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.
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
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?