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Does Tony Young’s Departure From City Council Signal Time To Rethink Salaries?

Evening Edition

Joseph Kloberdanz, a volunteer member of the San Diego Civil Service Commission who previously served on the City of San Diego's Salary Setting Commission, talks to KPBS.

Aired 11/19/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.


Joseph Kloberdanz, volunteer member of the San Diego Civil Service Commission. He previously served on the City of San Diego's Salary Setting Commission.

Jim Madaffer, former San Diego City Councilmember. Now publisher of the Mission Times Courier and the La Mesa Courier


Since the election earlier this month, some politicians in San Diego have accepted lucrative jobs in the private sector.

State Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher is going to Qualcomm, state Senator Christine Kehoe is headed to the California Plug-In Vehicle Collaborative and outgoing Mayor Jerry Sanders is reportedly tripling his salary as he moves to head the Chamber of Commerce.

Perhaps the most surprising news is that a sitting San Diego councilmember, City Council President Tony Young, will resign to head the San Diego chapter of the Red Cross. That move is expected to at least triple Young's City Hall salary.

Although it's not a popular subject, especially during a bad economy, some say that to keep qualified people in the public sector, politicians should be paid more.

Joseph Kloberdanz, a volunteer member of the San Diego Civil Service Commission who previously served on the city's Salary Setting Commission, told KPBS public services salaries are "woefully below what they should be" for comparable work in the private and nonprofit sectors.

He said the amount of work and responsibility public leaders handle is only comparable to that of the heads of very large companies.

Councilmembers make $75,000 a year, while the mayor makes $100,000 a year. Kloberdanz said councilmembers and mayors in other large cities make more money.

Jim Madaffer, a former San Diego councilmember who now publishes the Mission Times Courier and the La Mesa Courier, said "unless you are independently wealthy, you're going to face financial hardship serving on the City Council."

He said the job takes seven days a week, 12 to 18 hours a day.

"Quite simply, the salary's just not commensurate with the demands of the job," he said.

In March, the Salary Setting Commission proposed that councilmembers be paid $175,000 for two fiscal years starting July 1, and that the mayor receive an annual salary of $235,000.

The City Council rejected this proposal. City Councilman David Alvarez said "it's a joke to even think that we would vote for this."

Claire Trageser contributed to this report.

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Avatar for user 'philosopher3000'

philosopher3000 | November 19, 2012 at 10:45 p.m. ― 4 years, 3 months ago

Unbelievable that no citizens commented on this topic. City Council and Mayor are elected representatives, they don't need raises. They can't be fired, they already get million-dollar budgets to spend on their personal 'staff'. This is ridiculous. The City is not a for-profit corporation, it is a pubic municipality, no public servant should be paid more than 5 times the average household income of the people they serve. In San Diego according to the 2010 Census the mean household income (for a family of 4) is just $60,000/year. that equates to $15,000/person! And elected council members who only have to go to one or two meetings per week get 5 times that amount.

If you want good people to run your local government, they are all around. They are paid $20,000/year as lifeguards, $60,000 as school teachers, $55,000 as police officers and fire fighters, and many are retire pensioners who once ran the City and now collect 90% of their former salary (averaged over the last three years of their service) for life. These people would all be qualified by experience and intellect to help run the city, and they would all love a pay raise to $75,000 + $1,000,000 budget as city council members.

City pensioners are effectively independently wealthy, most own their own home in San Diego, and don't need an additional $75,000/year in addition to their large pension and benefits. They obviously know how the city works, as they ran the city at one point, so they are the perfect people to run for city council if we want council members who are "qualified" to run the business of the city.

But I would suggest that the POLITICAL aspect of representing the PEOPLE of the City of San Diego requires a qualification that former city employees don't often have. Integrity.

No non-profit employee for a TAX EXEMPT corporation like the Red Cross should be paid more than 5 times the mean household income of the people they serve either. It amounts to profiteering on the charity status, avoiding taxes for self-enrichment.

Sanders was a sell out long ago, but his new job is just a bribe contract being kept.

The revolving door between lobbyists and bureaucrats needs to be locked down.

Find some people worthy of public office, who will serve with honest regard and respect for the people and not looking for a better pay check, and we can fix both the city and the issue of council pay.


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