Is SJC the next City of Bell?

Editorial Board

Nerves were clearly struck at the March 2nd City Council meeting when SJC resident Mamie Maywhort brought to light the fact that some staff members earned more in 2010 than in 2009; when we were told that staff took an across the board pay cut in 2010. According to city payroll records for 2010, many employees actually received raises, not reductions.  It appears that the majority of the raises were given at the executive level.  Both the Assistant Utilities Director and Senior Executive Assistant earned $10,000 more in 2010 than they did in 2009.

Here is what happened. After she spoke, Mayor Allevato asked CFO Cindy Russell and Human Resources Director Kathleen Springer for their explanations.  Their responses were basically non-answers.  Something about reduction in furlough days, promotions, regular step increases, etc. Their explanations made no sense to us for the following reasons:
  • If we are not mistaken, employees took every other Friday off and two weeks off during Christmas as furlough days.  We dont think they did this in 2009.  So, is this furlough thing just a bunch of smoke and mirrors to let us think they are taking cuts with furlough days?
  • Promotions?  Who?   As far as we know Cindy Russell, Steven Apple, Kathleen Springer, or Cathy Salcedo (just to name a few) did not change job responsibilities in 2010, but they all received nice raises.
  • Automatic "step" increases? This is nothing more than entitlement in the public sector.  How about raises ONLY when you merit it?

In our opinion, any raises should be frozen, bar none.  Every other PRIVATE business out there had to do it.  The Irvine Company had to lay off over 500 people, eliminate bonuses, 401K Contributions, and froze wages for the past two years. Anyway, at the council meeting when Sam asked Cindy and Kathleen his question, Mrs. Maywhort went back up to the podium thinking that he (the Mayor) wanted to engage in a dialog. She asked if she could say something and Mayor Allevato told her that basically they have heard all they wanted to hear on the subject. The best way to bury the truth is to silence those who know it.

At the meeting, she cited the following top five wage increases for senior staff (Karen Crocker is not in the mix because we knew she cashed-out big time). We didn't need Cindy Russell to tell us that.

Here is more of what Maywhort found:
  • Over ten thousand each for the Assistant Utilities Director and Senior Executive Assistant
  • Ninety-seven hundred dollars for the Community Development Director.
  • Eighty-five hundred dollars for the Customer Services Supervisor.  What is a CSS?
  • Sixty-seven hundred dollars for the Assistant City Manager.
Maywhort didnt simply pull the numbers out from the air.  The information came straight from city payroll records. That was a challenge in itself.  When she first asked for the information she was told that the information for calendar year 2010 would not be available until October 2011! And, when she pushed for the information, they sent her information without the employees names, just their titles and earnings.  So, she had to go back again. It is obvious they do not want to make this information public.

As of this writing, she is still waiting for the following from her January PRA and this is March: Overtime paid in 2010, deferred compensation, employee and employer portion of pension contributions, health, dental, and vision premiums paid for both staff and staff dependents. Basically, she asked our councilmembers the following:
  • Why our city is broke?
  • Why the number of public records requests has increased?
  • That their constituents feel they are NOT working for them?
  • And, do any of them truly know what is going on with our citys finances?  
Maywhort also said that she found it very disturbing that at a time when everyone is cutting back, they are spending taxpayers money like there is no tomorrow. She asked them to please stop because this spending frenzy is killing our town.

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