McGinn Not Lopping From the Top

Despite campaign promises to cut "strategic advisors," lower-level employees are seeing the brunt of his proposed cuts.

If you skim through the Arts, Culture, and Recreation section of Mayor Mike McGinn's proposed budget—the section where he lists the most pink slips—you'll find librarians, secretaries, and janitors losing their jobs. In one page within Parks and Rec, McGinn eliminates five maintenance workers, four painters, two metal fabricators, a carpenter, a drainage worker, an electrician, and an interdepartmental delivery driver. Only one person on that page carries the designation "strategic advisor." Seems McGinn is backtracking on a campaign promise to let the axe fall most heavily on that last category. Strategic advisors, and a few similarly classified positions at City Hall, are non-unionized jobs for which the mayor, or other department heads, can hire and fire at will. In some cases the positions can be filled without going through any kind of formal process—for example, posting the job opening so the general public can apply—so they are often considered political appointees. While running for office, McGinn slammed then–Mayor Nickels for ballooning the number of strategic advisors in his administration from 241 in 2001 to 431 in 2008. McGinn said that if elected, he would "dramatically reduce the number of political appointees." When he first came into office, McGinn proposed doing just that, saying he would cut 200 senior-level positions. But amid a public backlash from city employees, he backed down. Now McGinn is proposing to cut 294 positions (80 of which are currently unfilled). According to the mayor's budget overview, 64 of those 294 positions are "senior level"—i.e., strategic advisors, managers, and executive appointees. "We will continue to work to reduce the number of these positions in the future," the mayor's spokesperson, Aaron Pickus, told SW.

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