The good thing about being a high-ranking city employee: You really do make a lot of money.

The bad thing: Everybody sort of hates you for it.

The latest local resent-a-thon relating to government salaries was set off Friday when the City of San Jose released a database of public employee compensation, complete with a helpful if provocative front-page list of the top-15 earners.

Retired police chief Rob Davis topped the 2010 ranks with total compensation of $534,576. (No wonder Anthony Batts wanted in.) No. 2 on the list is Fire Chief Darryl Von Raesfeld, also retired, at $430,108. Everyone in the top 15 except City Manager Debra Figone is with the police or fire department.

The total figure per employee includes in general base pay, overtime, sick and vacation payouts, and “other cash compensation.”

KTVU has a video report, including an interview with San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed.

“It shows what happens when employee compensation gets out of control, Reed said. “We’re draining money from services. So we’re cutting services in order to pay these high benefits, high wages. I understand that people are working hard and that’s a good thing, but we just can’t afford to pay money at this rate.”

A debate on the blog San Jose Inside reflects some of the difference of opinion on what is fast becoming a hot-button issue in this era, for many, of reduced circumstances.

This is a situation that is intolerable, unAmerican, and just plain wrong. But with the help of the public employee unions and cooperative, compliant elected officials, we will right this wrong. Sometime in the next few years, thanks to the tireless and selfless efforts of the policeguys and fireguys associations, there will come a day when NO person, not 2 in 15, not 1 in 1,000, of stupid chumps who go out every day and actually work for a living, will get a larger paycheck than those who stay home all day watching TV and eating Doritos.
Many people are not willing to put their lives on the line, having to go into drug infested, gang infested areas and deal with people who normal, everyday citizens would not like to have to encounter on a daily basis. Salaries should take into account how difficult and dangerous a job is. People moan and complain about these salaries but if you ask them to do the work, they wouldn’t want any part of it.
Give me a break, when you have 4,000 people apply for 20 firefighter jobs don’t tell me that no one wants to do that job. We should be paying them half the salaries they are currently getting. When you take into account their work schedule and the fact that they are actually paid for sleeping on the job they are grossly overpaid.

The city of San Jose should have salary caps at all branches. 185,000… We can find people in this valley willing to perform at an acceptable level for this figure. City Council should be a part time position with “NO” benefits. After all the city hires professionals to determine decisions with spending. Police and fire should have No overtime above the rank of hiring. First line Supervisors working in the field would be exempt… Seems like the people gaining the most from overtime are the supervisors of these organizations…
Wow! I guesss this explains why Oakland Chief of Police Anthony Batts was tempted to leave Oakland and take the San Jose job. For $534,576, Batts could probably bring the entire Oakland Police Department with him.

Much more on this still to come, I’m sure…

Which San Jose Government Employees Earned the Most in 2010? 14 February,2011Jon Brooks


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks is the host and editor of KQED’s health and technology blog, Future of You. He is the former editor of KQED’s daily news blog, News Fix. A veteran blogger, he previously worked for Yahoo! in various news writing and editing roles. He was also the editor of, which documented user-generated content about the financial crisis and recession. Jon is also a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S. He has written about film for his own blog and studied film at Boston University. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.

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