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Reschedule session on pay, Harris urges

The Baltimore Sun

City Councilman Kenneth N. Harris Sr., a candidate for City Council president, called on his opponent yesterday to reschedule a hearing over proposed salary increases for city officials so that more people can attend.

The proposed increases, which would bump the mayor's salary from $125,000 to $148,000 and a City Council member's salary from $48,000 to $57,000, will be the subject of a hearing by the full City Council at 10 a.m. today at City Hall. Harris said the timing prohibits people with day jobs from attending.

"Baltimoreans should have not only the right but the opportunity to come to an open session after regular business hours," Harris said in a statement. "The City Council must be more transparent."

Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake, the current council president who will run against Harris in the Sept. 11 Democratic primary election, suggested Harris is grandstanding on a politically touchy issue and noted that the hearing was publicized Monday -- days before Harris' request to reschedule.

"My office did the absolute best we could to schedule the hearing within a timeline and give enough notice [so] that if people had a concern, they would at least have an opportunity to submit their concerns," Rawlings-Blake said.

Harris said he did not immediately recognize how the timing of the hearing might affect people who work during the day. A midmorning hearing, he said, discourages participation.

City Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr., who is running for mayor and who originally requested the hearing on the salary increases, sent a letter to Mayor Sheila Dixon yesterday inviting her to testify on the bill.

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