I attended the Edmonds City Council meeting on March 24 where the budget crisis and closure of Yost Pool were discussed. In an attempt to find more money to cover operating expenses, I suggested that, just like AIG executives being asked to give back their bonuses, the non-unionized city employees should have their 6 percent raise rescinded. Mayor Haakenson’s response was a defense of the employees and a claim that I “should be ashamed of myself” for even mentioning AIG and city employees in the same breath.
His response misses the mark. (I’ll set aside any discussion on why it’s apparently okay for an elected official, under the color of authority, to condemn a private citizen for speaking his mind). Let me clarify my comment because, other than the obvious sense of scale, I don’t see a whole lot of differences. AIG executives got bonuses that they should not have gotten because the company entered into legally binding contracts which they had to honor. In the same way, non-unionized city employees got a raise that they shouldn’t have gotten because the City Council entered into an agreement with them last November. The American people want their money back from AIG and I don’t think it is unreasonable for the residents of Edmonds to ask for the city’s raises to be repealed.
AIG executives botched things up pretty badly and the city employees were just doing their jobs, which is likely the comparison the mayor thought I was making. My comment has nothing to do with how well any particular city employee does his or her job. I am simply talking about dollars and cents. Nobody else I know got a raise this year, I don’t see why city employees should be any different.