Truth

Sometimes in politics, people forget that the truth matters. You may have received a mail piece from my opponent that stretches and hides the truth in many ways. Here’s a little truth to go with the misinformation.

What Lisa Says About Herself

What Lisa Says About Me

“Supports 100% Transparency of compensation paid to elected officials”

Misleading

Of course she supports transparency of compensation paid to elected officials, so do I. The real question is whether you support transparency in salaries paid to other public employees, especially the highest paid ones like the CEO. In June 2013, Bartlett was on the committee in charge of negotiating the compensation arrangement for Neil Peterson, initially bringing the board a total compensation package worth $615,000. OC Register: Toll road directors gag on $615,000 pay package Together with other board members I argued to reduce this package. In March 2014, Bartlett was responsible for negotiating the severance agreement with him. When the final severance agreement came before the board, it contained a clause that PREVENTED board members from telling the public the reasons and terms of the severance. Several board members argued forcefully that the public had a right to know the reasons and terms of the CEO’s departure. Lisa voted for the agreement and I spoke and voted against it. That agreement was the opposite of transparency. She also approved contracts the former CEO requested worth $218,000 that were kept from the public eye. Loophole let O.C. toll-road agency keep $220,000 out of public eye
“Received a ‘D’ Grade from the Orange County Grand jury for salary transparency.”

Misleading

The headline of the article she referred to in the piece actually tells the real story: “City placing more salary details online.” The Grand Jury reviewed the web pages of cities and the county and gave them grades in several different areas based on criteria the Grand Jury came up with. In the initial grades, both Dana Point and Laguna Niguel (and many other cities) scored a “D” on “Employee Page Grade” because we provided disclosure a different way than the Grand Jury wanted it.  Laguna Niguel, like many other cities, subsequently adjusted our disclosure.  For “Accessibility,” Laguna Niguel scored a “B” because the data was one click away. We have since then, added a link on our home page as well. For “Executive Page” Laguna Niguel scored a “D” because we presented information in a different way than the Grand Jury expected it. In response, we conformed to the Grand Jury’s request and changed our disclosure. I have always thought our disclosure was good, and now it also complies with what the Grand Jury wants. Here is what I said about it in July 2012, “Council Member Ming stated … that he wanted to post valuable information on the website to paint a true and accurate picture of the City compensation. He thought that the information that was already on the website provided searchers with everything they needed to know to get a comprehensive understanding of City compensation, but that the Grand Jury did not agree.” The council then voted 5-0 to enhance the disclosure on the website to include the additional information suggested by the Grand Jury. To simply say that we received a “D” is misleading.

“Opposes special treatment and egregious benefits for government appointed staff”

Hypocritical

It is not clear what kind of “egregious benefits” Ms. Bartlett would oppose, but she did not oppose her own city manager’s compensation in Dana Point. His total compensation for 2013 was $297,394, which is more than the total compensation of Laguna Niguel’s city manager by over $40,000. Laguna Niguel hired its new City Manager in 2013 and paid him $210,770 that year. On an annualized basis, he would have received total compensation of approximately $254,954. Both Dana Point and Laguna Niguel’s city managers are paid about median compensation for Orange County City Managers.
“Gave nearly a $1 million home loan at a below-market rate to his City Manager who already earns a $220,000 salary, even after Council Members questioned it.”

Misleading

I have discussed this loan at length in prior posts. Read the prior post here In short, this was not a gift, it was a loan at market rates secured by a first trust deed on the home. The council always intended this loan to be at market rates and when Councilmember Slusiewicz brought to our attention that the loan was not at market rates, we raised the rate to bring it back to market just before the council unanimously approved the loan. It is now one of the highest returning investments in our portfolio and since his payments are taken directly out of his paycheck, he will never be late. If he loses his job, he must sell the house and repay the loan. We only made the loan because the real estate bubble had destroyed the residential lending market. The market was so dysfunctional at the time that it was not possible to get a loan through more traditional sources and we wanted him to move right away. In fact, Dana Point gave its City Manager exactly the same kind of loan when he was hired that she now criticizes Laguna Niguel for giving its City Manager.
“Passed Balanced Budgets on time every year. Prioritized the Rainy Day Fund, Paid Off Unfunded Pension Liability.”

Misleading

This statement seems to suggest that Laguna Niguel has not done the same. Laguna Niguel has passed balanced budgets on time every year for the past 8 years and has had a fully funded rainy day fund since before I got on the council. Saying that Dana Point paid off its unfunded pension liability is also misleading because although Dana Point paid off its unfunded pension liability in one year (2009), it has accumulated more unfunded pension liability every year since then. In 2011, Dana Point’s unfunded liability was up to $2,512,440. Click here for Dana Point’s CALPers statement showing their 2011 unfunded pension liability.
“Supported Budgets with automatic fee increases”

Misleading

The resolution cited refers back to a 1991 resolution, adopted 15 years before I was on the council relating to building and plan check fees. Under this formula, Laguna Niguel fees have traditionally been in the lower half compared to our surrounding communities. The formula is based on the construction cost index/consumer price index. When these indexes have gone down, fees have been reduced.

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