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Wagner’s Offices to Stay Open Despite Resignation

Office spokesperson answers questions regarding her pay, current job position and local offices.

from the House of Representatives should have little effect on constituents, a spokesman for her office said Monday.

Effective Monday, Wagner——is no longer a state representative and will only hold the position of controller. Wagner collected only her legislative salary while serving in both positions, and—as of Monday—will only collect her county salary.

The resignation, as well as her acceptance of a more than $20,000 pay raise to her county salary, raised questions among constituents about Wagner’s pay and about which state representative to turn to in her absence.

Lou Takacs, a communication specialist for the controller’s office, said the pay raise is a cost-of-living increase that has been discussed for some time.

Takacs said a cost of living adjustment was approved for all row officers in 1999. But since no one claimed it, pay was not raised at that rate. Allegheny County row offices include the positions of controller, district attorney, sheriff and treasurer.

“Over 12 years, the cost of living has increased greatly,” Takacs said. “Basically, it brings the controller and treasurer salaries more in line with the other row officers, specifically the district attorney, but is in fact still lower than those (salaries).”

He said discussions about the salaries for those positions were happening before Wagner became controller.

“Certainly we acknowledge it’s a big increase,” Takacs said. “It’s our understanding that county council is looking into it, and that’s there prerogative to do so.”

As for Wagner’s resignation, Takacs said Wagner felt comfortable that the proper arrangements had been made to oversee the 22nd Legislative District. , which is moving to the eastern part of the state.

The district currently includes the Pittsburgh neighborhoods of Brookline and Beechview, as well as Baldwin Township, Castle Shannon and Whitehall boroughs.

“It’s definitely going to be confusing for people,” Takacs said. “The way the districts were drawn under this plan is frankly, really unfair. We have neighborhoods split into two or three pieces, which is just really disappointing.”

He said it’s not ideal, but that Wagner is satisfied the state representatives taking over the area will provide the services needed and make sure everyone is prepared for the change.

Wagner’s offices in and Whitehall both will remain open, at least until the state Supreme Court approves the reapportionment plans, Takacs said.

State Rep. Matt Smith—who will represent portions of Brookline and Beechview under the new plan—said in an email Tuesday that he plans to maintain Wagner's Brookline office so there will be no disruption of services for constituents.

In the meantime, the offices will be managed generally by the Democratic Caucus. Takacs said no daily services provided by the offices would be affected, and that he expected the situation to last for a few weeks at most.

Lou Pietosi January 18, 2012 at 06:30 AM
While the economy is at a standstill and many people are barely surviving politicians have the nerve and insensitivity to increase they're OWN pays by these huge amounts and then defend it! The cost of living is up for EVERYONE yet OUR tax dollars go to make sure these people are keeping up with the cost of living! Will this insanity EVER end?
Ed M January 18, 2012 at 12:07 PM
A $20,000 COLA????? Where do I get a job like that?
Mike January 18, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Congratulations lazy voters! You either voted for a familiar name (eh.... Wagner.... I heard of them) or you didn't show up at the polls at all! That is how career politicians stay in office. If you know someone who does not vote, please chastise them, because they are 100% wrong.
Erin Faulk January 18, 2012 at 02:24 PM
I know, that looks like a lot of money - the way Lou Takacs explained it to me is that an annual cost of living raise was approved for row office positions in 1999. Since no one took the increase until now, that pay bump reflects cost of living increases over about 12 years.
Joseph January 18, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Elected officials should be paid a base salary equal to the median salary of their constituents. See how many people make a career out of it then! I can understand a COLA... but a $20k one-shot increase is ridiculous with a down economy. (phase it in?) Elected officials should have to resign prior to running for another office. First, campaigning is tiresome and surely affects job performance. Second, appropriate measures can be made to properly fill the vacancy. I have a serious problem with the Democratic Caucus managing the office. Wagner was elected, not her party's caucus. The caucus isn't even a person... it's an organization. How can an organization be given reins over the office? Even worse, I think party caucuses are considered private organizations. That can't be right. Mike... voter turnout was 27% and D's outnumber R's by 2-3x in Allegheny County. Factor in 25% of voters pull the 'dummy' lever and it's a no-win situation. Not to say it's not worth voting, but it's a tough hill to climb when outnumbered in a lame two-party system.
Mike January 18, 2012 at 04:48 PM
There is absolutely no excuse to not vote. None.
Ed M January 18, 2012 at 04:50 PM
So no one took it for the last 12 years? What is the % per year? And since she just took the job, how is she entitled to 12 years worth of COLA?
Joseph January 18, 2012 at 05:28 PM
It's actually a $23,404 increase. $23,404 over 12 years works out to an average, non-compounded increase of $1,950 per year. The pre-raise salary for county controller is $66,500. So that's an increase of 2.9% per year. I think COLA adjustments are typically 3 - 4% per year. It's in the 'normal range'. It appears they retroactively applied COLA to the position itself. I still don't like it... the pre-COLA salary was too much anyway! Median salary in Allegheny was $46,212 in 2009. How can gov officials 'represent us' when they are paid so disproportionately more than their constituents?
Joseph January 18, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Sure there is--- when the candidates are unqualified, sub par, etc.
Mike January 18, 2012 at 06:15 PM
No excuse. Not voting is unpatriotic.
Joseph January 18, 2012 at 06:55 PM
That's amusing.
Ed M January 19, 2012 at 12:23 PM
Based on that, everyone who takes a job that has been vacant should get the accumulated COLA for the years it was vacant? What a total waste of taxpayer (my) money.
Mike January 19, 2012 at 01:10 PM
It's not amusing at all. Actually it's pathetic that so many have that "why bother to vote" attitude. People all over the world protest, fight and die for the right to vote. Meanwhile, here at home, people won't rise out of their recliners to go down the street to cast a ballot.
Joseph January 19, 2012 at 04:24 PM
The key phrase is "Right To Vote". As with all rights, they need not be exercised. That's what's awesome about this country-- we have our liberty. Voting for the sake of voting is not patriotic. Voting for a political party is not patriotic (party duopoly and party line option are a disgrace). Voting to vote 'against the other candidate' is not patriotic. Voting out of fear is not patriotic. Voting based on a single issue is not patriotic. Voting with a 'black box' machine with no ability for ballot recount is not patriotic. And what's patriotic about giving someone a job that doesn't deserve it? You assume all non-voters are just lazy. Ever consider that people are consciously deciding not to participate in a broken shell of a democracy? Casting a vote for a qualified candidate that you want to represent you is patriotic. When such a candidate does not exist, it is patriotic to show disapproval by withholding your vote-- you know, to stand up for the free form of government the country was founded on. There aren't even any Democratic challengers to Obama. So we'll have a choice between Obama and a Republican that will be chosen by the early primary states.... what's so patriotic about choosing between dumb and dumber?
Mike January 19, 2012 at 05:39 PM
I couldn't disagree with you more. Voting is not only a right but it is also a responsibility. If people choose to avoid their responsibilities then it's on their conscience. If you don't like any of the candidates you're are always able to write in a name. I look at voting as granting you a license to complain. If you don't vote then you shouldn't complain.
Ed M January 20, 2012 at 12:32 PM
If they consciously decide not to vote, then they are part of the problem. Voting is a privilege and a right everyone should be participating in. I haven't missed an election since I turned 18. To reiterate, if you don't vote, don't complain.
Joseph January 22, 2012 at 04:23 AM
I agree... and part of that responsibility it to take voting seriously (studying candidates' positions, voting record, etc.). A majority of people vote for no 'real' reason. It dilutes the process. I agree about writing-in names as a 'protest' vote. At least displeasure is reported somewhere. It's what I do (if a 3rd party candidate is absent), but I don't blame people for not voting-- the process has become laughable. I think non-voters have more of a right to complain. They bare no responsibility for actions of those wrongfully elected by irresponsible voters. The problem is a voting system that offers no real choice and the people that continue to vote for a party or against a person.
Joseph January 22, 2012 at 04:26 AM
I implied it, but I'd like to be more explicit.... part of the responsibility of voting is taking 'blame' for the actions of those you put in office. You've given them the authority to act on your behalf and so you must hold them accountable for any wrongdoings. There's more to it than just pushing a button. Tell me that all voters follow up with those elected and hold them accountable, then I'll agree with you guys.
Ed M January 22, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Non voters don't have a dog in the race. They chose not to exercise their right. That was their choice. Therefore they get what they get.
Joseph January 23, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Yeah.... they get exactly the same thing had they voted.

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