Saturday, November 21, 2009

Win-Lose-Win Situation

Mayor Carey (is his alias magoobird on the comments section of the PC?) has defended the pay raises, especially the pay raises he has given to his political appointees, by stating that you need those salaries to have competent people working for you. But if you buy that argument, shouldn't you at least get some basic competency from those folks? I agree with Assemblyman Gary Knopp, that there probably wasn't an intent to violate any laws when Scooter Chumley sold equipment to the borough without filing the proper conflict-of-interest paperwork, but it is not too much to expect that a highly-paid appointed political official might suspect that one should at least appear to be above-board when turning a personal profit from the government he is suppose to serve. He should have checked to make sure there wasn't a problem. It's just simple common sense.

So now the borough must figure out how to deal with the mess...should charges be filed?...should a fine be imposed?

I have the perfect solution. Scooter's fine should be the exact amount of the pay raise that he received. We obviously didn't get the competency Mayor Dave said we were getting.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Pay Raises Hackles

The PC has been busy with the latest news coming from Mayor Carey's office. It seems to me that one of the stories is a bit of a yawner - Scooter Chumley didn't file the proper paperwork regarding the sale of equipment to CES. Chumley's company has done business with the borough for quite some time, and in his new (and highly paid) position, he has been divesting his connections to the borough. According to the article, Chumley's Inc. no longer has any borough contracts. The paperwork problem seems to have been resolved and there's a happy ending: the equipment was donated to CES.

The pay raise issue is still a bit weird - especially with today's revelation that the Kachemak Bay Emergency Service Fire Assistant Chief was given a $5145 pay raise - before he even started the job, and after he had agreed to work for the lower pay! That's incredible. Who can have a problem with a pay raise AFTER someone proves up to the job, but shouldn't that come after a performance review? It should at least come after the person actually does some work!

The fact that Carey continues to give pay raises after the assembly smacked his hand after he was caught giving unwarranted and undisclosed pay raises last week is stunning. Despite the slight cut that Carey made to the pay of his chief of staff (the same Mr Chumley mentioned above) and his assistant after being taken to task by the taxpayers last week, Mayor Dave still treats the borough till as his own little money dispensary.

The PC lists some of the raises - they show 11 positions that received at least a 15% pay raise, but that list is only a small sample of the Mayor's largess. Take for instance the Spruce Bark Beetle Mitigation Manager - a person with no experience in forestry and a person who the state of Alaska let go in his last government appointed post with DMV - now makes over $7000 more than his highly-qualified predecessor and gets a car allowance. There are now 25 borough managers that make over $80,000 a year - only 15 made over $80K last year. Another 22 make in the $70-80K range. That includes the newly created Community and Fiscal Projects Manager who earns $75K, compared to the old grants manager who earned $68K.

And do keep in mind that these raises don't include the increased costs to the borough to the retirement programs of each manager. That is an additional $3,000-$4,000 for each manager. And it also does not include the $3600 car allowance given to Chumley, Wilcox, the Spruce Bark Beetle Director, and the General Service Director. Yes, they all justly receive additional mileage if they use their car on borough business. But does the Spruce Bark Beetle guy really need an additional car allowance? Does the Mayor get this too? He lives across the street from his office!

The borough assembly was caught napping during the last budget cycle as they didn't question the Mayor's budget for salaries. But I guess we were all caught napping. Carey has run as a fiscal conservative and a champion that would rein in the cost of borough government. What a joke. Given the mayor's reluctance to be up-front with these raises - indeed his attempts to hide them have been incredible - I hope that there's some full accounting of Scooter's divesting his business from the borough payroll.

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