This blog includes news about City Hall, city schools and other 22401 news.Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or email@example.com.
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Morning Buzz – Feb. 22, 2010
A daily digest of what’s going on in Fredericksburg, and what news from elsewhere is relevant here. Send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Salaries and donations. Since I’ve already had a few questions about this this morning, I’ll use today’s Buzz to address it. Matt Kelly, who has proposed that council members go without pay next year, has regularly donated his salary to various city charities and city departments, such as fire and police.
The main reason this was not included in today’s story is that every time Matt has spoken to me about his donations, he has asked that those details be kept off the record. That changed when Matt wrote in an e-mail to his fellow council members late last week that his proposal was not “grandstanding,” because he was already giving his salary away.
For today’s story, though, I determined that the question of whether local elected officials should be paid in bad budget years was a separate matter from the question of who is donating his or her salary.
If you read the story, you know that Kelly’s colleagues took as much or greater issue with the way Kelly made his proposal than with its substance. Several of them told me that Kelly should not have made his idea public before talking with them. As voters, you need to decide whether you want your elected officials conferring with each other (in groups of two, to stay legal) before they bring ideas before you.
Also, to be fair on the donations side, I would have needed to look at the donations that all of the other council members make.
Do you only count donations to groups that are already in the budget? Do you count time that they spend organizing or participating in fundraisers for groups? Do you count endorsements, like the one Mayor Tomzak has made for the Boys & Girls Club in a spot that has been running on local cable? Councilman Brad Ellis stated at his town hall meeting Saturday that he felt it was inappropriate for Tomzak to participate in the TV spot. If that is the case, is it inappropriate for any council member to make a donation to a city charity?
The issue of council donations, like the larger issue of funding for so-called “outside agencies” or nonprofits, is hardly cut-and-dry.
It is something you can expect to read more about as the discussion of council salaries and the overall budget deliberations progress.