Glenn’s decision shines spotlight on one of City Council’s biggest problems

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Less than a month after being sworn in for his second term on City Council, Darryl Glenn announced that he would be a candidate for the El Paso County Board of Commissioners.

Glenn will seek the Republican nomination for District 1, a position that is now held by Wayne Williams who, because of term limits, will be ineligible to run for re-election.

In his news release, Glenn outlines his reasons for running. He’ll “maintain a primary focus on the core functions of government,” develop a “regional approach to water management,” support the military, address illegal immigration and protect our constitutional rights.

And having “publically opposed two recent tax proposals sponsored by the city and county, as well as the establishment of a stormwater fee without a public vote …,” Glenn intends, if elected, to use his position on the commission to create “a different approach to resolving our fiscal issues.”

That’s fine, but he could accomplish these goals just as easily by staying on City Council. He signed up to serve his constituents for four years, and now he’s jumping ship, exchanging one set of boring meetings for another.

If he couldn’t persuade his colleagues on council to see things his way, why does he believe that the commissioners will be any more receptive to his views?

Glenn could, we suppose, argue that the forced retirement of three commissioners (Jim Bensberg, Sallie Clark and Wayne Williams) might create a body more amenable to his views, but that seems unlikely.

So why move?

YouTube has the answer. Visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaiSHcHM0PA and watch the famous shouting match between Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr. in “Jerry Maguire.”

“Show me the money!!”

City Council members receive a yearly “stipend” of $6,250.

County commissioners receive a yearly salary of $87,300.

Enough said?

We don’t fault Glenn for the obvious hypocrisy of his news release. Politicians have to adhere to the conventions of their trade, and a boldly honest statement of the obvious would kill his chances for election.

The disparity in compensation between council members and commissioners does not serve this community well. The salaries and benefits of county commissioners are determined by the legislature, while local voters must agree to amend the City Charter to increase council stipends.

City voters have been bizarrely tight-fisted, while the legislature has been more than generous.

A city of more than 400,000 people cannot be effectively directed by a part-time, unpaid city council. We applaud council members such as Larry Small and Jerry Heimlicher, who clearly regard their positions as full-time jobs – but we also recognize that, as retirees, they have both the time and the independent means that enable them to do so.

The voters’ refusal to compensate council members has created a playing field that is both unequal and unfair.

At present, only Mayor Lionel Rivera holds a full-time job. His colleagues are either self-employed or retired.

For most of us in the 9-to-5 world, running for council wouldn’t be an option simply because few employers would consent to give us a minimum of five days off every month to attend council meetings.

We are grateful that so many selfless individuals have come forward, and given freely of their time to serve on council. They have helped shape our city – a city that is now too large, too complex and too diverse to rely upon civic-spirited volunteers for governance.

If service on council paid reasonably well – say $50,000 annually – we might have a different field of candidates to choose from. The present council, which includes but a single woman, and no one younger than 40, has a demographic and economic profile very unlike that of the city as a whole.

We don’t know whether paying council would improve that body’s performance, but we do know that, in business and in life, you generally get what you pay for.

You might get less – but if you pay nothing, you can expect nothing.