S.F. Officials Earn More Than State Counterparts

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There is one consolation for Mayor Gavin Newsom now that he’s dropped out of the governor’s race – he won’t have to take a $72,477-a-year pay cut.

Newsom, who earns $246,464 as mayor of San Francisco, would have seen his pay drop to $173,987 if he had won the governor’s race, as a result of the salary cuts imposed on state elected officers last week.

Under the new pay levels, the governor gets about $25,000 a year less than San Francisco’s park and recreation director, Phil Ginsburg.

And if District Attorney Kamala Harris wins the race to become the next attorney general, her annual pay will drop $76,212.

The A.G.’s pay of $151,127 is roughly equal to the base salary of a San Francisco police captain.

"That’s a significant cut," Harris said. "But if I’m lucky enough to get elected, I’ll take it.

"If I had gone into law to make money, I wouldn’t be here in the first place," Harris added.

On the other hand, if you went into the San Francisco Fire Department and rose to the rank of deputy chief, you could make more than the state superintendent of public instruction ($151,127) and the state controller, treasurer and insurance commissioner – all of whom just saw their salaries cut to $139,189.

Even San Francisco’s supervisors – who get $96,155 – are now making more than state legislators. State lawmakers’ pay, which had been $116,208, just dropped to $95,291.

On the other hand: Former state Sen. and ex-state Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres just saw his salary at the taxpayer-funded California Institute of Regenerative Medicine triple to $225,000 a year.

Torres was hired in March, on a half-time basis, for $75,000 a year.

Those in the know tell us that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office lobbied the institute’s board for only a half-time position initially, in the hopes that Torres, who had been a thorn in the governor’s side, wouldn’t take it.

He did, thinking he could supplement the pay with his $50,000-a-year state Senate pension. Then he learned that the pension would be suspended because he was working for the state again.

Since then, Torres has taken over the institute’s vacant position of director of government relations. Now he’s got the job officially, and with it the $150,000 pay increase.

Not everyone, however, agrees with the raise – or the logic behind it.

"At a time when California is in a severe economic crisis, state workers’ salaries are being cut and they are facing mandatory furloughs, this raise is highly inappropriate," said John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog, one of the state’s most vocal consumer advocacy groups.

"Torres knew the terms of the job when he took it," Simpson said. "He should have been happy simply not to face the cuts endured by other state employees."

Torres counters: "I’m saving the taxpayers $50,000 a year by not taking my pension or having my health benefits paid by the agency."

Train ride: It was a very rough year for BART’s $300,000-a-year general manager, Dorothy Dugger – starting with a BART police officer’s fatal shooting of a passenger at the Fruitvale Station that led to calls for a review of the agency’s police practices and for Dugger’s head.

And the troubles didn’t let up, including:

— Budget woes that ballooned to $310 million over four years.

— Protracted labor negotiations that nearly led to a walkout.

— An unplanned Bay Bridge shutdown of almost a week that forced BART to step up service.

— Political infighting over BART’s light-rail extension to Oakland International Airport, nearly causing the project to unravel after years of planning.

Plus, there were rumblings of disaffection with Dugger among some BART board members, notably San Francisco’s Lynette Sweet.

When it came time for Dugger’s annual performance review last week, however, there was nary a word against her. Sweet, who had a doctor’s appointment, didn’t even show for the closed-door session.

From what we hear, Dugger still has five solid votes on the nine-member board.

But then, director James Fang – who has been critical of Dugger at times and was recently overheard touting a senior BART deputy as the district’s next general manager – is poised to take over as board president in January.

So stayed tuned – the ride is bound to remain bumpy.

And finally: Everyone needs parking during the holiday season – including San Francisco’s parking control officers.

That explains the 20 temporary signs banning parking from 5:30 p.m. to midnight that went up along an entire block of Indiana Street outside the Cafe Cocomo nightclub – the site of Friday night’s big Christmas bash for the city’s parking control brigade.

EXTRA! Catch our blog at  http://www.sfgate.com/matierandross

Chronicle columnists Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross appear Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays. Phil can be seen on the KPIX morning and evening news. He can also be heard on KCBS radio Monday through Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 5:50 p.m. Got a tip? Call (415) 777-8815, or e-mail [email protected].

Consumer Watchdog
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