Patch Blog: A City Manager's Performance Anxiety

The smell of Bell drifts into West Hollywood as the highest paid City Manager per capita (with a $568,402 salary) gets his performance review before the Council and community.

When it comes to community, it is important we all voice our concerns over how chosen leaders and employees perform in their capacity. It is now time for West Hollywood's City Manager Paul Arevalo to have his job performance review. The Closed Session is set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the first floor Community Room of City Hall. Sniff sniff. I smell Bell hell coming down the street.

This meeting is not under the Brown Act, as Mr. Arevalo is an employee and is entitled to have a closed session meeting versus a review in front of the public. Hence, public opinion most definitely can be expressed during this time while being heard by the Council. What other times do we have to focus on discussion surrounding the performance or the lack there of, of Mr. Arevalo.

When reviewing the 2011-2012 budget submitted by Mr. Arevalo, it is noted the City Manager manages to make $568,402 in salary with fringes covering retirement, social security and payroll taxes. With such a small city reaching 1.9 miles of area, I have to question the exorbitant amount being paid to this hired official overseeing the community at large?

As I have stated before, there is a sense of Bell going on in West Hollywood. The Sacramento Bee points to its database where you can look up various salaries of California City Managers.

Back in August 2010, the Los Angeles Times wrote an article revealing the fact Weho's salary for City Manager makes it the highest per capita salary in the country: "The Times' analysis found cities with more residents and larger budgets tended to pay their chief executives more, but the exceptions were more notable than the rule. West Hollywood, a city of 36,000, had one of the county’s highest payouts: Paul Arevalo earned $285,496 last year." 

Not only was Arevalo's 2010 payout one of the highest in California, but it also tops the nation in highest paid City Manager's. The corruption of the City of West Hollywood is supported if not established by Arevalo. Take notes folks, because tonight you are able to question the actions of this man and the allowance by the City Council members.

I am not sure where the Sacramento Bee and Los Angeles Times got the information pertaining to Mr. Arevalo's salary—perhaps the foolish fodder the City feeds people and organizations. But when I look at the West Hollywood 2011-2012 budget, I am faced with much different figures than those reported to the paper, back in 2010. 

With the budget presenting figures for City Manager Salary for 2007-08, it states $502,108; 2008-2009 $573,626; 2009-2010 $580,746; 2010-2011 $559,410 and for 2011-2012 he is being paid $568,403 for his services and including the fringes I mention above. He is averaging $2,255 per business day. 

A detail from the 2011-2012 budget lining the City Manager Position Salary can be found at modernhomesla.blogspot. For a hired gun, isn't there someone else less corrupt, better with his/her job and more affordable?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

joninla February 16, 2012 at 09:07 PM
As for our City Manager, I have little doubt that there is good reason to question if the City's best interests are being served. As unbelievable the first estimate of his annual income was to me (let alone the increasing to a much larger sum), that fact should be made known, but then the focus should be on weather his work performance is acceptable to the City and its best interests. As outrageously high his salary appears to me, clearly you and probably most people, the base a serious question about a person competency and performance in the salaried position working for the City. When everyone focuses on the exact dollar amount, the real issues get blurry. Kind of like the 'hitting back' to what have been numerous articles and countless opinions (from me alone - a lot) posted by so many about the entire Library Issue and problems, suddenly a strong statement breaking down the $64 Million Dollar price tag we were told was the cost. $64, $21, $11, or $1 Million ... the issue was with the problems with the process, the structure, the appearance and the aesthetics, all of which were claimed to be the product of resident input. The issues suddenly stopped, a few people continued to debate the actual cost, and the real issues were skirted by the City through a 'by the way your figures are wrong' response. Let's not quibble about how overpaid he is, just know that we think he is and then question his work/performance.
Rudolf Martin February 16, 2012 at 09:37 PM
i agree with joninla: A) i am extremely unhappy with the city manager's "performance" as far as i can see (spending bonanza, zero transparency, no accountability, actively preventing input from the public as well as from commissions, etc, etc...) B) his salary is grossly and utterly out of any conceivable proportion. no wonder our parking tickets have gone up dramatically. Thank you, Steve Ward, for posting this little nugget. I hear that pitchforks are on sale at Home Depot!
Chris Bray February 17, 2012 at 12:08 AM
I think Paul Arevalo makes *far* too much money to manage a 1.9 square-mile contract city, but I think you've misread the budget. The chart and line item you describe is on pg. 87 of the budget, and it's not for "City Manager Salary." It's for "Wages and Fringes" -- plural, wages. This is a department budget, aggregating salaries and benefits for everyone in the department. I don't know what the department staffing is, but Arevalo must have at least one assistant, and I would guess there's also a management analyst or two. I don't think the budget item you're referencing describes one person's salary. Someone at Weho Patch should call the city and figure this out.
Chris Bray February 17, 2012 at 12:21 AM
So the staffing chart for the "Legislative and Executive Department" in the budget appears to show two FTEs in the city manager's office: the city manager himself, and a "management specialist." Odd that there's no administrative assistant in there, but maybe that's the management specialist. In any case, the budget figures for "Wages and Fringes" in the city manager's office appear to be for two people, not just the city manager hismself.
Steve Ward February 17, 2012 at 01:53 AM
@Chris Bray As I appreciate your interest into the matter, I would like to point out that each staff individually has a line in the budget. Again, Mr. Arevalo's line for HIMSELF is $568,403 which includes 'fringes', i.e. social security, taxes, payroll processing, pension. Fringe does not mean "Staff Member" salary covered under this line item. Please do not create more confusion over this as Mr. Arevalo can explain this himself. Continue reviewing the budget and you will see a slew of office management staff salaries being recorded. If the Salary line of the budget for Mr. Arevalo does not reflect his, and only his, we have bigger problems, because he's the one that created it in the first place! Even if Mr. Arevalo made the assumed $275K per year, where does all the other money go to because it is quite a windfall of fringes being given to him. That is a whopping $293,403 to process that guy's paycheck. Again, that's some serious 'fringe' going on. With the advent of Bell, not sure why folks wouldn't question some of these basic fundamentals of local government. We all should have examined his salary last year when it was presented to us and questioned, but while the City Manager faces his review this evening, why not bring it to light. It's called democracy. :-)
WehoCity February 17, 2012 at 03:57 AM
The information quoted in Patch.com on February 16, 2012 references the West Hollywood Budget and notes the City Manager’s salary. This information is incorrect. The West Hollywood Budget does not provide individual salary information for any City employee. The budget document presents wage and fringe benefit amounts by entire Division. The $568,403 amount quoted from the 2011-12 budget is reflective of the entire City Manager’s Division which includes the City Manager, a fulltime staff person and interns. Included in the wage and fringe benefit amounts for each Division in the City is salary compensation, costs for pension plans, health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, worker’s compensation insurance, and any social security or medicare taxes paid to the federal government.
Steve Ward February 17, 2012 at 05:49 AM
@WeHoCity Glad to see you have some very high priced interns working for Arevalo. It is really working. Keep on going over budget and definding yourself in legal battles that still to this day have ramifications on the community as they are the ones to kick in the dollars at YOUR expense for a lack of proper oversight. The amount of $568,403 for a fulltime staff person and interns is a bit absurd. Why not just tell the community and break the numbers down so there is no confusion or any further suspicion into the smell of Bell. I understand what 'fringes' are and cannot get around the simple math of what this guy takes home AND after he gets done ruining the city and retires with a big fat pension attached. There are 37,000 thereabouts living in the CIty of West Hollywood. West Hollywood spans 1.9 miles. How can anyone justify a City Manager making anything over the median? Just read the LA Times article which states WeHo pays their City Manager silly cash. So, in your response to this particuar post, please do some further research. I did. Arevalo must GO! ...or at least stay awake during meetings. We certainly deserve that much for his paycheck. If you want to be an authority, state some real figures and let us ALL know how the salary for the paid employee from Pasadena is broken down?
Wendy February 17, 2012 at 06:08 AM
It would be nice if WH put out a list of what everyone makes. A half a Million dollars is too much to pay somebody of a town with about 35,000 residents or less. Makes you wonder what the rest are making. We need some transparency.
Shawn Thompson February 17, 2012 at 06:15 AM
Dear WehoCity, Wouldn't it have been easier to just provide the link on the citys web site to the salary numbers? I'll just share it for everyone to see: http://www.weho.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=8209 PS As a rep of the city could you please identify yourself with a name?
Chloe Ross February 17, 2012 at 06:55 AM
I was there, I spoke first. I found it quite fascinating. I sat at the Big Kid's table and said my 2 minutes worth. This is what I observed - Mr. Arevalo looked anxious. I suspect he dyes his hair. He is a fine looking man though. John Heilman was not present. Abbe, John Duran, Jeff and John Damico were . I liked John Duran's shoes. I liked Abbe's glasses and she told me where she got them. Due the OTHER scheduled meeting of the Planning Commission we did not have the turnout we hoped for. I left right after Paul's fish fry so I hope others came as the evening went on. This is about what I said: Facing Paul "You sure make a lot of money. Wow." Hizzoner asked me to speak to the council members so I turned and said "Boy, he sure makes a lot of money a lot. These are hard times. He makes more than the downtown guy - Villaragosa and Charlie Beck. Plus perks and benefits and doesn't even live in the city. That's a lot of money. I 'd sure like to know what his job description is and what he does to earn all that money. Details that would justify it. It seems only fair." Then I said "thank you". When I sat down in my seat and others spoke - I noticed Paul has "tell" and that he seemed more nervous than before. He didn't fidget but his eyes went side to side. And then I left. Will he get more money? High marks for his sensitivity to residents? Praise for his handling of the budget? I hope not - the way it stands now - he sure makes a lot of money. Wow.
Chloe Ross February 17, 2012 at 06:58 AM
@Weho City - all you have to do is Google City Manager salaries. It's not the CIA nor is the info classified. The guy in Vernon is a highway robber - but these figures reflect 2009 - I could not find a more recent update.
Chloe Ross February 17, 2012 at 06:59 AM
@Shawn - yup - it's right there. Nothing classified about it -nothing classy either - the folks at city hall rake it in don't they.
Todd Bianco February 17, 2012 at 03:18 PM
The City's budget numbers are for a two year (biennial) period, I believe. In that case, to get the City Manager's annual compensation, you would divide by two. It's still a chunk of change, no matter how you slice it. I'm still concerned that Mr. Arevalo chooses to live in Pasadena, not West Hollywood. I'm sure it's because he and his wife believe Pasadena has a better public school system for their children (assuming they have them). If WeHo is such a bad place to send your kids to public schools, maybe if he lived here, he may have done more to enhance the local schools or make the city safer.
Profes Shivers February 18, 2012 at 01:50 AM
This is a disgrace. Arevalo must take a salary cut of 50% or he can go elsewhere. He can take Heilman and Land with him. And the Feds should investigate.
Chloe Ross February 18, 2012 at 07:13 AM
It will be easy to see how Mr. Arevalo was rewarded when his salary is updated and can be Googled. FYI - In attendance at this meeting, beside myself, were 5 other people. I do not recall all their names but Sophia Ratlovich,Laura Boccaletti, Jimmy Palmieri,Geoff Buck and another man who had come with Jimmy were present. It always is a good idea to ask someone who was actually in the room how many attended instead of yanking, out of thin air, a number you like better. For future reference. Three attendees had been reported but this is an untrue statement.
joninla February 18, 2012 at 09:52 AM
Your detailing of people physical appearance, grooming habits, accessory and shoe choice, coupled with what sounds like a general polite and almost friendly greetings, I think (surprisingly) is a very import point that we should keep in mind. Speaking for my numerous harsh criticisms of our City Council Members, I don't actually believe that in their own personal lives, they are not friendly, outgoing and kind people who love and are loved. When we share or frustration with the professional conduct, it becomes almost too easy to fall into the 'group' or 'mob' mentality and loose site they they are people with a career, which they don't want to or can afford to lose I always which that the reality of that fact would result in people (in general) realizing they may have severely erred in the past, and the criticism becomes a wake up call to quickly change and start to do the right thing. Never seems to happen that way. Seems human nature causes people to hunker down and commit to their story so tightly, that it ends up causing more and worse decisions to snowball. Anyway, to dwell on 'hate' does nobody any good. I only post criticisms, but for the record, don't know any of the Council Members personally and assume they are nice people outside the politics of weho.
joninla February 18, 2012 at 10:00 AM
May I ask a purely procedural question not exactly on point. It seems to me that a recent meeting I saw on-line contained some rather incriminating statements on the record by the commission members. I just saw the 'draft' minutes of the same meeting, and smack in the middle of the minutes, where there was a very egregious decision to vote knowing it was not legally proper to in that situation, there is now a one liner in bold indicating the next matter was voted on in a closed session, then the minutes resumed as normal ..... but with the actual formal vote that was taken gone from public record. Is this common? Does anyone know if it is allowed? It seems wrong to me, but I don't have any actual knowledge on the subject.
Riley February 19, 2012 at 07:28 AM
The President of the United States makes $400,000 a year.
LUCAS JUNKIN February 21, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Yes let's talk about Heilman appointing an ex-con as a city official. Or let's multiply the citizens who live here by $10k a head to see if the city manager makes more of less then Obama. What about the grim reaper Lindsey I heard she's lurking on the transportation commission waiting for someone new to die so she can further political career. How about Abbe Land becoming CEO of the Trevor Project for 250k plus expenses and benefits. Going to move all that social service & developer money from Saban to Trevor. Duran launched his bid for re-election & he needs $500 a head if you got it .. give it to him. Prang's not in the same hurry since he's sitting pretty with everyone right now. YAWN
LUCAS JUNKIN February 21, 2012 at 01:40 AM
they're divorcing I heard
LUCAS JUNKIN February 21, 2012 at 01:40 AM


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