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Council Votes 6-1 To Raise City Mgr. Pay to Nearly $200,000

  • LB activist Bry Myown triggers admission that City Hall intends to pay City Mgr $10,000 deferred comp. in addition to current $189,500 salary (which included last year's deferred comp.)
  • Vice Mayor Baker votes No
  • Councilman Grabinski disappears (absent) on item, although present before & after
  • Councilman Carroll praises Taboada, blasts class action lawsuit against City Hall seeking rebates for LB consumers for previously disproportionate natural gas bills

    (November 20, 2001) -- After testimony by grassroots LB activist Bry Myown forced public admission that City Hall intends to pay City Manager Henry Taboada nearly $200,000 annually -- by adding $10,000 in deferred compensation on top of his current $189,500 salary (which includes last year's deferred compensation) -- the City Council voted 6-1 (Baker voting no; Grabinski absenting himself before item, returning afterward; Batts absent entire meeting) to approve a proposal by incumbent LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill to raise Mr. Taboada's deferred compensation from $8,000 to $10,000,

    In so doing, six Councilmembers (B. Lowenthal, Colonna, Carroll, Kell, Webb, Shultz) -- at the incumbent Mayor's behest -- effectively raised Mr. Taboada's compensation to nearly $200,000. By comparison, the Governor of CA is paid $175,000.

    What ensued could prove to be a pivotal moment in the Mayoral campaign. Defying the incumbent Mayor, Vice Mayor Dan Baker voted no, following up on public testimony and insisting on a definitive staff answer. Baker's action contrasted with another Mayoral candidate, Council incumbent Ray Grabinski, who walked out of the Council chamber before the City Manager pay raise item came up, then returned after the vote. (Councilwoman Laura Richardson-Batts was absent for the entire Council meeting.)

    Prior to tonight's vote, as previously reported by, Prop J utility tax cut author and Mayoral candidate Norm Ryan had already gone on record blasting Mayor O'Neill's proposal as "unbelievable."

    Ms. Myown (an activist and former Council staffer whose detail-minded testimony prompted the State Lands Commission to attach conditions to City Hall's desired QW Bay land swap) urged the Council to postpone its vote until it received a clear answer to a basic question:

    Would the proposed $10,000 deferred compensation be in addition to Mr. Taboada's current $189,500 salary (which includes $8,000 in deferred comp previously taken as salary) or $181,500 (the base amount originally set by the Council along with $8,000 in deferred comp)? As Ms. Myown put it:

    "If you do not know about this [whether the City Manager's salary to which the $10,000 deferred comp would be added is $181,500 or $189,500], that would suggest to me that the Manager gets to give himself a form of deferred compensation as a raise every year and that you ratify that by adopting the salary resolution...and if you do know about this and have not told the public that the salary is indeed now 189 not 181, I would simply like some clarification. ...I'm not questioning whether you give that or not give that, but that we know what the salary is..."
  • Mayor O'Neill, who had portrayed the raise as simply a $2,000 increase in deferred compensation without publicly mentioning a nearly $200,000 taxpayer price tag, asked City Hall's Human Resources Director, Bill Storey, to clarify. Instead, he recited that "the salary resolution reflects as his base salary $189,500, and I just conferred with [Assistant City Attorney] Heather Mahood on that and she said that is correct."

    The Mayor then turned to Ms. Mahood, who offered the following response:

    "The agreement that you are approving today is the amendment to his contract. It clearly sets out what the compensation is. At the time this contract is amended, when we bring back our next salary resolution, we will then amend the salary resolution to have it reflect the terms of this [City Manager's contract] amendment you are doing today. You are setting his compensation by this contract. We will then bring back the salary resolution, when we bring you back the whole thing, and we will make it consistent, but the action you are taking is consistent with the contract amendment itself."

    Unwilling to accept what had been offered, Vice Mayor Dan Baker, who is running for Mayor, pursued the issue raised by Ms. Myown and pressed for a definitive answer. It eventually came from the City Manager himself:

    Vice Mayor Baker: My understanding [is] that as of right now, before tonight's action, the Manager's salary is $181,000, plus the $8,000 in deferred comp that he's been taking as a cash payment. Is that correct?...

    Mayor O'Neill: Heather?

    Ms. Mahood: ...The base salary remains $189,000, and then you have added now $10,000 in deferred compensation which he can elect to take as cash.

    Vice Mayor Baker: And can you tell me how it got from 181 to 189, what action did the Council take to do that?

    City Manager Taboada: [citing calendar years, which correlate with deferred compensation] ...You hired me in the year 2000 at $165,846 as reflected in the budget for that year. I then came before the City Council and you took action to increase that salary to $180,805 as reflected in the FY 01 budget. During the cycle of the FY 01, this current year, I converted that $8,000 of deferred compensation, added it to the 180, and that gave me a salary of approximately $189,578. That is reflected in the budget that you adopted on page 50. It says "Note: In accordance with the City Manager's employment agreement, the City Manager, in addition to an annual salary is provided with $8,000 toward the deferred compensation plan. The City Manager may choose to receive the $8,000 per year, or any portion thereof, as part of his annual compensation. During FY 01, the City Manager opted to take the benefit in the form of compensation. In adopting the salary resolution that you adopted as part of this year's budget, and also the budget itself, you authorized the salary of $189,578.

    Vice Mayor Baker: OK, I appreciate that. So I just want to be very clear here. What we're doing this evening would move your salary from roughly $189,000 with no deferred comp to $189,000 plus $10,000 deferred comp. Is that correct?

    Mr. Taboada: That's correct.

    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 increases the pension amount that can be collected, ultimately an additional taxpayer obligation.

    Following Mr. Taboada's explanation to Vice Mayor Baker, 4th district Councilman Dennis Carroll praised the City Manager's record, then launched into an attack on a class action suit by LB Citizens for Utility Reform against City Hall seeking rebates for LB consumers for disproportionately high natural gas bills from City Hall's utility earlier this year. Mr. Carroll charged the suit (which was filed on behalf of LB residents and businesses) "is designed simply to bankrupt this city."

    He then voted to raise the City Manager's pay. has separately posted the pertinent portion of Councilman Carroll's statement. It can be viewed at Councilman Carroll re LB natural gas utility suit.

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