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Mayor and Council Votes Itself A Raise

Original post made by Jack Hovingh, Highland Oaks, on Aug 14, 2007

The Pleasanton Mayor and City Council is voting itself a gigantic pay raise up from $600 to $1050 a month for the mayor and from $500 to $950 a month for the council members...making them the highest paid in the Tri-Valley area. Last year they attempted a similar action, but reversed themselves by a 3-2 vote (Hosterman and Sullivan voting no) when it was pointed out by former Councilwoman Ayala that they were breaking State Law when they granted themselves a raise.

In my opinion, to the extent that Pleasanton regards itself as a "community of character," elected officials should donate their time as elected officials in return for all that the community has given them...public education, public protection, etc. In other words, elected officials should return to the community what they have received from the community. There are plenty of citizens that would do the job of councilpersons and mayor for free...or, at least for low bid.

This raise exposes the greed of our elected officials.

Comments (13)

Posted by Jennifer
a resident of Pleasanton Village
on Aug 14, 2007 at 3:52 pm

If you had any idea of the amount of work that goes into being Mayor or a City Council member, you would never say that they should do it for free.

Posted by Steve Brozosky
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Aug 14, 2007 at 4:43 pm

The Council does spend a lot of time so a stipend is not unreasonable. When the Council votes on an item, they are required to recuse themselves if they have a conflict of interest. This is for everything except for their own salary. It might be best if Pleasanton follows the steps of some other cities by having the voters approve a raise instead of the council voting for their own salaries.

Besides the stipend, the mayor and council receives medical and dental benefits and gets paid for trips and 'incidentals'. The mayor last year spent around $400 to $500 per month on a taxpayer issued cell phone. A resident received copies of her cell phone bills but she had the phone numbers redacted (phone numbers removed) so there was no accountability in how these funds were spend.

Posted by Sarah
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 14, 2007 at 6:54 pm

The council has not had a raise since 1990. This raise does not take effect until after the next election, (2008). Councilmembers attend a number of functions without compensation. In addition, they are "on" 24 hours a day. I can't tell you the number of times I have seen councilmembers and staff approached when they were with their families enjoying Pleasanton. I have worked in government and I know how hard electeds work whether you agree with them or not. Any elected worth their salt spends hours preparing and talking to constituents. It is true that they get a stipend and medical benefits. A councilmember or any other elected exchanges their privacy for the privilege of serving the community. They should not be required to take money from their families to do so. Gas and time cost money too.

Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Aug 15, 2007 at 4:33 pm

Albeit the amount is small, pay raises should be subject to voter approval to maintain responsible oversight and prevent the establishment of a potentially dangerous precedent.

In addition, funds for official-use items that can too easily be used for non-official business, such as cell phones and gasoline, should be accounted for to avoid the appearance of or potential for misuse.

The amount of money is not the essential issue. The essential issue is who decides how that money is to be used, the public official or the voter.

Posted by Charles
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Aug 16, 2007 at 9:59 am

The job of council members and even more-so mayor require the time almost equivelent of a full time worker much of the year. It has always been amazing to me how some of these public servants have been able to hold down full time jobs and still service the city in this fashion. The pay raise they have given themselves is well deserved and overdue.

Posted by Russ
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2007 at 4:55 am

Our current Mayor and City Council do not strike me as people who want to serve their community without getting something in return. I'm not saying that is a bad thing I believe if a person/s in these positions don't like their role anymore they will look to some other means to justify their effort and getting paid and or raise is one way. As Pleasanton grows we as its community have to be careful in who we elect to help sustain and maintain Pleasanton's wellfare. I have an idea how about conducting a task anaylsis on what the mayor and city council has to do, and from there, see if a raise is needed.

Posted by Megan
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 20, 2007 at 11:58 pm

This is ridiculous. The mayor and council members of Pleasanton are on-call during all hours, have lost most privacy as have their families, and often are up at all hours responding to e-mails and phone calls from constituents. Though our local representatives accept these tasks which are not included in their job description, it does not mean that they should be taken advantage of, and be forced to work very hard, without reasonable pay. A $450 raise each month will not hurt Pleasanton financially. A reasonable increase in stipend for this exhausting, FULL-TIME job, may even help to encourage qualified, educated, and interested citizens in running for public office in the future. Steve Brozosky is sadly mistaken when he warns of the dangers of elected officials giving themselves raises. Right now, the ONLY residents who can run for public office are those who can AFFORD it. Regular middle and lower-class families could never afford to have one parent in the home making $600 per month, while living in Pleasanton. In order to allow for fair oppurtunity to all citizens who are interested in running for public office in Pleasanton, our public servants must be paid enough that they can afford to work for the people, without causing undue financial stress within their families. Working as an elected official IS a full-time job, and by insisting on paying our hard working council members and mayor a mere $600 per month, you are robbing low and even middle class residents of the right to run for public office. Get real, Brozosky! I'm sure the comments you made will be great for a future campaign flyer, but we all know that $600 per month is not enough for ANY Pleasanton resident to pay the bills! Put the campaigning on hold, buddy, and start focusing on what is good for Pleasanton residents and our public servants, instead of how you can twist the latest local political sensation into your next campaign slogan!

Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 21, 2007 at 8:06 am

Considering that we have term limits, I don't see a real need for voter oversight of pay raises. But I would like to see the pay grade remain in line with the rest of the cities in the Tri-Valley.

Posted by Steve Brozosky
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Aug 21, 2007 at 10:44 am

Hi Megan. I don't think you understood my posting. I do not think that the council is overpaid at all. My comment was to those who do have an issue with the Council approving their own raise and a solution to it (let the voters decide). Obviously nobody runs for city office for the money. The raise is also not going to get more people to run for office (it is still a small amount of money and cannot pay your bills). When I ran for public office it was to serve the community; it was not a job that can pay the bills. I did not ask for equipment, phones, or reimbursement for using my own so the stipend was essentially covering my out-of-pocket expenses. I did not expect to be paid to be in office but I did not want to pay to be there.

Posted by Susan
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 21, 2007 at 5:48 pm

One thing that has not been mentioned is that this pay raise takes effect with the NEXT council. The mayor and two of the five councilmembers may or may not be reelected in 2008. This council did not vote itself a raise, it voted the next council one. Other councils in the Tri-Valley area may follow suit before the next election. Many have not received pay raises in years. I find it amazing that people who choose not to serve thinks others should do so for free. It is nice when people have the financial ability and donate time. However, it does limit who will run if it costs something to be in office. People are not willing to take money away from their families, even if at some point they would be willing to go without themselves. The stipend is just that, it does not financially compensate a public servant. Public service is hard work, is often a full time job and requires hours of study. This is a raise that is well deserved and LONG overdue!

Posted by member
a resident of Castlewood
on Oct 9, 2007 at 4:45 pm

This may seem like a silly question to present on this forum... However, I am looking for the opportunity to become a member of the city council to help serve this great community. What steps should I take? Please advise. Thanks a million

Posted by Becky Dennis
a resident of Foxborough Estates
on Oct 10, 2007 at 10:38 am

If you live in Castlewood, you don't actually live in the incorporated area of the City of Pleasanton. Unfortunately that means you can't run for city council. The Alameda County Board of Supervisors is the elected governing body. Scott Haggerty is your district representative on the Board.

Posted by Sharon
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 10, 2007 at 3:55 pm

Based upon the number of hours a week that the Mayor and the Council Members work on behalf of the City, the Mayor's rate of pay after the next election will be approximately $12 an hour. Council Members will earn approximately $11 an hour. The current "stipend" is below the State's mandated minimum wage. Whether or not you agree with the position of these City officials, none of them have taken the job to get rich. For a community as well off and as well run as Pleasanton to begrudge this increase to its elected officials is curlish.

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