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Sound logic not always behind leaders’ votes

Elected leaders always must weigh choices carefully and make their decisions based on logic and reasoning.

Unfortunately, that’s not always what happens.

Reasoning put forth recently by some members of Youngstown City Council about their position on pay raises being proposed by Mayor Jamael Tito Brown differed greatly, and at least one of those statements left us scratching our heads.

The proposed raises could increase significantly the salaries of city Law Director Jeff Limbian and city interim Finance Director Kyle Miasek. The raises are permissible because of city charter amendments approved by Youngstown voters late last year.

Voters in November approved a charter amendment 59 percent to 41 percent allowing the salaries to be determined by council rather than the old charter language that set the pay at 80 percent of the mayor’s salary, which is now $104,936.

Limbian and Miasek each are paid $83,949 annually. Following the new charter language passage, Brown on Dec. 9 proposed raises for the two officials to $96,553.60, a 15 percent increase. The salary for neither post has been increased in the past 13 years.

When polled recently by Vindicator reporter David Skolnick, here’s what a few council members had to say about the mayor’s proposal.

Councilwoman Samantha Turner, D-3rd Ward, said she won’t vote for either salary increase. Her reasoning focused not on whether the two were deserving, but more on spending.

Neither, she said, should receive an increase now.

“I’m in favor of raising those salaries, but not now,” Turner said. “Our economic development is not flourishing. Salary raises right now would be irresponsible.”

We agree, and we believe her argument is sound.

Instead Turner maintains the raises should be considered to coincide with the start of the mayor’s term, Jan. 1, 2022.

Councilman Jimmy Hughes, D-2nd Ward, had this to say: “I personally don’t favor a raise for either of them, but I might give it to them.”

Hughes went on to say that he is “still a little bitter” about having his pay cut by about two-thirds in 2010 and 2011 when he was police chief after some officers complained about his pending retirement payment.

The comment not only is inflammatory, it is illogical.

In fact, one issue has nothing to do with the other. As an elected city official, it is irresponsible for Hughes even to broach the subject of his past salary when deciding the future pay of two employees.

Councilman Julius Oliver, D-1st Ward, offered perhaps the most logical explanation when asked for his thoughts on the topic.

Oliver said he supports giving Miasek the 15 percent raise because of his job performance, but is “absolutely not in favor of giving” a raise to Limbian. He was critical of Limbian’s knowledge and performance.

But here’s the statement from Oliver that really impressed us: “We’ve got to stop dealing with mediocrity in leadership positions.”

Indeed, a high bar is critical in turning around the city that has been plagued by issues like crime and financial shortfalls.

We applaud Oliver’s reasonable thought process, and we encourage more elected officials to maintain similar approaches when making important decisions in governance.

editorial@tribtoday.com

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