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A Needed Charter Fix

The City Council approved another huge
pay raise for itself yesterday and the
city's other elected officials. Today, the
Charter Revision Commission has a
chance to make it the final
do-it-yourself raise.

There's nothing wrong with increasing
the salary of elected officials from time
to time. What's grating and
fundamentally wrong is for individuals to
vote on their own raises.

And the method the city uses is the
worst possible. Two years before the
elections (giving the voters plenty of
time to forget), a supposedly
independent panel makes
recommendations on higher pay. These
are invariably backed by the Council.
Once the mayor signs on — and he's says
he's going to — the raises are
retroactive to July 1. The voters, whose
hard-earned tax dollars foot the bill,
have no meaningful voice in the process.

The retroactive raises four years ago
were excessive, and they are again this
year: 18% for the mayor and the useless
borough presidents; 20% for the
controller and useless public advocate;
28% for the part-time Council. With rate
of inflation under 3% a year, this is

The solution to all this is simple. Rather
than being retroactive pay hikes, raises
should take effect only after a regular
quadrennial election. Then the raises
accrue to the office, not the
officeholder. That's the way it works in
Congress, thanks to the 27th
Amendment. The city Charter
Commission should add this formula to
its agenda at its first public meeting

Allowing officials to vote on their own
raises one day and pocket the extra cash
the next is just plain wrong.

NY Daily News Editorial, 7/22/99

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