Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Kicking the Can Down the Road: On Not Raising the Minimum Wage

The county passed a minimum wage increase.

All the board of trustees in Brookfield and other communities had to do was nothing. Leave the issue alone and the ordinance passed – Brookfield workers would get a raise. Brookfield workers would get a much-needed raise. The state minimum has languished, and the increases are always reactive. They bring the standard of living up and then are eroded by inflation.

Can Kicked

Two trustees stood up for those on the bottom of the pay ladder: Ryan Evans and Nicole Gilhooley voted against opting out.

Trustees Edward Cote, Michael Garvey, David LeClere and Michelle Ryan voted to opt out.
Of these, Garvey lost my respect the most. He said that the moral or ethical argument was the least compelling – the fact that people who work full time should be able to live and survive. He has no heart. In addition, while he was giving his opinion, some in the crowd were reacting. He stopped his remarks and lectured from the stand like a father chiding his children. He forgot that he serves up there for and because of the voters. What power he does have is derived from our consent. But he openly mocked the will of the electorate when he further dismissed prior referenda that called for raising state minimums in a landslide. This is what you get when you have elections where you can win a seat with 2,000 votes in a town of 20,000.

I understand that this was a hard decision to make and to all the Trustee’s credit they took a stand. No one who was in support of opting out in two public sessions stood up and said that workers of Brookfield should continue in poverty. All that was done behind the scenes with member of the Chamber of Commerce doing their leaning on the member of the board (some even members of both organizations who did not recuse themselves from the vote as some others in other municipalities in similar situations did).

Ultimately, this was not the best situation – laws like this should be decided at a higher governmental level and it was a cop out for the county to devolve this to the individual boards so that at the county level they could put this on their campaign materials but be shielded from the real decision. That said, the decision by the board was the wrong one. I hope the citizens of Brookfield remember it the next spring when the signs are again growing in the yards.