City-County Councilor Jackie Nytes envisions herself as a quite public finance wizard who towers over her colleagues with her intellect and gravitas. During the debate tonight on the passage of next years' City-County Council budget, Nytes sought to console angry Unite Here folks, a coalition of hotel workers who lost their bid to make it the public's responsibility to pay them what their employers won't pay them. Never mind that taxpayers have subsidized the hospitality industry to the tune of more than a billion dollars when you add up all the public dollars that have been spent propping up the convention and professional sports franchises downtown. Nytes and her fellow Democrats think we should help pay for their workers' wages as well. The Republicans on the council turned back efforts to amend the public subsidy for the hotel workers into the Department of Metropolitan Development's budget.
Nytes told the disappointed Unite Here activists after they engaged in a rude public outburst following the vote that brought the council meeting to a halt for about five minutes while they hurled insults at the council that they should blame the citizens who took to the streets four years ago to protest higher property taxes for their defeat. Of course, she's referring to the decision of the state legislature to cap property taxes. Yeah, you already knew Nytes was a self-dealing political insider who has made a lot of money off of public service, and who has utter disdain for ordinary taxpayers. But blaming property taxpayers for the wages that privately-owned hotels pay their workers? How low can you stoop, Jackie?
Speaking of Nytes making money off her public service, she made a feeble attempt to prove what an ethical councilor she is by asking to be recused from voting on the public library's budget. Nytes recently got named the new CEO of the library, a post that promises to pay her at least $125,000 a year. Lest we forget that Nytes formerly worked as the CFO for the library when it first spent its way into a financial disaster by going on a building binge that hit property taxpayers deep in the pocket. No sooner had Nytes explained why she was recusing herself from voting on the library's budget than Councilor Barbara Malone chimed in to congratulate Nytes on her new position. Malone added with a straight face that Nytes had played a critical role in crafting the library board's budget with $3 million in additional funding that she had just asked to recuse herself from voting on. Nytes nervously giggled realizing that the empress had been revealed to be wearing no clothes. Nytes' voice on the council is one that certainly will not be missed after she leaves it to take her cushy new job. Let's hope there will be someone on the next council who will keep a close eye on her management of the library.
UPDATE: On a lighter note, in the rush to tout the passage of the 2012 budget, Mayor Greg Ballard's press office put out a statement touting a "responsibly balanced budget." "Despite these tough economic times, we achieved this budget with no taxing and no borrowing," the statement read. "No taxing or borrowing?" Now that's a first. Realizing the mistake, Ballard's press office minutes later released a corrected statement: "Despite these tough economic times, we achieved this budget with no additional taxing and no borrowing." Well, at least he's dropped the "honestly balanced" meme. The budget only appears balanced because of a series of smoke and mirrors budget tricks.