Mayor Cohen Should Explain Why He Will Not Forego Pay Raise ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mayor Cohen Should Explain Why He Will Not Forego Pay Raise

According to a recent piece in  The Capital  (see Anne Arundel County Council members' salary will remain at $36,000 for the next four years. Mayor Joshua Cohen was a county council member until he resigned in December to take his new role at $77,000 per year with a built-in increase slated to rise to $98,000. As a county councilman, he also held a full-time job funded by a government grant.

Also, according to the newspaper, "County Executive John R. Leopold endorsed the panel's recommendations and pointed out that he returned the $5,000 raise afforded him by county law."

With the severe economic downturn, budget crisis and imminent layoffs or other actions that will directly affect city employees and their families, I believe that Mayor Cohen should come out publicly and  return this raise to the General Fund or postpone it until better times. Now, I am certain there are extenuating circumstances, personal and perhaps even family issues swirling around this, but we are all in this crisis together. Mayor Cohen owes it to us to either step forward and forego this raise (which I again will point out, came about under some "unusual" circumstances that were directly related to his decision to even run for mayor) or to explain to we the people why he feels justified taking this raise while city employees are going to be so harshly affected.

Even a young family such as The Joshua Cohen family can live reasonably well in Annapolis on $77,000 per annum. Many of us, including most city employees and yours truly survive on a lot less. Cohen's personal financial issues are not our concern unless they directly relate to his service as mayor, however,when layoff occur, how can he justify taking his raise?

I do believe that he understands where wealth is derived. Those who have made careers out of public service, however dedicated or noble that may be, have never the less existed off of tax revenue derived from those who create wealth.  We must remember that those who create wealth also suffer as business and economic vitality is negatively affected.

I have made this public please before and it has fallen on deaf ears. Perhaps Mayor Cohen will choose to respond publicly this time. Or perhaps he is waiting until he announces layoffs and furloughs. Or perhaps he has no intention of giving up this raise. I do believe that whatever he gives up in terms of financial reward is likely to be rewarded many times more in terms of public support.

What say ye, citizens of Annapolis? Tell him what you think.

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Janet Norman said...

I don't think he should forgo the raise, as we should allow young professionals to run our city as a real job, and not just have retired folks who can afford a lower salary run for the job. What I don't believe we should have is dozens of dept heads at the $100K+ rate (or ~135 K for Transportations' Maitland on paid leave?). Consolidate! The mayor has way more responsibility than the Dept heads and should be paid a competitive rate in this high expense area.
This issue is sticking in your craw too much, Paul, let it go....

Paul Foer said...

Janet I am going to have to disagree. I don't think $77k is so bad but the mayor does deserve a good salary--perhaps even the 98k. The real issue to me is that we need a reduced job role for the mayor and to have a real council-manager form of gov't. Instead we are getting a real salary for a mayor and a CAO and the mayor has brought in new people for new jobs in the most overstaffed office in the city and...what's next?
I agree about the dozens of dep't heads. No question there.
This to me is fundamentally a symbolic issue, and since the mayor will likely be handing out pink slips, asking for union concessions, or furloughs or reduced benefits, it is all the more fitting that he not accept the raise that was put in place--in questionable circumstances, before--or even in order for him to run for mayor.
Why can't he postpone this raise, let's see how well he does, and then revisit this in two years?
This is not stuck in my craw, whatever a craw may be. It is a legitimate issue. Leopold has agreed to not to accept his raise. County council is not getting a raise.
Thanks for your comment and keep reading and writing.

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