Poor John Gary. The Anne Arundel County executive turns in a budget that holds growth in spending below the rate of inflation, and what does he get? He gets accused of being O. James Lighthizer, the symbol of Anne Arundel's boom '80s, on the cheap. All anybody wants to talk about is some relatively inexpensive raises and positions he wants for his top aides. He won't be getting them. This week, a County Council ruled by his fellow Republicans rejected his requests.
It's not that Mr. Gary asked for anything so horrible. The cost of the raises was far from exorbitant -- totaling only about $30,000. Some eyebrows lifted at the largest of the increases, which would have taken Chief of Staff Kenneth H. Rumsey's compensation up $25,000, from $66,925 to $90,000. But that salary, hefty though it is, is not out of line for a qualified person to help the executive shape major policy. The previous executive, Robert R. Neall, respected for his frugality, also fought to pay quality aides what he thought they were worth. As in business, government works more efficiently when it's managed by talented people. But running the government involves more than good business decisions. It involves good politics. And Mr. Gary's proposed personnel changes were not good politics.