Leftovers column: El Monte police salaries

Leftovers Column: Money no object for police chiefs

By Jennifer McLain and Tania Chatila,

Staff Writers Article

El Monte Mayor Ernie Gutierrez thinks he’s got the finest Police Department around. “And they don’t come cheap,” Gutierrez said at a meeting last week.

He sure got that last statement right.

16260-EG.jpgAt a time when the city is facing a $400,000 budget deficit, officials still have managed to pay their top-tier Police Department heads some of the highest salaries in the San Gabriel Valley.

Last week, the City Council approved the salary for El Monte’s newest police chief, Thomas Armstrong who will be getting $235,000 a year when he takes over Ken Weldon’s seat in December.

Sure, it’s a far cry from Los Angeles police Chief William Bratton’s annual paycheck of $300,442 a year to protect nearly 4 million residents.

But it’s not too far behind the $268,153 Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca makes every year.

Gutierrez told reporter Rebecca Kimitch Armstrong’s salary is competitive with area cities.

Most police chiefs in the Valley can’t even match the $195,000 El Monte’s assistant police chief Steven Schuster is going to get to serve a population of 115,000.

Let’s take a look:

Montebello police Chief Dan Weast, a 24-year veteran of the Police Department, receives an annual salary of $144,996 plus a car, benefits and retirement. Montebello’s population is 62,150.

West Covina police Chief Frank Wills makes $179,184 a year. The city has a population of 105,000.

Covina, a city of 48,000, pays its police chief $151,000 annually.

The police chief in Pasadena, a city of nearly 133,000, gets $203,000 a year.

Baldwin Park police Chief Lili Hadsell is making $155,000 a year. The city has a population of 70,000.

It’s obvious Gutierrez stands behind his Police Department. The police officer’s union donated $10,000 to Gutierrez’ campaign in 2007. In 2005, the union gave him $8,000.

And in 2003, the union spent $6,000 on mailers supporting Gutierrez, Juventino “J” Gomez and Emily Ishigaki in the council race.

“We have to have the finest Police Department. You have to have a good chief,” according to Gutierrez.

Interestingly enough, Armstrong and Schuster’s salaries combined amount to $30,000 more than the $400,000 budget shortfall the city is facing.

A few months back, as the council hashed out ways to brace for a possible reduction in their workforce as a result of the budget, Councilwoman Pat Wallach suggested, “Have we asked employees to donate part of the salaries back to the city to wait for the city’s budget to straighten out? If everyone gives a little bit, then it saves the little guy on the bottom.”

  • A resident

    They want a 1/2 percent sales tax increase. Not as long as Ernie Gutierrez is Mayor. What cities are these salaries competitive with Ernie? If we are going to offer such high salaries, why didn’t we compete these jobs?

  • El Monte Taxpayer

    Cops shouldn’t make that much money. They are public servants and a government enity is not a business enterprise, but should serve at the interest of the taxpayers.

    Why should Cops, Firemen, teachers and other bureaucrats make more than $50,000 to start and that does not count benefits, which are paid for at the courtesy of the taxpayers?

    Pretty soon the taxpayers will have a revolt at the ballot box. Therefore, those elected officials on the dias need to be realistic with the budget and spend money wisely, not at the behest of the corrupt unions.

  • A taxpayer comments

    A simple question for our mayor or the councilmembers that agreed with this fat raise and the question is
    If any of you didnot go along with this big salary increase, are you coming back when you run for office again? and the answer is “NO” because the police union run the elections for you and we call it payback time..Remember you 4 members aproved a 24% over 3 years for the rest of the police force when most cities or companies are giving 12% over 3 years.

  • EM resident

    The pay is outrageous! What was the council thinking? or were they thinking? More proof that our mayor is an idiot, and he has the three stooges following him.

    Here are some more salaries for comparison. El Monte’s police chief is making a higher salary than the vice president of the United States.

    Effective January 1, 2001, the annual salary of the president of the United States was increased to $400,000 per year, including a $50,000 expense allowance

    The salary of the vice president is currently (for 2008) $221,100

    Congress: Rank-and-File Members’ Salary
    The current salary (2008) for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $169,300 per year.

    Senate Leadership
    Majority Leader – $188,100
    Minority Leader – $188,100

    House Leadership
    Speaker of the House – $217,400
    Majority Leader – $188,100
    Minority Leader – $188,100

  • El Monte Watcher

    EM Resident said Congress makes 169,300. thats just their salary they also receive per deim tax free. The per deim equals what an average taxpayer receives in salary after taxes are taken out. Gloria Romero your state senator receives $36,000. per year in per diem tax free that equals a family making $52,000. per year thats on top of her $128,000. salary per year. How about the free car at $700.00 per month free gas thats the car she uses when shes home. If all of our state and federal elected officials wanted to be fair they would pay taxes on all of their income. All of El Monte city employees have to pay taxes on all their money just like you except Congressmember Solis and State Senator Gloria Romero there above us. Hey Electeds if want to raise taxes on the wealthy start with yourself!!!!

  • E M Taxpayer

    First of all, all elected officals pay income tax. That is the law. Secondly. Gutierrez, Ishigali, Barrios, and Gomez all reieved a lot of money for their campaigns from the El Monte Police PAC. They OWE THEM back big time. “It is time to pay the piper, or should I say cop-er.” There should be a law against this kind of goings on. It is unethical.

  • EM resident

    To El Monte Watcher:
    You need to read El Monte’s sweetheart deal for the chief and asst. chief. They also get cars, maintenance, gasoline, insurance. The employment agreements state that the cars are for both personal and business use. Members of Congress and state legislature are required to maintain a residence in their home districts. Traveling from their homes to D.C or Sacramento is not practical, nor is renting a hotel room when Congress is in session, thus the reason for the flat rate per diem. Believe it or not, it saves us money. It is a shame that our elected officials can’t do some reasonable work while they are in session. Sacramento did better when they were part time.

  • The Taxpayer

    Did’nt the City of El Monte pay out a settlement to a cop named Gibbney before Weldon was named chief?

  • El Monte Resident

    Response to last comment: Ask our Mayor Gutierrez he was incharge of that Circus when he received the order to get the 3 Votes rolling…Gibbney was the most qualified with all kinds of degrees, but also Weldon was already qualified running campaigns for the Stoogies so could have protection and get whatever raise that he wanted with the 3 Votes needed…

  • Tired EM Resident

    I only hope that the residentgs of El Monte wake up and not re-elect Hung over Gutierrez, Barrios and Gomez. That would help eliminate three of the four dummies on the city council. They will have no power whats so ever to finish running our city into the ground into a bigger deficit and a Police Run City, puppet mayor and brinless city council members. Wake Up El Monte Voters!! Smell the coffee…in this case the bs that surounds you. Enough is enough. STOP THE MADNESS!!!

  • Anonymous

    In response to the tribune article that a Music instrument was stolen from Arroyo High School worth $2,700.00 … Politicians do not waste any time trying to make points for next election, in this case Councilman Gomez trying to play Heroe and sent letters to a few business asking for donations. Does he sufer from amnesia or what, he just gave a $50,000.00 raise to the new chief of police and another $40,000.00 to the assistance chief and if they will realy represent the people like they claim, they will slow down with this nonesense and donate to the community when needed.

  • EM Resident

    The current police chief, future police chief, and future asst. chief can’t afford to donate the money for a new instrument. They have to contribute to the committee to pass the 1/2 percent sales tax increase. They need to make sure the citizens keep paying so they can continue to collect.

  • Anonymous

    Here goes the PD again in all its selfish glory hurting support for a fair plan with selfish greed. Problem is even if the tax loses it’s not like either one will give back their salaries. Instead all the other hard working non-PD city employees will take the hit and when the next budget comes around the PD will march all their rank and file into the council room to intimidate everyone into giving them an even bigger raise…because shoot they deserve it.

  • Anonymous

    Gomez makes enough money working for a county supervisor, not to mention the big bucks he gets from the city as vice mayor. He needs to write the first check out of his private account. Why does he have to ask the business community? What a dame cheap skate. Money talks Gomesz and bs walks. You just made yourself look like a typical politician. Using someone elses money to try and make yourself look good. You do not fool us for one minute. What a turkey you are!!! Gobble…gobble!

  • Anonymous

    I guess when the police cover up the Mayors secret girlfriend affair, he’ll do anything for the police.

  • Anonymous

    No wonder the EMPD has all these new dodge cop cars, their must be a surplus in the department.

  • Anonymous

    It isn’t only the police cars, have you seen all the new city trucks and cars? All these new vehicles and the highest paid police chief in the valley, do they really NEED a sales tax increase. I think I’ll vote NO on GG.

  • el monte taxpayer

    Maybe the police department needs to sell their robinson R44 helicopter priced at 380,000.

  • Anonymous

    Three helicopters not just one.

  • anonymous from El Monte

    I will wait until we get real leaders at our City Council and then i will vote yes for Mesure GG…Also Measure KC for local elementary schools, we gave them $40 million dollars in 2004 and they want $148 million dollars this time, sorry but you gonna have to wait because we the taxpayers donot have a moneymaking machine and guess who is supporting KC, the same people that are pushing measure GG..Ken Weldon (making $200,000.00 a year City pension) Emily Ishigaky (Making $90,000.00 a year City pension) Emily’s Husband (making $90,000.00 a year City pension) and been paid by overburden taxpayers of El Monte and last but not least our great Mayor Gutierrez is also supporting Measure KC and GG and he is the one that got us set up with the utility tax for ever..You will decide in November if this people need more of our hard earned money…

  • Anonymous

    Voting NO won’t do anything to the people you say you mistrust. Voting NO will hurt the residents and employees you claim to support. If you want to get back at the people who you mistrust vote them out of office next NOvember…You can do that you know. Voting NO on Measure GG is like the House Republican’s voting NO on a rescue plan because “they had their feelings hurt” by Nancy Pelosi.

  • Anonymous

    The city council and the mayor knew the city was in financial difficulty. They had voted to put a 1/2% sales tax increase on the ballot. Within a month of crying broke, they approved the MOST lucrative employment agreements for a new police chief and asst. chief in the San Gabriel Valley. They then tell us that they must remain competitive. Competitive with who? The police chief of El Monte is making more money than the chief of Pasadena, a much larger city.

    This mayor and council cannot be trusted to make wise fiscal decisions. No matter how much money comes into the city, they will manage to spend it. Bring back Measure GG when we have more responsible people at the helm.

    GG stands for GOVERNMENT GREED.

  • Anonymous

    The fact that the Mayor is an idiot is not a reason to vote against the Measure which, all of the City Council members voted on to put on the ballot. The solution to your Ernie problem is to vote him out of office next November. You don’t need to burn down the entire ship to get rid of a bad captain.

  • anonymous responding

    I agree with the person that said voting no to measure “GG” will hurt people, but either way they are going to be affected because the $4 million dollars we suppose to get, will go to the Police Department only, remember the 4 automatic votes they have at this time are going to receive orders to give them another raise after it passes and guess what? a 4 to 1 vote again to get the raise, so for your and my benefit i think is better to wait until after next november and bring “GG” back to the table.

  • Anonymous

    After November 2009 – more than a year from now – there may not be a “table” much less a chair to come back to. Also consider that any tax passed would not take effect until April of 2010 – that’s a whole year and a half lost just to spite the P.D. and the Mayor.

    Do you have reason to be less than satisfied with the current leadership? Sure. But sinking the ship along with the entire crew – many of whom are responsible, dedicated and love this City is no way to get back at the captain. Voting them out of office next November 2009 will solve that problem.

  • Anonymous

    If the current council has the money, they will spend it. They will also use those dollars when they make assumptions for the future. That means more raises and more fringe benefits in the future.

    After the budget meetings, this year, the city negotiated with L.A. Co. Fire, and reduced the costs for fire. Those reductions were not included in the first budget that had a $400,000 deficit. Where are those savings now? With those savings, what would the actual deficit be? Has the city spent those savings?

    The 1/2% sales tax increase will take effect immediately. Why would it be delayed next year, when we would also have the opportunity of getting rid of the mayor and maybe a council member or two?

    Giving this current council more money could lead to more problems. They are not committed to responsible fiscal management and will most probably commit us to more future obligations in the form of salaries and fringe benefits.

  • Anonymous

    Whose sinking the ship? We just don’t want to give them any more fuel for the engine. Now they can either drift, or start rowing.

    NO on Measure GG

  • Anonymous

    I think YOU will be doing more rowing than YOU think. First of all it won’t take effect immediately – it can’t under the law.

    Again, you angry at certain people so you making everyone else – including yourself – suffer.

    Where are you people when the budget’s get passed: No where that’s where. YOu complain complain and complain about how money is spent but never show up, much less speak up when it comes time to set the budget.

    That is why money is spent badly because people like you never say anything when it’s time to set a budget. Now why is that?

  • Anonymous

    According to the voter pamphlet, Section 4, effective date, it takes effect immediately and collection begins the first day of the first calendar quarter after the election. According to my calendar, that would be January 1, 2009, not April 1, 2009.



  • Anonymous

    It is the first day of the first quarter more than 90 days after the effective date. January 1, 2009 IS NOT more than 90 days after the effective date of the ordinance.

  • Anonymous

    From the voter’s pamphlet:
    “This ordinance shall not become operative until the first day of the first calendar quarter commencing after the special election of November 4, 2008, provided a majority of the electors voting on the ballot measure seeking aproval of this ordinance vote to adopt this ordinance and thereby approve the imposition of the transactions and use tax contemplated herein.”

    Is the pamphlet incorrect?

  • The Taxpayer

    My vote is “NO” on KC and GG lets see them sweat how the money is going to come in. Residents of El Monte vote “NO” on KC and GG.

  • Another poor Taxpayer

    My vote also is NO for “D”, “KC” and “GG” (goverment greed) did you ever hear who is in their oversight committe, who selects them (TOP SECRET) and also for “GG” suppose to have a committe, but keep your fingers crossed because the council and mayor have to ask the police dept., for their ok. first.

  • El Monte Resident

    The committee on “GG” are the useual suspects. They are their puppets that do what ever they want, usually referred to as sell outs, brown nosers, spineless jelly fish. Of course they get paid top dollar. You really don’t think that they would do this dasterly deed with out getting paid off? Even rats need chesse to survive, and lots of it. Can’t wait to the the truck load of mailers that we will get as it gets closer to election time. Beware of their “infamous Scare tacticts” they are so good at painting such a bleek picture. Of course “they” didn’t think the city budget looked bleck when they approved expenses after expenses to pay off the city manager, Mussenden and all the other sell outs. They approved the high raises so that once these new measures pass they would still be entitled to the top heavy pay increases. Get it.

  • Anonymous

    Today we enjoyed the parade but should we call it children’s parade or Police’s Parade, we all know that Councilwoman Ishigaky have to constantly kiss them to keep her job and had to mention the council mentors Chief Weldon and exchief Clayton and looks to me that we are warming up for next election and they have to mention the police everyday and how great they are so people will vote for whoever they say and mudsling the ones that do not want to play their game. So Emily i do not care how you put, we the taxpayers are paying for the parade and keep buying more lipstick because you are going to need it.