At the Pinal County Board of Supervisors meeting, on Feb. 5, three Republican supervisors violated the County Merit System rules for promotions and reclassifications by doing an end-around Human Resources.
Interestingly, the three supervisors claimed that the pay increases were part of a job promotion to a higher salary grade except that, if this were true, the positions would be open to all who wanted to apply. You guessed it: the positions were only open to the supervisors’ personal assistants. The pay increases took the form of a job reclassification to a higher pay grade although none of the Executive Assistants skill sets had changed.
When the three supervisors attempted to force the “promotions” through HR, a market study conducted by HR confirmed that the executive assistants were being compensated appropriately when compared to other counties. The county manager refused to sign off on the “gift of public funds.”
The three supervisors proceeded to violate county policy and all fairness by forcing a vote on the Board of Supervisors. Public opposition was fervent. Not one public comment supported this egregious circumvention of county policy.
How could the three supervisors gift a 28 percent increase in salary to the personal assistants when Pinal County employees received on 2.5 percent in the last five years? Where is the equity for all Pinal County employees?
As I spoke publicly at the board meeting, “ . . . no one on this board can convince me that the proposed position of assistant to the Board . . . has greater responsibility, faces greater inherent danger and is more critical to Pinal County than the front-line Deputy whose salary begins at $45,000 annually . . . and you (the board) want to gift your executive assistants at over $57,000? Where is the equity to those deputies who put their lives on the line . . . This entire discussion is not about money. It is about ethics . . . To paraphrase Justice Potter Stewart: there is a big difference between what you have a right to do and want is right to do.”
After public comments, the three supervisors spent upwards of an hour attempting to justify the promotion of each of their Executive Assistants. Todd House, District 5, attempted to bloviate the issue by stating that the egregiously exorbitant salary increases would put Pinal County on the “national scene,” a ludicrous and politically immature comment. Further, House stated that part of the “new” duties of his executive assistant would be to help him “stay in office” by helping to re-elect him. Obviously House has no clue as to what the Hatch Act is all about.
Cheryl Chase, District 2, tried to make a distinction between a deputy sheriff and her executive assistant as being entirely different in duties [you think?] without addressing the basic unfairness of placing a personal assistant at a salary level 27 percent above that of a Deputy whose job has such greater responsibility and so much more danger.
Anthony Smith, who has been described by the Coolidge Examiner as the “mastermind” behind the so-called promotions, attempted to rationalize the promotions to satisfy future needs of the county. As the saying goes, “you protest too much.”
Supervisors Pete Rios (Democrat) and Steve Miller (Republican) were passionately opposed to the three supervisors individual motions. In agreement with public comments, Rios and Miller based their opposition on fairness to all Pinal County employees and a violation of Pinal County Merit rules.
The end result was approval of the gift of salary increases to their personal assistants by the three supervisors: an egregious slap in the face to all Pinal County employees.
The end result: the three supervisors have guaranteed Pinal County homeowners significant future property taxes increases, not to mention that House, Chase and Smith will have to carry the burden of their decision into the next election.
When politicians campaign for less government, lower taxes, and honest government, they better damn well mean it. The three supervisors appear to have suffered collective political amnesia.