Have you ever seen the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day?” It’s a Bill Murray comedy about an egotistical TV weatherman from Pittsburgh and an annual assignment he despises: covering Punxsutawney Phil, the famous Pennsylvania groundhog.
One year the weatherman finds himself trapped both in Punxsutawney and in a time loop, repeating Feb. 2 over and over again. Ultimately, this causes him to take stock of his priorities in life and make significant changes.
Which brings us to Mayor David Bowers, his and Roanoke City Council members’ salaries and Bowers’ serial attempts to raise them over the past 17 years. The issue will be back before council Monday.
It’s been a comedy of errors each time, with Bowers usually ending up as the brunt of anger and many jokes. In 2000, it arguably cost him re-election. Let’s review.
Midway through Bowers’ first term in May 1996, he and council voted 6-1 to raise the mayor’s pay from $15,000 to $18,000 (20 percent) and council members’ from $13,000 to $14,000 (8 percent).
This happened almost immediately after the 1996 General Assembly raised the salary cap on cities of Roanoke’s size. Until then, council salaries had been at the state maximum for six years and the mayor’s had been at the maximum for nine years.
But Bowers and council bungled it by hatching their plan in an unlawful closed meeting. When this newspaper brought that to light, they repealed the illegal ordinance then lawfully re-enacted it three weeks after the first attempt.
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