County pensioners are part of Humboldt’s 1%; see who’s worth millions because of your taxes

You’ll recall that last week we did a piece detailing how deep our County’s pension debt runs, and what the amount of pension debt per capita and per household is. You can revisit that post here: Humboldt County residents owe $4,702 per person towards County employees’ pension

We also promised that we’d come back with a list of a bunch of folks who are breaking the bank for not working at all – and thanks to your many requests, we’ve expanded that list of high-earning pensioners to a few organizations other than just the County of Humboldt.

Remember, there’s a simple solution to avoid making even more retirees worth millions at your expense – and it starts with telling your Supervisors to stand up to the union that is gouging the public’s wallets.

Here’s a list of the County’s top 10 pension earners, plus a few notables.

countypension1county-pension-2That rounds out just the Top 10 – check out the full list to see how many other people are more than tripling the average income for a Humboldt resident for not working! (Which isn’t that much of a change, considering that most County employees don’t do all that much work anyway.) There are a lot of familiar names in there, like Stephen Strawn, our former Treasurer, and former Auditor-Controller Michael Giacone. And who could forget Carolyn Crnich, Registrar of Voters. Wtf?

Now here’s a few notables:


Now, several of you were very interested in Humboldt State’s pensions, and then we’ll get into individuals  that were requested. So, HSU (full list):


Turns out HSU’s pension debt is worse than the County’s when you look at number of earners above $100,000 per year. Also of note is that nearly all of those people worked as administrators, rather than teachers, which serves to highlight that top-level administrative bloat is fairly universal when it comes to any public institution in California.

Now here is another seemingly random individual that we were requested to highlight.

First off is John McFarland, a fire chief who got around! He magically retired from three different Fire Districts, which is great for pushing your pension through the roof. $118,000+ per year is one hell of a nest egg.

mcfarlandPhillip Crandall, former Czar of Humboldt’s DHHS, was requested by a number of people, but his pension information isn’t available yet. We’ll try again later.

So, Humboldt, who else do you want to know about? Be warned that delving too deep into this can be an ordeal. It really sucks thinking about how, on the backs of the average Humboldt taxpayer who makes an average of $23,516 a year, so many publicly-employed people are making bank.

And the worst part is realizing that your Supervisors continue to approve these massively lucrative pensions for these people.

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13 Responses to County pensioners are part of Humboldt’s 1%; see who’s worth millions because of your taxes

  1. Taxpayer says:

    The only ones that piss me off are those that got raises ahead of their retirement to ensure a higher pension


    • Agree with you. That is a way that people heading toward retirement work the system so they get lots of overtime, go to workshops (more hours!) and so on. Some ‘bank’ their overtime for years and then convert it to vacation pay which then gets rolled into the final total for the pension bottom line.
      And how well funded is CalPirg? Not well funded at all.


      • TMOB says:

        I read that same article and a few others directly from the CalPers, Pirg, whatever sites of theirs that have to publish the retiree investment portfolio info. In theory…and what must be a very well-marketed investment scheme theory….it’s funded OK. Not spectacularly. Just OK. What was supposed to net 7.5% ROI (high returns covering negative returns and this is the net) netted a microscopic 0.61%. That isn’t going to fund anything more than a handful of years unless they start cutting out entire departments of staff and trim fat AND meat from budgets. They sure as hell are not going to get the public to pony up votes for new bonds or anything that has the potential to be robbed for “general fund” purposes later. Basically the state sold everyone on a weather report that it would be sunny 3 days in a row in December. 6 years from now. What they didn’t say was the report was for Crescent City, not San Diego.


  2. Arcatan says:

    Humm. Those making $23k are paying the $100k plus retirement for public employees. The real question is why those officials that voted for this are still in office. Seems to me that there should be a cap on all public employees salaries/retirement of double the average annual income of the public they supposedly serve and who are paying them. I’d vote for any Supervisor or Councilperson that had that as part of their platform.


  3. ” The real question is why those officials that voted for this are still in office.”

    Great question Arcatan, did not hear a whole bunch of belly-aching at the time when Supervisors Fennell or Bohn in the months leading up for their elections in June.

    I know it is anathema here to support any union proposition, but as soon as our supervisors removed the “Me Too” clause from my union’s contract, the one that you railed against at the time, the flood gates opened and the Supervisors quickly gave raises to themselves then politically favorable (and large donors) employees such as law enforcement.

    You might want to get politically active now if you want to unseat Sundberg or Bass. I would love for you all to find a anti-government, anti-union, anti-regulation candidate to run against either one. Many others will be doing similar work from the position diametrically opposed from the views of our local anon faux-populist conservatives.


    • Arcatan says:


      I would certainly support replacing Bass and Sundberg. It would probably surprise you to know that I would not support the same action for Lovelace. Mark ran on a specific platform and by in large he has followed through on his promises. I choose to live in Arcata and while I might not always agree Mark representation suits his constituency. Bass and Sundberg on the other hand also ran on very specific platforms. Unlike Lovelace, they have largely abandoned their promises and the constituency that elected them. While I can’t vote for either, I would strongly support ousting any official whose integrity is so low that they would swap ideology simply because it’s politically expedient. It would be far better if these lowest kind of politicians could be jailed instead of simply replaced.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Michelle Steele says:

    Seems like a Ponzi.. scheme going on
    Here. They make Bank while there are
    People starving and homeless on
    The streets.. Damaged Lawson anyway.
    The average person don’t even make
    That much working there Asses off. Talk about Crooks amongst us.


  5. Michelle Steele says:

    Damaged Laws.. anyway it was supposed to say.


  6. Rusty Cage says:

    Hmm. I see two Chief Probation Officers, William Burke and Douglas Rasines, retiring with hefty pensions in the top statistic box. The problem is, one retired the year after the other (2009 and 2010). So we have a double overlap of a year that now pays an extra hefty freight of two overly-paid administrators. The total price is 270k in pension for the two every year. What a rigged gig.

    But wait! There’s more. And who’s the Chief PO now? William Damiano, who according to Transparent California, is the 7th highest paid County employee pulling in a whopping $215k in total pay and benefits, and also eligible to retire soon. So taxpayers get to shell out for 3 CPOs alone to the tune of nearly half a million dollars for the many years to come. And there will be a fourth CPO coming up the ranks soon. And this is from only one County Department.

    We can’t afford this sort of rip-off tariff. It’s pretty outrageous.


    • Rich Brazil says:

      Those Chief Probation Officers, Damiano, Rasines, and Burke (there’s also a 4th person, too: David Lehman) collect Safety Retirement. That means, they draw retirement at age 50. 50!

      So, with a large salary in hand and an early retirement age beckoning, we foot the bill for more and more of these ‘safety’ types. Good God, how is their job unsafe? By falling out of their desk?


  7. Comment says:

    When did Civil Service change from an honorable contribution to society to a way to get rich? The County has become an employment service, keeping staffing levels high regardless of need, to justify large budgets and reduce the actual work required to be performed by each person.
    The waste of funds in our own County is staggering.
    Look into the cost of catering for the various County agency holiday parties this year as the tip of the iceberg. Why are County departments using taxpayer funds to cater parties?
    Right after the County just spent nearly $30,000 to repair their enormous towable barbecue.


  8. Roger Bar says:

    Those are peanut crumbs compared to the Rico riodellians crew , hell they pull free and clear 1.8 million dollar ag grants for wells that are already present, not to mention reaming the residents 16 million dollar bond on a shit pond relocation. There are more kickbacks than a chineese o66 chainsaw. They have really done their homework by getting in the porkbarrel before cooking the books.


  9. Mary says:

    But after over 20 years of contributing into the PERS retirement..they deserve that pension…it’s really not that much. I know I have a good amount taken out of my check every month as a teacher.over 30 years, it would have come close to that… The public employees paid into that…a lot!


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