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Mourning a president shouldn’t cost this much

Wouldn’t it be nice if your boss unexpectedly gave you a paid day off? If so, you might want to head into local government – the next time a former president dies, you may get a chance to catch some very valuable Z’s.

As reported by Tampa Bay’s 10 News, Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio gave city workers – fire, police and sanitation crews aside – a break from their duties Jan. 2.

The reason?

“I wanted to be respectful of President (Gerald) Ford,” Iorio told Tampa Bay’s 10. “We did the same thing when President Reagan passed away.”

The cost of that respect, according to the news station, is approximately $500,000. That’s the price of shutting down the city and paying its workers for time spent in mourning.

The cost of the respect not paid to all of Iorio’s constituents? Well, that’s a little hard to pinpoint. If she’s lucky, it’s less than the cost of a re-election campaign. One thing’s for certain, though: Employees of the city of St. Petersburg, as well as those of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, were at work serving the taxpayers that require their services and elect their bosses.

In an attempt to turn Iorio’s sentimentality around, the reporter covering the story asked her whether the above quote implied other local governments were being less respectful than Tampa’s.

“I wouldn’t have any comment on other people’s decision(s). They all have their own set of circumstances,” she responded in a truncated sound bite.

Iorio’s right. They all have their own set of circumstances. They have tax-paying citizens who need the services of the government and expect it to be open for business. They have people who need to pay tickets, go to court and obtain building permits – people who need the government to function so they can function. Unsurprisingly, it’s the same set of circumstances Tampa faces.

Iorio’s sentiment was undoubtedly genuine, but you can’t run a city on good intentions.

Ford worked for the government. In the eyes of many – Iorio included – he created a legacy worth honoring – and he did it by going to work and leading the country that didn’t even vote him into office. Iorio could take a hint.