I posted a “Rumor Has It” post about pay raises for AOC employees in 2009-2010. Turns out the rumor had a ring of truth to it. At least that’s the way it seems if you read the article posted in today’s Daily Journal where reporter Amy Yarbrough writes that raises and other perks were given to some AOC employees this past year in the midst of court closures, furloughs, slashed budgets, and a supposed hiring freeze at the AOC.
So, how big were the pay increases? Well, this paragraph from the article sums it all up.
The records show that while the agency imposed once-monthly furlough days on employees with one hand, it has increased salaries so much with the other that, coupled with new hires, its payroll costs grew 6 percent from July 2008 to July 2009, for a total of nearly $4.2 million per year.
The Big Payroll Winners
Although I don’t believe this to be the case with the rank and file AOC employees, the article makes it seem as though the AOC couldn’t stop handing out raises to all employees. But it appears that some definitely benefited more than others. A few managers and directors will see this year go out with their salaries well padded. Here are some of the AOC employees who have something to smile about this Christmas.
- Those who were promoted received even bigger salary increases. William Griffiths, a manager, received a 31 percent raise upon his promotion from a senior budget analyst, for instance.
- Two managers in the agency’s Office of Court Construction and Management, who were not promoted, received 14 percent raises between July 2008 and July 2009, on top of 3.5 merit salary adjustments they’d received earlier in 2008. Another manager in that office received a 9 percent raise.
- AOC’s three regional administrative directors who report to Vickrey, Sheila Calabro, Christine Patton, and Jody Patel also saw big pay bumps, each receiving 10 percent increases in that 2008-2009 time period, bringing their base salaries to $198,708 a year.
There were a couple comments made in the article about why the increases were merited that I wanted to draw people’s attention to. (Given you can draw your attention away from the numbers thrown about.)
Philip Carrizosa, a spokesman for the AOC, said in an e-mail that some of the outsized raises were necessary to keep top-level employees. He said others received big raises because of “increased job responsibilities,” even though their job titles did not change.
“We did what we thought we needed to do to hold onto people we felt were valuable employees,” (William) Vickery said.
I find these comments rather intriguing because considering how tight the job market is and that unemployment rates in the country and in the state run over 10% and 12% respectively, I would figure these employees would have been just fine being paid their current salaries minus any increases and the chances of them moving on to find other work that paid well are pretty slim. And the use of “increased job responsibilities” as a reason for increases is a bit of a joke considering that there are THOUSANDS of court employees throughout the state who have increased job responsibilities since implementation of court closures and I don’t see any salary increases or merit rewards in the future for them.
And while I agree with Judge Dan Goldstein who called the salary increases “offensive,” I want people to focus on Judge Goldstein’s position that this is yet another example of why there should be greater oversight and transparency with the AOC. Added to the AOC’s position on CCMS and the court construction fund, the salary increases in the midst of a budget crisis shows that the current AOC regime has completely lost focus of how to best serve the courts and the people who utilize its services.
UPDATE: A commenter by the name of Access2Justice reminded me of one particular part of the article that was too good to let go unnoticed.
Oh, AOCW, you left out my favorite part of the article:
Although many received raises, employees were not given an additional cost-of-living increase last fiscal year as they have in other years. Because of that and because the merit raises were smaller than in years past, Vickery’s memo said, employees were also given three extra paid days off between Thanksgiving and Jan. 2, 2009.
The thought of this will really be warming my heart on December 16th.