Part Two - How El Dorado County’s Elected Officials Bonus Scheme Works

by Placerville Newswire / Jul 17, 2017 / comments

[By Dan Dellinger]

    In Part One, we explored the history of how a small cabal of scheming politicians exploited an innocent sounding solution to a former County problem to greatly enrich themselves at public expense. We also revealed that since 1994 participants in this scheme have successfully cheated voters out of several million dollars by deceptively taking non-performance bonuses.

Unlike the greedy politicians in the City of Bell who paid obscenely excessive salaries to their schemes participants, El Dorado County’s excessive pay scheme works deceptively by paying participants non-performance bonuses in addition to the publically advertised annual salary for the elected official’s office.  This way, unless the public digs through complicated County salary records looking for salary add-ons, the participants in the scheme appear to be just receiving the plain salary which was set for each office by the Board of Supervisors and made public prior to the deadline for candidates to file their paperwork to be on the ballot.

Here is an explanation of how this scheme works for the three biggest abusers; the County’s elected Auditor-Controller, District Attorney, and Treasurer-Tax Collector. 

Auditor-Controller - while we thought we are paying Joe Harn only $157,810 in annual salary as was advertised to potential candidates seeking the Auditor-Controller office last election cycle, it turns out that Harn is actually taking at least three non-performance bonuses every year. Harn’s first bonus is an extra 13% “re-election bonus” ($20,515) for holding his office for twenty years. Harn’s second bonus is another 10% “ballot qualification bonus” ($15,781) for having a Certified Public Accountant (C.P.A.) certificate which State law required him to possess in order to hold office when he was first elected in 1994. Harn’s third bonus is another 4.6% of his advertised base salary in “unused management leave” ($7,259) despite the fact that elected officials set their own office hours and suffer no penalty for missing work. Thus, by taking an extra 27.6% of his $157,810 advertised base salary in non-performance bonuses, Harn inflates his advertised salary by $43,555for a total take of $201,365. 

District Attorney - although voters thought they were paying Vern Pierson just the $159,910 in annual salary advertised to potential candidates seeking the District Attorney office last election cycle, Pierson has also been taking at least three non-performance bonuses. Pierson’s first bonus is an extra 10% “re-election bonus” ($15,991.) for holding his office for over 10 years and his prior years of Amador County government employment. Pierson’s second bonus is another 4.6% of his base salary in “unused management leave” ($7,356) despite the fact that elected officials set their own office hours and suffer no penalty for missing work. Pierson’s third bonus is for empire-building “extra duty” pay ($104.00 per hour) as “County Chief Technology Officer”, which gives him access to every County computer and all e-mail messages moving through the County internet system including the Board of Supervisors, County Counsel’s, and Public Defender’s Offices. Thus, Pierson multiplies his advertised $159,910 salary by 14.6% to receive an extra $23,347 boosting his actual pay to $183,257 plus however many billable “Chief Technology Officer” hours he can get away with. 

Treasurer-Tax Collector – voters thought they were simply paying Cherie Raffety (aka. C.L. Raffety) the plain $145,502 annual salary advertised to potential candidates seeking the Treasurer-Tax Collector office last election cycle, but Raffety has also been taking at least three non-performance bonuses. Raffety’s first bonus is an extra 16% “re-election bonus” ($23,280) for holding her office for over 30 years. Raffety’s second bonus is another 10% “ballot qualification bonus” ($14,550) for having a Certified Public Accountant (C.P.A.) certificate which State law required her to possess in order to hold office when she was first elected in 1986. Raffety’s third bonus is another 4.6% of her $145,502 advertised base salary in “unused management leave” ($6,693) despite the fact that elected officials set their own office hours and suffer no penalty for missing work. Thus, Raffety multiplies her $145,502 advertised salary by 30.6% for an extra $44,523 which balloons her actual annual salary to $183,257. 

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Dan Dellinger is a locally based Government Relations and Political Campaign Consultant who can be reached at dandellinger@infostations.com