‘We the people’ say no

Published 9:59 pm Saturday, April 14, 2012

To the editor:

I am appalled that Vice Mayor Charles Brown thinks exercising freedom of speech regarding Suffolk’s FY 2012-2013 budget is a “bullying tactic.”

He and the other members of City Council were elected to represent their boroughs. If the people of Suffolk have a problem with the budget, he should be one of the first to listen to our concerns over whether this is an appropriate time for outlandish raises at the expense of the taxpayer.

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Whether the city manager has done a good job is subject to personal opinion. I have had various reasons to contact her office in the past few years. I never received resolution to those problems. For that matter, I never received a return phone call to discuss them, either.

City of Suffolk employees are there to represent and serve the citizens of Suffolk. Our tax dollars pay their wages and benefits, and we should have input on whether someone has done a good enough job for a raise, especially when it is in the tens of thousands of dollars.

The work that has been done to pull Suffolk through various natural disasters in the last few years has shown a great deal of kindness and leadership. However, it is not all done by the city and its employees. I know one company stopped work during the nor’easter and paid its own personnel to cut up trees that had fallen over the roadways, just to make access for first responders and traffic in general.

I also witnessed regular citizens doing the same, without any request for acknowledgement or financial gain. The only city personnel that even knew about it were the police officers who blocked the road for safety.

Suffolk’s citizens have suffered under the leadership of the city manager. We have had to start paying extra for trash service. Our personal property tax bills have not fallen, even with the record decline in home values. It seems as if City Council expects taxpayers to write a blank check. And there is no transparency in the way the city manager’s office conducts itself.

I can’t imagine agreeing to perform a specific list of job duties for a certain salary, only to seek a 21-percent raise. Ms. Cuffee-Glenn agreed to the job and its terms when she was hired, and she is compensated at a very fair rate.

Mr. Brown suggests Ms. Cuffee-Glenn’s male counterparts are paid more. I will gladly offer my services to manage the city at a cost of 21 percent below the current one.

I hope council members realize that when so many folks are looking for work to support their families, this is no time for raises. We have had to cut back, make hard choices, do without, and pray that we can make ends meet.

The amount of negative attention this proposal has drawn should be an indicator that “we the people” do not agree this is the time for any raises within the city.

Jon Ward
Suffolk