To the editor:
This is an open letter to Mayor Kirk:
Mayor, I tried to ignore the latest discussions on pay raises for the city managers, but I now must voice how shocked I am at your unreasonable budget.
First of all, I would like to thank city Councilors Paul McGeary and Bruce Tobey for acting swiftly to reject the mayor's budget.
In my mind, your budget shows a complete disconnect with the hard reality of these times, as well as a lack of fiscal responsibility and accountability to the taxpayers. More interestingly for me, the process sheds some light on the management of your administration.
For example, it is made clear that salaries and pay raises are arbitrary and aren't based on qualifications or performance. Isn't it obvious to you that there is a complete conflict of interest when Jim Duggan put together the reclassification packet, which coincidently leads to his being offered a 29 percent raise? For a mayor who spends thousands of dollars on research that sits on shelves, one would think you would have looked for someone qualified and impartial to help you in this sensitive process.
In the organizations I have worked for, there's been a clear evaluation process. For argument's sake, let's see how Jim Duggan would fair in a performance review, since he is the one your budget would grant the highest raise.
Qualification: He was a grants writer with no prior experience running a city. We're the ones paying for his on-the-job training.
Performance: From my dealings with him when I volunteered, I am convinced it's a pink slip, not a raise, that he is entitled to.
Can we afford it?: This is the most important question. Plenty of people have deserved raises in their lifetime, but companies just don't hand out $15,000 to $25,000 raises during hard times, especially when they are not based on performance.
How can we tell the schools, fire departments, tourism community and others we have no money for them, yet we can somehow hand out extraordinary raises to your managers?
If you're looking for inspiration for your weekly Mayor's Desk column, I would suggest that you not try to justify your position and how unfair we've all been to these managers.
If I were in your position, I would consider writing a sincere apology to the City Council, whose members think they've been deceived, and to the hard-working taxpayers of Gloucester who would love a raise and lower taxes.
CHARLES DE GASPEE BEAUBIEN