12/14/2010: "LETTERS ON GAYLORD PAY RAISE"
A portion of the prosecutor’s salary is paid by the state and a portion is paid by the county. The county’s portion of the prosecutor’s pay will not change in 2011; it remains at the amount set in 2007, almost four years ago. In my presentation on the prosecutor’s pay, I asked, and it was agreed, that any change to the county’s portion be done in steps, with the first step beginning in 2012.
In recognition of the county’s financial difficulty, I asked to defer any change in pay to 2012. This was the right thing to do and I proposed the change be made in steps to make it easier on the budget.
In counties small and large, the elected prosecutor and the superior court judge are appropriately paid the same because the work is comparable. In 2008 the state house and senate debated and then unanimously agreed with this approach. The governor also agreed, and the state now pays its portion of the prosecutor’s salary at one-half of the superior court judge’s salary. Today, one-third of counties in Washington State pay the superior court judge and the prosecutor the same, or nearly the same amount.
Randall K Gaylord
San Juan County Prosecutor
Dear Editor -
At a time when the State budget is being slashed beyond the point of "painful," at a time when the County has severe budget issues and essential services like Solid Waste are bleeding $15-20,000 per month, the idea that funds would be spent to give Mr. Gaylord a salary increase is shocking and verging on grossly immoral.
But we all know that.
I write only to remind readers that yesterday our leaders in Olympia took an extraordinary step to share the pain of the massive budget cuts they are having to propose. Governor Gregoire and the heads of state agencies all attempted to CUT their own salaries, in proportion to the cuts being extracted from every other corner of the state budget and educational systems. They are prevented from doing so by a state constitutional provision, but their response to that ruling was a noble one: they plan to give an equal amount to charity if they cannot cut their own salaries. Attorney General Rob McKenna is apparently planning to give his "salary cut" to a charity which provides care for foster children, who are particularly badly hit in this round of cuts. Sam Reed and others are selecting destinations for their cuts as well.
I also note that with the exception of Gov. Gregoire and AG McKenna, ALL of these agency heads and cabinet officials have LOWER salaries than the current one paid to Mr. Gaylord. At his current level of $129,000 (as published by the SJIslander recently), he is already better paid than the Secretary of State (who has many more responsibilities, including elections and the registration of businesses), and the Superintendent of Public Instruction (responsible for education throughout the state).
Even when not mandated, voluntary salary decreases are being discussed elsewhere. King County Sherriff's deputies just offered to roll back much of a pending pay increase, to help budget shortfalls there, in exchange for guaranteeing no layoffs so that police can maintain needed services. Our own SJC Council rejected any cost of living increases here in the county for themselves.
Everywhere in our state, our elected officials struggle to balance the budget and deal with the impacts of I-1053, I-1107, and a slew of other initiatives which hamstring our ability to pay for essential and desired services. Our appointed officials are stepping up and actually ASKING to share in the pain of budget cuts. Fiscal discipline and austerity is breaking out all over, on both sides of the aisle.
Except here, with our Prosecuting Attorney.
The citizens of the County may reconsider this raise by referendum, and we should do so.
But in the interim, we should also implore Mr. Gaylord to emulate Secretary of State Sam Reed, AG McKenna, and other public servants in voluntarily reducing their own compensation. In this case, Mr. Gaylord should tell the Council to rescind the raise he asked for, for the good of the County and its citizens.
You have a chance, Mr. Gaylord, to join state and county officials throughout Washington in doing the right thing. Or you can choose to be the counter-example to their leadership and self-sacrifice.
Please choose to follow their example. Do the right thing.
San Juan Island
To the Editor:
Hats off to the anonymous member of the "Orcas Poets' Society". Love "Jingle Bills." Although the scenario is sadly true, and several off island, out of county attorneys have been hired to profer their expertise to solve our County's dilemmas; one must wonder whether or not the "out sourcing" could not, at the very least, have been accomplished by a local attorney, and in some manner benefit the local economy.
A Federal District Judge has a base salary of $174,000. Certainly not much of an incentive to encourage upward mobility of a SJC Prosecuting Attorney whose salary is but $26,000 less with no traffic. Whatever happened to "That's the price you have to pay for living in Paradise"???????
These out-sourced opinions and drafts will come with a hefty taxpayer burden, and should have been a legitimate function of our local SJC Prosecuting Attorney. An honorable man would offer to pay for those bills out of his more than generous salary, just as an honest contractor absorbs the cost of repairing his mistakes or short comings. After all, he bid on the job.
San Juan island poet