Mashburn on Benefits

A reader forwarded the following email, distributed by the Keith Mashburn for City Council campaign last night:

City Council Benefits

Position Paper #1 by Keith Mashburn

While serving on the SV Planning Commission, I became aware of what in my view are lavish taxpayer funded benefits that the city council has granted themselves. I also learned that these perks were not made public anywhere. So I helped lead the successful fight for full public disclosure.

Our part time council was providing themselves with benefits and perks that far exceeded what regular working class folks in management get in the private sector.  The total benefit package that the council provides themselves is in excess of $50,600. per year.  Including the monthly stipend/ pay of $1280. and auto/ mileage allowance of $400. per month. Not bad for a part time volunteer “public service” job.

As a result of continuous pressure from myself and several others in the community, the council agreed to publicly discuss the benefits issue.  But only after The Simi Valley Citizens Fiscal Advisory Committee, on which I served made a formal recommendation that they should lead by example and give up all benefits except the stipend and car allowance. The council had at first defended their pay and benefits by claiming it is a full time job. That argument didn’t fly partly because they all hold full time jobs. When they finally voted, they kept their benefits intact and only passed an ordinance stripping future newly elected council members of the benefits.

I believe, as many do that when a council member is re-elected, he/she is really newly elected.  But this council ignored this and singled themselves out to continue receiving the lucrative benefits if re-elected. This council ignored the meaning of what a term of office is. Unlike traditional employment, elected council members serve terms that have a beginning and an end.  When a term ends one is no longer a council member.  You must run for a new term and if successful you, are sworn in, and begin a new term. The city attorney advised they might not legally be able to vote to cut each other’s benefits now, but they could have upon re-election. She also stated there was nothing to stop each of them from not taking the extras right away, none have. So how is it ethical let alone legal for this council to impose restrictions on potential new council members, but exempt themselves if they are re-elected?

To their credit Mayor Bob Huber and Councilman Mike Judge take between $1300 and $1585. per month less than the other council members in benefits. Both take only that which they clearly told us they would during their campaigns before being elected.  It’s my opinion the others are “self serving” putting what’s in it for them first, and the community second.  You can measure the character of a leader by the standards he or she voluntarily imposes upon themselves.

As your council member, I will accept only the stipend required social security payment-NOTHING more. If I incur actual expenses on legitimate city business, I will submit an expense and mileage reimbursement request, just like is common practice in most private business.

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