Last Tuesday, Anaheim City Council members, with Miriam Kaywood dissenting, gave themselves a raise that trebled their monthly pay to $1,200 and the mayor's to $1,600. They did this by adding meeting fees when the council changes hats and sits briefly as the Redevelopment Agency and the Housing Authority before regular weekly council sessions.
Maybe the council deserves more money, but it's not the raise that rankles as much as the way the council tried to sneak it by the people who are going to pay for it. Instead of putting the issue on the agenda as a well-identified item for public discussion or submit it to voters, the council tried to quietly slip it by. But Councilwoman Kaywood blew the whistle on her colleagues in opposing the increase.
That shows that the council, no matter how much it argues that it deserves more money, must have been a bit uneasy about voting itself a raise. Otherwise it would have put the issue out in the open for public discussion.
And the council's rationalization for the pay boost was more laughable than laudable. Mayor Ben Bay and Councilmen Fred Hunter and William D. Ehrle (Irv Pickler was out of town) argued that the bigger paychecks would attract younger people to run for council seats, as if money was all that mattered.
Ehrle, who ran for election in June, is 44. That's old? And there was no shortage of candidates in that special election: A dozen people ran to fill the one open seat. Obviously, the pay was no problem in attracting residents with the desire to serve, including Ehrle.
Many people still sit on local boards, commissions and councils for little or no pay. It used to be that service was all the incentive needed. For many competent residents, of all ages, it still is--regardless of what the Anaheim City Council majority says.