Drooling for some more Bell scandals, we stumbled upon the public-official salary listings for West Hollywood -- a relatively small L.A.-area city with a population of 37,580 and a skyscraper budget for public officials. (With more than a little left over for their friends in high places and bizarre pet projects, as reported by the Weekly in April.)
West Hollywood's City Hall has a reputation for flair --
Just compare its snazzy website to that of the City of Los Angeles. The WeHo City Council was the first ever to identify as majority homosexual, and it prides itself on protecting animal rights and funding fabulous parties like the 2010 West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval. Not to mention a $64 million library with tennis courts and a pool on top.
But the five WeHo City Councilmembers -- on a rotation virtually unchanged for the past couple decades -- have also gained a reputation for prioritizing posh developments over rent-controlled and low-income options, a shift that many feel is washing out the rad, arty legacy of the neighborhood.
That said, city salaries turn up predictable. Of the 265 city positions listed for WeHo on the state Controller's Office website, we counted 136 as receiving more than the maximum salary the city had set -- often by over $5,000, even $10,000. And most of the jobs that did stay beneath their limit were silly ones like "Temporary Lifeguard" or "Recreation Aide."
Of the 265 positions listed, 64 earned over $100,000. To get an idea of what kind of duties such breadwinners are expected to carry out, let's consider the city's four "council deputies." The WeHo website defines the position like so:
Council Deputies and other staff provide support to the City Council, including legislative and other research for the development of various reports and resolutions. To help achieve the maximum amount of public interaction, the Council Deputies are also responsible for communicating and meeting with constituents, receiving their input and concerns, and providing that information to their Council member and/or the City Manager to respond to as appropriate.
Communicating and meeting with constituents? All the "deputies" have the same phone number listed in the staff directory -- (323) 848-6460 -- and the guy on the other end seemed pretty weirded out that I might want to speak with one of them. He described their duties as "helping [the City Councilmembers] make appointments and handling business for them." Is that a six-figure kind of job? Or is that a secretary?
Though El Segundo's numbers are more staggering -- especially compared to its tiny population -- West Hollywood's list doesn't include police officers or firemen, who (understandably) earn more than desk dweebs over at City Hall.
Taking the cake is WeHo City Manager Paul Arevalo, who made $309,186 in 2009. That's nearly $100,000 more than Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has no city manager and a population of over 4 million on his hands. (That's not to say Villaraigosa is living in the gutter or anything.)
Here are the 10 highest WeHo city salaries for 2009:
Good to see that the Director of Rent Stabalization & Housing is making $180,000 a year. Meanwhile, affordable housing is being inched out of the city and rent shows no signs of stabilizing.