During the April 21 council meeting, Fifth District councilman Tony Young picked up where Ottilie left off. Young has been the only councilmember to say forthrightly that he needs the salary increase. In commenting on the council’s intention to reverse the increase of the week before, Young took aim at leadership. “Folks will look at this as a weak council,” said Young. “If the media becomes a little disappointed or writes a nasty article about the council, then the council and its leadership seem to acquiesce and bend that way. If the mayor decides that the increase is a bad idea and wants something that’s in his interest, then it seems that the leadership of this council will bend to that will.
“We should not be guided by what the mayor thinks is a bad idea. That’s not how we should make our decision. The perception then is that the mayor says we can’t do it, so we can’t do it. That’s absolutely contradictory to what we should be doing. We should be doing what we think is right.
“I think the [council’s reversal] is not what’s best for the city; it’s what’s best for individuals. We have people running for city attorney on this council. I won’t be any part of it, and I won’t reject the Salary Setting Commission’s recommendation today,” said Young.
“It’s pretty clear the mayor understands the concept of paying individuals well for the job that they do. If you look at the leadership in that mayor’s office right now, most of those people make much more than people here. It could be in the best interests of an incumbent mayor for our salaries to be low.”
I take a look at the Personnel Department’s employee salary list. Councilman Young seems to have a point. In the mayor’s office, the city’s chief operating officer earns $207,309. His assistant earns $152,315. Two deputy chief operating officers make $150,010. The chief financial officer, $150,010.