New contract for Glendora’s chief cuts benefits

Went over the new contract for Glendora Police Chief Rob Castro who was approved by the council Tuesday.

Highlights include:

- No administrative leave time
- Base salary of roughly $180,000 a year
- Vacation capped at 200 hours, will accrue at the rate of 176 hours
- If he is terminated, will receive 6 months severance.
- Will pay full share of the employee portion of CALPERS.

Background: Former chief Montoya cashed out $80,000 in unused leave time when he retired in 2009. He credited the ability to use administrative leave in place of vacation in order to save it.

Full story in tomorrow’s paper.

Who doesn’t believe in comebacks?

I must apologize for the lack of posting on the blog over the last month. As those avid newspaper readers may well know by now, I have been covering the Manling Williams murder trial and subsequent penalty phase (who am I kidding, no one reads bylines).

But as the Thanksgiving holiday has passed and the jury remains in deliberations, we can get this motor running. We can pick ourselves up off the mat and get in the ring.

And what better to reignite this bonfire of city politics and general news blathering than a review of this weekends most important news items. (OK, no more metaphors)

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has completed its investigation into West Covina Police Chief Frank Wills. Wills asked for the review after it was revealed that officers from the West Covina Police Department investigated allegations of vandalism and rape against the ex-husband of Wills’ then-girlfriend.

In El Monte, 108 of the city’s 278 employees received wages topping $100,000 last fiscal year when you account for overtime, benefits and other perks.

The San Dimas Brasada residential project is becoming a reality despite years of push back. The environmental impact report is scheduled to be reviewed in December.

That is all for now. Let’s take this slow. Don’t want to rush it right when we are just getting started again. As for now, I will be waiting on a decision in the Williams’ case. And I want to post something on that later today and talk about the death penalty. Controversy is just what we need to get reacquainted.

Some thoughts on the breaking news out of Montebello, Monterey Park

The news out of Montebello and Monterey Park today is pretty astounding.

First in Monterey Park we learned that former Police Chief Jones Moy cashed in $372,559 in unused sick, vacation and holiday pay before he retired last year.

And for the cherry on the cake, he filed for workers compensation benefits in the months before he left.

Cashing in benefits like this by department managers is going to be an issue in the future, I predict. So many cities are appealing to candidates with large benefit packages, such as a months worth of vacation that can be saved year to year. Plus, many of these same managers already get a certain amount of administrative leave hours (often more than two weeks a year like Glendora’s new chief will get) so they can take a two week vacation and not have touched their paid vacation time.

Work for a city for a city for 12+ years while saving a month’s worth of vacation/sick time each year and suddenly you retire with your CALPERS benefits with the retirement bonus of a year’s salary or more.

Then in Montebello the city depleted its redevelopment agencies budget to refill the general fund budget with a $19.3 million loan. The loan dissenting councilwoman there said the action was probably “illegal.”

Redevelopment money is intended for just that: Redevelopment. The money for such agencies usually comes from county property tax dollars that goes to cities in an effort to fix up blighted neighborhoods. The money is not intended to pay for city salaries, police, services and other general fund expenditures. In fact, as Glendora has seen, if you want a piece of the redevelopment pie, you have to assuredly prove what you are fixing up is blighted. If not, then the gravy train stops short.

It is hard to imagine seeing this hold up.

Email: daniel.tedford@sgvn.com | Twitter: @dgtedford @sgvtribune | Facebook: SGVTribune

Rosemead city manager gets a bump in pay

Rosemead City Manager Jeffrey Allred got his raise Tuesday, 2.5 percent.

The bump in pay pushed the city executive’s pay from $175,000 to 179,375.

The raise came despite a city projection of a $1 million drop in revenues for this fiscal year.

Councilman Stephen Ly justified the raise because of Allred’s “stellar” performance and the fact that city services remain intact.

Read more the online story here.

Email: daniel.tedford@sgvn.com | Twitter: @dgtedford @sgvtribune | Facebook: SGVTribune

Rosemead city manager may get a bump in pay tonight

Considering we have been following city salaries closely in the last month, here is an update on one.

Rosemead City Manager Jeffrey Allred may be getting a raise soon. Allred makes $175,000 now, but council members may decide to give Allred a 2.5 percent raise. Council members will discuss the pay increase tonight at their council meeting.

Apparently Allred’s evaluation was so double rainbow all the way that he deserved a 5 percent merit increase, but he decided that was too much during the recession and asked to have it dropped to 2.5 percent.

Public employee salaries have been heavily scrutinized in the wake of the Bell scandal where the city manager was making nearly $800,000 a year.

Allred’s is not near that amount, but there are bound to be some people not pleased with their tax dollars being spent on giving extra money to public employees already making six figure salaries.

The council will also look to cast into stone a city ordinance that would hope to put a cork on teenage drinking. The council will consider the ordinance and pay raise at its 6 p.m. meeting at City Hall, 8838 E. Valley Blvd.

Check out the brief previewing tonight’s meeting here.

Email: daniel.tedford@sgvn.com | Twitter: @dgtedford @sgvtribune | Facebook: SGVTribune

A tale of two letters: Glendora City Manager Chris Jeffers vs. employee association’s Wendell Phillips

In tomorrow’s paper there will be a story on the failed negotiations between Glendora city staff and the general municipal employees association and how it will now be incumbent upon the council to make a decision Tuesday night.

The two groups have been going at it for months now, and it doesn’t appear that the attorney for the employees association Wendell Phillips and Glendora City Manager Chris Jeffers get along very well.

While the pair have traded subtle barbs at each other in articles in the newspaper and with the way negotiations turned out, those don’t seem to have been tea and crumpets type meetings either.

Now we have two letters, both sent to Glendora employees, one from Jeffers, one from Phillips, at the apex of this battle.

Take a look and tell me what you think. Phillips’ letter is decidedly more aggressive and is a rebuttal to Jeffers. It goes as far as to call Jeffers petulant.

Jeffers letter has a political tone. It paints a picture of today’s environment for public employees, is trying to sway opinion in favor of the city’s efforts, and makes a case that the employees association’s negotiators are being unreasonable.

Both seem to use taxpayer angry against public officials/employees to their advantage.

What do you think? Who makes the better argument?

FYI: Both letters were obtained anonymously, but were both confirmed to exist by Jeffers and Phillips.

Glendora Chris Jeffers letter.doc
Glendora employees association attorney letter.doc

Email: daniel.tedford@sgvn.com | Twitter: @dgtedford @sgvtribune | Facebook: SGVTribune

Footnotes on the city clerk salary story

Since I had already gone running and screaming out the door for my week long summer vacation by the time my city clerk salary story was published in the newspaper, here are some footnotes on the story that I can now share since I have been restored to the working-class real world.

San Dimas – who is noted in the story as not responding to public records request in time for the story – responded the Monday following the article’s publish date. The city clerk’s annual salary is $99,600.

In fairness, Debra Black noted the city responded within the 10-day window allowed for records requests by law. Although, I submitted the request to the very person the request pertained to, so I didn’t think it would take too long.

Here is a letter from Christian G. Shalby, executive director of the International Institute of Municipal Clerks:

Dear Mr. Tedford,

I just read your August 15 article in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune on City Clerk Salaries and found it highly interesting, informative and a clear depiction of the Municipal Clerk profession.

As Executive Director of the International Institute of Municipal Clerks (IIMC), I couldn’t agree more with your assessment on the value of the Clerk’s profession. It is unheralded and often misunderstood, but important to the mix and function of municipalities. Mr. Johnson’s comments also ring true, especially when it comes to handling elections and important city filings.

As much as some people may frown at the high salaries, they’re comparatively low when you weigh in on the responsibility assigned to this position.

IIMC is a professional nonprofit association with more than 10,000 members throughout North America and 15 other countries, representing municipalities with populations of 1,000 to more than 8 million. The Organization has been in existence since 1947. We prepare our membership to meet the challenge of the diverse role of the Municipal Clerk by providing services and continuing educational development opportunities in 45 permanent college-and university-based learning centers. IIMC offers Municipal Clerks a Certified Municipal Clerk Program (CMC), a Master Municipal Clerk Academy (MMCA) Program and other opportunities to benefit members and the government entities they serve.

I appreciate your time and the well-written article.

Thank you.

Chris

Jane, an eager reader, is a little upset the story didn’t focus more on Santa Fe Springs and a potential conflict of interest.

Mr. Tedford,

You mention in your article the salaries for the City Clerks in California are sometimes high and in the case of Santa Fe Springs, the City Manager functions as the City Clerk, isn’t it a big conflict of interest since the city clerk handles the city elections and is one of the most delicate and sensitive duties that the city clerk has? How is that this is allowed? or the City Manager did not want to provide the salary information for the residents of Santa Fe Springs so your readers be fully informed. Also, it will be convenient to inform your readers of the specific duties that a City Clerk does in a given city.
Please provide an answer to this request. Thank you for providing these kind of information to your reading audience.

Jane (last name redacted)

Email: daniel.tedford@sgvn.com | Twitter: @dgtedford @sgvtribune | Facebook: SGVTribune

(UPDATED) Montebello embraces the red tape before divulging employee’s salary

Whittier Daily News reporter Bethania Palma Markus told me a neat little story today (it was surprisingly not cat/kitten related*).

In our continued effort to give a broad look at city employee salaries, I am writing a piece on City Clerk salaries that you can look for this weekend.

Bethania was helping me out by giving a quick call over to Montebello to check for their Deputy City Clerk’s salary.

But she ran into some resistance.

She called and spoke with Janina Medrano and requested, verbally, the salary for the Deputy City Clerk. Medrano said Bethania had to submit a public records request for the information. When Bethania tried to explain that a verbal request constitutes a formal request and the information should be readily available, Medrano said city policy dictates all requests must be in writing.

Bethania said she would speak to the city attorney regarding that policy. Medrano then quickly said goodbye and hung up the phone.

Transparency at its finest.

*Bethania Palma Markus loves cats/kittens and reminds us of their charm and beauty whenever she can.

UPDATE: Just got this from Bethania.

“Hi Daniel, so as I said I spoke with Montebello City Attorney Arnold Alvarez-Glasman about the public records request policy and this is what he said:

There is no written policy regarding the obligation to put public records act requests in writing, however it’s been the practice of the city to request that the public record act requests be put in writing
-To document the request
-To respond in a timely fashion
-To make sure records are disclosable.

“It’s been a practice of the city which is currently under review and evaluation,” he said.

Email: daniel.tedford@sgvn.com | Twitter: @dgtedford @sgvtribune | Facebook: SGVTribune

12 local cities get with the program, put easy links to salaries on city homepage

The last time we looked at how many cities posted their salaries online in the wake of the Bell salary scandal and state government officials calling for more transparency, we had just a few that had fallen in line.

As the days have worn on, more cities are jumping on board. To date, here is a list of San Gabriel Valley cities who post salaries online and links to those pages.

Walnut
Diamond Bar
San Dimas
La Verne
West Covina
Baldwin Park
Pasadena
Monrovia
Arcadia
Sierra Madre
Whittier
La Mirada
UPDATED: Lucky 13 is San Marino
UPDATED: Monterey Park joins in. (Note: I couldn’t get some of the files to download. Let me know if you can.)
UPDATED: Karen Herrera, Assistant City Manager in Duarte, left me a message while I was away informing me that some city salaries were posted online here.

Only cities with a quick link on the city’s homepage directly to a city salary page or document have been included in this list.

Email: daniel.tedford@sgvn.com | Twitter: @dgtedford @sgvtribune | Facebook: SGVTribune

La Puente council pay mirrors other San Gabriel Valley cities

In a story over the weekend and in a continued effort to give a broad look at what cities are paying their employees, we took a snapshot of pay for City Council members.

In that story, La Puente was identified as a city that did not respond in time to have its figures presented. Since then, the city has responded.

Council members receive a monthly stipend of $536. They can also get a maximum of $150 per month for attending Community Development Commission meetings ($75 per meeting, two meets per month).

Email: daniel.tedford@sgvn.com | Twitter: @dgtedford @sgvtribune | Facebook: SGVTribune