Santa Ana to Consider Charter Changes

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Santa Ana city council members will vote Tuesday night on placing a number of amendments to the city charter and municipal code on the November ballot, including a substantial pay hike for council members and the mayor.

Changes to the municipal code would increase compensation from $1,500 to $12,000 annually for council members, and from $2,400 to $13,200 a year for the mayor.

The city’s staff report suggests council compensation for Santa Ana is low compared to other cities of its size.

For example, Anaheim, which is close to Santa Ana’s population size, pays its council members $18,000 annually and the mayor $15,300, according to the report.

But those numbers don’t take into account other pay and benefits.

The state controller’s database on public employee compensation, which includes such extras, shows that in 2011 some Santa Ana council members made more than Anaheim council members, and vice versa.

Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido made $32,834 in pay and benefits that year, according to the database, making him one of the highest-paid council members in Orange County.

The proposed charter and municipal code changes also include language to:

• Establish an independent ethics commission separate from the City

• Make all executive management, such as the police and fire chief, at-will positions, eliminating their right to return to old civil service positions when terminated

• Remove conflict-of-interest restrictions disqualifying council members from participating in decisions regarding people who gave more than $250 to their campaign in the preceding year

• Remove restrictions prohibiting council members from accepting more than $250 in contributions for three months after participating in decisions regarding the donor

• Reduce individual contributions to candidates’ legal defense funds to $1000 each election cycle

Earlier this year, Voice of OC reported on Mayor Miguel Pulido’s legal defense fund, which was set up after the city attorney initiated an investigation into a real estate swap involving the Mayor. In March, the fund received a $25,000 contribution from a single donor.

The vast majority of that contribution was illegal, according to campaign finance watchdog Shirley Grindle, because the city charter currently places a $1,000 limit on contributions to any committee controlled by a city candidate.

Read previous reporting on the proposed charter amendments here and here.

Tuesday’s meeting begins at 5:45 pm. To view the entire agenda, click here.

Please contact Thy Vo directly at thyanhvo@gmail.com.

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