Archive for November, 2010

Overpaid public servants should be giving thanks to the taxpayers

November 24, 2010

By David Farside

Nov. 22nd, 2010

At one time the only reason anyone worked as a public servant was because they couldn‘t find a job anywhere else. Although the pay scale was proportionately lower than the private sector, the benefits — job security,  longer vacations, paid insurance and dreams of early retirement — were disproportionately better, providing more than enough compensation to entice the unemployable.

How times have changed.

The city of Reno just hired Edward Finger as an assistant city manager and finance director. His starting salary is a measly $167,000 a year. Combined with insurance, retirement and other perks, his total pay is equivalent to at least $180,000 annually, or close to $3,500 weekly. Five hundred dollars a day paid to a government employee isn’t a bad wage in these hard times, but compared to wages paid to other government employees it’s just a drop in the proverbial bucket of government paychecks.

Professor William Zamboni, chair of surgery curriculum and chief of the of plastic surgery courses at the University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Medicine, is the highest paid government employee in Nevada. He earned $1,385,872.20 including benefits in 2009.  You have to wonder how he has time to maintain his private patient care center for plastic and reconstructive surgery in Sin City.  Dr. John Gosche, a pediatric surgeon and the third highest paid state employee, received almost $705,000 for his services as professor of medicine at the university’s Reno campus.

In the order of university of Nevada priorities in education,  Lon Kruger, University of Nevada Las Vegas basketball coach, is the second highest paid state employee receiving a gratuitous $1,220,398.52 for teaching 15 kids, or so-called “student athletes,” how to run up and down a hardwood floor, shoot a ball into a basket and spend the summer traveling around the world looking for future recruits who can jump as high as the backboard. If you’re paid more than $23,000 a week for educating our super-bright scholarship athletes, the university must consider coaching a top priority second only to a doctorate degree in medicine. Don’t you think?

Ninth on the list is the head football coach for the Las Vegas campus, Michael Sanford. He earned $467,630.10 in 2009 for teaching young men how to run, hit, block, tackle, pass a ball and lose to Chris Ault’s Wolf Pack and pistol offense.

Speaking of Ault, he ranked 10th on the list, raking in $494,000 for teaching students the same thing except he is still learning how to manage the clock in big games on national television. Maybe he needs a raise, but not until after his first year in his new conference when he’s ranked next to last.

Milton Glick, president of the University of Nevada, Reno, received $476,000 in 2009 for his expertise in cutting cost, raising tuition rates and paying coaches more than he receives himself. What a guy!

But if you really want to make money in government, your job description should include the word “fire.”

During the recent campaign for Sparks City Council between Ed Lawson and Bob Lopes, the salary of Mrs. Lopes became politicized. Tamara Lopes is a battalion fire chief for the city of Reno and had earned more than $270,000 in one year. That averages out to about $750 a day, which is more than the average worker in the private sector earns in a week. That seems like a great deal of money for a public employee in Reno or anyplace else. On second thought, maybe it fits in with current wages received by other altruistic members of our public safety team.

In 2009, Michael Parry, assistant fire chief in North Las Vegas, made more than $661,000. Randall Jones, fire battalion chief in Henderson, earned more than $400,000. Two other Las Vegas-area fire department employees grossed more than $444,000 and $270,000 respectively. No wonder there isn’t enough money to pay teachers a livable wage. But, as we know, paying for public safety is like paying for life insurance: You hope you never have to use it and then complain the premium is too high.

Maybe government employees should be paid on a sliding scale starting with our president at the top. He is paid $400,000 annually as the head executive leader in our foreign affairs decisions and commander in-chief of our military. He is held responsible for policy governing our health and welfare, economy, education, security and public safety for more than 311 million people. Never mind. Just a thought.

This Thanksgiving many overpaid public servants should give a special thanks to taxpayers who have lost their job, home, savings, car, insurance and personal dignity but continue to maintain the public trough to pay their inflated salaries.