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LB Utility Tax Cut Leader/Mayoral Candidate Norm Ryan Blasts Proposed City Manager Pay Raise, Calls It "Unimaginable"

(November 19, 2001) -- LB fiscal reformer and Prop J utility tax cut author Norm Ryan, now running for Mayor, has blasted a proposal advanced by incumbent LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill to increase City Manager Henry Taboada's annual deferred compensation from $8,000 to $10,000 (a story first reported by

The City Council is scheduled to discuss the proposal, and could vote on it, at its November 20 meeting.

Mr. Ryan told

"I find it unbelievable that after a year of mismanagement...that our Mayor would even suggest that Henry Taboada get more money. I don't know if the City Manager has been particularly helpful to the Mayor, but Beverly O'Neill obviously must see something in the City Manager's performance that is lost on the rest of us."

In a letter proposing the increase, Mayor O'Neill told Councilmembers:

"This adjustment would maintain the City Manager at the low end of the established range for this position and also reduces compression issues with other positions in the City. It would provide equity and is consistent with compensation paid to City Manager's [sic] in the region."

LB's City Council currently pays Mr. Taboada more than the Governor of the California. LB's City Manager now receives a salary of $189,500 a year. CA Governor Gray Davis is paid $175,000 a year.

Agendizing the proposed raise and asking Councilmembers to support it effectively triggers a high visibility Council vote of confidence on how LB City Hall is being run. Two Council incumbents who are also Mayoral candidates -- Vice Mayor Dan Baker and Councilman Ray Grabinski -- will be faced with casting an up or down vote on the issue. To date, neither has publicly called for the City Manager's removal; Baker doesn't mention the issue in a recent ELB mailing; Grabinski, despite occasional verbal duels with Mr. Taboada, has not publicly proposed removing him.

However, Mr. Ryan has previously indicated dissatisfaction with the current City Manager. At his June, 2001 declaration of candidacy, Mr. Ryan responded as follows to audience question:

Q: Norm, after you're Mayor, what kind of a City Manager will you have?

One that knows more than I do about running the City. [Applause, audience member says "Fire Henry"] Well, I mean, I would love for that to occur during my watch. It's a political thing. Do you fire Henry now or do the people running against me use him as a foil up until election saying, "Gosh, we really wish we could do this but this stupid city manager."

OK, do they fire him now or do they wait until later? If they wait for later, and I get elected, well then I'll have an opportunity to reign over the transition, and let me tell you, I know a lot of really good city managers in the state of California. [Applause]...

Mayor O'Neill's letter to the Council also indicated Mr. Taboada "has provided us with a list of accomplishments and has received constructive recommendations to implement." requested and was provided with a copy of the City Manager's list of accomplishments referenced by the Mayor. We have posted the nine page document verbatim in pdf form on the following link (and in a separate article reporting it). Readers can view the document by clicking on City Manager's listing of accomplishments.

In December, 1998 the City Council approved a contract with Mr. Taboada for an annual salary of $165,000 plus $8,000 a year in deferred compensation. The contract allowed subsequent salary adjustments determined from time to time by the Council and the City Manager's base salary subsequently rose to $181,500; with deferred compensation of $8,000 taken last year as compensation, this produced a salary of $189,500.

As with other City Hall management, the City Manager also receives retirement and pension benefits, health and life insurance, executive leave and other fringe benefits. Boosting city management salaries -- which is ultimately a City Council decision -- also increases the pension amount that can be collected, becoming an additional taxpayer obligation.

Documents prepared for Council approval (which we post below) recite that all the other terms and conditions of the City Manager's current contract "are ratified and confirmed and shall remain in full force and effect." requested from the City Clerk's office, and was promptly provided with, a copy of the City Manager's underlying Dec. 1998 contract (a public record). In the public interest, we post it verbatim in pdf form. It can be accessed by clicking on City Manager's contract prior to amendment. (Six pages)

We also post the proposed contract amendment, included in the Council's agenda package, which can be viewed by clicking on Proposed amendment to City Mgr's contract. (Two pages)

We also post the Mayor's proposal to Councilmembers, likewise part of the Council's agenda package, can be viewed by clicking on Mayor O'Neill's letter to Councilmembers re City Mgr. amendment contract. (One page)

The proposed renewal and amendment of the City Manager's contract is #27 on the City Council's November 20 agenda.

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