Pay-raise issue needssome clear thinking

The Kaua’i County Council is the only accountable body in the disposition of

the pay raise issue. Since they are all standing for re-election, the November

ballot should provide a referendum on whether they handle the matter

responsibly if they settle the issue, as promised, before the election.

In

the meantime, substantial questions continue to go unanswered. To me,

accountability and responsibility relate to the handling of these questions,

not to whether the raises are approved. On that score, the mayor’s recent

testimony falls well short. Consider, if you will, the assumptions she makes in

arguing for the raises.

The argument that there have been no administrative

raises in five years assumes that mid-term raises should occur. But the

administrative cycle is four years, and there is no mechanism in place that

allows for mid-term raises, such as a merit pay provision. For that reason, the

fact that incumbents were re-elected or reappointed is irrelevant to the issue

of mid-term raises. If the administration has a complaint, it could only be

that the council failed to provide raises and/or make provision for ongoing

merit raises two years ago. Further, the Salary Commission is irrelevant on

this point because their actions relate to the office itself, not to a

particular incumbent.

The argument that raises are due because the public

employee unions have won raises assumes that the two systems are comparable.

But in fact, this is a case of apples and oranges. The union structure provides

for continuity in office and for negotiations in a way that the administrative

structure does not.

The argument that the county loses employees due to a

“shortsighted, (financially) punitive attitude” assumes that there might be a

pay level that eliminates those losses. Is that assumption realistic? I doubt

it, since there is a constant flow of personnel to high-paying jobs between and

within the public and private sectors. Incidentally, what are these “highly

dedicated professionals” dedicated to besides the higher paychecks that they

freely move to in mid-term?

A final question: Does a call for clear

thinking and orderly procedure constitute a personal attack?

HORACE

STOESSEL

Kapa’a

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