News from the first week of 2014 that Mayor Annise Parker quietly gave City Attorney David Feldman a huge 43% pay increase made it into the city’s newspaper last week, courtesy of a memo from City Controller Ron Green. Here is an excerpt from the Chronicle story:
In the memo, City Controller Ron Green, Houston’s elected financial watchdog, questioned Feldman’s 43 percent raise to $350,000.
Feldman, 64, who joined the administration in May 2010, had been making $244,192 before the raise, which took effect Jan. 4.
Green: David Feldman second highest-paid municipal employee in Texas
According to the City Controller, the large pay raise makes Feldman the second highest-paid municipal employee in the state, and the second highest-paid city attorney in the country.
Nice work if you can get it! Helping Mayor Parker ignore the City Charter (among other things) seems to have paid off handsomely for Mr. Feldman, who has a strange view of public service:
Unlike his predecessors, Feldman said, he took the post at the top of his career and earning potential rather than on the way up, and, thus, took a significant pay cut. Feldman said he did not expect the job to be as rewarding as it has been, and budgeted to stay only three or four years, not six.
“I also didn’t reckon with the fact that I would be working with a mayor who made this job so much more than what it’s been in the past and has enabled me to do the things that really drive me as a lawyer,” he said. “This has been the most challenging and interesting chapter in my legal career. I’ve tried to make this job one where it’s not just about giving defensive advice. It’s about being proactive, to use the tools of the law to help the city do its job better.”
If the work has truly been so compelling — the most interesting in his legal career — then shouldn’t David Feldman consider giving a bit of his windfall back to taxpayers, instead of the other way around?
We realize it’s naive to ask this, but we will anyway: When did so-called “public service” become just another mechanism to enrich one’s self and friends at the taxpayers’ expense?
And for that matter, how many potholes might Feldman’s 2014 windfall have repaired?