It's out with the old and in with the new for Mayor Mike McGinn's chief spokesperson. Longtime mouthpiece Mark Matassa is leaving the mayor's inner circle to go to work for the Seattle Public Utilities Department. Replacing him is current Seattle Channel General Manager Beth Hester. So what convinced Ms. Hester to come work for the mayor? Probably several things. But the fact that she'll be making $21,000 more per year than Matassa surely didn't hurt.
Matassa's salary was $99,000 per year--a tidy sum, few would argue. Hester will be making $120,000.
The move comes about three weeks after McGinn told every department in the city to shave 3 percent off their budgets in order to fill a roughly $16 million citywide budget hole.
McGinn's other spokesperson, Aaron Pickus, defends the mayor's decision to pay Hester's beefed-up salary and his record on cost-cutting.
"We take the budget seriously," Pickus writes in an e-mail to Seattle Weekly. "The Mayor's Office reduced its 2010 budget by 36 percent from the previous administration, and took a further reduction of 6.3 percent in 2011."
It's a reasonable point. Although hiring anyone with a 20 percent raise over their predecessor, especially someone in the mayor's inner circle, while all other departments are cutting the bejesus out of their budgets, still smacks of hypocrisy.