Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Oh Really?

From an editorial in Today's Picayune:
But the issue with the high pay for Mayor Nagin's top employees is not necessarily that city taxpayers are shelling out more than residents in larger communities, but whether New Orleanians are receiving in return the quality of service such pay deserves. Key city managers need to show that their work deserves the high pay they are receiving.

In other words, we can afford the highly paid executives if they perform well. We must have had some turnaround in the last year:
The city government isn't just broke. It's holes-in-your-pockets broke, flat-on-your-back broke, headed-to-the-poorhouse broke. With much of the tax base gone, it's hard to see how City Hall will pay for all the services necessary to get New Orleans functioning.

Under these circumstances, local officials and legislators should of course be figuring out how to trim any fat out of city government.

That was from an editorial that appeared almost a year ago, one can't help but wonder what happened since.

In October, we read that Oliver Thomas called for electricians to do volunteer work for the city, because the city couldn't afford the competitive wages to attract electrical inspectors and, in another context, The Picayune editorialized:
New Orleans has tremendous needs -- from curbing crime to patching city streets to handling the myriad permits and paperwork for rebuilding. And the city's recovery will depend on how well its scant resources are used to meet those needs.

Apparently, the city's financial situation has improved tremendously in only three months. I guess I should just stop criticizing the mayor and the paper. Or not. The mayor and his chief recovery officer have felt the need to go a begging tour of New York and we read something else in today's paper:
RTA commissioners sat slack-jawed Monday during their monthly meeting as they listened to staffers explain the challenges associated with cleaning a bus -- inside and out -- with a skeleton crew of about a half dozen laborers and a single pressure washer.

Today's editorial noted that public services "have been found wanting since Katrina." Maybe, instead of looking at the top executives, we should be spending less on executives and more on manpower and equipment.

The editorial writers at The Picayune have a slightly different perspective:
The mayor has not indicated whether he plans to pursue further pay raises for his top aides. But for the sake of the city's taxpayers, City Council members should seek a case-by-case justification if he chooses to do so.

Have they gone loony? The only sane response to such a proposal would be to burst into laughter.

Gordon Russell's report on executive pay.
People Get Ready: Quiett declined to comment

Good post, but one tiny thing: I believe the Regional Transit Authority operates independently of the City of New Orleans. I know the City Council cannot give it orders, exactly--the RTA has its own controlling board.
Yeah, I should have gone into more detail since I got lazy and used that convenient RTA story. The RTA and S&WB are both separate and independent, but they respond to pressure from City Hall to some degree. They also have separate budgets. When the pay raise issue came up, a friend who works for the Water Board and I had a very heated argument about it, because the Water Board can't raise its pay when the city separately from the city (I believe that's a political reality rather than a law), but raises its pay whenever the city does. So in addition to the laughably understated costs of the pay raises on the City of New Orleans budget, they're certain to cause pay to increase at other financially strapped agencies. If I'm right about that, laid bus drivers will be happy as I was to hear that their former coworkers are getting raises; they might also seriously consider moving. That wouldn't have been the case if the pay raises had only been for firefighters and police and to address key shortages like electrical inspectors.

What I had in mind was, if they had at least capped the raises, the city could have staffed an unassigned labor pool. We're constantly reading about how there only 14 staffers in the sanitation department and 14 people on the road maintenance crews. With his expanded office staff, somebody could assign that crew on an as needed basis. There would be nothing that I'm aware of to keep the city from assigning them to clean RTA buses.

I took it as one more sign of how out of touch the mayor is that he considers dirt on the outside of RTA buses such a pressing issue. As an occasional rider, who rode almost every day for two months last Summer, I can tell you that filthy interiors and incorrect signs are bigger problems.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Old Favorites
  • Political Boxing (untitled)
  • Did Bush Take His Ball and Go Home
  • Teratogens and Plan B
  • Foghorn Leghorn Republicans
  • BayouBias.com
  • Quote of the Day
  • October's News(Dec.1)
  • untitled, Nov.19 (offshore revenue)
  • Remember Upton Sinclair
  • Oct. Liar of thr month
  • Jindal's True Colors
  • No bid contracts