A late Independent Expenditure Report, Form 496, filed on May 6, 2014, shows that the Opportunity PAC, “A coalition of teachers, health care givers, faculty members, school employees, and public and private employee associations,” has lined up more than $500,000 in opposition to Democratic Candidate Bill Dodd, a Napa County Supervisor.
Bill Dodd, with a substantial war chest of his own and a smaller $50,000 independent expenditure campaign funded by the insurance industry on his behalf, is presumed to be the frontrunner in a five-person race to replace incumbent Assemblymember Mariko Yamada, before the wave of mailers and potential television ads bombard voters over the next weeks.
The filing shows the COPE contributing $50,000, CNA $25,000, Service Employees $100,000, SFA $50,000, CSEA $100,000, SEIU Local 1000 $100,000, and UFCW another $100,000.
In 2008, West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon was a presumed frontrunner, but a last month blitz of mailers and precinct walkers pushed Mariko Yamada over the top in relatively stunning fashion. Will the late blitz have a similar impact here in a race where Dan Wolk was a distant third in fundraising, behind Supervisor Dodd and Davis Mayor Joe Krovoza?
On the other hand, the first mailer hit Davis voters’ mailboxes on Wednesday.
It indicates “Being a politician is hard work – just ask Bill Dodd.” The ad features of pictorial representation of a Napa Valley Register article that reads, “Supervisors Get $1000 Raise.” The attack line is “Bill Dodd pushed a tax increase… then gave himself a raise.”
In the blurb it states, “A year after leading the charge to raise taxes, Supervisor Dodd – a Napa County millionaire – voted to raise his pay to $85,370. Dodd was also getting a stipend of $7,400 when he voted himself more than $440 in monthly car and phone allowances, and a health benefits and retirement package.”
FACT CHECK: The ad represents a heavy distortion from the facts. In December, the Board of Supervisors did approve a 1.4 percent increase in salary, an additional $1000. It represented the first pay increase in six years.
But importantly, the Napa paper reported, “The pay raises are mandated by Napa County ordinance, which ties the supervisors’ salaries to a percentage of Napa County Superior Court judges’ pay. Superior Court judges statewide are getting the same 1.4 percent pay raise, increasing their salaries from $178,789 annually to $181,292.”
The article continues, “Napa County supervisors by law receive 47.09 percent of the Superior Court judges’ salaries. The 1.4 percent pay bump will take their annual salaries from $84,204 to about $85,370. The county received notice Dec. 2 of the judicial pay raises, which are also retroactive to July 1, according to a county staff report.”
“Supervisors and judges haven’t seen a pay raise since 2007 because of the state government’s budget problems, which resulted in a freeze of judicial salaries. The state provides the majority of the funding for California’s 58 trial courts,” the Napa paper reports.
“That’s a long time ago,” Supervisor Bill Dodd told the paper. “That’s our first raise in salary since 2007. Hopefully the public will not be disappointed in this.”
The paper also notes, “Their salaries are still the smallest among their fellow North Bay supervisors. Solano County gives its supervisors about $94,000 in base pay, while Marin County offers about $97,000, although that’s slated to increase to $107,000 next year. Sonoma County pays its supervisors $134,000 annually.”
The Vanguard ran into Bill Dodd on Wednesday and he noted that, while the Board of Supervisors was required to vote to approve the pay increase, because of the ordinance, even if they had voted against it, the pay increase would have taken effect.
Yolo County has a similar ordinance tying pay increases to judge’s salaries as it takes the unsavory nature away from politicians having to vote to increase their own salaries.
Last September, the Davis City Council voted 4-1 to increase their stipend from $669.42 per month to $1138. Mayor Krovoza voted with the majority while Dan Wolk dissented.
He argued the $30,000 or so saved by keeping salaries at the current level would be better spent elsewhere and it sends the wrong message to city employees.
He said during the meeting, “I think that in this financial period where we’re cutting, and every dollar counts, I think raising council compensation is not a good idea, not only financially but also for the optics of it.”
Meanwhile Joe Krovoza, also a candidate for Assembly voted in favor of the stipend increase. The increase does not take effect until the new councilmembers are sworn in and Joe Krovoza at the time that he cast the vote, had already announced his run for Assembly and that he would not run again.
Overall, we find the ad misleading given the lack of choice that the supervisors had in the pay increase. Our experience, however, is that the first salvo is not necessarily the most effective.
—David M. Greenwald reporting