Look, I want to qualify this screed by saying I’m not opposed to paying people what they are worth – especially those with the courage to stand for public office – and I have always respected senior public officials who, on principle, refused to accept pay increases if their subordinates were not afforded the same benefit or during times of financial hardship for their jurisdiction.
I know something about that.
It’s called making a small personal sacrifice for the betterment of something larger than your own self-interests.
During a rushed and rambling council workshop last week, talk turned to placing Charter amendments on the ballot for this year’s election – the act of expending public funds to solicit permanent, voter-approved changes to our county’s otherwise sacrosanct governing document.
To say our Charter needs a fresh set of eyes, beyond the once in a blue moon review by a committee made up of all the right last names, is an understatement. . .
But rather than focus on those serious issues with the Charter – like ensuring those of us who pay the bills are afforded substantive input in the development of public policy – our elected officials took the opportunity to serve their own vanity by suggesting we change the name of our elected body from “Council” to “Commission.”
Because the term “Councilperson” doesn’t command the level of approbation and reverence our elected representatives feel they are entitled to.
Then, in perhaps the flakiest thing since my granny’s buttermilk biscuits, our doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley, made the asinine suggestion that his exalted position at the head of this wobbly totem pole be officially changed to “Mayor.”
Don’t take my word for it, down three fingers of bourbon, chase it with Kaopectate, and listen to the archived audio.
While council members were on the topic of how woefully unappreciated they are, our vainglorious elected elite had the unmitigated gall to publicly wallow in their own egotistic angst over how terribly expensive shameless self-promotion has become for politicians in 2020.
So, for what must have seemed like the best of reasons, the Volusia County Council tuned their proverbial guitars to the doghouse bass and played the Poor Mouth Blues – openly mewing, moaning and whining about out-of-pocket expenses, a lack of personal assistants, the price of gasoline and high cost of their automobile insurance – before determining how to best couch ballot language for a pay increase that gullible voters might actually swallow.
It was like listening to the Joad’s describe the depravities of poverty in the Dust Bowl. . .
Now, until a recent article on the subject in the News-Journal, I didn’t know exactly how much we pay our elected officials to sacrifice their valuable time and talents for the ungrateful bastards who elected them – and I’ll just bet you didn’t either.
Because its next to impossible to calculate base salary, per diem, fees for attendance at various self-congratulatory soirees and awards banquets, etc. – not to mention travel, hotel and dining expenses for do-nothing meetings, conferences, hobnobs, grip-n-grins and hot air generators in, Tallahassee, Washington D.C. and beyond.
Now, these junkets are always sugarcoated in some pressing public need – like Councilwoman Deb Denys’ incessant squalling about her single-handed attempts to lure SpaceX and United Launch Alliance out of Brevard County to a vacant shopping center on ISB – as though the Titusville/Cocoa/Melbourne metroplex, located literally on the doorstep of the Kennedy Space Center, doesn’t have enough abandoned storefronts, office buildings and warehouse space to accommodate a hundred aerospace companies within a stones throw of the launchpad. . .
For the record, according to the News-Journal, Old Ed commands a base salary of $54,288 annually for his “service” as council chair – and the rest haul in $45,240 each year – essentially for attending two meetings a month and schlepping around to a slate of officious time-wasters that never seem to improve our quality of life or lower our already exorbitant tax rate.
That’s an incredible $217,152 we will have paid Ed Kelley to fumble, mumble and bumble his way through a four-year term at the helm of this ship of fools. . .
Did I mention that, according to 2018 census records, Volusia County households have a median income of just $46,760 – which must cover essential life expenses for families with children?
Since listening to this shit show play out in real-time – and recalling that some 43% of Volusia households do not earn enough to consistently cover basic living expenses – I’ve wondered if these unashamed crybabies sat bolt upright in the middle of the night, lathered in cold sweat, asking themselves if they really said those things into an open microphone?
During an election year?
Look, I realize that, generally speaking, most politicians have a pretty high opinion of themselves – but building resentment by publicly complaining about their remuneration in front of the tax-strapped folks who foot the bill (after they begged us for the job with the full knowledge of what it paid) is never a good look.
In fact, it’s loutish.
But what’s done is done.
Ultimately, we all get what we deserve.
If our elected officials are convinced that that a pay increase is truly the highest and best use of our tax dollars – then, by all means, they should put that question to the voters this fall.
I can’t wait to see the reaction. . .