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January 18, 2009 01:45 AM UTC

DA Pay Raise Irks Some Council Members

  • 3 Comments
  • by: redstateblues

Earlier this month the Denver City Council narrowly approved a measure that would increase the pay for the District Attorney more than $60,000 over the next three years. The office of Denver DA Mitch Morrissey was the party most involved in lobbying for the raise, and that, along with their arguments, didn’t sit well with some council members.

The Denver Post reports:

The issue sharply divided the group, with council president Jeanne Robb and council members Jeanne Faatz and Carla Madison dissenting from the majority…

At one point, Councilwoman Judy Montero seemed ready to vote no, too. She took exception to comments from Steve Siegel, the district attorney’s director of special programs.

Siegel told the council the state picks up 80 percent of the minimum salary the state requires municipalities to pay district attorneys.

Under that formula, the city will have to pick up only $5,880 of the salary increase in 2009. Morrissey’s salary also would increase by $10,000 in 2010, and by that same amount in 2011 and 2012, but again the city would pay only $2,000 each year for the incremental increases with the state paying the rest…

…Siegel noted that the district attorney in Fort Collins, which is half the size of Denver and has a lower crime rate, is projected to receive close to the same amount as the $207,000 Morissey would be paid in 2012. Other top prosecutors in comparable cities make “substantially more” than Morrissey, he said.

At first glance, it’s not a bad argument–the DA gets a raise, the city only pays 1/6 of it, and the state foots the rest of the bill. Plus, shouldn’t the Denver DA make more than Ft. Collins DA? This would be perfectly fine if it weren’t for a few unfortunate realities.

  1. The state is about to make deep cuts to nearly every service it provides the citizens. Footing it with the bill isn’t exactly a win-win–though it is a tiny drop in the budget bucket.
  2. Mayor John Hickenlooper has already asked police officers to take a pay cut. Why should the cops get the shaft, while the DA gets a raise?
  3. What has DA Morrissey done to warrant this reward? Saying that the Denver DA makes way less than District Attorneys in other cities is not exactly a compelling argument during a major recession.

In the end, Morrissey is getting his raise, and considering the fact that he ran unopposed in the last election, his job is probably secure. Further more, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with politicians wanting a pay increase. It only becomes a problem when outside factors are completely ignored, and their arrogance (not to mention their sense of entitlement) becomes overpowering.

Comments

3 thoughts on “DA Pay Raise Irks Some Council Members

  1. ….not even a COLA.  So, in effect, his salary has decreased since he was elected.  Also, he still makes about what a mid-level, paper-pushing associate would in a decent Denver law firm.

    1. Yes.

      Should he have either done it last year, or waited until next?  Probably.

      We’re looking at serious cuts that could mean jobs and a cut in essential services.  He doesn’t have to tighten his belt, but it should stay at whatever notch it’s at now.

  2. $207,000 in 2012??

    Thats insane. The $60,000 would much better be spent somewhere else especially if public servants are expected to take a cut or haven’t received a raise since Hickenlooper took office (DDHS).  

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