Attorney General to Probe Highly Paid Public Officials

Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown says in a news release that he is broadening a statewide probe of local government agencies to include any public official receiving a salary in excess of $300,000.

By that measure, the only city manager in Orange County who should be sweating is San Juan Capistrano’s Joe Tait, who makes $324,000 annually in his combined roles as city manager and utilities director.

But don’t count other city managers out of the spotlight just yet. An official inside the Attorney General’s Office said this morning that any public official making a salary, or any range of compensation benefits that appears out of line, will be in Brown’s crosshairs.

“We’re not drawing an imaginary line at $300,000,” said Jim Finefrock, director of communications for the attorney general’s office. “We want to look at any situation that seems excessive.”

Finefrock said every perk will be looked at, including free cars and other benefits.

According to a recent California League of Cities report, Laguna Hills City Manager Bruce Channing receives $321,550 in salary and benefits. However, that figure does not appear to include health insurance, and a report commissioned by Laguna Hills City Council candidate Barbara Kogerman put Channing’s annual compensation at $460,809.

Teri Sforza at the Orange County Register reported this morning that the compensation packages included in the report have Tait and Channing coming in as two of the highest paid city managers — at No. 8 and No. 10 respectively.

Channing and Tait were not available this morning for comment.