Last week, the Harbor District announced the hire of former City of Arcata Director of Community Development Larry Oetker to fill the role of Executive Director.
And before we get into the heavy stuff: THC totally called it!
And while we were full of praises and high hopes for Oetker and the Harbor District when we first broke the news (shocking, we know), Oetker’s appointment got us to thinking.
How big of a drain on public resources is created by people who “retire” from one public job, only to go and take another high-paying job with another public agency?
Let’s use Oetker as an example. In his last full year as the Director of Community Development for Arcata, in 2015, he earned $122,736.44 in salary and another $44,437.61 in benefits, for a total of $167,174.05 in compensation. Not bad at all, huh?
Oetker will now earn a salary of $110,000.00 from the Harbor District for working as the Executive Director.
Even with a very, very conservative estimate of his retirement package, Oetker is bringing in at least $180,000 a year, and that number is probably closer to $210,000 a year.
So here’s the rub, in THC’s estimation: why is the public on the hook for paying Oetker’s retirement, while he is clearly still working for another public agency, at the same time that we are providing him a damn high salary?
And it gets fishier, too. David Loya was hired as Oetker’s replacement with the City of Arcata, and is bringing in about $90,000 per year (as of 2016, per the Times-Standard).
So not only is the City of Arcata paying Loya, they’ve also funded retirement for Oetker to go and work somewhere else after he “retired” well before retirement age.
Oh wait, that’s right! Jack Crider, the former Executive Director at the Harbor District, is also still being paid as a “consultant” to the Harbor District after he bailed on the E.D. job earlier this year. Crider wasn’t satisfied in leaving the Harbor District on the brink of economic disaster – he decided he should continue getting paid
Worst part is, our Harbor District and Commissioners let him get away with it.
In this particular case, it’s no surprise that the Harbor District is spiraling the financial drain. Combined with their penchant for paying too many folks too much money for doing the same job, they also can’t get a grip on things like dredging the harbor and finding tenants for their commercial and industrial spaces.
The examples of this happening aren’t limited to the Harbor District; there are so many examples just within Humboldt that it boggles our mind that people are continued to siphon off the public teat in this way.
The amount of money being paid to former public officials and employees, who are also current officials and employees, is staggering.
Go ahead, Humboldt: give us more examples of people double-dipping on the public treasury.