Boy, if anybody had a good reason for cutting newly elected Watertown mayor Sarah Caron’s pay, they didn’t bring it up at last night’s Watertown City Council meeting. With more than 50 residents packing the meeting room, and with Mayor Caron quietly recusing herself and letting council president Bruce Buhler conduct the debate, councilors unanimously killed dropping Caron’s pay to $69,360 from the $80,437.20 the council thought the man she beat, Steve Thorson, was worth.
Facing accusations that the council proposed the reduction because of alleged retribution against Caron as well as creating a gender pay gap, Council President Bruce Buhler rejected those accusations, telling the crowd measuring over 50 people that he was a little bit hurt.
“This council is an honorable and honest group. There are no hidden agendas,” Buhler said [Dan Crisler, “City Council Unanimously Rejects Mayoral Salary Reduction,” Watertown Public Opinion, 2017.07.17].
Funny: the council is still hiding the agenda that motivated the pay cut.
Councilman Glen Vilhauer said the proposal came from the city finance office, and he commended them for bringing forward an idea that he voted against. That’s also funny: if I were a councilman, I wouldn’t commend my staff for bringing forward an idea with no policy brief explaining its justification, no apparent precedent in any government office (I’m still looking for an example of any jurisdiction that pays its elected executive or legislative officers based on experience or longevity—we sure didn’t do it with zero-experience Donald Trump!), and no broader application to other government positions (why no comparable cut for council members?) to prevent a controversy that makes my council look like a bunch of mean-spirited good old boys trying to attack a newly elected mayor.
If any members of the Watertown City Council were trying to knock Mayor Sarah Caron down a peg, they failed miserably. They turned out Caron supporters—informally polled by Buhler, nearly everyone in the audience raised a hand against the pay cut—and made themselves look bad, while Mayor Caron came out looking cool and mayoral.