Salary story’s format was unfair

Published 11:03 pm Friday, April 13, 2012

To the editor:

This letter is written to express disappointment in the article written by Tracy Agnew, entitled “Pay Increase?” (April 10). The tenor of the article and the positioning of the facts could easily skew the public’s perception of the city manager and her role in proposing salary increases in her budget submission.

Permit me to state that I do not know Selena Cuffee-Glenn, and this letter is not written to support or to oppose the salary increases that are included in her budget document.

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My concern about this article is how it creates the perception that Ms. Cuffee-Glenn’s budget arbitrarily increased her own salary by 21 percent and other City Council appointees by even greater percentages.

Although technically true, I believe Ms. Agnew’s statement “City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn proposed a 21 percent raise in her own salary in the budget she put forth to City Council” is misleading. The paragraph I quoted was positioned second in the article. The third paragraph went on to provide her current salary and her new salary if approved by City Council.

After this information, Ms. Agnew specified three others who will be beneficiaries of proposed salary increases, depending upon City Council action. She then launched into budgetary issues faced by Suffolk Public Schools.

Only in the 19th paragraph does Ms. Agnew state, “City Council voted during a January meeting to direct the city manager to implement the recommendations of the compensation study.”

I strongly believe this information should have been at the top of the article, because it is the directive Ms. Cuffee-Glenn was following when she recommended the raises for herself and others.

By positioning this clarifying paragraph at the end of the article, the instructive information it provides about the reason behind Ms. Cuffee-Glenn’s salary recommendations is trivialized.

Again, I do not know Ms. Cuffee-Glenn or any of the other three employees who were mentioned by name in the article. I do believe Ms. Cuffee-Glenn was done a disservice by sensationalizing the information that she “…proposed a 21 percent raise in her own salary in the budget she put forth to City Council.” Concurrent with that statement should have been the paragraph stating that she was directed to take that action by City Council last January.

Presentation of the information in the format and sequence chosen has the potential to inflame residents and shape public opinion about the raises that have been proposed. That type of attempted influence belongs on the Opinion Page.

James E. Oliver
Suffolk