THE ISSUE: Integrity in office

OUR VIEW: Mayor Moore and Councilman White fell short of expectations on salary scenario.

We don't begrudge Mike Moore, the mayor of Jeffersonville who is beginning his third term in office, for believing himself deserving of a pay raise.

He already is well-compensated, though, for his mayoral duties in our city of nearly 50,000 people. Moore's total annual compensation for 2018, according to Gateway Indiana, was $110,435.04. But Moore believes he should make more, and he is well within his rights to lobby council members, the body that sets his salary, for additional pay.

He did just that, for months, before five council members — Dustin White, Scottie Maples, Scott Hawkins, Matt Owen and Joe Paris — passed two amendments to the salary ordinance in special session Dec. 27, granting the mayor a raise totaling just over $18,000.

But Moore had a specific dollar figure in mind: $28,000, bringing his annual compensation to $137,000. In fact, he was so tied to that amount that he told council members after they voted he would veto the amendments. He initially told the News and Tribune the same thing.

"This veto will be more about respect than money,” he said a week ago. “I love my job. I'm thrilled to have the people of Jeffersonville vote me in for the third time. I don't do it for the money. I'm still the luckiest guy in Clark County.”

A few days later, he waffled on the veto, apparently finding new respect for $18K.

But respect is something sorely lacking in how the two special meetings during the week of Christmas came about. Rather than follow protocol and Robert's Rules of Order, the meetings were called by Mayor Moore “on behalf of Council member White,” who himself had no authority to do so.

Meetings are normally called by the President or, in his or her absence, the vice president. But those officers, Ed Zastawny and Lisa Gill, weren't even aware of the meetings or the agenda until the dates were already set.

In essence, the mayor summoned the council for the sole purpose of getting a raise.

Why? If a higher salary was so important to Moore, and something White wanted to help push through, why wasn't the subject broached earlier in December, when salaries of city workers were set for 2020 during a regular session of the Council?

Furthermore, one of the salary amendments, a "longevity resolution,” will increase the mayor's salary by an extra 5% for each additional term served after initially entering office.

To give a public servant who serves at the will of the people a pay raise based on longevity is unusual, even unheard of among the people with whom we've spoken.

Lastly, White initially portrayed the meetings as being called to take care of a State Board of Accounts directive, and almost as an aside consider a raise for the mayor. He later acknowledged there was nothing from the SBA that prompted the meeting. We are at a loss to understand why the longtime Council member would mischaracterize the meeting in such a manner.

Elected leaders should deal in truths, lest they cast a shadow on their own integrity.

Moore, too, is complicit in the whole salary scenario, admitting to our reporter on Dec. 30 that “I'm not a saint here.”

We agree.

The people deserve leaders who are transparent and forthcoming, and who follow procedures when it comes to doing the people's business.

The mayor should go ahead and veto his own raise, which might help part the clouds of controversy shadowing this entire episode.

The City Council will vote on the 2021 salary ordinance in early December. We suggest revisiting a pay raise then.

The News and Tribune Editorial Board members are Publisher Bill Hanson, Editor Susan Duncan and Assistant Editor Chris Morris.

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