In its most recent report, the Orange County grand jury ranked city councils in the county by their paychecks.
The panel found that Irvine City Council members are the highest paid, each raking in $48,096 annually for their services on the council and Great Park Board of Directors.
The Santa Ana City Council was eighth on the list, with annual compensation of just under $30,000 for each member. Had the grand jury dug a little deeper, however, it would have found that one Santa Ana City Council member makes much more than his peers and is likely the highest-paid city council member in Orange County.
Mayor Miguel Pulido received at least $81,952.68 in salary and benefits last year from four public agencies.
Pulido managed to add nearly double his council paycheck by sitting on a few well-compensated boards, including those for the Great Park, the Orange County Transportation Authority and the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
Neither Pulido nor grand jury members returned phone calls seeking comment.
Pulido’s compensation breakdown for 2010, according to each agency:
- City of Santa Ana: $30,283.76. (The amount reported by the city is a few hundred dollars higher than that in the grand jury report.)
- Orange County Great Park: $11,167.20.
- South Coast Air Quality Management District: $16,446.72.
- Orange County Transportation Authority: $24,055
At least some of the compensation Pulido collected in 2010 came from double-dipping. Voice of OC reported that he was collecting medical benefits from both the city and the transportation authority. He was also collecting a $500 monthly car allowance from the city while at the same time driving a retrofitted, plug-in hybrid Toyota Prius issued to him by the air quality management district.
That district offers Pulido $100 per day, with a maximum of $1,000 per month, for board, committee, and other meetings on agency business, according to a district official. Last year Pulido drew nearly the maximum: $11,700.
Pulido is often absent from the Great Park’s board meetings, the Orange County Register reported last month, but he still collects his full salary from the agency.
Pulido sits on the California Workforce Investment Board, which reimburses members for travel expenses. He didn’t collect any in 2010, because he missed all three meetings. Councilwoman Michele Martinez attended one meeting in his place.
— ADAM ELMAHREK