No issue with mayor's pay

Posted: Thursday, November 26, 2009

The following editorial first appeared in the Anchorage Daily News:

The Alaska Democratic Party recently tried to make an issue of Mayor Dan Sullivan's drawing $12,000 in mayor's pay during the transition period before he took the oath of office in July.

City code puts the mayor-elect on the public payroll from the day his election is certified.

"During the transition period established by this section and until the beginning of the next fiscal year, a person elected as mayor shall be compensated at the rate fixed for the mayor by the commission on salaries and emoluments for the current fiscal year."

Rick Mystrom, who served as mayor from 1994 to 2000, said last week he collected city pay during his transition period, when the mayor-elect is expected to work with the outgoing mayor to ensure a smooth hand-off. Mystrom said he understood it was standard procedure.

Julie Hasquet, spokeswoman for Sen. Mark Begich, who was mayor from 2003 to 2009, said Begich did not take transition pay.

The Democrats' press release called on Sullivan to pay the money back. What was the budget hawk doing taking city pay before the inauguration, they asked.

He was doing the work of transition that the municipal code says is worthy of pay.

Could he have declined it, or given it back, as a way to share the sacrifices being inflicted throughout the city budget? Sure.

He didn't.

Democrats are understandably riled at the unending political attack on their Alaska champion, Sen. Mark Begich, over the budget woes that erupted shortly after he left office as mayor. They wanted to hit back.

But as a counter-punch, this missed.

Mayor Sullivan took transition pay. No scandal there.

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