Raising Pain

Glenn Terry thinks a salary hike is the answer to Miami's commission woes. Others insist it's money for nothing.

The 50 aldermen on Chicago's city council each earn $75,000 per year for their labors, an increase of $20,000 since 1991. Similarly to Miami, "the rationale for the raise was that they were considered part-time employees but it was full-time work," volunteers Daphne Daume, vice president of the League of Women Voters of Chicago.

Now that they take home healthy salaries, are the aldermen more honest? "Funny, funny, funny," replies Daume, aware that several council members resigned recently after "Operation Silver Shovel" revealed they had allowed illegal dumping in their wards in exchange for cash payoffs. Several more remain under investigation.

"To say that [a higher salary] would prevent corruption, our experience is no, it doesn't," Daume states. And did the larger paychecks raise the quality of the candidates running for the council? "Yes and no. We have gotten some good people who have run who might not have run before. But we also have elected some who aren't."

Terry is familiar with the uneven results pay increases have had in other cities. Raul Martinez, the oft-indicted mayor of Hialeah, earns $70,000 a year, Terry admits. Still, he sticks to his point: You're more likely to get quality if you pay for it. "After all," he asks, "Do you know anyone willing to work for $100 a week?"

What about Sylvester Stallone? Is it the low pay that keeps him from ruling Miami? "Unfortunately," says a Stallone spokesman in L.A., "he has no comment at this time.

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