Biting promise | Editorial
April 20, 2012 · Updated 1:02 PM
Port Orchard Mayor Tim Matthes made the campaign promise to return cable access airing of city council meetings. Specifically, Matthes said he would direct $15,000 of his pay to cover the annual cost of airing meetings on the local cable station.
The promise was one geared to a specific and often voting demographic of the city, older citizens. Cable accessed meetings would provide some sense of government transparency (another Matthes campaign promise) to citizens that are stuck at home, but want and with available technology, deserve to witness their local government in action.
As we understand things, Matthes had no grounds to offer up $15,000 of his annual salary to pay for the service. And, though he claims in defense of that promise to have “forgoed $20,000” in salary, he has not given one penny. Matthes’ public retort to questions about his ability to and or efforts to fulfill his promise of returning city council meetings to the cable system is a amateurish spin on reality.
That he would even make the promise, or believe he has somehow achieved it, shows Matthes to have a poor perspective of how city budgets actually work. Benefits, of which health insurance and lunch money are, are not salary. Not drawing $15,000 in health insurance costs from the benefits account – using shipyard retirement benefits instead – and forgoing lunch money change nothing about his paycheck and are nowhere near as real as taking $15,000 from his wallet as promised. Not being salary, any money not used in Matthes’ name for doctor visit and sandwiches would likely stay in those specific accounts. Any diversion of those dollars from those accounts would require council action.
Matthes should still attempt to live up to his campaign promise of returning cable access meetings to the people and seek or build city council support to do it.