The Boston City Council voting itself a 23 percent pay raise—with a salary topping $100,000 a year—practically editorializes against itself.
While people who can’t vote themselves a tax-funded raise struggle or are driven out of town, while many City agencies starve for resources, one might wonder why they deserve a raise at all, let alone be so politically tone-deaf.
The annual cost of the raise: $260,000. The annual cost for Boston Park Rangers horses’ care that private donors gathered Oct. 16 to cover due to City budget-slashing: $155,000. There’s been a bit of crime in the parks, you might have heard.
JP City Councilor Matt O’Malley deserves thanks for joining the minority who voted against the raise. More important than such common sense, he and Councilor Ayanna Pressley delivered a counter-proposal to automatically adjust councilor pay by inflation. They cut to the heart of the matter: good-government ethics and sensible mechanisms for enforcing them.
The real scandal isn’t the huge amount of the council raise. It’s that elected officials have the keys to the City treasury in the first place. No government should allow officials to vote to directly enrich themselves.
On paper at least, the council has a committee considering City charter review. City councilor pay and payment mechanisms would be a great thing for citizens to help decide via charter reform.
Meanwhile, kudos to O’Malley for doing the right thing when—as the majority of councilors demonstrated—nothing except a sense of decency was stopping him.