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Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or pgould@freelancestar.com. Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or rsidersky@freelancestar.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 ebattle@freelancestar.com.

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.

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Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/citybeat/2010/02/22/morning-buzz-feb-22-2010/

  • morganne

    Has anyone checked to see if “MattKellyforMayor2012.com” has been regesitered yet?

  • kelly058

    Nope. A question maybe you can answer. Why should council slaries not even be discussed as part of the budget?

  • morganne

    Nope, no one has checked, or nope it hasn’t be registered? Just kidding. The issue it seems is not if it should be discussed, but how you brought the discussion to the table. It’s seems rather Girvanesque.

  • kelly058

    I brought it up last year too and Council didn’t want to discuss it. Then I let it pass and went my own way. Do I have to get the permission of the Council to bring up an issue? If they say NO as they have, does that mean I can’t being it up? Do you not have a probelm with the fact that it would seem everything is up to be cut or reduced accept Council salaries?

  • morganne

    I have absolutely no problem with it being brought up, but you didn’t bring up reducing salaries, your memo clearly states that you recommend cutting salaries. And while I have no knowledge of council inner-workings it appears from the article and blog that there is a protocol/courtesy for bringing matters before the council that you did not follow. And that seems to me something that the former vice mayor did right before she announced her intention to run for mayor.

  • online

    Struggling to find words to describe the preposterous FLS news judgment!
    How could you possibly justify running a story about Kelly’s proposal to cut council pay while reserving the story about Kelly donating his pay to charitable/city departments to a BLOG?
    Don’t care whether council members are paid or whether Kelly donates, but to tell part of the story in print and reveal the back end story in a BLOG is just bizarre beyond words.

  • alybjones

    I really don’t think this is bizarre news reporting.The
    blog clearly explains, “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.” It sounds like
    Battle and Kelly have spoken about this issue several
    times. If Kelly wanted his donations off the record,
    Battle did the right thing by not including that
    information in past articles. It makes sense for Battle
    to stick with that judgement in this story. I think it
    would make Kelly look worse to suddenly want to
    publicize his decision to donate right as his proposal to
    cut salaries came out.

    And it’s obvious, as Battle states, “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.” Who is donating
    wasn’t the story. That’s a completely different issue
    based on personal decisions. The FLS news judgement
    isn’t bizarre or preposterous; it’s actually pretty clear,
    strong and ethical.