February 11, 2007
Why watch the nickels and dimes? It's taxpayer money after all
A favorite trope of the Left is to denounce greed. At least in others. But as the Clintons, Al Gore, and others have shown, denouncing the greed of the rich is no impediment to cashing in yourself after leaving office.
For ex-Congressmen, it is usually a stint as a lobbyist that provides plenty of folding money. Ron Dellums, the former far left Congressman from Berkeley, became a lobbyist after he left office, for example.
But Dellums is now the new mayor of Oakland. As a sort of arrival present, the Oakland City Council, which faces a budget deficit of millions of dollars, has just handed the mayor a whopping 59% pay increase over the money Jerry Brown earned as mayor. Matier and Ross of the San Francisco Chronicle report:
Saying they didn't want to make a big deal out of a dollar here and a dollar there, Oakland City Council members voted unanimously to hike new Mayor Ron Dellums' pay by $68,000 -- bringing his annual salary to $183,395.The raise, approved Tuesday, is $20,000 more than the council's Rules Committee recommended just a couple of weeks back.Under city rules, the mayor's pay is based on the salaries handed out to the mayors of California cities of comparable size such as Fresno, Sacramento and Long Beach.Dellums' salary could have been set anywhere from $142,000 to $183,000.Former Mayor Jerry Brown was paid $115,000 a year, but that was because he repeatedly turned down his raises.Initially, the Rules Committee recommended a hike to $163,000. Council members, however, tell us that they heard from friends of Ron who indicated that Dellums would be living off the pay and that the maximum hike would be more appropriate.And not wanting to ruffle feathers, the council opted to give the max, with Councilwoman Pat Kernighan saying it wasn't time to "quibble over nickels and dimes.""We're getting someone with a lot of experience who is at the top of their game,'' Kernighan said.She said Dellums' years as a congressman, followed by his work as a Washington lobbyist, should make him a vital asset in winning more federal tax dollars for Oakland.
A dollar here, a dollar there, who's counting?
And that is precisely the problem.