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Letter, January 8, 2014: Mayor and council pay raises

  • Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Mayor and council pay raises

The town you swore to lead is in near-economic ruin. There are few jobs. Residents have little-to-no access to extended public transportation. There are abandoned trailers and churches competing with space for each other in many sections of town. Food stamps and access to other sources of nourishment and healthcare are deplorable. There are starving children walking streets that haven’t been maintained in years.

The only thing consistent in the day-to-day lives of many residents is Jesus. Because there are always Christian churches to assuage the psychological effects of poverty, even if they are doing little to practically deal with the issues that their congregations are facing.

Still, citizens are persevering and still attempting to make ends meet in this horrendous economic climate. For those who possess jobs, taxes are still being paid, yet, nothing is being done to revive the economy of Georgetown. We are only building more churches and praying for deliverance.

In such a situation, on what planet would the mayor and council members deserve a pay raise?

I ask not because I charge a lack of effort on part of our local politicians or even us residents. I realize that many gears and cogs are constantly working in any governing system and that progress is a process that requires an active and critical citizenry that is ready to take the helms of making their environment(s) better.

This doesn’t take away from the fact that our governing body has a job to do. That our taxes continue to pay them, and that they are not delivering.

If I were to go into a salaried job each day and not produce, for whatever reason, what would happen at my evaluation? Termination, that’s what. The audacity of our governing body to request a pay raise when they haven’t delivered on their promises is frightening. What I expect from us is a critical response in the form of a question: Would you all like to deliver, or resign? I also wonder how we residents might form community coalitions to practically and aggressively deal with the conditions that many are facing, at this moment.

While these changes won’t go into effect until 2016, Jack Scoville claims that this measure was proposed to look out for future candidates so that they might be adequately compensated for work. Now that he has been re-elected, he will benefit from this most timely pay raise.

I wonder how many days Mr. Scoville stayed awake pondering whether he was being paid what he “deserved.” While I can’t make any assumptions about Mr. Scoville’s personal income, I’ll make a daring assumption and say that it far exceeds that of many unskilled workers in our town (of which are MANY), and that I could care less about whether he feels as though his work as mayor as being “adequately” compensated.

Do you know what the residents of Georgetown don’t deserve? Lack of access to appropriate healthcare. Lack of access to consistent transportation. Lack of access to jobs. Lack of access to food and water. Lack of access to decent housing. Lack of access to basic things.

These are things that WE don’t deserve. Hopefully, once governing salaries rise, our politicians will also rise to the occasion. In the meantime, let us challenge each other to take a hard look at our efforts to make Georgetown inhabitable. After a 5-year leave to obtain higher education, I have returned to find this place the same as I left it, but for a few more churches and a few more woeful sighs.

At some point, we need to let go of complaining and start holding ourselves, and our politicians, accountable.

Shakeema Smalls



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