A Treasure of a Treasurer’s Position

 

There are five candidates running for the office of Escondido City Treasurer http://www.times-advocate.com/news/2016-08-25/Front_Page/Five_candidates_vie_for_city_treasurer.html . This is not too surprising, since:  “The city council shall fix the treasurer’s salary annually at no less than one-half (1/2) the highest salary paid to a city department head other than the city manager, unless a lower salary is requested by the city treasurer, with benefits equal to those provided such appointee.” http://qcode.us/codes/escondido/?view=desktop&topic=2  Interpretation: the total compensation well over $100K—for what all seem to agree to be a part time position.

Under California law, a general law city like Escondido can either elect or appoint the offices of City Treasurer and City Clerk. http://www.smartvoter.org/2012/06/05/ca/cc/meas/L/

Escondido’s Treasurer has always been an elected position. But in 1984 Escondido citizens voted in Proposition F, which, according to the L.A. Times, was an attempt to “restore the salaries and powers of office to both the Escondido city clerk and treasurer, powers that were removed by the City Council in a dispute over investment of city funds.” https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/173914614/ Proposition N, passed two years later seems to have increased the independent authority of the City Treasurer and Clerk. In the argument against Prop. N, there is an interesting statement by the former City Treasurer, Ruth V. Thomas. Ruth.png

The City Treasurer, since 1984, has been Kenneth C. Hugins. In his last election in November 2012, he won by only 27 votes. His opponent was 23-year old Michelle Fawcett who had no political experience. http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sdut-candidates-reflect-on-close-escondido-treasurer-2012dec07-story.html  In 2012, he claimed to have returned more than $500,000 in salary. http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sdut-escondido-treasurer-race-a-contrast-in-age-style-2012oct13-story.html

In his candidate statement of 2012, Hugins avowed that he served on a part time basis. So it was a bit of a surprise when the candidate endorsed by not only Hugins, but the four white Republican males on the City Council announced at a forum held on September 13, by the first United Methodist Church, that he, Douglas W. Shultz, was especially qualified for the job, because he had been serving as a “volunteer assistant City Treasurer.” Say what? A part-time position that pays close to $200K per year needs an assistant? Even a volunteer assistant? It is impossible to imagine that such assistance did not involve some use of the City staffs’ time. A contribution of a sort to a candidate for city office. If this is not illegal, it certainly should be. One can just imagine how the good ole’ boys dreamt up this supposed embellishment to their candidates credentials. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Same ole’ crony capitalism manure.

There are three other Republicans running, including Robroy Fawcett, father of the aforementioned Michelle and perennial gadfly. Fawcett is the man who started the recall campaign against Olga Diaz, for no particular reason other than he disagreed with her politics. Fortunately, Fawcett couldn’t organize a one-car parade.

One can only hope that the Republicans will split the vote sufficiently to allow the one reasonable progressive, Blaise Jackson to win.

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