Mayor Cornett’s new day job at ad agency Ackerman McQueen caused some consternation hither and yon, mostly because of potential conflicts of interest: talk-show host Mark Shannon said flatly, “His very employment with Ackerman McQueen creates the appearance of wrong-doing.” I submit that anywhere The Mick might put down his briefcase would introduce at least some theoretical potential for mischief, but A/M’s sheer ubiquity multiplies the potential several zillion-fold: if you graphed everywhere the agency has influence in this town and connected all the dots, you’d come up with something you could sell on eBay as Japanese tentacle porn. Nobody is saying that either Cornett or A/M is actually up to something, but as Paul said to the Thessalonians: “Avoid even the appearance of evil.”
Michael Bates was all over this earlier; I mention it here because there’s a question which logically proceeds from the comments, beginning at the point where I noted that last year Oklahoma City voters turned down a charter change which would double the salaries of the Mayor and the Council. Hizzoner currently makes a whopping $24,000 a year in his official position. (God only knows what Cornett is being paid as an executive VP of A/M.) To which Bates replied:
It’s difficult to know how much to pay an elected official. It needs to be enough for them to make it a full-time job, but not so much they want to make a career of it.
Council members get $12,000 a year, basically minimum wage. By comparison, state legislators, who are explicitly part-time they’re supposed to have the year’s work wrapped up by the last Friday in May pull down $38,400, plus per diem during session.
My own thinking here is something like this: I don’t want these guys paid so much that I’d want to quit my own job and run for office purely for financial reasons. (Unless, of course, I thought I’d actually win, which I probably would not; Sam Bowman is pretty popular here in Ward 2.) And I suspect my response to graft is typical: I want less of it, unless I have an opportunity to participate. I suppose I should be expecting a letter from Paul any day now.