Opinion

Commentary: Reining in bloated executive salaries

Revelations about bloated executive pay are coming fast. With the city manager in Bell earning nearly $800,000 yearly, it is easy to forget about excess salaries given to Wall Street executives and University of California administrators. We also should not overlook the mini-scandal that has rocked the California School Boards Association.

News accounts revealed that the executive director of the CSBA, an organization funded in part by dues from public school districts, earned $540,395 in 2008, including an outrageous bonus of $175,000. It is yet another sign that excessive compensation is out of touch with economic realities. The average working Californian earned $49,550 in 2009.

The temptation is to blame the individuals receiving the stratospheric compensation. But the real responsibility lies with the boards that approve the pay packages and who are supposed to be the financial stewards.

Ultimately, public exposure -- and accompanying public pressure -- is the best check.

In the city of Bell, population 37,000, the public belatedly found out about excessive pay through news accounts. When they did, the city administrative officer ($787,637 a year), police chief ($457,000 a year), assistant city manager ($376,288 a year) all agreed to resign.

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