Come and see the show
Faced with the prospect of dwindling revenue streams, an economy in full-bore recession and a $500,000 shortfall in the state’s VLT aid, the City Council has decided to do what they do best: create more senseless jobs and spend more money.
First up was the creation of a new “executive assistant” for freshman Department of Public Works Commissioner Skip Scirocco. To the council’s credit, an employee from the Accounts department was transferred to DPW. But this “confidential secretary” to Scirocco will earn $36,000 annually, which is the same salary earned by a similar position in the Finance department. And there was no mention of losing the Accounts position through attrition.
So basically, the commissioners of Finance and Public Works now have their own secretaries, in addition to office assistants and their full-time deputies. What a blast, thought Democratic Public Safety Commissioner Ron Kim; why not make it three?
Sure enough, the absent commissioner slipped a resolution into this week’s meeting asking for his own confidential secretary. It wasn’t a surprising move, considering Kim once claimed the public’s safety couldn’t be assured without two deputies to run the office. But Kim’s shot at inflating next year’s budget was unceremoniously shot down by Mayor Scott Johnson and Accounts Commissioner John Franck because he hadn’t in absentia “satisfactorily resolved” concerns raised by the mayor. Political translation: Go fuck yourself, Ron.
Certainly there is no goodwill between Kim and Franck, both Republicans who became Democrats once it seemed fashionable. As many are still trying to forget, Kim sided with the failed mayoral run of Valerie Keehn, while Franck allied with the failed Public Works campaign of her nemesis, Tom McTygue. And that colossal disaster continues to unfold on a smaller level between Kim and Franck.
But more recently, the big battle has been between Kim, a poorly sewn sock puppet for former Keehn deputy Eileen Finneran; and Johnson, a Republican who she rightly views as an enemy to Keehn’s failed politics. So far, Johnson has been the brunt of nearly every media release issued from the Public Safety office this year; Johnson downplayed the danger of the 911-system failures, Johnson doesn’t care about ensuring the safety of residents, Johnson is trying to consolidate his power, Johnson is a card-carrying member of the Illuminati, et cetera.
The most ludicrous missive belched from Kim’s office this week ordered his subordinates to stop using the city’s nonpartisan human resource administrator.
“I am directing until further notice that all employees of the Department of Public Safety cease and desist in any further direct communication with the Human Resources Director[sic],” he wrote in the memo, which he then shipped off to all four area newspapers before cutting out of Tuesday’s meeting.
Basically, Kim wants the city to fund a $36,000 executive assistant for his office, which would more than likely pick up the duties of the $45,000 administrator he directed his employees to ignore. What a great allocation of resources.
He wasn’t alone in his thinking either. Both Scirocco and Finance Commissioner Ken Ivins –fresh from explaining the new VLT aid deficit the city is likely to face –voted in favor of creating a new clerical position for Kim’s office. It’s tough to say exactly why these two purported fiscal conservatives would advocate for spending money on creating new government positions; perhaps it has something to do validating the need for their own executive assistants.
In any case, the Spa City’s government continues to grow like onion grass in springtime. It’s something to take into consideration when budget discussions fire up later this year and the council starts considering whether they’re going to hike taxes or cut services. Meanwhile, there’s a pair of secretaries shuffling papers in City Hall, both making nearly three times the salary of their elected bosses. God bless this American Democracy.