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Mailbag: Council members deserve their benefits

July 25, 2012

I completely disagree with the proposed changes to take a meat cleaver to City Council compensation ("Council talks of cutting benefits," July 5).

Councilman Keith Bohr, in his usual high-handed manner, proposed changes that will not affect him or any of his cronies on the dais, but will inhibit the challenges of future grass-roots candidates to the City Council who are neither rich, in a well-compensated professional or business position, or comfortably retired.

While it is true that few candidates are motivated one way or the other to run for office based upon the compensation or benefits involved, these benefits may influence how much time and effort council members can devote to city business versus their other commitments. I, for one, do not want a community-based council member having to struggle with work decisions or financial considerations in order to spend the extra hours or effort it might take to do a good job by his or her (and our) standards.

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Well-off council members can simply opt out of various benefits and perks in order to save the city money. Standards can be tightened and some oversight instituted to make sure that council member expenses are wisely allowed.

However, I want my council members able to represent the best interests of the city in a variety of ways that require the outlay of upfront expenses. I want my council members to concentrate on moving the city forward and not looking over their shoulders regarding healthcare benefits.

Bohr was clearly grandstanding as far as I am concerned, and is far out of touch with our citizenry. It was no accident that the dissenting members of the council on this vote were two community-based leaders and a current retiree (who had profited handsomely from his council benefits over the past six years).

Bohr's argument that council members should set an example by making sacrifices is gratuitous from the get-go. Let those council members who don't need compensation or benefits opt out of them. Let those who need the financial flexibility of city benefits in order to devote more time and effort to their council duties have it.

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