UPDATE: Martin Light at Light on Nevada County has some more thoughts in this issue.
Once again the Union's Editor is having problems with the folks up at the Rood Center about the raises and the consent calendar. He just could not wait to write "How Rood."
Most of the time, big raises, such as the double-digit ones that were just granted to Grass Valley interim city administrator Jeff Foltz or county executive officer Rick Haffey are put on a "consent agenda," meaning that public discussion is not automatic. How Rood!
First, could the editor define "most of the time" Is that once, twice, or more. The BOS did it once. Grass Valley did it, following some agreed upon negotiations. Public comment was not going to change the negotiated agreement, it just needed public approval.
In a way, I can understand Jeff concerns, when big double-digit raise come up, but I find it helpful for a little perspective since I serve on several boards and have to address the raise issue. In industry I got a cost of living raise almost every year, and some times a bonus for extraordinary accomplishments. In government, public servants often do not get a cost of living raise every year, or bonuses, so when it is time to catch up with the prevailing wages a raise can be in the double digits. This often comes up when contracts are renewed.
In the case of the Board of Supervisors raise, they have only had one raise in almost four years, a 2% in 2006, the last one before that was in 2004 and now we are almost to 2008. About half a percent per year, when inflation was about 3% per year from 2004 to 2007 according to the Department of Labor Inflation Calculator. Hummmm Seems like it might be time for a raise. I am assuming the Union gives cost of living raises. But, then we do not read about their raises in the paper.
As for the issue of being on the consent calendar. Being on several boards, I love the consent calendar, it keeps meetings shorter so the staff can go back to work instead of shuffling papers which the board are going rubber stamp anyway. But, if one of the board members, the staff, or the public wants a separate vote on a specific issue, all they have to do is request it. So, how hard would it have been for any member of the public, including the Editor of the Union to check the agenda, which is published 72 hours before the meeting, by paper and on the web, to request a separate vote on the salary increase issue. Folks, it is not hard, it is done all the time from my easy chair over the Internet. Making a big issue out of it is a waste of valuable editorial space where Jeff could be addressing some real issues.
Maybe Jeff would like devote a little editorial space to the impact of state budget cuts will have on County services, the impact of diesel soot regulations on local industry, the cost of greenhouse gas regulations on all business, and how they will impact our frail economy. What about the economic impact if our wine industry too a serious hit due to the Pacific returning to a cool phase, and we have 20 to 30 more days of frost and shortened growing season in the vineyards. How are we going to fund our roads with more fuel efficient vehicles on the road, producing less fuel taxes for repairs and maintenance. The Federal Government has stated there will not be enough fuel tax revenue in the highway trust fund to meet commitments. State trust funds are also declining,and the Governor wants Caltrans to cut their budget by 10%. Effective transportation networks are an essential part of our economy, if the roads go to hell, our frail economy will be damaged even more. Then we have the greenhouse gas regulations that are going level more punitive taxes on business in 2009,farther damaging the economy.
There are lot of issue that we need to be discussing, rather than the BOS putting a staff raise on the consent calendar, or sending their proposed raise to the Grand Jury for review.