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Newton mayor won't take $27,500 raise, but allies call for him to step aside

Posted by David Dahl, Regional Editor May 7, 2008 08:48 PM

(Globe staff photo by Patricia McDonnell)


Newton Mayor David Cohen announced Wednesday that he won't accept a $27,500 a year raise, but a leading political group nonetheless called on him to announce he will not run for re-election next year.

"This issue has become controversial and a distraction from the important fiscal issues our city is facing,'' Cohen said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. ""I have therefore decided to continue declining a raise in my salary.''

But after he issued the statement, Move Newton Forward, a group backing a proposed $12-million property tax increase in the city, called on Cohen to announce he will not run for re-election. Backers of the increase fear voters may reject the tax hike because they distrust Cohen.

"David Cohen has had a long and distinguished career of public service on behalf of the people of Newton, both on Beacon Hill and in City Hall. However, there is a growing consensus that the Mayor will not be able to attract support for another run in 2009. In the interest of clarifying the critical decision that Newton voters will be asked to make on May 20th, we urge the Mayor to announce that he will not run for re-election in 2009,'' Move Newton Forward said in a statement.

On Tuesday, several local residents and city officials questioned the timing of the raise, because Cohen is asking voters to approve a $12-million property tax increase on May 20. He included the raise in the city budget proposal he released this week.

Aldermen had approved a salary cap to $125,000 in 2005, but Cohen has declined the raise until this year. He currently makes $97,876.

26 comments so far...
  1. This is ridiculous. Newton residents are squabbling over $27,000 when they are about to vote on overrides for millions for the high school? I think Cohen should be heralded for delaying his raise until now, rather than chastised for accepting it. Anyone else in his position would wanted it back in 2005 when it was originally approved.

    Posted by Scott May 7, 08 03:34 PM
  1. I graduated in 1973 from Newton North I believe I was the last class from the old High school hard to imagine that this building is 35 years young and has to be torn down

    is anyone being held accountable ? Thats just poor building

    Posted by Brian Leary May 7, 08 03:43 PM
  1. What is the average raise that say someone in middle management recieves?

    Answer: anywhere from 3-6 percent.

    What makes you think this mayor deserves anywhere above a 10% raise?

    That is the problem with society......not stepping up to mayors, congress, CEO's etc... and saying something about their above average raises. The people at the top are bottom line GREEDY!

    Not to mention the other benefits he/they are entitled to!

    Step OFF!

    Posted by Paul M May 7, 08 04:13 PM
  1. Accountability in government? Are you kidding? Did you ever hear about the ballot box? This is an example what we get for tolerating a one-party government.

    They let us rant and rave, and then they laugh behind our backs because they know they will never lose an election.

    Posted by Frank57 May 7, 08 04:14 PM
  1. I graduated in 2001 from Newton North and the building was in good shape. It is clear with the class sizes growing even more and more space will be needed. But why not just add on to the existing school? So much for showing my kids where I went to high school - this high school I once called my own will be no more, and for what?

    Also, as hard is it is to believe the Mayor's salary is not that far off from other towns. In fact it is probably the median range. As far as him making decisions we all don't like, well I don't think that should affect his raise. Hats off to Mayor Cohen although not everyone will agree with all the decisions he makes.

    Posted by Freddy LaFleur May 7, 08 04:15 PM
  1. A 28% pay increase is ridiculous for somewhat that can't balance the books.

    Squabbling over $27k? Can I come work for you?

    Posted by David M May 7, 08 04:17 PM
  1. I graduated in 1993 and the school was a dump then, water leaks everywhere, and tons of rumored asbestous problems. Place was doomed the day it opened in the early 70's.

    Posted by Dan P May 7, 08 04:51 PM
  1. I live in Newton and admire Mayor Cohen's dedication to public service. His service to the city is definitely worth more than $97K a year.

    As a former Boston resident, I also appreciated Mayor Menino's work as well. I wish all public servants in the US are as dediciated as Cohen and Menino.

    Posted by Chris May 7, 08 04:52 PM
  1. The override is not about the budget for the high school, if you believe what Cohen says. He has outright lied to the citizens of Newton throughout this whole High
    School planning process. Actually had work begin before a price cap had been set. This is what happens when you put publically elected officials in charge of major infrastructure projects (remember the big dig??)

    The school superintendent (who makes over 200K yearly) has already said he plans to hire something like 27 more administrative personnel with this override. And all will get healthcare for life and pensions. But, they threaten to layoff cops and close libraries if the override won't pass extortion plain and simple. Where does this nonsense end?! This is a town that has one of the highest teacher/administrator-per-student ratios in the nation. Unbelievable.

    Posted by David May 7, 08 04:54 PM
  1. have any of you seen Newton North. Its designed on a prison system. Fact. Its also ugly, the brick is worth more than the land, and land values would rise just by tearing it down and putting nothing there

    Posted by Tom May 7, 08 05:04 PM
  1. I think Scott should cough up the $27,000 for Cohen and pay him what he thinks he's worth. You Newtonites have the cash, you're so rich, go for it.
    The economy is in a hole and your gluttony is going to go the way of the SUV's.

    Posted by hms May 7, 08 05:06 PM
  1. Massachusetts politicians are the most out of touch group of people in the world. Towns and cities don't need people who run for government offices to do it because of money - but because they want to serve their areas. A pay hike only attracts the corrupt. Newton is just a series of disappointments of localities.
    Until people demand good government (and most other states have it much better than we do) then it'll perpetuate itself.

    Posted by Sonny May 7, 08 05:12 PM
  1. This guy is a clown, they should get him out of there as soon as possible. He has made Newton a disgrace!

    Posted by D Murphy May 7, 08 05:37 PM
  1. Only 4% of the American population makes over 100k USD....

    And I think to run a city like Newton, which compared to a company in the private sector, would be in the middle size, give or take the size and revenue...

    On the other hand, newton residents are bashing him for 27k raise (even though a 28% raise is something not everyone gets), and thus approving a 12M tax bill increase...

    it's funny how everyone gets so anxious and pointing fingers to this or that person, I like to voice Gandhi's words:

    Be yourself the change you would like to see in the world.

    So refusing to get a raise in order to contribute that back to the city is really, at the minimum, a great decision, demonstrating he cares for the city he lives and works.

    Posted by Flavio Zanetti May 7, 08 05:54 PM
  1. Not only does Mayor Cohen lack fiscal responsiblity but he doesn't have much of a sense of humor, either. Once a supporter, now requesting his resignation! As far as the override goes, I was planning on voting no before and now after this from Mayor Cohen, I'm sure there will be a lot more no votes. Thanks Mayor, for assuring the override will not pass this year!

    Posted by Carol Gniadek May 7, 08 07:21 PM

    Posted by Louie Louie May 7, 08 07:35 PM
  1. This city is highly mismanaged. They are building a taj mahal for a high school (the most expensive in Massachusetts history) and now they are requesting a tax override as the city's financial situation is in complete disarray. The mayor (and all the alderman, for that matter) should resign! Enough already.

    Posted by A very annoyed Newton Taxpayer May 7, 08 08:09 PM
  1. Hey, Tom, why don't we just tear it down and build a park there instead. The people in Newtonville wouldn't mind that, let me tell you.

    Posted by ron May 7, 08 08:27 PM
  1. they had to put a restaurant in the new school? how about a brick building with desks and computers...enough already. They are making newton kids look like spoiled brats.

    Posted by marvin k mooney May 7, 08 08:38 PM
  1. If anyone has been paying attention to the way this Mayor operates, you'd know what to expect: once the override passes, he'll take his pay raise.

    You voted for him; stupid is as stupid does.

    Posted by D Mack May 7, 08 08:57 PM
  1. It would have added $11,000 a year to his pension. It's the Mass. politician swan song.

    Posted by VOTE NO May 7, 08 09:02 PM
  1. As an outsider just a few opinions: 1)he hasnt gotten a raise in 10 years. Think about that for a minute. A 28% raise once in ten years is about a 3% annual raise - nothing to get really excited about. 2) in a town where average household income is over $160k, $125K for the mayor's salary doesnt seem outrageous. 3) politicians in Mass. are predominantly egotistical and self-serving, and no one who has lived here for more than 5 years should be surprised by any of this

    Posted by luigi May 7, 08 09:09 PM
  1. looks like the residents of newton will have to change their spending habits to afford this costly mismanagement of public dollars.

    "ok kids, daddy will be cutting back and going with the 5 series bmw instead of the 7 series. i hope you will still love me and understand."

    Posted by cryformenewton May 7, 08 09:51 PM
  1. Perhaps it is just me but becoming wealthy off taxpayers does not seem honorable.

    What happened to mayors and senators choosing that profession because they wanted to make their town/city a better place - not collect 6 figure salaries and pensions after 30 years - hint hint menino, kennedy, etc etc

    Posted by Sean May 7, 08 09:56 PM
  1. I am a newton 18-year old and i can say that the mayor is a tireless civil servant and the raise is well deserved

    Posted by micah May 8, 08 12:00 AM
  1. The city of Newton is filled with corruption these days. The mayor's raise is minor when compared to all the money he has misused already from Newton taxpayers.
    It's time for the mayor to resign and for several members of the Board of Aldermen who have enabled him to resign also.

    Posted by anne May 8, 08 06:40 AM
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