INQUIRER: The fuss, critics said, is about political deceit and the stoking of citizen cynicism.
“The mayor got credit from the public for turning down a big pay raise. Then, by the end of the term, he took it,” said City Controller Alan Butkovitz. “It undermines the credibility of the government.”
For some of those who have long been frustrated with Street, news of the retroactive raises was a fitting capstone for an administration that is seen to have struggled in its final years.
“This guy just doesn’t seem to have a shame bone in his body,” said Brett Mandel, executive director of Philadelphia Forward, an organization that promotes tax cuts and good government. “I wouldn’t be able to look at myself in the mirror if I’d done the things he’s done.”
Others wondered what the legal basis was for the payments.
“I think it’s outrageous. It’s basic political dishonesty, and I really question whether or not it’s legal,” said David Marston, a former U.S. attorney and Republican candidate for mayor. “It’s like he has the power to control the money-dispensing process, and he decided to dispense himself a little more.”
All of which hurts the city’s reputation and fuels citizen skepticism, said Zack Stalberg, president of the Committee of Seventy, the nonpartisan government-watchdog group.
“The real meaning of this, the $111,000 aside, is that it’s this kind of action that makes people cynical about government and, frankly, draws negative national attention,” Stalberg said, noting that the story was carried by the New York Times and other publications.
The $111,000 is the difference between the $146,000 salary Street has received for the last four years and the salary he would have received with a 2004 raise to $165,000 and cost-of-living increases approved by Council after that. Street’s 2007 salary would have been $186,000. MORE