Saturday Shorts: Sen. Smith needs a break

The Detroit News

Farmington's City Council has directed its Charter Review Committee to study whether to place a pay hike proposal for council members on the November election ballot.

The action was suggested by outgoing City Manager Vincent Pastue, who is leaving to take a job elsewhere. In a memo to council, Pastue said it's been 16 years since the last council raise. He said a review of compensation based on the Michigan Municipal League's 2014 salary wage study shows Farmington council members receive less than their counterparts in similar-sized cities. His memo suggested boosting the annual salary to $3,000 from $1,800.

City Clerk Sue Halberstadt, a member of the committee, notes the council and mayor's salaries are the same. She says the committee must come up with a proposal by Aug. 11 to get any proposal on the November ballot.

Whether the committee accepts Pastue's recommendation or comes up with an alternative figure, it does seem time to review council compensation.

"It's up to the voters, whether they feel council merits an increase," Halberstadt said, "I think that's the best process."

Sen. Smith should take a break

State Sen. Virgil Smith, D-Detroit, faces some very serious criminal charges for allegedly shooting up his ex-wife's car. They include felonious assault, malicious destruction of personal property $20,000 or more, domestic violence assault and battery, and felony firearm.

The senator deserves his day in court, but his constituents and the residents of Michigan need a legislator who can concentrate on the state's problems. With the distraction caused by these personal difficulties, it seems unlikely that Smith's full attention can be on his job.

Smith missed six straight legislative sessions since the incident before returning to Lansing this week. He also has been stripped of his committee assignments and duties as assistant caucus whip, so his legislative influence has been greatly reduced.

In view of all this, he should at least take a leave of absence so he can straighten out his personal life.

Michigan residents want better roads plan

Business Leaders for Michigan has released the results of a statewide roads and bridges survey that should come as no surprise to the public nor particularly our state leaders.

According to the poll, voters want a much simpler proposal than the one defeated May 5, and they want action soon.

Results showed that more than 87 percent of state voters want the road problem dealt with in the next year. About 58 percent support a 1-percent sales tax increase, with all additional money dedicated to roads, although this plan would still require a ballot proposal. However, 53 percent of state voters would support converting the flat gas tax to a wholesale gas tax, which would not require a ballot proposal.

The organization also says the governor and Legislature should enact a long-term solution that ensures adequate funding for quality roads and bridges as well as builder warranties.

Legislators need to take note of this survey and act accordingly.