Conversation about ‘lessons learned’ | Guest View

By Barbara Tipton, Compensation Commission applicant | Aug 14, 2014

At the Aug. 4 City Council meeting, Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas called for the elimination of the Citizens’ Commission on the Compensation of Elected Officials.

She was joined by Council President Diane Buckshnis and councilmembers Joan Bloom and Lora Petso. It was a brave act.

It is difficult to deal with failure. A huge computer implementation project at Boeing during my tenure was cancelled due to a number of causes. But failures can teach.

After a failed project comes the “lessons learned” phase. In essence, it is a thorough self-examination of the process conducted by team members.

We all take blame for the mistakes, and we discern steps that we can take to do better next time.

As a city, we need to go through a “lessons learned” exercise to examine what went wrong with the CCCEO, and then choose one of the alternatives outlined in Mr. Taraday’s memorandum of July 31.

Many have viewed this as an anti-mayor act. It is not.

I have no ulterior motives. I have no designs to be on any future committee regarding compensation. No, I do not have my eyes on councilmember Strom Peterson’s seat.

I am writing, because I played a small part in this drama, only a few lines spoken before council and the mayor on Aug. 4. I was one of the three applicants for the open positions on the CCCEO.

The compensation data included in the CCCEO findings listed monthly benefits paid to councilmembers in 11 small cities in Western Washington.

The CCCEO concluded that our city’s compensation was in line with those municipalities. Yes, but the numbers tell me that those towns, including Edmonds, do not pay a living wage to their elected officials.

The soon to be defunct Chapter 10.80 asks us to “base compensation of elected” on the “duties of their offices.”

As I had the pleasure of working with all of the councilmembers except for Thomas Mesaros, I am aware of the countless hours they spend working for the citizenry.

I know that they have a high level of responsibility and its byproduct, stress.

While my experiences with councilmembers can be classified as anecdotal, the time spent and the nature of their job can be quantified if the CCCEO had taken the time to do so.

Chapter 10.80 also asks us to consider measures designed to attract the “highest quality” candidates to run for “public” offices.

As Bloom has aptly stated, it is of paramount importance to encourage young people to work in the public sector. Except for Peterson, all of the council members have AARP cards, as do I. How can we persuade those in their 20s, 30s or 40s to run for city council if we pay “McWages?”

I sent this as a letter to our councilmembers, because I felt that I had more to say.

A wise friend advised me to share my thoughts with Edmonds citizens to, in her words, “jump start the conversation.” And so I will. May the debate begin!

 

 

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