Saturday, February 20, 2016

NY Mayor Signs Measure Raising City Officials’ Pay

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio signed several bills into law on yesterday that gave members of the City Council and other elected officials a sizable pay raise.

The salary increase, which the Council approved this month, was widely criticized because lawmakers gave themselves a raise that was $10,185 greater than the one recommended by an advisory panel.

Council members argued that raising their pay to $148,500 from $112,500 was justified because they also agreed to a series of reforms that government watchdog groups had been clamoring for. The measures included banning members from receiving most forms of outside income, requiring that elected officials’ financial disclosure forms be released online, and ending additional pay stipends, known as lulus, that the Council speaker traditionally doled out to committee leaders.

Earlier, Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, said that the bills contained “real, profound changes and reforms,” adding that “the salary increases in this legislation are fair when you consider both the reforms that are being enacted” and the fact that it had been almost a decade since the last pay increase, as well as “how hard our elected officials work.”

The new law also raised the salaries of Borough Presidents, District Attorneys, the Public Advocate, the Comptroller and the Mayor, although Mr. de Blasio said he would forgo the higher pay during the remainder of his term. The Mayor’s pay was increased to $258,750 from $225,000.

Dick Dadey, the Executive Director of Citizens Union, a government watchdog group, spoke at the signing ceremony and criticized legislators for not deferring the pay increase until after the next election, which will take place in 2017. He pointed out that while the pay increase was contingent on the Council’s changing its rules to end the lulus, the Council could reinstate them in the future.

“I wish I could urge you, Mr. Mayor, as you sit down at that desk, to actually sign those portions of the bill in pencil because those can be erased, just as your signature can be erased if it was in pencil,” Mr. Dadey said, although he added that the reforms were mostly positive.

Minutes later, Mr. de Blasio handed Mr. Dadey one of the pens he used during the signing.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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