Gov. Brown withdraws two appointments to state panel that will set his pay

Gov. Jerry Brown talks to reporters after inspecting an electric-powered UPS delivery truck last month.
(Rich Pedroncelli / AP)

On the eve of a meeting on setting salaries for the governor and other state officials, Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday announced that he was appointing two new members to a state panel that will make the decision.

But shortly afterward, Brown’s office announced that it was having to cancel the appointments because the two people had previously worked for the state.

The appointments could have potentially increased the likelihood that the California Citizens Compensation Commission would provide pay raises for Brown, state lawmakers and other officials, one member of the panel said. However, another commissioner said a raise remains unlikely.


Brown’s office said later that it had been “premature” in announcing the appointments to the commission of LeRoy Chatfield, 78, of Sacramento, and Nora Vargas, 41, of Chula Vista. Chatfield is an online publisher for the Farmworker Movement Documentation Project and the Syndic Literary Journal. Vargas is vice president of community engagement at Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest.

“Under statute, prior employment with the state of California precludes these individuals from serving on the commission,” the governor’s office said in a statement. “When new appointments are made, they will be announced.”

Earlier this week, Commission Chairman Thomas Dalzell had predicted that with two vacancies it was unlikely there would be the required four votes to change salaries.

The appointments would have changed the dynamic of the seven-member panel, which has had a majority of members appointed by former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Those members have cut the pay of state officials by 23% in the last four years.

“We Schwarzenegger appointees are now outnumbered by the Brown appointees,’’ Commissioner Charles Murray said before two new appointments were withdrawn. As a result, he said, it would have been more likely the panel would approve pay raises if it is determined in May that there is a sufficient budget surplus. Raises are not allowed in years when the surplus falls below a certain level.


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