[UPDATED/CLARIFIED] OCTA's Will Kempton and Irvine Ranch Water's Paul D. Jones II (and Santa Margarita Water's John J. Schatz) Top Special-District Executive Salaries List


The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) clarified for the


why its CEO

Will Kempton

lands at the No. 2 spot on a state-compiled list of top executive salaries from California special districts.

It's not Kempton's salary, the OCTA insists.

That is, only part of the current CEO's 2009 salary is reflected in the $403,021 for 2009 reported to the state controller's office in the wake of the Bell scandal. Joel Zlotnik, OCTA's media-relations manager, explains it far better after the jump . . .

In an e-mail to me last night, Zlotnik writes:

As requested by the controller, OCTA reported the salary information by position. This does not reflect the salaries of individuals who held that position if there was more than one in a given year. In the case of OCTA, both Paul Taylor and Jim Kenan held the position of deputy CEO in 2009 and both Art Leahy and Will Kempton held the position of CEO during that year.

Paul Taylor left at the end of June 2009. His salary was $144,721.22

Jim Kenan's salary was $258,299.79. He worked the entire year, but was only deputy CEO after Taylor left, which is why it makes it look like the position was paid so much.

Add those up, and you get the $403,021, the amount listed by the state.

Kempton's current base salary is $255,008. Kempton's total annual compensation is $376,211. Because he started at OCTA Aug. 3, 2009, his salary for 2009 was actually $164,801.

The state added his salary and Art Leahy's (who left) of $114,089 and came to a total for CEO of $278,891.

Again, I know this sounds a little strange, but it's the way the state collected and is reporting the data that accounts for the confusion.

It's unfortunate that in the state's attempt to bring more transparency to government, which OCTA fully supports, the data isn't consistently reported and can be misleading to the public. As far as I can tell, there is no explanation with the data that would allow the public to understand what they're looking at may be for multiple employees in the same position over the course of a year.

By the way, Zlotnik says anyone--reporters, the public, bus token collectors--can see all OCTA employee salaries and benefits at

"We posted this information in August 2010, two months before the state asked for it," Zlotnik informs. "OCTA really does believe in doing everything possible to be open and transparent to the public."


With this stunning revelation, Kempton drops from the second spot to No. 4--just $86 below the yearly salary of another Orange County special-district CEO I mistakenly omitted from my original post:

John J. Schatz

, general manager of the Santa Margarita Water District. He made $376,297 in 2009, according to the state controller. With Kempton falling below him, that makes Schatz the No. 3 top special-district salary earner in California.

Or is he? We'll let you know if one of his peeps contacts the Weekly.

ORIGINAL POST, FEB. 2, 3:50 P.M.: Two Orange County chief executives have landed on a list compiled in the wake of the Bell scandal of the top executive salary earners from California's special districts.

They are Will Kempton, the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) CEO, who earned $403,021 in 2009, and Paul D. Jones II, the Irvine Ranch Water District (IRWD) general manager, who made $308,216 that year.

Based on salary information collected by the California state controller's office, Sam Allen of the Los Angeles Times compiled a list of at least 15 top special-district officials who earned more than $300,000 in 2009.

Actually, you would prorate what Kempton took home because he joined the OCTA after leaving the top Caltrans post in the Schwarzenegger administration in April '09. But extending his OCTA salary out to the full year, Kempton outearned everyone on Allen's list except Dennis Diemer, general manager of the East Bay Municipal Utility District. Diemer made $420,220 in 2009 heading the agency that provides water for several Bay Area cities, including Oakland and Berkeley.


Jones, who has led the IRWD since early 1999, when he left the general manager's office with the Central and West Basin Municipal Water Districts in Carson, came in 14th on the list. He is sandwiched between the chiefs of the Inland Empire Utilities Agency and Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District.

So, for our purposes, we can name Kempton and Jones the top special-district earners in Orange County, something they can toast at the next OCTA Measure M Environmental Clean-up Allocation Committe meeting. Jones sits on that panel.

However, it must be noted that after salary-information demands were sent to nearly 900 local government entities statewide, 172 either refused to provide Controller John Chiang any numbers or supplied inadequate information. Some of those agencies now face possible fines of  up to $5,000, the Times reports.


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