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City council sticks it to editorialists from out of town, votes pay raise

Boston City Councilor Steve Murphy

Murphy side-eyes the press in council salary discussion.

The City Council voted 9-4 today to increase councilors' wages from $87,500 to $107,500 a year, starting in 2016.

The delay in raises means councilors won't have to face potential fines and jail time for possible violations of state ethics laws because the raises will only apply to councilors elected in the 2015 city elections.

The council agreed to the new amount at the request of Councilor Steve Murphy (at large), who said the only people objecting to giving councilors a pay increase are "editorialists" who he said mostly don't live in Boston and don't work at night, on weekends or even on the steps of their houses of worship as he said he and other councilors always do. He predicted this "tempest in a teapot" will soon disappear. Referring again to the out-of-town editorialists, he said his proposed increase "should shut them up."

Murphy added he also objected to the "political" advice of a city lawyer, who warned the council last week about the ethics issue. The 9-4 vote means the council can override any veto of the measure by Mayor Walsh.

Councilor Tito Jackson (Roxbury) voted for the raise, saying councilors should not have to worry about being thrust into poverty in service to the public. He noted he almost lost his house to foreclosure because of his first run for office - during which he had to quit a state job - and that he doesn't want to see people not run for the office just because of the pay.

Councilor Charles Yancey (Dorchester) said he's amazed his wife hasn't divorced him over his current pay and that they could not afford the house they live in if they were looking today.

Council President Bill Linehan, who intially proposed an even higher increase, said the council had a responsibility and a duty to consider pay raises. Like Murphy, Linehan raised the specter of newspapers, although in a different vein: The cost of the City Council, he said, was far less per year per resident than the cost of even a week's subscription to a daily newspaper.

Councilors Matt O'Malley and Josh Zakim said the proposed raise was just too high. They were joined by councilors Ayanna Pressley and Michelle Wu in voting against the raise.

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Comments

So big of the council to "only" take 20k each. And so nice of Mrs.Yancey to say with her husband even though he's only making $87,500. Of course, he has been on the council for over 30 years now...feel free to go find a job in "real life" that pays you that much.

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I don't know how many jobs are out there that will get a 23% raise. I know plenty of people that haven't gotten a raise in years either...reality of the economic times. They could've at least phase it in over 10 years to rise with inflation.

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Wow. That's all I got.

http://cappyinboston.blogspot.com/

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I never knew not making $100K/year was grounds for divorce. I better find a new job before my wife finds out. Maybe I should run for City Council.

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You better not run....you might be like Tito and ALMOST lose your house.

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For one thing, this job should not be full time. If it is, councillors, like Michael Flaherty who I read made $100k from his law practice last year, should not have the opportunity to do both jobs because it means they are not giving the taxpayers a 100%. We should switch the jobs to part time and cut their salaries to $25k or do away with the council in general.

Really, what do they bring to the city? This is the biggest news they've made in years and it's a raise for themselves. Where is the cutting edge policy and the out-of-the-box ideas to make the city better? I don't see them. If they are switched to part time, we need some serious conflict of interest laws put in place so they are not lining their pockets at the expense of the taxpayer.

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100k?? He makes at least double that, maybe even triple... He hasn't practiced law in at least 10years... Someone dusts his desk off for him once a week over at Adler Pollock and Sheehan.. I would say he puts in the most time out of all the city council.. However a
23k raise is insane

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"Councilors should not have to worry about being thrust into poverty in service to the public."

At 87,500 a year, they were hardly living in "poverty" even by Boston's standards. I call BS on this one. As I have said in the past, my base take-home pay is nearly equal to this, and I am doing just fine and also live in Tito's district as a homeowner. I'm not crying poverty, I'm THANKFUL for it. And I have worked in other jobs and made far less money. When I graduated from college and there were zero jobs available during the recession, I worked as a waitress to support myself and pay rent because I was determined to both be independent and also not go into debt. I had more than one month where after I paid my rent, I had $5 to live off of for a couple of days. There are many people who are in worse situations than this and these councilors were never in the poorhouse. Many of them continue to work in other careers in addition to their positions on the Council.

I really do hope that all of the councilors who voted in favor of this are voted out and never see a dime of the raise that they have done little to deserve.

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I look forward to voting for a council candidate who pledges to donate his/her $20K raise to a food pantry, shelter, or other organization that helps people experiencing real poverty.

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I have been thinking a lot about this lately...I really do hope that Tito is voted out (thankfully, their terms are mercifully short) when he is up for reelection and there is a candidate I can vote for and feel that the raise that he or she will get will go to someone who really cares about our community and making it better rather than padding his own pocket.

That's why I chose to live in Roxbury. I could have purchased a home in another area, but I really believe in the community and the ability for people here to make the place where we live safer, and an overall better place to come home to. It really makes me sick to read about Tito saying how bad circumstances are for him as a career politician making great money when most of his constituents make half what he does in a year. I don't mean to solely pick on Jackson, there are other Councilors who are just as guilty as him, I just happen to live in the district I feel he does little to improve. If a viable candidate doesn't emerge and he is reelected, I am seriously considering running myself during his next reelection campaign and promising to be available to constituents every evening after my day job and to donate the ludicrous salary to local charities.

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It's the entitled attitude that's so offensive.

While I don't agree with the raise, I do believe that elected officials deserve a decent salary. They have one now. The comments especially from Tito Jackson and Steve Murphy are especially tone deaf and insulting to their constituents.

And Baker supported it too, he's been whining about deserving a raise for a job he got less than a year ago. WTF?

Can we all agree to prove Murphy wrong next year and not let this be forgotten?

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The "editorialists"? Does he really think the People are behind him in this money grab, but the local journalists are the ones turning public opinion? I think not.

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Tito Jackson worries about being thrust into poverty with a $87,500 salary? Tito Jackson from Roxbury? I'd love to know what the median salary of his constituency is.

I only hope that voters wake up and throw the bums out. It'll never happen, of course, but a guy's gotta dream.

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The four young guns. Got news for councilor Yancey- most people in Boston who have lived here for 5 years or more couldn't afford to "rebuy" their houses.

Simple solution - vote out the people who voted for the raises. May not change much, but wouldn't surprise me if a councilor or two lost on a margin decided by this issue. Looking forward to the municipal mid-terms next year.

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Boston City Council, it's for you.

If you cannot afford your home at your 87k, maybe there's a problem with real estate in Boston. Maybe its TOO EXPENSIVE. If it's too expensive for you @ 87k, how do you think the lower paid residents feel?

Maybe its time to stop these "Luxury Condos" from being built, and force some more affordable housing to be built. No, not subsidized housing, affordable housing. You know, like the rest of us peons that don't make 87k can afford.

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O'Malley and Pressley would have been legitimate recipients of a smaller raise - they both work very hard both inside City Hall and at nightly meetings. Pretty much the two best councilors, who not coincidentally got re-elected last year with tremendous support. But they also respect their constituents enough to know a $20,000 raise is ridiculous in one fell swoop. Kudos to them both. Zakim so far seems like a good addition to the Council from what I've seen. Wu works hard and has good ideas, but her vote for Linehan has been a predictable disaster with this just being the latest example. The other councilors, especially McCarthy (new) and Flaherty (newish), just seem to have no idea how awful this is and looks.

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...Voting 'NO' when the outcome seems crystal clear isn't courageous - actually turning down the raise would be. Let's see if the four young guns simply quietly accept the raises they voted against. My guess is Wu will do whatever Linehan tells her to.

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where do I apply

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At least we now truly have racial equality in Boston - the black guy is as much of a tone deaf ignorant prick as the white guys.

"He noted he almost lost his house to foreclosure because of his first run for office"? Who gives a (expletive?) I didn't tell him to spend money he didn't have. Why is that my problem as a taxpayer and city resident?

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I'd also like to mention that with the roughly $250k a year the city will spend to pay the council more money...do you know all of the things they could do with that money?

Tito campaigns on ending youth crime and improving education and giving summer jobs to at-risk youths--something that has been cut in the budget by half. Do you know that with their raise money the city could employ roughly 100 teens every summer at $10/hr? Maybe in the scheme of things it is a drop in the bucket, but it's still 100 teens that are working and earning money legitimately instead of being out on the streets with nothing to do.

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I work for a municipal agency, not funded by the City, but still considered under the umbrella of city agencies (our funding comes from state and federal funds).

We have not only not had a cost of living increase in over 2 years, but the last one we had was a measly 2%, and for that I was grateful. We have also had 2 rounds of layoffs this past year, my department alone lost 25% of it's staff.

Granted, the city doesn't fund us, but the Mayor, DND and especially the city councilors, love to tell us how to run our agency.

Must be nice to be able to vote for their own pay increase, all the while pointing out how hard it is to survive on ONLY $87500 a year, while many of their constituents scramble to get by on far less.

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Like you I have seen exactly 1 increase in my pay in the last 8 years. And that was only 2% or 3% I can't remember exactly.

I'm in the private sector. It's bad out here for everyone.

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So let me get this straight.
Tito Jackson needs a raise because he nearly lost his house after he quit his job and spent a bunch of his own money out of his own free will?. How indignant of you, Tito.
Charles Yancy needs the raise because he fears that his wife will divorce him because his current salary of $87,500 won't support her lifestyle? Sounds like you married a real gold digger, Charles. Hope she can hold out until 2016.
Steve Murphy needs the raise because he simply wants to shut people up? How arrogant of you, Steve.
And Bill Linehan needs the raise because it's essentially his job to give himself a raise? How clueless of you, Mr. President.
Kudos to the four who voted against this obvious slap in the face to the citizens of Boston.

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Does anyone know what the salary was in 1985 for a Boston City councilor, Who remembers Dapper O'Neil or Frederick Langone two of the most dedicated councilors on the panel during that time, they are the only two who deserve a $20,000 pay hike. I know that they passed on long ago, but they are probably rolling in their graves...

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$32.5K in 1985 = $71.8K in 2014

I used the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator.

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Let's say your above average 2,000 sq. ft 3 bedroom 1.5 bathroom house that is about 850K now? Could you afford one then on that salary?

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According to Zillow, the median sale price is $454,000. Your realtor is hosing you.

There is a point there. When city councilors leave to take jobs elsewhere (Tobin in West Roxbury, McDermott in Brighton) probably due to salary issues, does that mean it is time for raises? I don't envy the City Council on this one. You can't link your raises to overall salary rises in government, since that puts you in an odd place with union negotiations. Indexing the raises to some metric like rise in the percentage of average income for people living in the city works horribly with the differences in the economic cycles between the private and public sector (the private tanks before the public and recovers that much later.)

I know people who pondered running for elected office. Not City Council, but they were put off by the salary.

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Isn't supposed to be a life-long career. If you'd like to serve in City Council, run for office, perhaps take a slightly less than market value salary for X amount of years, then leave office and return to the private sector. The fact that people who have been serving for over 30 years are now complaining about how much it pays, well, this was your career choice.

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Starting with- is this a full time job? If not, are you (not you in particular, but the citizenry in general) okay with a situation where the councilors make, say, $25,000 a year and therefore would need to work a 9 to 5 job somewhere and attend meetings in their downtime?

Second, is this a job where we want the "best and brightest" or people who put public service over income? Yes, an 8 or 10 year stint in public office should be enough, but is there value to having an advocate who understands both constituents and the machinations of government? By saying that elected officials should sacrifice wages for service means a situation where the officials would either be just starting out, at retirement age (kids grown, mortgage paid), or independently wealthy and thereby a bit out of touch with the rest of us.

I don't know. I do know that were I in a situation where I set my own salary, it would be awkward. I also know that the cynicism of people towards government means that were the voters to decide, they would want these folks to be working full time for $22,000.

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I only use those figures because a friend of mine's parents just sold their house in WR for 850K, a house that cost 125K in 1985 and is your standard (it is a nice house with a nice yard) colonial with 3 bedrooms and 2000 sq ft. That is 5 times your salary in 1985, but would be 8 times your salary with this raise today.

Someone eluded to the point that these positions should be part time. I sort of agree. They should be positions where citizens get involved directly in a represenitive government to keep an eye on programs, budgets, and services while putting forth citizens agenda.

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It's unconscionable that Councilor McCarthy votes himself a $20,000 raise after nine months in office. Unbelievable....

Thankfully the other new ones - Wu and Zakim - were self-aware and voted no.

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Comment on the remarks of Boston City Councilors from today's a) full Transcript of Captions for hard of hearing/deaf from the webcast of the Public Meeting of Boston City Council or from today's b) Stenograph Record. Or ask a favorite City Councilor for the copy of their remarks from today's Public Meeting at
http://boston.gov/citycouncil

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So McCarthy joined his senior fellows at the trough? He always has struck me as someone in the job for the benefits and perks, not out of some need to serve.

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The council agreed to the new amount at the request of Councilor Steve Murphy (at large), who said the only people objecting to giving councilors a pay increase are "editorialists" who he said mostly don't live in Boston and don't work at night, on weekends or even on the steps of their houses of worship as he said he and other councilors always do.

This In Towner Editorialist objected to the pay raise. I live in Boston, work at night and weekends as necessary to get my freaking job done. Location (my 'house of worship'? oh, ok) bedamned.

I make less than their current pay, I couldn't afford my condo if I were to buy now, hell, I need to look for a new job because no where in reality will a private sector job give you a raise this large in one swell foop. Except of course if one jumps ship to a new position at a different firm.

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Not to mention the fact that if they are dense enough to believe that their constituents aren't screaming in protest over this, they really have no relationship wirh or care for the people they have been elected to represent.

Out of touch representatives. That's one of the most infuriating oxymorons I can think of right now.

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Know fact murphy spends 8 months in FLA. Not sure he resides in MA.
Vote em all out. Enough is enough.

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I've just written to thank Councilor O'Malley for voting no.

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A cynical coworker suggested the 4 that voted no knew the overall vote was going to go the other way.

gah.

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I have just bookmarked this page and your votes for next year's elections.

Good luck.

--Kaz

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Out of curiosity, I did a search for news coverage on the vote. Lots from local and New England outlets of course. But also stories from Miami, SF, Kansas City, Pocatello (ID), NYC, Omaha, and many more.

I hope Council members enjoy all the free PR. This could be fun.

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Of themselves, voting a $20K for themselves. The council pretty much does nothing to warrant a 87,500 salary now. They are part time employees and when they are in the office they really don't do much. I agree with the McCarthy comment he should be ashamed of himself. And with him it's a part time job, especially when he coaches football at a private high school. Kudos to Matt O'Malley for against the raise. McCarthy should learn from a true professional-O'Malley. Still trying to figure out why McCarthy left Public Works for a lower paying job, maybe it was those political perks! Hmm maybe someone should look into that...

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The big winner is all the unionized city employees. They can count on nine councilors to rubber-stamp their contracts.

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the new councilors will appreciate the raise.

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Time to vote for term limits.

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Are there any protest demonstrations against this planned? This is insane. People have got to be outraged, right?

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A good example of comments by Andrew Ba Tran offered on Councilors' remarks in the a) Full Transcript of Captions for hard of hearing/deaf from webcast of the Public Meeting of Boston City Council. And comments offered on the Stenograph Record of the Public Meeting of Boston City Council at
http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/10/09/here-how-city-council-member...

Contribute your comment, feedback, suggestions, questions on the a) Full Transcript of Captions from the webcast of the Public Meeting of Boston City Council and/or on the b) Stenograph Record available on request at
http://www.cityofboston.gov/contact/?id=138

This is a great civics lesson in democracy for schools, students, teachers.

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