When questioned last week about the 5 percent pay cut that supervisors and about 125 top county government executives were taking back, Orange County Chief Executive Tom Mauk said that before getting worked up, “let’s catch our breath and see what happens” with Gov. Jerry Brown’s state budget proposal.

Brown laid out his budget on Monday. His proposal included $1.7 billion in cuts to Medi-Cal and $1.5 billion to CalWorks, the state’s welfare program.

Tuesday, at the Board of Supervisors’ regular meeting, Mauk again commented on the fattened paychecks, which include his. This time he said we have “bigger fish to fry,” referring to projected pension cost increases and projected budget deficits between $46 million and $80 million.

Mauk made this statement during the CEO comment period of the meeting. The only response from supervisors came from the newly appointed chairman, Bill Campbell, who said: “I think it’s appropriate to catch our breath” over the issue as the county enters into negotiations over compensation to county managers.

Those not catching their breath include Orange County Employees Association General Manager Nick Berardino, who said after the meeting that it would be tough explaining to union members that, while they may face salary cuts in the future, county executives and supervisors are fattening their paychecks.

“I think the have-nots — which are the working class in this county and the nation — have given so much to watch the executives stuff their pockets full of money and perks. It will be a major distraction during the discussions” over labor contracts, Berardino said.

Supervisor Shawn Nelson, who last week criticized the giveback, saying he wouldn’t want employees to take a pay cut if he doesn’t, was silent on the issue during Tuesday’s meeting.

Nelson acknowledged later that he hasn’t refused the giveback, which for him is actually a pay raise because he wasn’t in office when the cut was instituted in 2009.

It may prove to be moot, he said, because other forms of compensation, like medical or pension benefits, could be slashed in the upcoming negotiations. “Is it a net zero? Or maybe even a net loss? Maybe it’s even more than 5 percent. It’s all in play, and I don’t know where’s it’s going to boil down,” Nelson said.


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