Smelling a Rat with Officials' Pay Raises

Article excerpt

At the Allegheny County Courthouse, a rodent must have recently scurried under a radiator undetected and died.

Or might there be another explanation for that odor emanating throughout the building's first floor?

That's the floor housing the offices of longtime Allegheny County Treasurer John "Wallet" Weinstein, and "Change Purse" Chelsa Wagner, the new county controller.

Both have decided to accept modest raises to which they apparently are legally entitled. The raises will boost their annual pay from the near-poverty level of $65,500 to $89,904, which should enable them to tenuously grasp the lowest rungs of the middle class.

The 34 percent salary increase might seem excessive to some people, although certainly not to the county residents wondering how they're going to pay their recent 21 percent property tax hike. They're undoubtedly fine with the additional compensation.

Wallet Weinstein and Change Purse Chelsa are taking accumulated cost-of-living allowances for their offices that have been piling up since 1999, when the county switched to an executive-council form of government.

Why the Wallet, who just began his fourth term as treasurer, didn't just ask for his COLA annually remains an enigma. But if he's that forgetful, is this the guy who should be trusted to oversee the county investment portfolio?

As for Change Purse, I believe she was playing on the University of Chicago women's basketball team while earning a degree in public policy in 1999. …