided to scale back the pay recommendations -- wisely, we think -- to $73,300 for the mayor and $35,000 for council members. These are reasonable numbers for such demanding jobs.

According to the process, members had to vote to accept or reject the commission's recommendations, with no compromise, at the council's Monday meeting.

Councilman Dennis Kavanaugh, who is about to start his fourth term, has pointed out the job is a year-round obligation with demands that can go round-the-clock.

Kavanaugh, a veteran of the last pay raise in 1998, recalled the public didn't revolt and urged his colleagues not to be afraid to vote yes.

In an unusual move, Mayor Scott Smith, who usually lets council members speak first, got out front and made an impassioned plea to accept the commission's work. He correctly pointed out the situation was "awkward" but not "difficult" because voting yes was the right thing to do.

"I don't think leaders take the group to the edge and then back off," he said. "Leaders follow through. Leaders go the distance. Leaders do what is right."

But they didn't.

The contortions of Vice Mayor Scott Somers were particularly troubling. Somers, a potential future mayoral candidate, praised the commission's work, saying its members logically came up with salaries between those in place in Phoenix and Tempe.

The commission's work shouldn't go for naught, he said, while voting to kill its work just the same.

Then, Councilman Alex Finter, who also seemed to say raises were a good idea (while voting against them) offered a compromise in which they'd go into effect in two years. But he didn't have the procedural i's dotted and t's crossed, as staff members wondered how to get a new ordinance finished by year's end.

Nice sentiment, but meaningless, really.

In any case, backers of the pay raise, miffed at the cowardice of the majority, didn't seem much interested.

All in all, this was a shoddy performance.

Then again, "Profiles in Courage" and "pay raise" don't often go together.

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