Anaheim Insider here.
To paraphrase Winston Churchill, rarely have so many work so hard to increase the pay of so few. Actually, just one person: Mishal Montgomery, Mayor Tait’s chief policy whisperer and hatchetman.
$87,000. All in with benefits and such, the cost of taxpayers of the newly-created “Chief Policy Advisor to the Mayor”?: a whopping $158,000. That is almost as much as the total compensation for the entire Anaheim City Council.
District 1 Councilmember Denise Barnes has been fighting for this hefty pay increase for Mongtomery since being sworn into office last month. It was one of the first things out of her heavily-scripted mouth at the December swearing in ceremony. Montgomery is the only council aide who is also an actual city employee; officially, she is classified as a Part Time Budget Analyst II. Barnes wants to create an entirely new full-time staff position for Montgomery.
According to the staff report:
For Fiscal Year 2016/2017, the total cost for the full-time classification is approximately $158,000 (salary and burden), which includes an increase in personnel expenses of $87,000 for the remainder of the fiscal year. Previous action has already been taken to address approximately $40,000 of the anticipated increase. The City Administration Department has identified savings in their budget to offset the increase so there is no net impact to the General Fund. The City Council budget will be increased by $47,000 with a corresponding decrease in City Administration.
Dan Chmielewski gives a run-down of Montgomery’s compensation history in her part-time position:
In 2010, Montgomery’s total pay — including pension, overtime and benefits — was $79,624. All for part-time work.
In 2011, it was $87,123. Still part-time.
In 2012, $86,365. Still part-time.
In 2013, it was cut to $43,987; still part-time. The difference in pay was routed to a computer training problem for Latino families in the Ponderosa neighborhood of Anaheim.
In 2014, it was $59,334 which included overtime for part-time work.
In 2015, she made $62,498, and was still part-time. All compensation records are public and her title was Budget Analyst II.
For a Mayor and a Council majority so against to cronyism, doubling the pay of a part-time employee loyal to the Mayor is the very definition of cronyism. But its different when Tait does it.
If approved, Montgomery’s new job will be the first and only new job created in Anaheim by the new council majority which seemingly has no plans to actually create jobs in a city that really needs them.
District 1 residents must be wondering why their nominal representative on the City Council is fixated on securing a huge pay increase for the Mayor’s assistant. Does anyone recall Barnes campaign mailers asking voters to support her so she could give the Mayor’s assistant a massive $47,000 pay hike? Barnes would never have been elected if her actual priorities were on public display for voters to see. As it was, she barely squeaked in with 27% in a large candidate field against divided opposition. Not that that has stopped her and other members of Tait’s personality cult from behaving as though Barnes won a mandate.
West Anaheimers look forward to hearing Barnes read talking points written by her handlers explaining how her unrelenting efforts to boost Montgomery’s take-home pay will trickle down to the benefit of District 1 residents. Will the self-appointed taxpayer watchogs from CATER be on hand to question this massive compensation increase for a single individual?
At least this episode demonstrates that when it comes to Mayor Tom Tait’s image as the taxpayer’s friend, the emperor has no clothes. Not only does Tait want a massive compensation increase for his council aide; at the last council meeting, he exclaimed that he needs at least two or three council aides! Why not go all the way and make the mayor a full-time position?
Will the Voice of OC weigh in with a scathing article about this cronyism? The Voice went crazy every time a supervisor’s aide got a job with a county agency. Will the Voice “hold the powerful accountable” when it comes to the obvious political payoff using taxpayer dollars?
Let’s review what Councilmember Barnes has done for District 1 so far. She attended a WAND meeting and took notes, leaving it to Councilman James Vanderbilt (who recently moved to District 2) to speak. At the last council meeting, staff prepared a report listing which parks are in District 1. And she agendized an anti-streetcar resolution that satisfies part of her master’s agenda but does nothing for District 1.
The acid test for Barnes will come when and if her council ally Jose F. Moreno brings forward a motion to repeal city ordinances prohibiting camping and storing personal property in city parks. This would turn District 1 parks into homeless camps. If Barnes intends to represent the interests of her constituents, she’ll vote no.