BEFORE we address Mike Fisher's, to be kind, misguided decision to accept a near 20 per cent pay rise in his final year running Croydon Council, we'll put forward one point of defence.
The leader of the council isn't paid enough. Regardless of whether it's Mike Fisher or Tony Newman; Tory, Labour, or Monster Raving Loony; a salary of £53,000 doesn't do justice to the importance of that position.
Some would argue £53,000 is ample and that the real brains of the town hall operation lie with the civil servants (many of whom will get at least twice the leader's salary) but regardless – for the sheer volume of hours and weight of responsibility involved, the position could be better remunerated.
But this doesn't excuse Mike Fisher's actions. The problem isn't so much that he took this huge pay rise, more the way he did it and the context surrounding this decision.
Mr Fisher wasn't exactly up front and honest about his rise. Was he ever going to tell us? And why did he go against the wishes and advice of so many senior colleagues?
Then, there is this question of context. When you've spent four years having to trim the budget – closing an arthouse cinema here, axing a summer festival there and consigning a few lollipop ladies to the dole queue into the bargain – finding an extra £10k to swell the Fisher coffers does seem morally and ethically, if not legally, questionable.
Politics aside, Mike Fisher was an admirably determined and devoted servant to Croydon, during his eight years running the council.
But he's dropped a rick here – one that could all but cost him his political career.