CEO Asks Supes To Give Themselves A Raise

by Mark Scaramella, April 8, 2009

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors is about give opportunism a bad name. A couple of supervisors, Smith and Colfax, have already chipped away at opportunism's ever expanding chapters when the two of them indignantly denounced the Grand Jury for revealing that they'd falsely billed the County for several thousand dollars worth of private travel. Now the supervisors, via their grotesquely overpaid and just as grotesquely under-performing CEO, Tom Mitchell, is about to give themselves another raise. That's right, another raise. At $68,000 a year plus perks for themselves and their families most Americans can only dream of, the County's failed leadership thinks it deserves more money.

On Tuesday's (yesterday's) board agenda: "Discussion and Possible Action regarding Board of Supervisors compensation in accordance with County Ordinance Section 3.04.071."

The item was placed on the agenda by CEO Mitchell. Mitchell goes on to quote the legitimating County Code which, of course, the Supervisors wrote: "Sec. 3.04.071 Board Compensation. (A) Effective sixty (60) days after the final adoption of this Section, each member of the Board of Supervisors shall receive as compensation for services the yearly base salary of Sixty-Eight Thousand Dollars ($68,000), payable biweekly. (B) At the first regularly scheduled meeting in April of every odd-numbered year, the Board of Supervisors shall review their compensation and adjust as determined to be appropriate."

In other words, the law we wrote says we get more. Our $170k a year CEO just happened to note that 2009 is an "odd" numbered year and that it's April. So damn the cash crunch and full speed ahead on the raises!

Mitchell continues: "In December 2008, the Chief Executive Officer requested that the Human Resources Director conduct a survey of Board of Supervisors compensation. The same benchmark counties used for all Mendocino County bargaining units were surveyed to determine whether the current salary range is appropriate. The results of the survey indicate that the Board of Supervisors is presently paid 13% below market when compared to the same formula that is applied to all employee bargaining units. During this review it is important to note that the Board of Supervisors did not receive the January, 2008 COLA of 3%, the July 2008 market adjustments of up to 3%, and the January 2009 COLA of 3.5% that other elected officials and department heads received. It is important to note that the compensation for the Elected Department heads is by Board Resolution linked to the Department Head Bargaining Unit and does not receive the same public discussion that is expected of Elected Board of Supervisor's compensation since any such increases mirrors that of the County Department Heads memorandum of understanding."

It is also "important to note" that the Supervisors Pay Panel the CEO was supposed to convene soon after he was hired never happened? Why not?

Mitchell replies, albeit completely misrepresenting what happened back in September and October of 2007 when he was first hired. "Previously during the September 24, 2007 Board of Supervisors meeting," Mitchell says, "a board member had discussed the establishment of a citizen's advisory panel; however that is not a requirement of the current ordinance. The Chief Executive Officer is recommending against such a process since the compensation is presently below market, based on the data submitted by the Director of Human Resources."

"A board member had discussed..."? Wrong. Here's what the Supes' own minutes of the October 2, 2007, meeting say: "Presenter/s: Mr. Al Beltrami, Former Chief Executive Officer, distributed a written proposal containing his preliminary recommendations pertaining to a Special Salary Review Committee (Board Compensation) as referred by the Board on September 25, 2007. Board discussion ensued relative to the proposed composition, committee structure and reporting responsibility to the CEO, the desire to undertake the review in an expedited manner, and related matters. ... Board Action: Upon motion by Supervisor Pinches, seconded by Supervisor Smith, and carried (3/2, with Supervisors Delbar and Supervisor Wattenburger dissenting); IT IS ORDERED that the Board of Supervisors directs the Chief Executive Officer to research and formulate a recommendation for the creation of a nine member Citizen's Advisory Committee and return to the Board for further consideration and direction."

Mr. Mitchell did not do what he was directed to do, and the dissenters, Delbar and Wattenburger, are gone. The Supes of course never followed up because that might mean they'd have to again try to explain the raises they gave themselves, which greatly increased their compensation, which was already greater pay and perks than most of the people they allegedly represent make in two years of work. ($48,000 to $68,000)

This week, Mitchell formally asked his bosses "to adopt the following recommendations: 1. Receive the attached report and comment as appropriate. 2. Accept the recommendations of Human Resources and Chief Executive Officer and adjust the Board of Supervisors salary by the same amount as previously given to elected department heads since January, 2008, in the first pay period of January, 2010. The Board will not receive any additional compensation for calendar years 2008 or 2009 in recognition of the current budget deficits."

Mitchell recommends that his bosses give themselves a pay raise after only two years at a mere $68,000 because, Mitchell claims, they're still "below market." The market the CEO refers to is the average of supervisor pay in those counties the CEO looked at. Not getting pay raises comparable to their elected department heads, by the way, is the argument supervisors Colfax and Smith deployed when they refused to take a 5% pay cut last month when the department heads slapped on their hair shirts for the slight pay reduction they agreed to.

"Below market"? According to Mitchell, whose pure ass kissing here is extreme even by Mendo standards, if his bosses don't give themselves a pay raise, why, they might up and quit and take a job as supervisor in Sonoma County or San Francisco or someplace that fully appreciates their glittering abilities.

In fact, evaluated for practical skills and general marketability, Smith, Colfax and McCowen, given their unfortunate personalities, are unemployable in the conventional, private sector sense, while Brown and Pinches are at least civil enough to occupy most entry level positions, public or private.

Pinches and Brown can also function as food producers, which they already do outside the County Fun House, and food production is shaping up as the most vital American enterprise as the blah-blah economy collapses around us. As for Mitchell, we say swap him straight across with a supervisor to be named later for the manager of the Ukiah Safeway. The Safeway guy doesn't make half the money but he produces every day all day.

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