Council pay raise unjust
New York City Councilors receive a gratuitous salary increase By overwhelmingly voting itself a 32 percent rise in salary, the Democratic-dominated, 51-member New York City Council, by a vote of 40 to 7, gave New York taxpayers a John Edwards’ $400 haircut on Feb. 5.
To be fair, supporters will say, the councilors simply reflect recommendations by the Quadrennial Advisory Commission, appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, to increased office holder responsibilities and reflect the costs of living in New York.
So, the increase of a base pay shot from $112,500 to $148,500, which is $10,185 more than what the advisory panel recommended.
The councilors’ work profile will also change. They will become 40-hour per week employees and have some restrictions on outside legal work, thereby limiting the dangers of corruption, criminal activities and wiles of heavy-handed lobbyists.
Awarding higher salaries to our lawmakers does not square with the sacrifices that the cop who walks the beat must make. An arbitration panel proposed only a 1 percent increase in pay for police officers. The city’s teachers, who former Mayor Michael Bloomberg refused for years to sign a contract, get a sliding yearly scale of 1 percent to 3 percent over four years. And then there are the budget cuts that affect libraries, senior centers, as well as the creeping privatization of public education.
And what about hourly wage earners who are struggling to make ends meet by calling for an increase of hourly wages to $15 in a city where the average apartment rental is thousands of dollars? Or the rising cost of food, medical expenses and childcare for working families?
But the fly in the ointment is that limits on outside work will take effect in 2018. This means current members will benefit from the rise, and most will not run again owing to term limits.
New York City Councilwomen Inez Barron, wife of Charles Barron, New York State Assembly Councilman, and Councilwoman Rosie Mendez voted against the proposal. But it seems ironic that the “progressive’” councilors like Melissa Mark-Viverito and Ydanis Rodriguez, who bang pots and pans for the working poor minorities and the downtrodden, pushed for the increase.
The hokum of councilor heartache came in a plea from Rodriguez, who wears well-tailored suits, has a kempt appearance and represents the heavily Dominican Inwood. He championed for a hike of a base salary to $175,000, or a little over 50 percent of an increase. His constituents were not amused. He argued for the increase on the grounds that the burden of the office, the cost of childcare and other responsibilities would make the raise more appropriate.
Well, these airheads have crossed a line: in a city where the “average” annual income for a family of four is $48,000—and that is stretching it—the City Council belongs to the other side of what de Blasio has called “two cities.”
If anything, this disdain for the majority of New Yorkers who struggle to make a living or live on slim pensions deserves a call for action: marches, sit-ins and voting to throw these rascals with well-lined pockets out of office.