SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A newly-elected Sacramento city councilmember says he hopes to set a positive example in the wake of a nationally publicized salary scandal in Southern California by taking a pass on his paycheck.
District 7 representative Darrell Fong said many of his own campaign staff were caught by surprise when he decided to decline his $60,000 salary — plus benefits.
“Had a meeting with the campaign manager, said, ‘I think I’m not going to take a salary.’ They didn’t believe me,” Fong said. “He said, ‘Are you serious?’”
The retired Sacramento police captain, with more than 30 years on the force, collects more than $100,000 each year for his pension. It wouldn’t be right to take the equivalent of a police officer’s starting salary from the general fund while Sacramento deals with a serious cash shortfall, Fong said.
Most others on the city council, including former basketball star Mayor Kevin Johnson, are not following in Fong’s footsteps.
Political experts says the decision to skip the salary is a crowd pleaser but unrealistic for most politicians.
“We have to remember, it is a full-time job for many people and that they’re not well off and have pensions,” said political consultant Steve Maviglio.
Councilmembers Steve Cohn, Angelique Ashby and Jay Schenirer were the only three to comment Monday on Fong’s decision, and all said they rely on their salaries to make ends meet.
Some councilmembers have taken a five percent pay cut.
Fong is still taking a car and cell phone allowance along with life insurance, and he says he may take his salary once the economy recovers.