Raising a stink at Boston City Council

Resolved: There is no good time and it never looks good for elected officials to propose and vote on their own raises.

But, really, doesn’t City Councilor Bill Linehan, in rejecting an 11 percent proposed pay hike from a mayoral commission, make it look worse by bemoaning the ability to afford bananas (about 60 cents a pound, according to the federal government, down 4.1 percent over last year) on a salary of $97,000?

“We don’t go to the supermarket scientifically,” Linehan said about the data presented in the report from the Compensation Advisory Board that determined a $9,700 boost was sufficient when comparing Boston to similar size cities. “But we know the value of a banana; we know the value of a stick. This process and the articulations around it have undervalued the Boston City Council and its councilors.”

Give that sticks are pretty much free, it’s hard to divine just what Linehan meant, other than the proposal was nowhere near the $20,000 pay hike he wants and plans to offer this week. It will be the second face-off in less than a year between the council and Mayor Martin Walsh over what constitutes appropriate pay for a body that meets on Wednesdays and whose power has been watered down substantially over the years.

Linehan and some of his more vocal supporters on the council aired their hurt feelings over the report that compared the Boston council salaries to that of same-sized cities with similar-sized budgets such as Virginia Beach, Virginia, emoting that pushed the Globe‘s Yvonne Abraham to nominate Linehan for a Profile in Courage Award, albeit tongue firmly planted in cheek.

“Rarely have we seen a public figure so determined to do what he believes is right in the face of near-unanimous public disapproval, to press a cause with unabated passion, even though doing so makes him seem the quintessential tone-deaf throwback,” Abraham said in her faux nomination letter. “Any public servant can push for a giant pay raise for himself in January. It takes a man of true conviction, and, yes, courage, to do it during election season.”

A number of councilors point out how bold they are in pushing for a raise with the election on the horizon. What they don’t point out is how few of them face a challenge. Five district councilors are running unopposed, only two have preliminary opponents, and there is just one outside candidate challenging for one of the four at-large seats. The sole at-large candidate, Annissa Essaibi George, points out the council has had more debate on pay raises than they have on education and public safety combined.

The council pay-raise debate often focuses on how much work the councilors actually do. The Globe‘s Andrew Ryan posted a picture to Twitter of the councilors’ marked and empty parking spaces in the City Hall garage at 11 a.m. the morning after their debate over the pay hike report.

At-large Councilor Michelle Wu tweeted back to Ryan she was in her office at 8:30 but no one else responded. Wu is one of four councilors who voted against the extreme hike last fall, upholding Walsh’s veto. It’s unknown if the four opponents – Wu, Ayanna Pressley, Josh Zakim, and Matt O’Malley – will band together again but it’s likely Walsh will veto any measure that is above his commission’s recommendations, requiring one more vote to uphold it.

In the meantime, the pro-wicked big hike majority on the council will be in for a rough time, at least from observers if not voters.

“Shameless – that’s the best word to describe City Council President Bill Linehan’s continuing push for a huge pay raise for members of the Boston City Council,” the Herald writes in an editorial. “Oh, we can think of a few other words, too. Greedy. Tone-deaf. Petty.”

JACK SULLIVAN

 

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Former Quincy mayor William Phelan, running for his old job against the man who ousted him, Mayor Thomas Koch, has submitted a public records request over the controversial demotion of the city planner and intends to make the documents public. (Patriot Ledger)

Lawrence City Council president Modesto Maldonado proposes a board to review complaints against police officers. (Eagle-Tribune) Meanwhile, The Berkshire Eagle says the Pittsfield police department’s hiring practices merit scrutiny after a police sergeant who was passed over for promotion files a lawsuit alleging retaliation for his complaints.

It was a sad day for preservationists in Danvers as the 1894 Mackey Funeral Home is torn down to make way for a parking lot. (Salem News)

New Bedford City Councilor David Alves decided against running for a 13th term, marking the end of an era for the city after nearly a quarter century on the council. (Standard-Times)

The body of an adult woman is found on the beach on Plum Island. (Gloucester Times)

CASINOS

Plainridge Park Casino is proving to be a boon for its host town and the state. (Lowell Sun)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

The Secretaries’ Innovation Group brings together health and human services officials from Republican states and lobbies nationally for their approaches on dealing with poverty. (Governing)

Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone explains why he hung a “Black Lives Matter” banner across the entrance to City Hall. (CommonWealth) Some observers increasingly compare the Black Lives Matter supporters to the Occupy movement: Important messages but what do they really want?

Three Americans and a Briton were awarded France’s top honor for their role in preventing an alleged terrorist from going on a shooting spree on a train full of passengers on Friday. (New York Times)

ELECTIONS

The Christian Science Monitor analyzes the Donald Trump phenomenon and finds that the media are now taking him seriously. A white-supremacist wants to name a North Dakota town after Trump.

An Eagle-Tribune editorial calls Attorney General Maura Healey’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president embarrassing.

Joementum: If the vice president runs, would US Rep. Seth Moulton back him? (Boston Globe) The National Review posits that Biden would be a one-term president and tap Sen. Elizabeth Warren as his vice president, opening the door for her own run in 2020. Warren tells Keller@Large “no one’s been anointed” yet in the field.

If Joe Biden gets in, why not Mitt? (Washington Examiner) Or former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg?

Conservative pundit William Kristol says the GOP should be open to their own “October surprise” by courting one or two more candidates with more substance than the current field. (Weekly Standard)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Global stocks continue to plummet amid turmoil in China‘s economy. (New York Times)

An outbreak of avian flu in the Midwest has brought egg production to a standstill and triggered a spike in prices locally. (The Enterprise)

With some people posting multiple listings and landlords and investors going after the short-term rental market, lawmakers may be considering taxing Airbnb rentals. Details of a state legislative proposal here and factoids here. (Boston Globe)

RELIGION

With nearly a third of priests in the Fall River Diocese ready to retire in the next five years and a dearth of men taking the vows, the diocese is facing a critical shortage of clergy for its 83 churches. (Herald News)

EDUCATION

UMass President Marty Meehan wants the state to invest in Worcester’s medical school. (Telegram & Gazette)

As teachers retire, Boston is struggling to diversify the ranks of its educators. (Boston Globe)

Bill Walczak, writing for WBUR’s website, discusses what it will take for Massachusetts to stay on top in education.

A Gallup poll finds that Americans disapprove of linking teacher performance to standardized test scores. (Associated Press)

Bye-bye yoga pants: Some Cape schools move to ban them. (Cape Cod Times)

TRANSPORTATION

A Boston Herald editorial trashes the Carmen’s Union for opposing privatization efforts at the T.

The Boston Globe argues that MassDOT needs to revisit its plans for tearing down the Mass Pike viaduct in Allston.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

New rules covering the handling and treatment of stormwater could cost Massachusetts cities and towns millions of dollars. (Eagle-Tribune)

A new receiver buoy installed by Scituate officials off the coast detected a 12-foot great white shark lurking in the area over the weekend. (Patriot Ledger)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Police arrest two heavily armed men from Iowa at a Pokemon convention in Boston. (Boston Globe) Some of the attendees say they would have had second thoughts had they been aware of the threat. (Boston Herald)

Police are searching for a suspect in a brutal sexual assault in Lowell early Sunday morning. (WBUR)

MEDIA
The new hyper-local Politico site launches; it’s mostly an aggregator.