OP-ED by Kieran Brennan, Measure R original proponent. Brennan served on the San Bernardino County Grand Jury and served in the United States Navy Submarine Service during World War II. “I did not do either to become wealthy. I did both to serve my country and my community. Public service should be exactly that . . . service to the public, not a means to line one’s pockets and gain excessive pensions.”
Measure R Reflects Real Reform
On November 6 voters have a choice between two local initiatives to cap the pay of the members of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors. Only one of those measures provides real reform that will save taxpayers millions of dollars.
That initiative is Measure R.
Measure R is the only local ballot measure that was initiated and supported by a grassroots coalition of average citizens: Democrats and Republicans; Tea Party Patriots and employee union members; animal welfare volunteers and hunting enthusiasts;
and community activists and citizens seeking elected office for the first time. It is also the only local measure that more than 73,000 county residents signed to qualify for the ballot.
As the original proponent of the “Elected Officials Pay Reduction Act,” now known as Measure R, I can tell you we have put forth a proposal that scares entrenched and unethical elected officials. Measure R not only reduces the pay and benefit packages of board members from a high of $308,000 to $60,000 a year, it requires that the board meet at least twice a month and it reduces staffing across the districts from $6 million to $1.5 million a year.
Let me explain the reasoning behind Measure R. Did you know that there is nothing written in any county or state law that requires board members to show up to work . . . ever? Once a supervisor is sworn in, there is no requirement he or she do anything for the next four years. The only way to remedy that situation is through a costly and time-consuming recall effort by the citizens of that district.
In the context of what I just wrote, consider the fact that the county supervisors did two things. First, they transferred important powers and duties to an unelected bureaucrat and, as part of that transfer of power, they passed a law containing a “non-interference” clause so that they cannot advocate on your behalf. Second, they reduced their meeting schedule from full-time to part-time.
They made these changes on their own and without our consent. Why should county supervisors be paid a full-time, extremely generous salary and benefits packages for part-time work?
Board staffs have grown over a short period of time from a handful of field representatives paid to work for you, the constituents, to a large group of analysts, communications directors, chiefs of staff, deputy chiefs of staff, district directors, executive secretaries, special project coordinators and more, some of whom earn salaries in excess of $225,000 a year. One even lived out of state while receiving his county paycheck. Each supervisor spends $1 million a year or more on staff.
Measure R puts an end to politicians hiring their political allies for highly paid positions in return for favors. It caps each district’s staffing costs at $300,000, which is in line with staffing costs for state legislators.
In recent years, board members became greedy. They already earned a substantial county-paid retirement, but then they voted to give themselves a 401K with county match, 457b, 401a and a medical reimbursement account. This measure prohibits those additional supplemental benefits.
In 2006 county supervisors sold voters a bill of goods when they put Measure P on the ballot and called it “term limits.” The first county supervisor to “term out” will not do so until 2018.
What county supervisors didn’t tell you about Measure P is that it also gave each of them a $50,000-a-year pay raise. Measure R corrects that and sets their salaries at slightly higher than what the average family earns in San Bernardino County.
Detractors have expressed concern about the “part-time” status this measure would create because supervisors sit on other boards in addition to the county board. Many do not realize, or want to admit, the supervisors receive stipends for attendance at those other board meetings. Some supervisors receive in excess of $1500 a month in stipends in addition to their county pay of up to $308,000.
I served on the San Bernardino County Grand Jury. I also served in the United States Navy Submarine Service during World War II. I did not do either to become wealthy. I did both to serve my country and my community. Public service should be exactly that . . . service to the public, not a means to line one’s pockets and gain excessive pensions.
Reform San Bernardino County. Vote YES on Measure R, the measure started by citizens. Vote NO on Measure Q, the measure put on the ballot to confuse you by the county supervisors.