Denver Direct: March 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Filthiest Campaign of All

Editorial by Phil Goodstein

When the city faced a severe financial crisis in the l890s, councilman Martin Currigan called for cutting the salaries of elected officials as a means of showing that office holders were serious about retrenchment. In 1968, Currigan’s grandson, Mayor Thomas G. Currigan, resigned from office when voters refused to give him a raise. Far from appropriately saying good riddance to Currigan II, the political class reacted to his departure by removing from voters the power to determine pay raises for elected officials. It set up a mechanism entitling the mayor and members of council to almost automatic raises.

As compensation to members of city council has constantly soared over the past 40-plus years, the city legislature has more become a home for professional officeholders than a body composed of everyday citizens. Some council members have done virtually nothing but hold some public post or another for decades. At the most, they have alternated between “public service” and stints with politically charged non-profits that frequently work hand-in-glove with city hall.