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The Tentacle


Aldermanic Pay Raise Unwarranted

February 27, 2007

Aldermanic Pay Raise Unwarranted

Misinformation not corrected risks becoming fact. Tony Soltero's commentary about the aldermanic pay raise contained factual error(s).

First, contrary to Mr. Soltero's statement, the current Board of Aldermen is not the first to work with the Maryland Municipal League (MML) and the Washington Council of Governments (WashCOG).

I served as an alderman for four years (2002-2006). During three of my four years, I was the City of Frederick's representative to MML and served on the Legislative Committee as well as other assignments. My colleagues served on other MML committees as well. Mayor Jennifer Dougherty attended WashCOG meetings.

In my MML role I worked side-by-side with Maryland cabinet secretaries, legislators, the governor's office, and with other municipal leaders. I traveled around the state monthly (at times weekly) on my financial nickel and at the expense of time away from my family and job, attending meetings and advocating the city's interest. I'm not complaining. I thoroughly enjoyed what I did. It was expected.

Second, he states the aldermen have not had a raise in almost a decade. This, too, is not correct. The aldermen and mayor receive a COLA each year, just like the other city employees.

The consternation with the mayor and the aldermen's recent decision to increase salary has little to nothing to do with the amount of the increase and whether or not, based on the work load, they are deserving of it. Based on the 30-50 hours a week I put in, I could have easily justified it. But service to the public is understood to be a practice of sacrifice. And putting the interest of the citizen ahead of your own is a guiding principle to follow.

The concern with the increase, in my opinion, is that no benefit flows to the citizen/taxpayer/city employee; there is no improvement to government operations, and the rationale given exclusively centers on a financial hardship to the aldermen.

For example, Alderman Donna Ramsburg "threatened to retire . if she didn't get a raise." Working through the mayor, a request was made to increase salaries and was successfully defeated. The reasons supporting the increase then - as now - offered no benefit to the citizen, only to the aldermen. My belief is that serving the public in an official capacity is a sacrifice of time, money and family. Your official position is not intended to help you make financial ends meet. Instead, the public official's responsibility is to help constituents make their financial ends meet and improve their quality of life. Period.

Mayor (Jeff) Holtzinger may have followed the legal letter of the law for meeting disclosure, but not the spirit. These officials are good-hard working people. They mean to do the very best for the city.

However, the best of intentions can and does produce the worst of perceptions. In politics, as former Del. Anita Stup often says, perception is reality. I'm confident this mayor and Board of Aldermen can do better. I encourage them to return this item to an agenda for debate, show how this benefits the citizens, and cast a new vote.

Dave Lenhart, Cumming, GA


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