Government is about compromise.

Sometimes that compromise is difficult to find.

In the case of the stalemate between new Portland Mayor John Boggs and city council over revamping the mayor’s executive assistant position, it should be easy.

Boggs, who is just starting his first term, presented a proposal to return the executive assistant position to a full-time role. That seems more than reasonable.

For years that role was full-time, with the mayor’s assistant also overseeing administration of the city’s housing and urban development program. The city paid half the salary, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development paid the other half.

But HUD pulled funding for the position in 2016 citing nepotism and mismanagement. In response, council at that time made the position part-time.

That made sense then. But it makes sense now to return full-time status at a higher wage.

To council members’ credit, they were open to that idea.

Where city council seemed to balk was at some of the changes Boggs proposed in the job description.

The two that jumped out were:

•”Representing the mayor at special city events and different meetings as needed.”

•”Taking responsibility for initiating some operation decisions on behalf of mayor’s office.”

Those responsibilities, council seemed to be saying, felt more like those of a deputy mayor as opposed to an executive assistant. (To be fair, Indiana Code allows for the appointment of a deputy mayor, but that’s not what Boggs was requesting.)

The other duties in the job description presented Monday were fairly standard for an executive assistant, things like scheduling, answering phones, processing incoming and outgoing mail, notifying the media and board members of schedule changes and providing clerical support. 

So, here’s the compromise we’d suggest.

The mayor should return to council with his proposal for a full-time assistant with a wage of $18 an hour. He should modify the job description to remove some of the requirements that went beyond the “executive assistant” level.

Then, council should approve his request.

Portland’s mayor should have a full-time assistant, as was the case for years. Having that support staff puts the city in a better position to “get things done,” which was one of Boggs’ stated goals during the 2019 campaign.

And council was also well within its rights to want to make sure that the decision making is being handled by the man voters elected rather than an appointee.

The changes suggested above fulfill both of those goals.

They’re a fair compromise for the mayor, council and the residents of Portland. — R.C.