Is vacation time accrued the same as money earned?
That may be the question of the hour after we learned that Monterey Park’s former City Manager and Police Chief each pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars in saved leave time when each left their positions.
Most recently, it was former City Manager and current Glendora top executive Chris Jeffers who took nearly half a million in saved leave time before leaving Monterey Park in 2007.
Some have argued (via the comments section) that this is a mole hill being made into a mountain (a Scrooge McDuck mountain of coin, am I right?!).
There is merit to the argument that if a person doesn’t take their vacation time, they should be allowed to cash it in. They didn’t use it, instead worked and are entitled to the value of that benefit.
But those arguing that in this circumstance may be missing a vital point: Are city executives being given an exceeding large amount of leave time? And is that benefit a backhanded way of giving them additional pay when they are given more leave time then they will ever use?
Racking up a day of vacation each week of employment, as Jeffers was doing in his final year at Monterey Park, and having executives able to earn three months of time off a year seems excessive. Should city department directors, working on the public’s dime, be allowed to take three months off in a year? If the answer is no (as I assume most citizens would agree) then why give them the opportunity?
Finally, Jeffers’ current employer didn’t do themselves any favors in the story about their city manager’s former job.
Two council members didn’t know what Jeffers’ pay was when asked. Mayor Ken Herman seemed to be defending Jeffers’ actions in Monterey Park.
Councilman Terry Kent, in an e-mail to this newspaper, was upset at the way he was portrayed in the paper. Kent was at a wedding out of state and felt that should have been included in the story when describing why he couldn’t recite Jeffers’ salary.
The real question for the council is this: With this knowledge, what will they do?
The council, in the past, has stood by their city manager and often follow his suggestions. But will this force them to examine their city executive contracts for leave time? Or will they follow what Herman seemed to imply in the story that these benefits packages are comparable to other cities and Glendora must offer them to remain competitive in hiring top talent?
Does “because everybody else is doing it” make it right? Or does that mean there is a widespread problem? Answering that is best left to voters.
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