Commentary: California's ex-Assembly speaker leaves a mess

As every business guru will tell you, one of the most important aspects of leadership is setting a good example.

By giving 20 staff members 10 percent pay raises on her way out the door, former Assembly Speaker Karen Bass provided more proof, if any were needed, that she is woefully out of touch with the times.

It is a pitiful, politically tone-deaf parting gift to the state.

Even allowing for the possibility that some lower-paid staffers deserved more money, to quietly grant the promotions and pay hikes on her final day is unconscionable. Instead of looking out for her own, Bass should have been thinking more about state workers who are getting slammed with pay cuts and furloughs and about Californians getting crunched by cuts in services forced by the budget crisis.

In her defense of what she called "modest increases," Bass argued that the Assembly needs to keep good people and that she was still being frugal because she had earlier cut other positions that more than covered the cost. Her action "reflects and respects the tough times we are in," she said in the written statement.

Really? Do you know anyone else getting 10 percent raises these days? The move also seems in conflict with her April order freezing Assembly staff salaries except in rare cases. Bass was too raise-happy last year as well, and was forced to rescind them for about 120 staffers, including 10 on the new list.

To read the complete editorial, visit www.sacbee.com.