Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Definition of Cronyism

I hope that some of you tuned in to (or showed up at) the borough assembly meeting last week. Amid the mundane, the hot items of the month were the assembly's attempt to define management job descriptions and their questioning the unpublicized and extravagant pay raises the mayor's staff received.

Each and every new borough mayor thinks that he needs to replace at least some of the managers of borough departments and, on the surface, the argument sort of makes sense. You want loyal people carrying out your priorities. But we've seen some insanity ensue as competent and qualified mangers have been replaced by those who don't have experience or competence in that particular field and are just political hires rewarded for some favor owed by the mayor. Especially this particular mayor.

So, defining the job and setting qualifications is just a reminder that the loyalty of borough managers is to the citizens of the Kenai - not to the whims of any particular mayor. To give jobs to unqualified cronies just sets up the potential for abuse.

I was somewhat puzzled by Gary Knopp's assertions that a roads manager didn't have to have roads experience, but I am glad that most of the rest of the assembly thought it might be of value. And to Gary's credit, he did vote for the overall package. The only dissenting vote was by Charlie Pierce, who offered no explanation for his opposition to creating these job descriptions.

And it was Charlie who was the sole cheerleader of Mayor Dave when it came to questioning the back-door pay raises of nearly $25,000 each, to both of the mayor's special assistants. Both Hugh Chumley and Susan Wilcox now are paid over $92,000 a year.

What is particularly puzzling, and mentioned previously on this blog, is the unabashed way Mayor Dave and Charlie Pierce have defended these huge pay raises - especially when the mayor and Charlie present themselves as fiscal conservatives.

It was awkward when Mayor Williams sort of appointed Bill Popp to be one his special assistants and set the precedent for the mayor to have 2 such beasts. There was some howling over that deed. Is there really a need for the redundancy?


Anonymous said...

Carey and Pierce are involved in a conflict of interest whereby Pierce receives preferential treatment and tax payer funding support from this mayor in regards the corporate world Pierce operates in concurrent to his seat on the assembly.

That there is any perplexity about motive between the collusion isn't credible to any who follow borough business practices.

Simply follow the money, any 'puzzlement' should quickly be clarified and erased.

Anonymous said...

Does it really matter if the mayor has one or two special assistants? As long as legitimate and important work is being done, and the mayor is not sleeping with them (or other employees), what's the harm?

Anonymous said...


you've got to be kidding.

Can you name any work being done,

any at all,

let alone any of this supposed work that is important or legitimate?

Souldotna said...

I guess I see several problems. The first is that the mayor, who touts his agenda as being a fiscally conservative hides the fact that he gave his staff a whopping pay raise. The last I checked, our taxes pay for that. Then there is a question of need. Just what the heck do these people do to earn the dough? With benefits, the taxpayer tab is considerably more than the $92K. Maybe my biggest problem is how the mayor has tried to hide all of this.

Anonymous said...

How exactly is this breaking precedent from previous mayors? The only difference with at least one of them was the alleged sexual relationship he had with his "special assistant" and then a subsequent sexual relationship with at least one other regular employee. I find that much more offensive than hiring two "special assistants" that are just a plain old waste of money.

Anonymous said...

Should government be evaluated by "less offensive than..." standards? It seems to be missing the point that THAT extra money (not revealed until about the third public ask) is different than the other "hard-earned taxpayer's money." When one is talking one way about their fiscal credibility, more staff and raises (are there some who think a couple of $20,000+ raises in less than a year are ok?)don't seem to be walking the talk.

Anonymous said...

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