When politicians vote to raise their own salaries, it’s awkward.

News of salary increases for public officials is almost always met with outrage. That was the case this week when the Union-Tribune broke the story about four of the five County Board of Supervisors quietly voting to raise their salaries by $19,000.

County Supervisors Greg Cox, Dianne Jacob, Ron Roberts and Bill Horn voted for increase. Dave Roberts was the only one to vote against it.

On this weeks’ podcast, hosts Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts give the Supes’ pay boost an extended “Goat of the Week” entry, knocking them extra hard since they voted for it in a way that didn’t allow for public input.

Rep. Scott Peters calls in to the show to say we need a conversation that goes deeper than just knee-jerk, across-the-board opposition to all pay raises for public officials.

“We just never have a conversation about what the right answer is and all the coverage of salary for public officials just seems to be negative,” he said. “We need the engagement of the community and the press to help the local electeds find the right answer.”

We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

Without defending the County Board of Supervisors’ raise, which Peters said seemed a bit aggressive, he said it’s important to keep politicians’ pay competitive and come up with an automated way to increase salaries based on economic benchmarks and inflation without making officials vote on the raises themselves.

Chelsea Collier, founder of Digi.City, also stopped by the podcast studio to talk about how cities can use technology to revolutionize the way they serve citizens. Collier recently penned an op-ed for VOSD urging leaders to ready the city for a 5G wireless broadband network.

A Crippled Creek

In the 1990s, regulation passed that said toxic metal levels in Chollas Creek were too high.

A pricey plan was put into place to remove copper and zinc from the the waterway that starts in La Mesa and Lemon Grove and runs through neighborhoods in southeastern San Diego. The deadline to get it done loomed, but as VOSD’s Ry Rivard reported this week, water officials came up with a new plan to instead roll back the cleanup requirements after restudying the water and calling the metal levels not as harmful as previously thought. The vote on the rule change was temporarily derailed, though, by an environmental attorney who argued that water officials should first require businesses to do more testing of water that runs off their property into the creek.

Lewis and Keatts dug in to the story and discussed readers’ quick and angry reaction to it.

They also talked about the letter four City Council members sent to the Chargers that rehashed an old pitch to give or lease the Qualcomm Stadium land to the team, and they discussed the big budget cuts coming to San Diego Unified.

Hero of the Week

UC San Diego has plans to open an outpost downtown at the corner of Park Boulevard and Market Street. City officials and urbanists have long wanted to see a university move in downtown to help spur the neighborhood’s growth as a technology and innovation hub.

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    This article relates to: Must Reads, News, Voice of San Diego Podcast

    Written by Kinsee Morlan

    Kinsee Morlan is the Engagement Editor at Voice of San Diego and author of the Culture Report. She works to expand our reach and helps community members write op-eds. She also manages VOSD’s podcasts and covers the arts, culture, land use and entrepreneurs. Contact her directly at kinsee.morlan@voiceofsandiego.org. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter. Subscribe to her podcast.

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

    I agree with Scott Peters that we need a conversation about public officials’ compensation, not just knee-jerk reaction to any proposed pay increase.  Since most of us can’t give ourselves a pay increase like many politicians can, I heartily agree, but an analysis of the whole package, not just salaries, is more than worthwhile.  

    Peters rationale for this seems a bit weak, however.  He says it’s important to keep politician’s pay “competitive” AND come up with an automatic pay increase scheme so public officials don’t have to vote on their own pay. This is reminiscent of automatic COLA schemes common in union contracts in the 60s and 70s.  Seems hard to dispute, but what does “competitive” mean?  To  attract qualified people?  The only qualification for most political offices is citizenship, perhaps attaining a certain age, plus the ability to get people to vote for you.  

    Here’s my suggestion:  Let’s start with a complete list of the pay, benefits and perks of members off the U.S. House of Representatives, where Peters is currently employed.  I’m sure he could provide this if he so chose, but don’t hold your breath.  He knows that the public would find the totality of his own package “breathtaking”.