You should care about political pay legislation

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Ken McPherson has vowed to fight his removal from the Trumbull County Board of Elections as a candidate for one of three at-large council seats because of alleged residency violations.

As a Warren City Council member, I am writing in reference to the proposed referendum on the November 8 council vote in support of a political pay raise.

In general, I would prefer some small raises, especially for city council members. However, the mayor currently makes three times more than the average Warren resident, plus he receives a free car. If this was only a matter of money, I would not have circulated a referendum petition.

Being an elected official means serving the people who elected you. It does not mean advocating endless wage increases that do no good to taxpayers. Our city has streets in urgent need of paving and areas without sidewalks, but the mayor and council members are expecting an increase that will cost taxpayers thousands of dollars. We can use this money to make our city safer and more convenient for residents.

Warren Pay Increase Act

In the private sector, when you perform well at work, you get a higher raise. Why doesn’t the same apply to elected officials in Warren? Our population and standard of living are plummeting, and violent crime continues to plague our city. In which world do we see this achievement? Like most taxpayers in Warren, I am angry and frustrated. As an elected official, I am ashamed that the council approved this terrible plan.

Here are the reasons voters need to decide on these political pay raises and vote yes or no on this unique and one-of-a-kind law with zero public input in a surprising formula.

First, tying public wages to a vote for a union contract is a moral hazard because of the self-interest in this public contract. As written, when elected officials vote for a raise for the city’s highest-paid person, they’re giving themselves a raise — thus a conflict of interest. It may not be a legal ethical dilemma, but it is certainly a moral one. It is a bad construction for the city government.

The automatic nature of this is also a concern. The reason elected officials want automatic raises is because they are weak and shameful politicians who refuse to do the dirty work and believe they have paid for themselves. They want to hide by giving a salary increase to themselves and paying it to someone else without paying a political penalty.

Warren City Council members earn more than $9,000 a year, while the mayor earns more than $17,000 at current pay rates. The idea that the mayor of the city should be the highest earner is selfish. You don’t need a college degree or additional training to become a mayor. You simply have to convince more people to vote for you. However, other city officials require extensive and ongoing training, college education and many expensive licenses from the state of Ohio to earn their salaries.

This draconian law makes Warren the only entity in Ohio to use this flawed formula to calculate pay for elected officials. Instead of setting a clear and accessible dollar amount, the bill’s sponsors complicated matters by using a percentage-based formula.

Taxpayers are footing the bill for a bill they had no input into. Signing the referendum petition gives citizens a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote on Law 13287/2023. Voters can choose to sign this petition and allow voters to decide on the wage increase law at a later election. This petition referendum is difficult because it requires obtaining 944 signatures in less than 30 days.

As I said after the bill was passed, I want to give voters this opportunity to decide whether or not this bill is good for our city. Referendums give power back to the people and let you decide whether your elected officials deserve a raise. Many people in the city are collecting signatures to allow the referendum. If you would like to sign the petition, call or text 330-219-3564 and I will bring it to you.

By signing, you are allowing voters to choose the path forward for our city. It does not make you vote for or against the vote, but instead gives you the opportunity to vote as you wish.

Ken McPherson is Warren’s councilman at-large.

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