Opponent of pay raises for governor bumped from state panel

State commissioner who opposed pay raises is disqualified from panel by governor's office

With a state panel set this week to consider pay raises for Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers, the Brown administration has declared vacant a seat held by a member who led the charge in past years to cut officials’ salaries by 23%.

John Stites said he was recently notified by Brown’s appointments secretary that he is no longer eligible to serve on the California Citizens Compensation Commission because he filed papers to run for constable in Henderson, Nev., that indicated he now lives in that community.

Last year, Stites, a retired Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sergeant, was the only commissioner to vote against giving Brown and other elected state officials a 5.2% raise. Stites said last year that though he maintained a home in Los Angeles, his primary residence was in Nevada. He was allowed to vote at that time after some officials said the state Constitution is unclear on whether commissioners must live in the state full time.

The state Constitution says the governor should "provide a balanced representation of the geographic, gender, racial and ethnic diversity of the state in appointing commission members." But Jim Evans, a spokesman for the governor, noted Friday that a section of the state government code says a public office becomes vacant upon the holder "ceasing to be an inhabitant of the state."

Stites was given 30 days to present proof that he is an inhabitant of the state and "he didn’t reply, so we consider the seat to be vacant," Evans said.

Stites, who was appointed by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said he sold his Southern California home in March and that he will not attend the commission meeting Friday. He predicted that raises will be approved by the panel, which now includes a majority appointed by Brown.

“Now that the liberal base has control of the commission, I await to see how much they will propose to begin to 'restore' the cuts made by the only commission that had the courage to actually represent the citizens,” Stites said in an email. “It will not take long before the company cars are back in play. Their arrogance knows no bounds.”

The raise granted last year was pitched as a partial restoration of pay that was cut during the previous five years.

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