Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Travis' Surprise

Travis FactsWrong's article today deserves a quick review:
Two big questionslinger after the City Council voted 5-2 to give a 5 percent pay raise to Santa Barbara police officers. What will city officials do so that over the next four years they don't dip into disaster and other reserves to pay for this and other scheduled wage hikes?

And secondly, what's Mayor Marty Blum's future?

She, and Councilman Dr. Dan Secord, wanted smaller raises.

You can believe the mayor did it out of concern for city finances.

Or you can believe that she had little to lose politically by standing up to the Police Officers Association. Earlier missteps by Mrs. Blum meant that the labor organization wouldn't have endorsed her in the November election anyway. In favoring lower raises, she even could gain politically because some voters would appreciate this fiscal stewardship.
I'm not so sure of this take -- if the Slugger would have voted for the raise, she likely would have gotten the endorsement. The Police Officer's Association is traditionally a one issue organization.

Then there's another take.

Consider the testimony of the president of the Police Officers Association at Tuesday's meeting.

He said: "Last night I got an e-mail from the mayor. Basically it expressed anger towards myself and towards other officers of the Police Officers Association, and in that e-mail it said, 'I probably would have voted for your raise before, but now I have to defend myself,' and that comment was directed not towards the four-year worst-case budget scenario that was presented to the News-Press. It was said because of a personal issue."

My thought after hearing this was, "Oh, there goes the mayor again sending off rash e-mails."

Our mayor is a hasty e-mailer, and readers over the years have forwarded to me her off-putting electronic messages.
Both FactsWrong and Monster McGrew have personal beefs with the Mayor -- at least he admits it here. Still, what reads below does not sound angry -- I'm not sure where McGrew got that. As for FactsWrong's examples...I think a lot of us might agree with the Mayor on that one...

She's aimed some of her missives at my head, in attempts to have the News-Press silence this column or take other action. In one e-mail sent to the paper's top management last year, the mayor wrote: "Travis' column borders on 'out of it.' He is out of touch with the community, and I believe he is a detriment to the

I may be out of touch in saying this, but the mayor has grown in her job over the last 15 months.

And I want to believe that she challenged the police association out of a real concern for the overall financial health of the city. Yet when I see and hear about her emails, I can't help but continue to believe that sometimes grudges and impulsiveness also are what inform her official actions to a certain degree.

In this case, though, I'll stick up for the mayor. Here are some other excerpts from the mayor's e-mail to the police association:

"This year the discussions behind closed doors were leaked to Richard Cochrane who let folks in the public know about my closed session remarks. This came back to me, and it was not OK. This is not only bad for the council because the council should feel comfortable in closed sessions, but also this type of leak has undermined the process. I am no longer comfortable. After nine years. In addition, I find myself having to explain myself in front of the TV cameras, the POA in public session, and the news reporters, all at the council meeting. ...

"Had there been no leaks, I probably would have voted for the raise, going along with the majority of the council, but now I have to defend myself. I am greatly saddened by all of this. It has kept me awake at night for the first time in my elected career."

Much of the mayor's explanation sounds well thought out to me. I used to think Marty Blum absolutely didn't merit another term. But now, under fire, perhaps she's
done coasting.
FactsWrong actually giving lukewarm support? This is a first -- stay tuned for this evolving saga of fiscal responsibility and the politics of entitlemment...


Post a Comment

<< Home