More money, which tempts us all, last tempted Orange County legislators last winter when they considered lifting generous limits on campaign contributions.
There were three constituencies. Large campaign donors know that if they deliver the check, they are better positioned to do business with the county. Legislators and county officials want the money. Taxpayers got nothing.
But enough taxpayers spoke up and embarrassed enough legislators, especially newer ones who did not want their first significant act to be synonymous with greed, and the effort went into hibernation.
Now, more money is again tempting legislators and county officials but this time the stakes are higher. There are no middle men, no donors waiting on the sidelines. This time there will be winners, those getting more money as approved by a legislative committee and seemingly on the way to approval by the full body, and losers, the taxpayers who will foot the bill.
Chances are nobody will be embarrassed this time. The next election is years away. The details have been worked out in the usual way, in the party caucus where the Republican majority on the Legislature makes these decisions.
It is easy to imagine the dialogue, and imagination is all we have to go on because nobody is required to take notes or report to the public.
The question would not concern if legislators and county officials were going to get more money, only when and how much.
Did anybody stop to ask if Steve Neuhaus, the county executive, deserved to be the person in New York earning the highest salary for that job even though there are so many counties with millions of more residents and the accompanying complexity that such a population brings?
Did anyone point out the absurdity of paying one legislator more money because he is the leader of the Independence Party caucus even though the party caucus consists of one person. He meets with himself and gets paid more.
New York is full of elected officials who are convinced that they are underpaid. State legislators may be in line for an increase soon depending on what happens with a commission looking at the issue. They already are among the highest paid in the nation, having given themselves substantial raises decades ago. Orange County did the same, providing generous amounts long ago, leaving them in place for a while, then complaining about how long they have gone without an increase without acknowledging that they already are very well paid by any comparison around the state.
Did anybody ask why the sheriff, a position that someone seeks in an election, has to be paid a certain amount more than the undersheriff, who is part of a bargaining unit?
Coaches do not make more than players, university presidents do not make more than coaches or heads of medical schools. There is no universal law that says the sheriff needs to make more, he just wants to, he just received an off-cycle raise, and it is hard to imagine anyone in the caucus protesting because there’s really something for everyone in these raises.
Well, everyone but the taxpayers who pay the bill.