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Raises to top Hillsborough officials lack sensitivity

I want to work for Pat Bean. Don't you?

And not at a rank-and-file county government job, either.

Not one where you have to worry daily about those scary pink slips that are becoming all too familiar.

And not at the kind of job where the Hillsborough County administrator herself would know you only well enough to trade a polite hello on that long elevator ride to her 26th-floor office.

You and me, we want to be part of her inner circle.

Among her top deputies.

Where the big bucks are.

We're talking raises, baby.

You know, raises? Like, when the numbers on your paycheck go up?

I know, I know, it's been awhile.

Anyway, in November, way-generous Boss Bean handed out fat pay hikes to her six top deputies.

How fat is fat? The raises ranged from 7 to 17 percent. We're talking a whopping $20,000 more for one lucky person.

Twenty grand!

That would sure buy a lot of Krispy Kremes for the rank and file around the water cooler, wouldn't it?

Forget all that other grim business going on around County Center these days. Like when hundreds of citizens show up and crowd into the place to beg their county commissioners not to cut jobs and services they consider critical, like after-school programs at county parks, animal services, and help for crime victims.

Forget public officials who have to make those Sophie's Choices.

Forget layoffs looming for hundreds of county employees.

Forget pay cuts to come.

Forget, even, that commissioners recently voted to take a trim of their own pay (nice gesture though, guys.)

Well, sure, news of this did have some people's eyes popping out of their heads, given the state of the economy and all.

And, yes, some commissioners started grumbling things like "very hard to justify" and "not what our constituents want to hear."

They raised questions about "leadership." One of them even wondered whether Bean "gets" the fix we're in.

"Good grief," a commissioner actually said.

Bean explained herself this way: as part of a reorganization of her office, she cut administrative costs by consolidating positions.

Okay, that does sound good.

Everyone who got a raise took on additional responsibilities, some of which were significant, she said. They work late, she said, and would not consider themselves overpaid for the work they do.

That sounds good, too.

Of course, there's the argument that costs would have been cut that much and more had those raises been either more modest or more in line with what a lot of folks have to work with these days.

As in: little or nothing at all.

There's also the argument that right about now a whole lot of employees all over are being asked to absorb additional duties and make do without a big pay bump.

There's even this argument:

No matter if the result was a savings, and the intent to honestly and fairly compensate an excellent and hard-working staff, this sort of news sends a terrible message about people in high places who go utterly tone deaf to the chaos others are dealing with daily.

But anyway.

When do we start?

Raises to top Hillsborough officials lack sensitivity 06/18/09 [Last modified: Thursday, June 18, 2009 8:47pm]

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