Attorney General to probe Laguna Hills City Manager compensation

Press Release
Contact: Barbara Kogerman, Candidate for Laguna Hills City Council, kogerman4council@cox.net.

Attorney General to probe Laguna Hills City Manager compensation

League of Cities data doesn’t tell whole story

Laguna Hills, CA – Sept. 16 – Among the local government officials whose compensation Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown plans to review is Laguna Hills City Manager Bruce Channing, according to a KTLA5News and Los Angeles Times report released this morning.

As reported by the League of California Cities, Channing’s compensation of $321,550 is the seventh-highest in the state. League of Cities figures mirror what was provided by the cities themselves and do not include the cost of many benefits.

So what is the real story?

The City of Laguna Hills reports a higher figure in its on-line “Public Officials’ Compensation Report” dated Aug. 10. That report lists Channing’s total compensation as $364,714. Even higher is the figure of $460,809, the highest in the county, demonstrated in the “Orange County City Managers Compensation Report” by City Council candidate Barbara Kogerman. That amount includes $60,00 attributable to Channing’s purchase last July of a $60,000 SUV “for his own personal use,” according to the sales contract.

Her report considers all costs paid by Orange County’s cities on behalf of their city managers in 2009.

“Taxpayers want to know what their city councils spend on city management,” Kogerman says. “They aren’t interested in whether benefits are taxable. They just want to know what it costs them.

“Laguna Hills voters need to hold their City Council members accountable for letting compensation get so out of hand,” Kogerman adds. “And they need to ask Council Member Craig Scott, who as the city’s negotiator is supposed to represent the taxpayer, why he thinks Channing should be the seventh-highest compensated city manager in the state.”

Kogerman unleashed a firestorm in Orange County when she released her report in May, generating extensive coverage by the Orange County Register and other media.

In July, the Los Angeles Times launched a series of exposes about the City of Bell’s $1.5 million compensation for its city manager, among other financial abuses. Kogerman’s work is widely considered to be the precursor to the LA Times reports. Kogerman and her grad-student interns have since become regulars on FOXNEWS and the Fox Business Network as spokespersons for transparency and accountability in local government.

Since Kogerman’s report, a number of cities throughout the state have published city manager compensation figures, and the state is taking corrective action, including new legislation, a database to be maintained by the State Controller, and Attorney General investigations.

“As yet, however, there are no uniform standards of reporting,” according to Kogerman. “We really don’t know what they’re counting as compensation for the city manager.”

Despite the incomplete reporting standard currently practiced by the League of Cities, Channing remains the seventh-highest compensated city manager in the entire state. Laguna Hills has a population of fewer than 34,000, a staff of 26 full-time employees, and an annual operating budget of about $16 million, of which almost $1 million goes to city manager, assistant city manager, and deputy city manager compensation.

About Barbara Kogerman for Laguna Hills City Council 2010

Barbara is running for Laguna Hills City Council to bring much-needed fresh leadership, rational fiscal planning, effective economic development programs, enhanced public involement, and new practices to the stagnant City Council. She also wrote Measure T, the Laguna Hills City Council Term Limits Initiative, because 20 years is too long! Visit her web page, kogerman4council.com, or contact her at kogerman4council@cox.net.


About Art Pedroza