SALISBURY, MD – Last week we outlined Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton’s actions regarding the $1.4 million FEMA grant for the fire department. In Jimmy Ireton’s world, scoring cheap political points far outweighed public safety. One week has passed. We are one week closer to next spring’s city elections. Ireton is pulling another cheap political stunt.
This week we are told that Ireton is seeking to raise the annual salaries of Salisbury police officers by approximately $4,000. Is he really? Sadly, NO. Instead, the brave, hard working men and women of the Salisbury PD are being used as so many political footballs.
While Ireton and councilwoman Laura Mitchell bask in the Obamaesque glow of the Democrat National Convention and help to cement their places as Salisbury’s liberals-in-chief, Ireton is attempting to play games with the lives of Salisbury’s police officers and the safety of its citizens. By refusing to provide the RESPONSIBLE members of the city council with basic information such as the city’s year end cash position and how much money was returned to surplus at the end of FY 2012, Ireton is again attempting to goad the council members into voting against this latest proposal. WHY? To score political points on Jimmy’s ROAD TO RE-ELECTION!
Citizens should ask a couple of questions questions:
- Why wasn’t this matter addressed during the regular budget process?
- How can the council agree to spend an additional $400,000 without knowing if the city can afford it or not?
This matter wasn’t addressed during the regular budget process because Ireton didn’t see a need. The city’s crime taskforce recommended that salaries be increased years ago. Ireton is the one who has refused to increase police salaries. In fact, when the council mentioned this in the past he threatened to veto any budget that increased police salaries. Councilwomen Laura Mitchell and Shanie Shields would not agree to a veto override because increasing salaries for police officers “wasn’t fair” to other city employees.
Ireton only saw a need to raise police officers’ salaries AFTER the city council announced its intent to meet with police chief Barbara Duncan to discuss the recent departure of several officers and question her on department morale. Again, Ireton is far more concerned about the politics of the situation that the morale of Salisbury police officers or the safety of Salisbury’s citizens.
As to question two, the answer is simple – they can’t. This is Ireton’s backstop. He would much rather have a reason to call a press conference than to solve a problem.
The Daily Times reports:
Ireton and Duncan suggest paying for the $400,000 in extra pay and benefits from city funds carried over from the last fiscal year, which ended June 30. At an Aug. 27 council meeting, Ireton and Campbell sparred over the amount in the city’s surplus account, as Ireton refused to divulge the figure before the books are audited.
An audit won’t be available for weeks.
Friday, Ireton repeated that stance to a reporter.
"I don’t have that ability to give you that number right now," he said.
But, he added, "I wouldn’t send you a plan we couldn’t afford."
On one hand Ireton claims he doesn’t know whether or not the city can afford this. On the other, he is saying that the city can. There is a third possibility – he’s making this up out of thin air knowing full well that the council majority will never approve this without the information they have requested. Remember, Ireton’s own finance director admits that the information will be available by September 15th.
To contrast Ireton’s lack of leadership versus REAL attempts to solve problems, one need only look at another item on today’s council agenda. Today the council will discuss a revised plan for the River’s Edge condo site on Fitzwater Street.
Ireton and Mitchell have been pushing for a plan to turn the abandoned condo project into a de facto housing project. Instead of saying no … or buckling under pressure from Ireton and Mitchell the council majority, led by Debbie Campbell, worked with the developer to come up with a plan that was a win-win.
Supposed experts argue that there is no shortage of affordable housing in Salisbury except for seniors and the disabled. The new proposal addresses affordable housing for the disabled AND adds the sweetener of having an economic development component. The new plan will tie into Salisbury’s Art’s and Entertainment district and provide gallery / retail space on the ground floor. We’re anxiously waiting to see if Ireton or Mitchell argue against the project or merely try to take credit for something they had nothing to do with.
Today’s council work session will emphasize that Salisbury’s elected officials can take one of two paths – POLITICS at the expense of the citizens (the Ireton / Mitchell preferance) or LEADERSHIP. The next few weeks will be very telling.