Ultimately, raises are in voters’ hands

Published 10:22 pm Friday, May 9, 2014

By Roger Leonard

After the recent City Council meeting, we all need to thank Mike Duman for trying to lead when his colleagues on council buried their heads in the sand, as directed by our very highly paid city manager. It is gratifying that we now have at least one — maybe two, or maybe even three — councilmen who are thinking and leading.

However the magic number to get anything done is five.

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The only strategy left is to elect several thinking leaders like Mike, who will pull in the same direction for change, rather than following — like lemmings over the cliff — the dictates of our city manager’s failed strategies and poorly considered priorities.

Something is wrong with the professional performance of a city manager who takes a raise of more than 14 percent to keep her own position competitive, but fails to plan to take care of her city employees or to provide the guidance and support that would ensure teachers were provided for.

We do not need another study to know employees are underpaid after years without raises.

We need leadership to set appropriate funding of salaries as a priority.

Considering that the city budget totals more than half a billion dollars — with a school budget of several hundred million dollars — such salary support is only forfeit due to poor policy decisions by the city manager, City Council and School Board.

The city manager can be changed by an election that changes city council.

The School Board can also be changed by elections, and they can set priorities to fund teachers ahead of other wants. But the present crew on council and Suffolk Public Schools will not or cannot lead, and effectively they both fail us all.

I do hundreds of millions of dollars in federal and state budgeting, and with fixed resources, the real issues are always driven by setting reasoned and relevant priorities. This insures effective outcomes that do as much as possible with the resources available. This clearly has not been done in Suffolk by council or SPS.

To grant the city manager and senior city staff huge raises and then to expect the minions below them to take none shows nothing less than greed, stupidity, and a direct dereliction of duty.

It seems clear that it is time to clean house, and that must start by changing council and the School Board. Will the voters do so, or will they be asleep again at the polls?

It is, as always, in their hands, in the voting booth.

Roger Leonard is from Suffolk. Email him at rogerflys@aol.com.