California County Official Guaranteed $423,664 A Year For The Rest Of Her Life

susan-e1363978692491-150x150California is in extreme economic stress, but you would not know it from the continuing retirement packages given to local officials. Despite past scandals involving grotesque pensions in California and other states, Alameda County supervisors continue to award themselves breathtaking benefits as in the case of retired County Administrator Susan Muranishi who will receive $423,664 a year for the rest of her life.

Muranishi’s package begins with $301,000 base salary. Then she is entitled to an over $24,000 “equity pay” amount that guarantees that she will receive at least 10 percent more than anyone else in the county.

She then adds roughly $54,000 a year in return for “longevity” of service of over 30 years. Then she adds an annual performance bonus of $24,000 plus another $9000 a year for serving on an ad hoc committee overseeing the sale of excess land. Then she is entitled to an $8,292-a-year car allowance. This all adds up to roughly $425,000 for the rest of her life and she is only 63 years old.

Under the country rules, Muranishi’s pension will equal the dollar total of her entire yearly package — $413,000.

It is an outrage that Administrators have used their offices to acquire such benefits. It is the very definition of self-serving corruption and yet none of the supervisors seemed to feel the need to respond to press inquiries.

Source: SFGate

15 thoughts on “California County Official Guaranteed $423,664 A Year For The Rest Of Her Life

  1. Where are the attorney general’s and various prosecuting bodies in this? It is obviously corrupt and unethical self-dealing that would make anybody with a bit of self-awareness blush.

  2. This is more than the base salary of the US President.

    And what is up with receiving a retirement benefit based upon total compensation that includes expenses accounts such as vehicle allowances? This is a sham. How can an expense allowance be considered ordinary income, which is what retirement calculations are based upon.

    And what was the statutory authority to provide these types of compensation packages? The same legislative authority that panders to its favorite children.

    I believe this is ridiculous and a high profile example, but I would venture to say it is more widespread. I saw this first hand at a department I formerly worked for, though it was much less egregious.

    There was a person in the administration of the department, a fair enough guy who I had no problem with and I didn’t feel was by any means corrupt, was under the old retirement plan (LEOFF I). Under the terms of that retirement plan the retirement benefit was based upon the total wages earned for the last 12 months before retirement. He was “promoted” to assistant chief and given a pay raise for one year. The department never had that position before. And the appointment lasted just one year whereupon he retired. The effect of this was to provide him with a greater retirement benefit.

    In our state it was common for officers (under LEOFF II) which was a different formula based upon the average of the last years, to work massive amounts of overtime in those final years before retirement to pump up the benefit upon retirement. Seattle PD had great numbers of officers who did this.

    These two situations clearly pale in comparison but still it could be evidence of a larger problem than just this woman.

  3. As rafflaw said, this is theft. Somebody needs to step in…

    Here’s another example, out of Bell, CA.

    http://reason.com/blog/2012/10/24/chutzpah-denied-fired-bell-calif-police

    Chutzpah Denied! Fired Bell, Calif., Police Chief Will Not Get $510,000 Pension

    Scott Shackford, Oct. 24, 2012 12:07 pm

    Article:

    Randy Adams served the city of Bell, Calif., as police chief for a year before getting fired in the midst of a scandal that revealed city officials draining the coffers for exorbitant salaries.

    Adams was drawing a $457,000 annual salary for leading the police in this Los Angeles County town of 35,000, more than the police chief of the Los Angeles Police Department. After the corruption was uncovered and eight officials charged (Adams is not one of them)**, one might think Adams would have thanked his lucky stars he got what he got and quietly slinked away.

    Don’t be silly. This is California! He sued to try to keep the pension spike he would get from that one year of employment at Bell. Fortunately, a judge denied him. Via the Los Angeles Times:

    A judge has rejected an effort by Bell’s former police chief to more than double his pension to $510,000 a year, saying that the City Council never approved his extravagant contract and that city officials tried to keep his salary secret.

    Randy Adams, who was fired as the city was engulfed in scandal, would have become one of the highest paid public pensioners in California had his request been approved.

    The cost of doubling Adams’ pension would have fallen primarily on Ventura, Simi Valley and Glendale, where he spent most of his career. Ventura alone would have been on the hook for nearly $2 million of Adams’ future pension, according to state pension officials.

    The ruling leaves Adams with a $240,000-a-year pension, the eighth highest paycheck in California’s largest public employee retirement system

    So even after denying Adams the pension spike, he’s still in the top ten.

    According to the judge, Adams was also conspiring to be granted a disability retirement so that his pension would be tax-free. That little trick is very common in California. San Jose’s pension reform initiative passed in June attempts to curb some of this behavior.

    Adams is also suing the city for severance pay, remarkably enough. The city is suing right back trying to recover his salary. As the judge noted, Bell’s City Council never even approved his contract.

    (** From the LA TImes, “Bell: ‘Corruption on Steroids': “From the day authorities handcuffed and led away eight Bell administrators and politicians in a massive public corruption case, people have wondered why it wasn’t the Bell 9 instead.

    Missing in the line-up of defendants was the town’s police chief.

    For running the city’s 46-person Police Department, Randy Adams made more than the Los Angeles police chief or the Los Angeles County sheriff. His contract, prosecutors said, was drawn up so citizens would be unable to learn the real size of his paycheck.

    At a routine hearing on the Bell case, Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy asked: “I don’t know why he is not a defendant in this case.” Kennedy added later: “That is not a man of integrity. This is not the man who is going to clean up the Police Department.”” Link: http://timelines.latimes.com/bell/ )

  4. this is why public sector jobs need to have private retirement they pay into, like everyone else in the private sector. Pay your own retirement out of money you put aside during your work life, dont expect people, especially young people just starting out in life, to pay for your retirement.

    Now some young single mother is on the hook for this woman’s pension. That is immoral and unjust.

  5. Accountability has been removed from our political systems.

    This is disgusting, but it is not surprising.

  6. Alameda County has an independent county retirement system, which collects and invests funds throughout an employee’s employment. Typically, these plans involve contributions from the employee though payroll deductions as well as employer contributions. Earnings and benefits are calculated the same way for every employee, though different rules applying to more recent hires result in less generous pensions. Fairly recent court cases in California have required that some forms of compensation and allowances be included in calculating base salary. This was a significant and unwelcome change for many of these retirement systems, as they had not previously included these items in calculating contributions or pensions. As the employees had vested rights in their pension, these decisions affected the calculations for all present employees. Various statutory changes have been enacted to deal with the issue going forward.

  7. An additional note: California has now placed limits on the base pay used by the public employee retirement systems to calculate pensions . Employees max out at around $118,000 (if they also pay into social security) or $136,000 (if they don’t pay into social security). This cannot affect employees already vested, and so only affects those hired after January 1, 2013.

  8. Jonathan

    Yes it is excessive and generous and these kinds of payments are not sustainable but apparently this is what the lady is entitled to under the system and she has not committed any crime. The answer is to change the remuneration and pension system for public officials.

    I would really like to see you write about the likes of Jon Corzine ex Chairman and CEO of the infamous MF Global (and renowned fund raiser for the Democratic Party and Obama). He and his bunch of managers oversaw the theft of a reported 1.6 billion of funds from segregated customer accounts and no one has been charged with any crime despite all this occuring back in the latter part of 2011. It’s now the end of March 2013. Yes no one disputes that funds were misappropriated (ie. stolen) from customer accounts (because it was impossible to deny) but this kind of theft is not prosecuted.

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