Larry Oetker takes over as Harbor District Director, collects salary and retirement at the same time

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!


Harbor District tabs Larry Oetker as next Executive Director

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.

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15 Responses to Larry Oetker takes over as Harbor District Director, collects salary and retirement at the same time

  1. Fs says:

    Great article, but how to reform a system that rewards double and triple dipping? It’s a system that rewards old familiar buddies in the clan, and it’s of course about politics, of keeping some status quo thing in perpetual motion.


  2. Suzy says:

    Look at the new Federal Courthouse in McKinleyville, staffed by retired law enforcement personnel.


  3. Dramaqueen says:

    Randy Mendoza – Retired City of Arcata (six months as interim City Manager in Fortuna.). David Tyson -Retired City of Eureka now Econ Dev Director for Cher A Heights/Trinidad Rancheria plus various consulting Gigs for cities in CA… the list is endless. Supposedly CalPERS allows Retired to work up to 960 hrs per year to draw full- benefits but there is no follow-up to monitor the number of retirees that draw full pensions while working full-time in another sector. And to get think… social security recipients with their maximum benefit of 32,000 per year cannot draw benefits while working over a very small amount per year. What’s wrong with this picture???


    • Billy says:

      CalPERS retired annuitants are restricted to working 960 hours for a CalPERS agency. If someone retires from CalPERS and wishes to work full time for a non-PERS company or agency, they are free to do so. Same as if they retired from CalPERS and wanted to start a business of their own. No mystery.


      • Hi Billy! Thanks for stopping by. We don’t think it’s a mystery that folks are allowed to work for CalPERS agencies part-time,or for non-CalPERS entities, while still receiving a pension. It’s very clearly outlined in CalPERS’ documentation.

        The question is, why is this still being allowed, and where is the outrage? CalPERS is failing in its purpose, and it will eventually drag the rest of the state down with it if left unchecked. It’s simply not sustainable, for taxpayers or for pensioners.

        Liked by 1 person

    • David Tyson says:

      Actually I don’t work for any public agency and have not for several years…unless you count volunteering. I do work for private businesses but I was unaware I gave up the right to work. Dramaqueen thanks for the clarification. Now get a life and quit following me around…you’re sick.


  4. billy says:

    So, a CalPERS retiree can retire, not work, and collect his/her retirement, but if he/she goes to work for a business or agency, he or she should be penalized? How does that help anything?


    • Cousin Eddiie says:

      Give someone else a job who doesn’t already have a $110k income, I think is the point.


    • Arcatan says:

      I actually don’t think the problem is with retired people working. The issue is the unfair playing field between public and private sector taxation. If a retired public employee decides to get a job they simply make more money and their pension is unaffected. If a private sector retiree continues to work their pension and particularly SSI receives extra taxation. If one couples this with the fact that public employees are able to retire decades earlier with a exponentially larger pension than the private sector employee one can easily see the source of resentment. Private business understands that they have to directly pay the cost of pensions. If they offer more than they can afford they go broke. Public entities don’t operate under the same set of constraints. They can pay whatever benefits the public employee unions demand without repercussion since they aren’t the ones paying the bills and thus far there is no end to their ability to finance the shortfalls. It’s really no wonder public employees get the better deal and why private sector employees are resentful. Until elected officials have to deal with the repercussions of their unsustainable practices the inequity will persist.


    • Arcatan says:

      It doesn’t help anything but it does put them in the same position as a private sector retiree.


  5. Rusty says:

    Exactly, that is why you have retired CHP working in the DA’s office and in the Sheriffs department. They applied for the job. Paying retired highly trained personnel to work two weeks per month is not the problem.


    • Jimmy says:

      The problem isn’t with the working people. It’s with the illegal users of resources and those unwilling to work for their “entitlements “. And the politicians who support them. Exactly why I voted for President Trump. Twice;)


    • Arcatan says:

      Rusty, I believe that you are correct. The problem isn’t retired people working. The issue is a system that allows employees the ability to retire before they have sufficiently contributed to the retirement benefits they receive. If those same retired CHP officers needed to work till 65 at their first career like the rest of us to be able to receive a basic retirement package there wouldn’t be an issue. No that doesn’t mean I want to see old geezer cops stumbling down the highway putting themselves and others at risk when they are no longer able to do the job, that’s an entirely different issue then them adequately
      contributing to their retirement.


      • Rusty says:

        Exactly, They do it because they can. Retire on Captains pay at 50 ish move to County pay, retire again later, double dip ….sweet! That’s the problem. Public employees retirement should all be connected, Fed, State, County one retirement. The Sheriff in Siskiyou County is triple dipping. Military , State CHP and now County Sheriff, Sweet!
        That’s the Problem. Powerful State Unions negotiating super sweet deals for State employees in times of economic growth only to shaft the public sector and themselves someday when the rain comes, that’s the problem.
        They do it because they can. Its nothing personal, its just Business….. Greedy Bastards.


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