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

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.

GUESTS

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

Transcript

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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