Real Clear Policy: #WasteOfTheDay Week 15 69_Week_15

May 28, 2021 10:28 AM





A Small-Town Texas City Manager Paid $1.1 Million Before Retiring (2019-2020) | May 24, 2021


In 2020, Clayton Chandler, the city manager of Mansfield, Texas, retired after 36 years. In his final two years, Chandler collected $1.1 million in cash compensation payouts.

Chandler’s final year, in 2020, was the most lucrative, as he collected $815,144.

That is an enormous payout for managing a city of over 70,000 people. Mansfield is in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area.

Here’s how the big 2020 payout breaks down, per a city spokesperson:

  • $284,754 from 12 months of regular pay in a buyout as per his retirement agreement;
  • $383,067.03 from accrued vacation, sick, holiday leave and longevity pay;
  • $132,519.91 regular pay that accrued up to that point;
  • $5,476.04 in holiday pay;
  • $3,285.62 in incentive pay;
  • and $6,040.98 from taxable insurance.

In 2019, Chandler earned $284,753, which was up from $260,589 in 2017. Between 2017 and 2020, Chandler made $1.63 million in cash compensation before retirement.

Although surprising, other Texas city managers also have a recent history of cashing out.

For example, as showcased by Forbes, Horacio De Leon, Jr., city manager of Laredo Texas, was hired for the position in summer 2017. In 2018, he made $314,556. In 2019 – only 20 months after hiring him – the city council and De Leon parted ways. De Leon collected $880,483 in an all-inclusive payout.

That included $569,082 in severance pay; $192,790 for lump sum vacation and sick leave; $76,319 for his regular hours; $23,269 in deferred compensation 457 employer-contribution; $9,288 in holiday pay; $4,984 for a vehicle allowance; $4,128 for annual leave payment; and $623 for a cell phone allowance.

Just two years earlier, the City of Laredo ended its contract with their previous city manager. In 2017, Jesus Olivares received $651,867 by virtue of his compensation package.

The Laredo’s current population is 322,000 and both men will receive taxpayer-funded lifetime health insurance coverage.

Everything is bigger in Texas – even instances of waste and taxpayer abuse.


California Reveals $75 Billion Budget Surplus After Congress Bailed Them Out for $26 Billion | May 25, 2021


California collected loads of tax revenue from high earners, which is bringing the state to an unexpected $75.7 billion state budget surplus. On top of the surplus, California state government is getting $26 billion from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act – a federal coronavirus aid bill signed into law in March.

Yes, the Golden State is getting rich from federal taxpayers across the country. Consider this:

When U.S. House Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, changed the state bailout allocation from population to unemployment rate in the Rescue Plan, California picked up an additional $6.6 billion. Big losers were states like Georgia (-$1.5 million) and West Virginia (-$900 million) -- their federal tax dollars were sent to California (and New York, plus $6 billion!).

So, what is California Governor Gavin Newsom going to do with the largess? Dole out $8.1 billion to residents in the form of “stimulus checks.”

The state legislature would need to approve the budget measure, which would give $600 rebate checks to households making up to $75,000 and another $500 to families with children.

Newsom, currently facing a recall election, is receiving criticism for his spending spree. John Cox, a 2018 Republican gubernatorial candidate and current candidate in the recall election, accused the governor of “making one-time payments to Californians to avoid being recalled,” as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

California localities received another $16 billion in congressional “bail out” money – in addition to the $26 million to the state government.

California’s sunny playgrounds receiving big bailouts including Manhattan Beach ($6.6 million), Newport Beach ($9 million), Palm Springs ($11 million), Palo Alto ($12 million), Brentwood ($12.1 million), Napa ($15 million), San Jose ($22 million), Santa Barbara ($22 million), Santa Monica ($29 million), Huntington Beach ($31 million), and even Berkeley ($68 million).


Each Taxpayer in the City of Chicago Owes $126,000 in City Debt | May 26, 2021


Most people know about the national debt, how it’s ever-increasing, currently at about $28 trillion. Few know how much debt their state and city are sitting on that falls to them as taxpayers.

The national debt per American citizen is almost $85,000 and debt per taxpayer is around $225,000.

While those are eye-popping numbers that keep growing ever larger, residents of major cities in New York, Texas, California, Pennsylvania, and Illinois might also like to know how their leaders are spending money and driving them into more debt.

Truth in Accounting, a nonprofit think tank that analyzes government finances on the city, state, and federal level, recently released an analysis of the 10 most populous cities and how the debt of their underlying government units impacts taxpayers in those cities.

The “underlying governments” — school districts, transit and housing authorities — act as subsidiaries of the city and most of their debt falls on all city taxpayers.

But most of these cities, except New York City, do not include those units in their annual financial reports the finances, so their debt is essentially hidden to the taxpayer.

From least to most, here is how much each taxpayer owes in each city:

  1. Phoenix ($10,400)
  2. San Antonio ($19,200)
  3. Houston ($24,400)
  4. Dallas ($26,000)
  5. San Diego ($34,100)
  6. San Jose ($41,800)
  7. Philadelphia ($45,300)
  8. Los Angeles ($47,600)
  9. New York City ($85,400)
  10. Chicago ($126,600)

If city leaders are going to spend taxpayers into debt, they should at least make the figures readily available on their annual financial reports.


Golden Fleece Award – Studying the Physical Measurements of 432 Flight Attendants | May 27, 2021


Throwback Thursday! 

Inspired by the wasteful and sometimes silly spending he saw, Sen. William Proxmire (D-Wisconsin), in 1975 began giving out “Golden Fleece” awards to public officials for wasteful spending.

Proxmire gave the first award to the National Science Foundation for spending $84,000 on a study on love, commenting, “I believe that 200 million other Americans want to leave some things in life a mystery, and right on top of the things we don't want to know is why a man falls in love with a woman and vice versa.”

He doled out awards to the Federal Aviation Administration for spending $57,800 on a study of the physical measurements of 432 flight attendants; to the National Institute on Drug Abuse for a $121,000 study on developing "some objective evidence concerning marijuana's effect on sexual arousal” on male pot smokers, and many more.

There is no doubt Proxmire would have plenty opportunity to give out the dubious award if he were still alive and in office.

For example, a certain candidate for the waste award would be the study that spent $1 million to determine "where it hurts the most to be stung by a bee."


Baltimore Mayor’s Police Detail Costs $2M Annually – Even After the Mayor Helped Cut $22M From Police Budget

May 28, 2021


Police protection for me, but not for thee.

When Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott was City Council president last year, the Council cut $22.4 million from then-Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young’s proposed budget, most of which was from police spending, hoping it would be diverted to other community enrichment efforts.

Scott, a Democrat, recently announced the creation of a task force to develop a five-year plan to reduce the Baltimore Police Department budget.

However, FOX45 News Baltimore investigated and found that the mayor receives police protection from as many as seven police officers and sergeants.

In 2020, Young was mayor for most of the year and received a police detail of six officers and one sergeant, costing $1.9 million.

Scott took over as mayor on Dec. 8, 2020, after his Nov. 3, 2020 election. He is still arguing that police resources should be cut.

While Scott’s recent $3.6 billion budget proposal has supporters crying foul because it includes a $28 million increase in funding for police, it’s driven by mandatory costs, including healthcare and pension costs, and doesn’t add any new functions or programming.

Scott is not the only Baltimore official to receive an expensive police detail — last year the state’s attorney, Marilyn J. Mosby, had a detail of three officers and one sergeant, costing taxpayers $1.3 million. Police Commissioner Michael S. Harrison had two officers and one sergeant as his detail, costing $464,948.

Mosby also supported defunding the Baltimore police.

That is $3.7 million and 14 uniformed officers and sergeants poured into protecting three officials, two of whom helped defund the very police protecting them.

In 2021, crime increased in Baltimore with murders and shootings up, -- 110 people killed in just the first five months of the year.

The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at

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