Assemblyman protests Brown’s new $343,000-a-year director
Originally published May 17, 2011 at 5:50 p.m., updated May 17, 2011 at 6:42 p.m.
Sacramento — Santee Assemblyman Brian Jones has challenged Gov. Jerry Brown to fully explain why he quietly arranged an unusual $1.25 million, three-year-plus contract for the new director of the Department of Social Services while at the same time asking for higher taxes and cutting off aid to thousands of needy Californians.
“Unconscionable,” is how Jones, a Republican, describes the deal for William Lightbourne to take over the reins at the department.
Lightbourne’s immediate boss, Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Diana Dooley, defended the agreement, noting Lightbourne takes over during a challenging time as the state moves to transfer many programs to counties.
Also, Lightbourne will assume the responsibilities of a previous deputy director paid $103,000 annually as well as that of director. “This is net less expensive,” Dooley said.
Jones is using the Public Records Act to demand that Brown provide copies of other similar contracts, correspondence and other financial data related to the hiring process.
Jones also plans to ask the state auditor to investigate. Meanwhile, Sen. Joel Anderson, R-La Mesa, urged the Upper House to closely scrutinize the contract.
Lightbourne will be paid what he earned in San Mateo County. Those paydays could work out to about $343,000 annually in salary and benefits. That includes a $400 a month car allowance, on the condition he not bill the state for travel expenses. The $216,000 in direct salary is $50,000 more than his predecessor.
“There are a lot more questions at this time than answers,” said Jones.
Rather than directly hire Lightbourne, Brown arranged a special executive on loan contract with Santa Clara County, where he was its social services chief. That county pays Lightbourne, who is then reimbursed by the state. That arrangement allows Brown to pay Lightbourne more than the cap for the post under state law.
The governor has 90 days to file his appointment with the Senate, which holds confirmation power. Appointees subject to confirmation can serve up to a year without a Senate vote. Lightbourne started May 11.
Through his office, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, signaled that Lightbourne’s salary and contract will be closely reviewed as part of the confirmation process.