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San Diego County Management Bonuses and Salary Increases

In April 1997, The San Diego Union ran an article about a proposed "pay for performance" plan for top executives in San Diego County government. Larry Prior proposed giving top managers bonuses equal to a maximum of 30 percent of their annual salaries if they met set financial, budget, and customer service improvement goals. This is the San Diego Union's list of the 37 county managers, and what they would get at top bonus. The article stated that other job classifications might get 10 or 15 percent bonuses.  (This information is from the April 28th, 1997 San Diego Union.)


Job Title

Salary as
of 4-21-97

Possible Bonus

Larry Prior Chief Administration Officer $150,009 $45,002
Robert K. Ross Director, Health Services $135,512 $40,653
Brian D. Blackbourne Medical Examiner $135,512 $40,547
John Sansone County Counsel $125,008 $37,502
Steven J. Carroll Public Defender $125,008 $37,502
Rich Robinson Deputy Chief Administrative Officer $125,008 $37,502
Robert Copper Deputy Chief Administrative Officer $125,008 $37,502
Timothy Chandler Alternate Public Defender $119,600 $35,880
Walt Ekard Director, Office of Strategy & Intergovernmental Affairs $119,600 $35,880
Kenneth Martone Executive Officer & Jury Commissioner, Superior Court $118,560 $35,568
Lari Sheehan Deputy Chief Administrative Officer $114,296 $34,288
Cecil Steppe Director, Social Services $114,254 $34,276
Robert Booker Chief Financial Officer Auditor & Controller $113,817 $34,145
Cary Klippert Marshal $111,550 $33,465
Kent D. Pedersen Court Administrator of San Diego Municipal Court $107,577 $32,273
Stephen Thunberg Court Administrator of South Bay Municipal Court $103,563 $31,068
Frederick Lear Court Administrator of El Cajon Municipal Court $103,563 $31,068
Brian White Retirement Administrator $103,438 $31,031
Vacant Director, Public Works    
Alan Crogan Chief Probation Officer $101,940 $30,582
Richard Sommerville Air Pollution Control Officer $100,048 $30,014
John A. Miller Director, General Services $ 99,507 $29,852
Sharon Lear Court Administrator of North County Municipal Court $ 97,260 $29,178
Dan Avera Director, Environmental Health $ 95,721 $28,716
Gary Pryor Director, Planning and Land Use $ 92,934 $27,880
Michael Kemp Director, Parks and Recreation $ 91,686 $27,505
Hector Cazares Director, Animal Control Department $ 90,771 $27,231
Graham Lynch Director, Information Services $ 89,960 $26,988
Marilyn Crouch Director, Library $ 85,758 $25,727
Thomas J. Pastuszka Clerk of Board of Supervisors $ 85,404 $25,621
Kathleen Thuner Agricultural Commissioner $83,720 $25,116
Romulo Sarno Director, Human Resources $83,449 $25,034
Edward Baker Director, Housing & Community Development $ 80,371 $24,111
Mikel Haas Registrar of Voters $ 79,206 $23,761
Daniel Layer Director, Area Agency on Aging $ 71,531 $21,459
Victor Nieto Director, Equal Opportunity Management $ 65,686 $19,705
Don Billings Public Administrator Guardian $ 65,686


Remember, these are only the proposed maximum bonuses.

The Actual 1997 Bonuses
(This information is from Local 2028's flyer of August 22, 1997)

The 1997/1998 Bonuses - Alphabetical - A
(This information is from Local 2028's flyer of September 28, 1998.)

The 1997/1998 Bonuses - By Department
(Consolidation of both flyers)

What Did Lineworkers Think About Management Bonuses?
In August, 1997, when the San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved the $1.2 million in bonuses to 179 top San Diego County executives, many ordinary workers were upset. There had been many years of little or no pay increases, and many employees had even taken time off without pay in order to keep jobs from being cut. This program, called VTO (Voluntary Time Off) had reportedly saved $1.3 million. The bonuses were $1.2 million. Many workers complained that management was getting the VTO money. Others asked why management had to be given money to work harder, what about loyalty, pride in good work, and concern for the community? A lot of people worried that staff cuts and high caseloads were the direct result of management cutting corners to meet budget goals and get a bonus.
In September 1998 they reduced the next round of management bonus to a maximum of 18%, and decided that ordinary workers  might be eligible for up to 4% of program savings*  if they met certain group goals under the QFP (Quality First Program). They also started giving cash bonuses of up to $500 to "Top Employees" chosen by a committee. Some line workers also got cost of living raises. By then, though, some line workers no longer felt like the managers were "part of the team."
My Opinion:
I have worked with some of the managers who got bonuses, and I know others through reputation. None of the ones I know are people who would do anything to deliberately hurt the people who work for them. Nevertheless, the fact that managers accepted bonuses while lineworkers got no recognition for their work caused a rift between management and lineworkers which will take time to mend.
The bottom line is, I don't believe in bonuses. There is too much chance for them to be awarded for political, and not practical, reasons. Why not pay decent salaries in the first place and find some other way to get rid of managers who don't produce?

*not a percentage of gross salary, but a percentage of the total program savings, divided among the group as a whole. In my classification this amounts to between $300 and $400.

General Information:
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