January 17, 2003

Editorial

National City council members approve pay raise, despite budget woes

How do you define the National City City Council after they approved themselves an 18% pay raise. This pay raise, in spite of the fact that National City, the State, the Country is faced with a huge budget deficit, services are being slashed and workers are losing their jobs because there is not enough money to go around. The best term we can think of is Greedy!

Being a city council member is part-time public service and all of the city council members have fulltime jobs, all of them except for Luis Natividad who is a fulltime politician with National City and as an aid to San Diego City councilman Charles Lewis, that are paid fulltime salaries. So for example, fireman Frank Parra who draws a salary roughly in the range of $70,000 can now add $27,000 to his salary. Mayor Inzunza’s position is considered fulltime, yet he has outside business interest adding to his income.

As city council members they were confined to a 5% percent pay raise per each year since the previous pay raise, which was in 2001. To get around this law and increase their total pay by 18% the city council approved pay raises in their role as Community Development Commissioners, which is has no limit to the amount of raise afforded them.

It was just last year (2002) that then council member, now mayor, Inzunza championed and passed a motion limiting the number of council meetings to two meetings a month, versus the then weekly meetings, arguing that there was not enough work to justify weekly meetings. Interestingly Mayor Inzunza now justifies the 18% pay raise due to the volume of work facing the city council.

Even in the best of times it would be difficult to justify a pay raise that elevates the salaries of the elected officials of the 11th largest city in the county to the levels of the top four cities. At a time when all cities are faced with budgetary Armageddon, when police services will be slashed, fire services slashed, educational cut backs, city services slashed, employees laid off, it is incomprehensible that a city council, any city council would authorize itself a pay raise at this time. At a time when elected city leaders need to stand up and provide leadership, to make the sacrifices needed, to lead by example, this city council fell flat on its face.

There is an old axiom amongst leaders, particularly during difficult times, to the troops: “I will never ask you to do something, that I myself am not willing to do.” It is obvious that this city council has failed to lead. And that their only interest is self-interest!

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