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My co-radio Star Andrew Donohue beat me to the punch commenting on this bombshell from the U-T today.
I think Donohue lays out pretty well why this is a big deal. The mayor benefited from and publicized his decision to sacrifice so much of his salary when he was elected. It was a principled move. Nobody asked him to, but it helped him win the election.
I, for one, have spent years fending off commenters and letter writers who wrongly assumed that the mayor was pulling his full pension from his service as a police officer and his full salary as mayor. I always told them, no, he actually only takes a salary of something like $30,000. And that, apparently, was the case until December.
But I did notice that, since December, the accusations that he was collecting his full pension and full salary stepped up in frequency. Again, I fended them off. Surely the mayor wouldn’t have started taking a full salary without telling people.
Surely I overestimated him.
I feel like I was hoodwinked. And you were too.
It’s perfectly legitimate that the mayor receive his full salary. He earned his pension and he earned his job as mayor.
But have the courage to announce it, J-Man! Be confident that you deserve it and that you can communicate that to the city.
And that’s brings me to another point. When the mayor decided to take his full salary in December, he apparently made a conscious decision not to inform the public.
From the U-T story (great scoop, by the way):
Asked why he didn’t inform the public, Sanders said he didn’t know how to address it because it didn’t feel appropriate to hold a news conference or issue a news release.
So the mayor thought about it and decided not to disclose this decision. This means that the mayor’s team felt like they had something bad/embarrassing on their hands. And they believed that it would be bad to tell everyone about it. So they decided to simply risk that no one would find out.
This illustrates perfectly why we need reporters in a town. Without reporters constantly asking people like the mayor what they’re doing, they won’t tell us stuff like this. They just won’t. They’ll tell us when they give up a salary but not when they take one. They tell us when they do good things. They tell us when they do lame stunts. But they fear the bad news and pretend as though hiding it makes it better.
Kudos to the U-T for asking the right question.
A simple three-line press release would have pre-empted all of this. Someone might have argued that the mayor didn’t deserve his salary. But they would have looked pretty weak.
Now they can argue that the mayor tried to deceive us. And they’d be right.