Just when you think you’ve heard every reason possible from politicians why they should give themselves a raise, they come up with some new material.
Yesterday’s discussion in Kamloops City council chambers on Coun. Nancy Bepple’s notice of motion directing staff to report on what their counterparts in other cities get paid was fascinating.
It began with Bepple reciting her previous job experience with major employers. It was a little strange. Mind you, it was Bepple who recently raised the idea of putting parking meters in back alleys.
It got better as the discussion went along. Coun. Nelly Dever had some good sound bites such as, “It’s a band-aid nobody wants to pull off,” and “Suck it up and just do it.” Her analysis of the issue of pay raises was that it is council’s duty to deal with it, yet it’s politically sensitive so nobody wants to touch it.
Thus, the Nike-like “just do it” thing. Which kind of characterizes giving yourself a raise (or, at least, talking about it) as an act of courage. We should be grateful.
Anyway, Coun. Tina Lange echoed the oft-used rationale that council members need to be paid more so that good people will be attracted to run. Two years ago, when Thompson-Nicola Regional District directors voted themselves $5,000 raises, she used a similar argument.
“I value my skills and time and assets,” she said then. “We can’t depend on people who are independently wealthy or retired.”
Yesterday, Tuesday, she asked, almost plaintively, “Am I the best we can get?”
Now that’s a new angle on an old issue. So council members need to approve a raise so that the next council will be better than the current one?
In answer to her question, though, I can’t answer whether Coun. Lange is the best available from the community gene pool of councillors and potential councillors. I can say she’s not the worst. In fact, she’s a good councillor, and always reliable for a good quote. She’s just not in the right place on this issue.
There’s a belief by some councillors that they somehow shoulder more burden than councillors of the past. I’d like to know how.
Do they have more meetings to attend? Nope.
More public hearings? Nope.
More public events? Nope.
More hours per week? Nope.
Has governance changed dramatically? Nope.
Do they need more skills than they used to? Nope.
I would challenge anyone on this council, other than the mayor, to log his or her time over a period of six months or even six weeks and show 30 hours a week, or even 20.
At any rate, they’re going ahead with putting staff to the trouble of coming up with a report they already know will show that several other City councils make more money. Four members of council — Ken Christian, Marg Spina, Pat Wallace and Mayor Peter Milobar — voted against it.
Bepple, Lange, Dever, Donovan Cavers and Arjun Singh voted for it.