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UPDATED: Council Reviews City Manager Paul Arevalo's Performance

Six people offer feedback during the public portion of a special City Council session concerning Arevalo's yearly performance evaluation.

City Manager Paul Arevalo is credited with maintaining West Hollywood’s AAA credit rating at a time when other cities are severely cutting services or facing bankruptcy. The 50-year-old is also a lightning rod for criticism by residents due to his high salary, failure to respond to phone calls or emails, and the large amount of time he spends out of the office.

Thursday night, Arevalo, city manager since 2000 and Director of Finance before that, received his yearly performance evaluation during a special session of the City Council. As is allowed under the Brown Act, the Council's feedback was given during a closed session, but the beginning of that evaluation process was open for the public to make comments about Arevalo’s performance.

Even though the Arevalo evaluation was a hot topic of discussion on the Weho Patch comment boards, only six people showed up to give their feedback in person. According to City Hall insiders, about a dozen emails regarding Arevalo’s evaluation were also received.

Among the six people present at the session, Arevalo’s annual salary was the biggest concern. While his salary has been reported to range from $275,000 to more than $500,000, the insiders told Patch Arevalo’s 2010 salary was $347,000 plus benefits.

One person wanted to know how the city could justify such a high salary in a city of 34,000 people. Another person said that Arevalo’s salary seemed out of line given that city services have been cut in other areas such as family activities in Plummer Park.

The incomplete report on city-sponsored special events was another source of concern. Despite having six months to complete that report, when Arevalo submitted it to the Council in January, it lacked figures for cost and attendance at each event. One public commenter noted that in the private sector, Arevalo would have been fired for turning in an incomplete report, especially given that those numbers should have been readily available to him. 

The fact that Arevalo lives in Pasadena was a concern for some people. They said that since he does not live in West Hollywood, he does not use the city like a resident would, and therefore does not understand the concerns of residents and problems that need to be addressed.

Other commenters said that Arevalo suffers from a PR problem, noting that the public perception is that he only reports to two councilmembers (Abbe Land and John Heilman), rather than all five. Arevalo’s less-than-transparent ways of conducting city business was also mentioned.  

Even though the speakers addressed the council with their comments, Arevalo was present to hear everything. He appeared uncomfortable as he listened to the criticism, but did not respond to anything that was said.

After the public comment portion of the meeting ended, the council went into closed session to give Arevalo their feedback. That session lasted more than two hours. However, what specifically was said to Arevalo is not expected to be made public. 

Councilman John Heilman, who is said to be Arevalo’s biggest advocate, was not present for this special council session. Heilman is reported to have been busy teaching a class, but planned to phone in during some portion of the session.

UPDATE: City Hall has released the following statement regarding Arevalo's salary:

"The salary for the West Hollywood City Manager Paul Arevalo in 2011 was $289,027.  (This amount includes his annual salary, allowance for business-related expenses, technology allowance and car allowance.)  The cost of employee benefits for the City Manager position (which are similarly paid for all City employees) in 2011 was $59,963 which includes the cost of retirement, medical, dental and vision benefits, and life insurance."

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Todd Bianco February 18, 2012 at 08:47 PM
@Rudolf, I'm pretty sure that the budget numbers for the City are bianeal - it covers a two year period. So if you divide $568k by two, you come to a more reasonable number, even if it doesn't exactly reconcile because it's an average - $284,201. That is pretty close to the $289,027 reported in the article for 2011. If you subtract the $59,963 in total benefits (nice package, if you can get it) his base salary would be $229,064 which isn't nearly as egregious as $586k (including benefits) for ONE year.
Riley February 19, 2012 at 03:37 AM
FYI - the President of the United States makes $400,000 a year!
Steve Ward February 19, 2012 at 09:46 PM
The meeting was held at the same time as the very important Planning Commission's Land-Use meeting. To be in 2 places at once is impossible. At 6:42pm when six of us were told public comment was over, we headed to chambers. In regards to Mr. Arevalo's true salary, all in, the guy is making $350K year. Prang uses base numbers & does not account for the Council approving the $295K+fringes(Pension, health, car) totaling close to $350K per year. Again, the final figures to evaluate Mr. Arevalo with his $350K/yr salary, an assistant who makes $100K/per year and TWO interns making about $25K getting us close to that ultimate number from his budget of $568,403. @ChrisBray, you are on it too. Even PT Prang has a hard time figuring out what the math is because there truly is no transparency for Mr. Arevalo's accountability & salary scale. For some high-apid CM to sit and sleep during Council meetings & dismiss any objections from the community that may differ from Arevalo is wrong. He is to report to the Community, he forgets. The idea and manipulation of appointing Arevalo (1 of 2 members to the oversight board to the successor agency (the City) of the now dissolved WeHo Community Development Agency (the redevelopment agency) is a joke and scam. I am sure Jenkins is working something out right now to ensure of this of happening. The million dollar question of the day is how much money is Arevalo rewarded with through his pension? Drumroll please...
joninla February 19, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Come on, lets be a little fair. Weho is small, but a city with all the same number of tasks, jobs, devision into departments to handle all the totally different matters that a city faces. Sometimes it is impossible to please everyones calendar to make every meeting occur with out overlap, given the space available for all meetings.   WAIT! WAIT! Wait!  WeHo must have the most public meeting rooms and the number keeps growing, and The council runs Everything by majority vote of the 5 members, and the tile of Mayor is just a figuirehead. So I guess there is no tangible excuse ... :)
joninla February 19, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Well I have to say, I don't know what "million dollar question you are referring to!' whatever Mr. Arevalo's secret contractual pension  has nothing to do woth a million dollars.  A milliom dollars won't even cover the legal fees to discclose and attempt to pevent his future pension bankrupt the city.  Million dollar? It is about Hundredes of Millions of Dollars we are going to have to pay for this guys years of doing for the city ... Or maybe I should say "DOING THE CITY" for all it is worth. We are gettig screwed from all ends ... And for once in weho, not in a way thay the residents would like it to be.

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