Monday, December 28, 2009

Leland Cheung in Today's Globe

Just below the fold on the cover of today's Globe, a picture of a former roommate caught my eye -- sure enough, Leland Cheung is mentioned in this piece in the paper today.

Though the article focuses more on ethnicity, it's perhaps more impressive that Leland is the first student ever elected to Cambridge's City Council. I say that because the whole "student running for office" bit has been tried several times before (and that's counting recently-graduated products of Cambridge's fine institutions) but never successfully.

Leland is currently a joint degree candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School and the MIT Sloan MBA program.

And just to illustrate another major difference between the City Councils of Lowell and Cambridge (both comparably-sized cities with the Plan E form of government), notice the captions on page B3, which describe some of the (heftier) staff support enjoyed by Cambridge's Councilors. In addition, Cambridge City Councilors make just north of $70k, which by way of comparison is more than an active-duty junior officer or senior NCO in our military.

That seems like a lot of money for part-time work, but for the number of hours those folks put in, I wouldn't necessarily call it unjustified. If anything, I'd even be willing to support more pay for City Councilors here in Lowell if it meant the opportunity to serve would be opened even wider. Ditto for School Committee.


C R Krieger said...

I think you make a good point about paying for the effort provided.  Didn't St Paul say something about that?

While I am not for giving a boost to City Councilor salaries at this point—given what I expect to be a budget crisis in the city in 2010—I would like to see the pay on Beacon Hill go up to around $90K, so that people other than lawyers and realtors feel they can take time out of their careers to serve in public office.

That might give us more diversity of viewpoint on Beacon Hill and improve the flow of people through the two houses.  Here in Lowell we seem to be able to provide that sort of change of Government without the need for a pay raise.

But, then it is time for New Year's Resolutions and at Christmas Mass or some time like that a local politician noted to me that I had been a "bad boy" this year, so maybe I need to lighten up. :-)

Regards  —  Cliff

The New Englander said...

Good point about Beacon Hill salaries. Here's another thing to think about: If you raise the pay by 50% and just call it a full-time job, you solve a couple problems at once.

(1) You open the playing field to ALL people, regardless of whatever their current job is, and what time it would allow them to be on Beacon Hill.

(2) You prevent the problem of "mom-and-popping" the system, whereby someone who serves on Beacon Hill can use the "but hey, this isn't full time" line anytime he/she needs to give a reason for NOT performing in his/her State Rep capacity.

We all know what happens anytime someone works for two different bosses within an organization. You can never task them because "the other guy" has them too busy all the time. I think there's a parallel with the part-time folks we elect.

Let's just boost the pay up somewhat, call it full-time, and expect full-time service in return.

Works for me..