Friday, February 15, 2008

Mazel Tov, Jon

I was ecstatic yesterday when I read in the Times-Dispatch that fellow blogger Jon Baliles was hired by the city as a public relations manager for our beloved mayor. It made me hope that even the maven may some day be recognized for what he does for River City. According to the TD article, Jon will be paid about $69,000 a year for “help with event planning, writing and other communication duties in City Hall . . .”

In his blog entry announcing his hiring, Jon indicated that he would not be writing anything in his blog about city issues while he is on the public payroll. He added,

And who knows, when my contract is up in a few months, I might even return to this spot and fire it back up like a pack of Hell's Angel's.

Jon’s reference to Hell’s Angels clearly indicates that he and I are of a different generation. But his indication that his contract will be up “in a few months” left me thinking. Why would the mayor want to hire Jon, at an annual salary of about $69,000 a year, for only a few months? What could possibly be going on in the next few months that would require the mayor to temporarily put Jon on the city payroll?

This maven is an inquiring mind, and I want to know. So I took a look at my trusty calendar to see what is so important about the next few months? Can it be Mother’s Day or Memorial Day or Father’s Day or Independence Day or Labor Day or Columbus Day or . . . Hey, this is interesting: November 4, 2008 is Election Day. Now my mighty mind started chugging. We, the citizens of Richmond, elected Uncle Doug to be our mayor in 2004. He took office in January 2005. Since the mayor serves for a four year term, Uncle Doug will be leaving office in January 2009, unless . . . unless he is reelected on November 4, 2008.

Can this be it? Did our mayor hire Jon Baliles to help with his reelection campaign? Can he possibly be using tax payer money to pay someone whose sole responsibility will be to help him win a second term?

“No!” I say. Uncle Doug, who ran for mayor to clean up the cesspool of corruption at City Hall, could not possibly be using public funds to help insure his own reelection. That would be sort of . . . corruption. We taxpayers gladly pay out thousands of dollars to the city each year. We do so because we know that the government of River City is there to make our lives better. And, we do so with confidence that Uncle Doug is ever vigilant to make sure that our money will be properly spent. Uncle Doug knows that, even though his continuance in office is vital, spending public funds on his reelection would be wrong. So, I for one cannot believe that Jon Baliles’ job at City Hall will have anything to do with the mayor’s reelection.

So, Jon, have a good few months working in government. I will caution you as I have cautioned other public servants. The money you spend, including your own salary, is money you hold in trust for the citizens of Richmond. Don’t abuse their trust.

1 comment:

Preston M. Yancy said...

I understand that Mr. Wilder's public relations office was already bloated. Today (Sunday 2-17-08} THE RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH reports that administrative costs per citizen for Richmond city government is the highest of goverments similarly situated--fourth behind Northern Virginia and very small cities and counties.
It is clear that Mr.Wilder's "war" on the schools is a distraction. Bloggers such as RIVER CITY RAPIDS and SAVE RICHMOND who have joined as troops in the "war" are the gullible suckers of one of the best con artists of them all.
Preston M. Yancy