Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The West Buechel political lottery

There are six Members on the West Buechel City Council. In the recent general election, there were sixteen named contenders for these six positions. After two months of poking around, I know who nine of these City Council candidates are, and where they live.

The other seven candidates are still total blanks to me. I plan to dig them out one by one and go talk to them, sooner or later.

Why did seven total strangers plonk down the $20 cash filing fee to run for City Council and then seemingly not lift a finger to win the election? None of these seven ever came by my house to ask for my vote.

Speculating about the motivation of total strangers is a big empty guessing game.

I'll buy a chance and make a guess anyway.

Being elected to the West Buechel City Council looks like easy money and it comes with free health insurance. That's my best guess why anyone might want the job.

The money ($350 per  month) isn't really all that easy for what the job of Council Member requires, even if it is only part-time work.  On the other hand, the free health insurance looks like a bonanza. If you really need health insurance and live in West Buechel, a $20 political raffle ticket with 6:16 odds might look like a good bet.

Unfortunately, the West Buechel health insurance scheme is wholly unfair, in my opinion.  Most of the City Counsel either don't want it, don't need it or don't use it. Some do enroll for insurance coverage and some do not. Whatever this City health insurance costs . . . and I still don't know for sure yet . . . the Council Members who take the insurance are being paid a lot more than those Council Members who do not want, need or use it. One Council Member told me the City pays nearly $1000 per month for each Council Member's health insurance.

This might be true and it might not. Accurate and verifiable information is hard to come by around here.

I think it would be better if each Council Member were paid exactly the same amount in cash and they could then decide how to use the money themselves, and to buy individual health insurance if that's what is needed.

It is fairly rare in Kentucky for a Fifth Class city to provide Council Members wholly free health insurance at taxpayer expense. West Buechel is in a very small minority of cities that do so. The most plausible explanation why this health insurance thing became what it is revolves around it having "always been this way". Health insurance for City Council Members has been provided for decades. Nobody in office now knows or remembers how or why the practice first began.

A tradition that was started thirty years ago, or longer, has been carried forward year after year without question.

Maybe it's time to question it.  It's not 1980 any more.  


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