The departure of Wendy Saunders, Stockton’s Economic Development Director, for a better job in Sacramento lends credence to city leaders who say executive salaries have to remain high.
Not sky high. But high enough to recruit and retain qualified people.
It’s no fun to work in Stockton government nowadays. It’s a pressure cooker. It was doubly difficult for Saunders, who held the job formerly called Redevelopment Director after Gov. Jerry Brown eliminated redevelopment agencies. The RDAs are being forced to sell off their assets.
Hence her quote, ”It’s certainly more fun to build things than to take things apart.”
The point is Saunders was a good hire, and good hires have options. Clowns we can get at fire sale prices (though once inside City Hall, they try to increase their compensation). Competent people need a sweetener to work in a distressed city. That’s not how I would have it. It’s just how it is.
I’m agnostic on City Manager Bob Deis’s contention that further reducing the compensation of Stockton city employees by cutting into their pensions as Wall Street wants will lead to a state of “municipal chaos.” But it’s clear the possibility of reduced pensions was part of Sanders’ decision to leave.
“She said it was a hard decision to leave her colleagues and Stockton challenges, but she will also leave behind her daily commute and the threat from Wall Street creditors to take away retirement pensions of city employees,” the story said.
Municipal chaos — who knows? But the prospect of reduced pensions definitely makes recruiting and retention of good people harder. Best not to be penny wise and pound foolish.