The Hot Beat


The second-day story, with your help. Call Gazette reporter Adam Belz at (319) 398-8273 or e-mail him:

The supervisors’ side of things

To be fair to Supervisors Linda Langston, Jim Houser and Lu Barron, there is a coherent argument for them to have done what they did on Tuesday.

It’s this: We don’t believe the job is or ever was part-time, we only made it part-time for political reasons, and now we’re clearing the decks for the new five-member board to start over with the Compensation Board and reset our salaries at whatever is appropriate.

Langston argues that though the move to repeal the part-time resolution looks bad, it is necessary.

This is where people disagree.

So, question number one: Is the job full time?

If the answer is no, then of course the supervisors screwed up by repealing the resolution.

But the supervisors have been fairly consistent in insisting that the job is full time.

“I don’t have any belief that this is going to be any less than a full-time job,” Langston said in March, the day she announced that they would pass the resolution to make the job part-time. She said candidly that the resolution was “the only way around the laws that exist” for them to lower the pay in response to public wishes.

If the supervisors are right, and yes, the job is full time, then, question number two: Was it necessary for the supervisors to repeal the resolution halfway through the fiscal year, thus giving themselves and the two new supervisors a $9,000 raise over what they would have made in the next six months?

This question is more difficult for the supervisors to answer.

Instead of repealing the resolution on Tuesday, and making the March charade entirely meaningless, they could have conceivably resolved to repeal the part-time resolution on June 30 (the end of the fiscal year), and allowed the Comp Board to set their full-time salaries effective July 1.

That way they wouldn’t have had to go back on their March decision and wouldn’t have given themselves a “raise” over the next six months. But they still would have made the job full-time and given the Comp Board the opportunity to decide a full-time supervisor’s salary for the fiscal year that starts July 1. (Just to be clear, what the Comp Board decides in February will have no bearing on the next six months. It will apply to fiscal 2010, which starts July 1.)

Meanwhile, the words of Dave Machacek, who lost to Houser in the Nov. 4 election, sound awfully prophetic. He was there on the day the supervisors passed the part-time resolution, March 10, 2008.

“Why do they have to be cornered before they act?” he said. “All this is a political ploy to take the heat off their backs until after the election.”

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