The Supervisors’ Shameless and Expensive Inside Game

The following is taken from a press release by the Orange County Employees Association — which, you’ll shortly discover, is pissed.

This surprise money grab is the problem you get when you elect your Supervisors while few voters are looking.  Michelle Steel and Allan Mansoor may want to get in a word on this one — consider yourselves asked for comment — but Shawn Nelson is safe for another four years and Todd Spitzer is safe for two.  Pat Bates wouldn’t have had an opponent at all to threaten her cakewalk in the 36th District State Senate race had Gary Kephart not waged a write-in campaign against her; Janet Nguyen needs to be attentive mostly because of her own State Senate race against Jose Solorio.  (John Moorlach, we’re going to guess, will vote “no.”  Surely he would not be the deciding “yes” vote.  Right, John?)

So, below the picture of Board of Supervisors Chair Shawn Nelson’s Chief of Staff Dennis Bilodeau, enjoy reading about the OC Supervisors’ attempt to bolster the incomes of at least some members of the middle class (with your money.)

Dennis Bilodeau money

Shawn Nelson apparatchik and candidate for reelection to Orange City Council Dennis Bilodeau.

Orange County Supervisors are set to vote on a plan Tuesday that would establish—for the first time—job classifications and pay grades for political aides to county supervisors.

The proposal would hike the top pay for chiefs of staff from $112,881 to $131,123.

If enacted, the new policy would have supervisors’ most senior political aides join deputy sheriffs in securing a pay hike just after being required to pay into their own pensions.

Currently, there’s only one job classification for fifth floor offices, executive aide, and that salary range goes from $29,993 to $112,881.

The update was requested by the county Human Resources department.
“It is best practice to establish separate pay ranges for each of the four job classifications that are commensurate with the level of complexity and scope of responsibility for each class,” reads the staff report for Tuesday’s meeting.

“The changes proposed for your Board’s consideration are in alignment with equivalent internal classifications and will provide sufficient compensation to attract and retain competent staff for members of the Board and elected officials.”

The county’s largest union is already on the warpath over the proposal openly questioning supervisors on how there’s no money for rank and file raises but plenty of room for high-ranking political operatives.

If it’s just about establishing best practices, union officials question why the top end range is being adjusted…up by more than 15 percent.

This week, Jennifer Muir—assistant general manager for the Orange County Employees Association—send out a sharply worded message to his members opposing the proposal.

“The County workforce is divided into haves and have nots, insiders and outsiders, the favored few and everyone else,” Muir wrote.

“We’re everyone else. For us, the County is a place of limited resources, falling real wages and takeaways. But there’s another County, a County where the sky is the limit, a County where who you know is the only thing that matters, a County where you can get a huge wage increase in the blink of an eye.”

This proposal has the potential to be the latest in a series of controversies involving supervisors’ political aides and top county executives.

A 2010 county human resources audit found that county executives were granting themselves questionable raises and other ensuring disclosures have focused on supervisors’ political aides skirting merit selection rules for job recruitment as they shuffled back and forth between political offices, campaigns and county work.

In 2013, county HR officials changed hiring practices in reaction to hearings on state legislation that would have restricted county hiring practices.

Recently, County Supervisor Pat Bates questioned HR officials from the supervisors’ dais on those restrictions asking how they would deal with a wave of political aides from outgoing supervisors looking for jobs given the 2013 HR policy.

Under the new transfer policy, political aides that have never worked for a county department would have to go through competitive recruitment for jobs.

Meanwhile, employees who have previous department experience could simply transfer into open county jobs.

The new salary band up for debate Tuesday also solves a potential salary twist to the recent transfer of top executive Brian Probolsky from OC Community Resources into Bates’ office.

Probolsky, who also serves as an elected member of the Moulton Niguel Water District, took over as Bates’ chief of staff last month given that her longtime chief of staff, Don Hughes, is out on a family leave.

County officials said his chief of staff posting is considered a temporary reassignment so his job will stay open at OC Community Resources.
Except, he currently earns $122,886.40 according to county officials—far above the salary range of $112, 881 approved by supervisors.

Probolsky, who is is also currently being investigated by the human resources department because of discrepancies on his government timecard also drew attention when he originally transitioned from Bates office into OC Community Resources back in 2012, given that he secured an immediate 80 percent raise in salary. Probolsky had been working as an EA to Bates since 2010.

Tuesday’s meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. at the County Hall of Administration, 333 W. Santa Ana Blvd., Santa Ana, CA

About Admin

"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.