One Salida was given the opportunity to submit a Guest Opinion to The Mountain Mail in response to one by retiring city councilman Hal Brown. (See One Salida responds and Examining OneSalida.) In our guest column, we reaffirmed our commitment to promote good leadership and to provide Salidans with factual, verifiable information on important issues for public reference during the campaign season.
Eight candidates have now entered the races for mayor and council for the City of Salida. We have identified and provided links to the websites of four of these, and the Facebook pages of five. If any candidate or reader wishes to call our attention to any we have missed or any that may be created, please Contact us in the menu above and we will add them to our Candidates.
With the candidates beginning to speak up, we will seek to collect and post information to allow voters to evaluate the positions and representations of all the candidates.
A Salida City Council work session was held on Aug. 14, at which council members had planned to discuss their views on procedures for directing the City Attorney and for reviewing his work and bills. The session was preempted when the Mayor invited the City Attorney, Ben Kahn, to lead the discussion. For nearly two hours, as Kahn explained the protocol he envisioned for the City’s supervision of him, all dialog among council members was limited. While Kahn did invite individual council members to confer with him to present their comments, that was to be in private, out of the view of the public. See YouTube Video and transcript.
During his presentation, Kahn advised Council that, in his view, the Mayor had complete authority to direct the City Attorney and that Council had no power to overrule him. He said the Mayor had full advance knowledge of, and approved of, everything Kahn did.
The task remains for Council to exercise responsibility in directing and controlling the City Attorney and in overseeing the quality and cost of his work. His compensation is on track to reach ½ million dollars by October.
At a Salida City Council Work Session scheduled for Monday, August 14, Council is expected to discuss two subjects regarding procedures for controlling and overseeing the work of the City Attorney: 1) Who directs the City Attorney and authorizes the work he does? Council, by a vote? The Mayor? The Mayor Pro-Tem? And if the Mayor or Mayor Pro-Tem, is Council entitled to be informed in advance and given an opportunity to weigh in? And 2) How are the detailed bills of the City Attorney to be reviewed and approved for payment? Again, by the City Council? By the Mayor? By the Mayor Pro-Tem? Or by Staff, or at least after a preliminary review and report by Staff?
This will be the fourth item on the Agenda of the meeting scheduled to start at 6 pm. Be informed and let council members know you’re interested in how they address this issue. Attend the meeting in Council Chambers at East 1st and C Streets in Salida.
How much is a Salida Council Member worth? It depends whom you ask. Presently, the salary of each is $150/month. That’s little compensation for those who, in addition to attending regular meetings, review hundreds of documents, participate on numerous boards and committees, research each topic, and communicate with their Wards.
As a result, council has been dominated by retirees. It has been recognized by all six council members that increasing pay is needed to attract younger, more energetic, and forward looking candidates. Those candidates tend to be employed or small business owners for whom it would cost money as well as time to serve.
But faced with recent challenges to incumbents from just such younger candidates, a bare majority on council responded on cue from their designated citizen participant at the 8/1 Council meeting to simultaneously experience a “change of heart”, and voted down the pay raise.