Saturday, July 31, 2010

Oakland's pension mess under Mayor Jerry Brown

The media is paying a lot of attention to the bloated salaries and pensions at the little city of Bell, California.  Attorney General Jerry Brown has launched an investigation.  But since AG Brown is running for higher office, people have a right to ask, How well did Jerry Brown manage Oakland when he was mayor? 

Not well at all, according to GOP assemblyman Jim Nielsen:
As mayor, Brown oversaw a bloated Oakland bureaucracy in which more than 1,100 employees, were paid more than $100,000 a year. Even more startling: the number of people on the Oakland payroll earning more than $200,000-a-year increased by more than 700 percent between 2003 and 2006.

Where was Jerry Brown?

Oakland’s payouts were so egregious that the Oakland City Auditor launched an investigation of the city’s pay practices shortly after Brown left office, and what she found makes Bell look well managed in comparison. Under Brown, Oakland paid its employees millions of dollars of bonuses, leaves and vacation buybacks that were far in excess of negotiated labor agreements. These payouts were made with almost no oversight.

Where was Jerry Brown?

Then-Oakland Controller Larae Brown found 950 city employees were paid for a combined 22,000 hours that were never actually worked between 2003 and 2005. When she tried to correct this problem, Brown’s handpicked city manager, Deborah Edgerly, refused and said the handouts should be labeled a “beneficial past practice.”  Edgerly, too, cashed in nearly $200,000 worth of vacation, sick pay and management leaves. But here’s the real crime: The Brown-appointed city manager awarded herself $60,000 in bonuses.

Where was Jerry Brown?

His management skills then and now are a serious issue when considering whether Brown or Meg Whitman, with 30 years of business experience making and balancing budgets, can be counted on to lead California out of fiscal crisis. I’m standing with Meg Whitman.

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