Thursday, August 02, 2012

Omaha Mayor Gave Secret, Unauthorized Raises to Aides

It looks like Omaha's overspending mayor, Democrat Jim Suttle, has been caught handing out some sizable raises to aides -- raises that had not been approved by the City Council. Indeed, Suttle made requests for the raises in the 2013 budget proposal he sent over to the City Council. But he had actually started paying his people the raises at the start of 2012. Local television station KETV was among those telling the story.

"We decided we'd ask for the payroll records, and discovered they were getting paid a lot more than we approved in the 2012 budget," [Omaha City Councilwoman Jean] Stothert said.

"I'm kind of surprised the mayor didn't share this with us," [City Council President Tom] Mulligan said.

The mayor was conveniently out of town and was offering no comments on the matter though his spokeswoman (a former reporter) insisted there was no "ill intent" in the action. But even she admitted, "In all fairness, you know what? This was not a very good political move."

The specific raises? $25,000 for the mayor's Chief of Staff, $25,000 for the Finance Director, and $9,000 for the Public Works Director.

On her Facebook page, Councilwoman Stothert pointed out, ""You may have heard that Jim Suttle is asking for big pay hikes for his top staff at city hall. Over the last few days, we have learned that, in fact, he’s already paying them these elevated salaries, without telling the taxpayers or the city council. He had promised to freeze their salaries, and that is what we approved in the 2012 budget. I promise you that I will be working hard to stop this deception, and to ferret out other wasteful spending."