Julian Castro sucker punched San Antonio on his last day as mayor. He proposed a pay raise for the city council.
The argument for raises for the San Antonio city council is an awkward one. News Radio 1200 WOAI reports:
Currently, City Council is made up largely of people who own their own business, like Shirley Gonzales and Joe Krier, people who are fortunate enough to have a spouse who makes enough money to support the family, like Ron Nirenberg, attorneys like Diego Bernal who can continue to do legal work, and retirees like Mike Gallagher.
Supporters of council pay say it damages a council’s ability to relate to their constituents when few if any council members are in the position of the average citizen, working for an employer for a salary or wage.
In short, the city council, whose expertise we’ve been told to rely on, isn’t qualified to govern because they’re out of touch, and giving the city council a raise will make them less out of touch. Although they would like the extra income, you won’t hear sitting city councilors make that argument.
I would say they’re out of touch and they don’t deserve a raise. Career politicians won’t serve San Antonio any better than independently wealthy nabobs.
“There are a lot of people who might serve quite adequately on City Council, but they don’t consider it an option because they can’t live on that pay,” [David] Crockett said.
Other big city councils in Texas pay their members a generous wage. Austin Council members, for example, make $67,000 a year. Dallas Council members make $37,000.
This makes sense for political hires like city manager, not for elected officials.
Why would we want to be more like liberal hell holes Austin and Dallas? One of Austin’s “finest” is Mike Martinez, who has served on the city council since 2006. He wants to ban guns:
“There is no gun ban currently, but because of the work we’re doing here today, we will make your sign legitimate shortly.” –Mike Martinez to protestor
Last month Austin resident Gretchen Gardner lamented her rising property taxes:
“I have voted for every park, every library, all the school improvements, for light rail, for anything that will make this city better. But now I can’t afford to live here anymore. I’ll protest my appraisal notice, but that’s not enough. Someone needs to step in and address the big picture.”
The big picture is this: The greatest barrier to competent government is incompetent voters.
Giving elected officials a raise won’t disincentivize pandering to special interests and taxing and spending, which have been effective in duping voters like Gardner, who don’t connect their votes to their effects. It will make competition to retain political fiefdoms fiercer.
To be fair to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Castro, his exact words were “they deserve to be compensated fairly for what they do.” Compensation comes in many forms, from awards for good service to censure for mismanagement.