Bonus For Director Forced To Resign
Katy Grimes: Imagine what your boss would do if you misplaced millions of dollars and failed to keep accurate financial records.
Your boss probably wouldn’t hand you a bonus check for $250,000. Yet that’s precisely what happened to Evelyn Martinez, the former director of First 5 LA, according to a recent Los Angeles Times report. Martinez was forced to resign last month by the First 5 Board of Directors after an audit uncovered gross mismanagement within the children’s services agency.
But in a letter to the board, Martinez said she was “entitled to a lump sum payment equal to 12 months of salary and health benefits and her unused vacation.” Martinez, who earned more than $240,000 annually, also said she should receive an additional month of pay and health benefit costs because she was not given a 30-day written notice,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
While those conditions were included in her contract, she was to receive them only if she was fired without cause. She was not eligible for severance pay if she resigned or was fired for cause, according to the contract, the Times reported. Knowing this, the First 5 Board should have fired her for cause, removed all questions surrounding her termination, and saved taxpayers a a great deal of money. Instead, it appears that they caved in.
Among the findings of the audit were that First 5 LA had a surplus of “hundreds of millions of dollars that had not been applied to any educational programs” and First 5 staffers failed to keep “enough documentation to show that competitive bidding took place,” according to the Times.
Despite the gross mismanagement, Martinez, who earned $240,000 annually, will receive a full year’s severance plus health benefits.
A Similar Program Format
The First 5 program, which Martinez administered in Los Angeles, bears a striking resemblance to one proposed by a ballot measure scheduled for the June election. The so-called California Cancer Research Act seeks to build a First 5 like bureaucracy run by political appointees that would oversee the proceeds of nearly $1 billion in additional taxes. This includes $16 million per year for bureaucrat salaries that continues year after year regardless of whether California can afford it or not.
Martinez and the First 5 bureaucracy is a perfect example of how voters were snookered into growing government under the auspices of a health program.
While there are a myriad of ideas about how to fix California’s broken fiscal situation, creating a brand new bureaucracy with hundreds of new staffers that can only be fired at great expense to the taxpayer, doesn’t rank among the most intelligent or prudent.
While Californians deserve better than this kind of state government fraud, voters need to wake up and put an end to this kind of abuse of power, and waste of precious tax dollars.
The First 5 LA Board:
DEC. 1, 2011
May 24, 2013