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Parks official earned $300,000 a year, according to salary database

A California park district general manager earned over $300,000 in total compensation in 2009, according to data released Tuesday by the state controller.

Joseph Donofrio, former general manager of the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District, was paid $306,474 in 2009 along with $16,500 in deferred compensation. Donofrio retired last year and now receives a pension from the district.

His compensation was published Tuesday along with those of thousands of other special district employees as a part of an ambitious database project led by state Controller John Chiang.  

The database, which was launched in response to the salary scandal in the city of Bell, now includes figures from all of California’s cities and counties and over 1,500 special districts.

Chiang said in a recent interview that he viewed the website as a way to create more dialogue about public sector compensation.

“The question for all of us is how do we make government more interactive?” he said. “I think that will be a game-changer.”

The new data added Tuesday include figures from over 500 cemetery, electric, flood control and community service districts. None of the employees ranked as high as some from a previous release that covered public hospital executives. The highest-paid special district employee in the database is still Michael Covert, chief executive of the Palomar Pomerado Hospital District in San Diego, who earned about $1 million in 2009.

But Donofrio’s compensation stood out among those released Tuesday because of the nature of his organization and its relatively small staff. He appears to have been the best-paid park manager in the state.

The district owns and manages about 30,000 acres of land in the Monterey Peninsula and has 17 full-time employees, according to its current general manager, James Sulentich.

Sulentich said he makes only half of what Donofrio was paid. When asked why his predecessor’s wages were so much higher, Sulentich said he wasn’t sure.

The president of the park district’s board of directors did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The second- and third-highest paid park managers came from the Hesperia Recreation and Park District and Conejo Recreation and Park District, and made $225,000 and $202,000, respectively. Both of those districts have far more employees than the Monterey Peninsula District.

In addition to total compensation, Chiang’s site includes data on employee salaries and health and retirement benefits. It is expected to be completed in June, when figures for state government employees will be uploaded.


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-- Sam Allen

Comments () | Archives (73)

Pay More Taxes we have parks to run...

What next?

Pay more taxes we have pensions to fund!

What next?

Continue paying because no laws were broken and this guy gets to keep your $.
It's your money because it's coming out of your paycheck every two weeks in a thing called taxes.

Anyone know what a normal days is like for one of these guys?

Do they really deserve to make 200-300 thousand dollars a year?

What exactly do these workers do and what are their hours?
Do they work 9-5 or do they put in more time than that?

the headline on your front page leading to this story is very misleading. You indicate a state park official is making this money, when in actuality he was a local park official. It is unfortunate that state employees continue to be tarred with the abuses carried out by local officials. This leads the public to believe all government officials are getting the same outrageous benefits, and compensation. I think you will find the Director of the entire State Parks system is making closer to about 50% of this guy's final salary.

every time we turn around, we see more and more governemnt waste.......and they still want to raise taxes!

In the private sector $300,000 would be a mid-level executive's salary. If people want to run the government like a business, this is what you can expect.

And people give teachers a hard time earning 55k a year.

The investigation does not solve anything unless you retroactively take away these peoples inflated pensions.

We're getting hosed.

Growing up, I honestly didnt know working for the state meant it was a license to print money.

Wish I knew

This is really irresponsible reporting. It's apparent from the few facts reported that there is more to this story. D'Onofrio retired last year. How long was he with the district? Did the district allow him to accumulate unused vacation time and sick leave? Did he take a lump sum payment for that accumulated time when he retired?

These kind of facts are readily available to a reporter who chooses not to be lazy. How about reporting the entire story instead of insinuating that an employee was abusing the system just because public employees are the popular target de jour?

wow $300k, amazing. Once CA was a rich state, some of these government employees act like it still is. I bet we can get volunteers to do this job.

I don't understand this - people DO make this kind of money - in the private and public sector. Maybe all you minimum wage earners should do something about your situation, and get better paying jobs if it bothers you that people earn this much.

Why should his pension be cut? Was his work poor quality, did he fail to do the job he was hired for? There is only one reason: Because you don't want to pay it now. Give me a reason why punishing someone just because their salary is more than yours is the only thing people want now?

Did you read the article, Or just look at the pictures? "But Donofrio’s compensation stood out among those released Tuesday because of the nature of his organization and its relatively small staff. He appears to have been the best-paid park manager in the state. "

Yes, there are individuals who have received high pay, they are probably manipulating the system, and those INDIVIDUALS should be held accountable. But that is not ALL employees. Please practice reading comprehension before throwing out irresponsible statements.

Misleading headline - nothing in the article indicates that this man was employed by the state of California. Rank and file State employees generally agree with pension caps, already pay INCREASED contributions to CalPERS (I have contributed to CalPERS every one of my 304 months of State employment - no, I will not be retiring at 55, already well past that.) and do not receive $300,000.00/yr.

Proof that far too many public employees are scamming the tax payers!

This guy received $306,000 in 2009 and retired in 2010.

Are his retirement benefits linked to his last year's salary?

This guy received $306,000 in 2009 and retired in 2010.

Are his pension benefits linked to his last year's salary?

This is an outrage!!!!

They are closing state parks - and now we find out it is because of yet another government fiasco in paying high salaries and outrageous pensions to a park official!

Our governor had better do something - but no, he takes camping away from families - and lets this stand.
We must get rid of all pensions immediately
We are the people of California and we are being tramped on.

Oh man, what I couldn't do with $306,474! My creditors would be SO happy!

What kind of work does the park get for $200-300,000?

This article makes tax paying citizens ill. The governor reads these articles and wants more money, he should hide in a hole if he dares ask the public (those paying taxes).

This bad economy is a good thing too. We discover all the people who fraudlently pay themselves "physician level" pay when they perform tasks that any Joe Schmoe can perform. Yep, being a park ranger is so overwhelming, stressful and difficult...This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to grossly overpaid public figures.

This is not unusual...the higher up in the food chain in any city, county or state government, the more money squandered. LAUSD would have a lot more money if the board got rid of the limos, and the personal assistants. If the state would stop issuing cars, and paying for all of the gas, there would be a lot more money in the treasury. I bet this guy took a county truck home every night, and let his family use it. Look how Delgadio's wife was using a city SUV--without a license, yet! The whole system is waistful, and the first thing they want to cut is the low man on the list. Isn't it just the perfect system?

I remember an exposé by KCAL news team where they found city workers, DWP I think... no I think it was CalTrans... I forget, but city workers that go around cleaning parks or something, in large city trucks, anyway, they were smoking weed, going to strip bars in the daytime, drinking, chilling at parks, doing all kinds of non-work related stuff, cheats.

AND the kicker was that they found their salaries to be in the 6 figure range. I was like nooo, you have got to be kidding me. Appalling and this story, now, not surprising.

Thanks John Chiang! Some government employees are really gouges the tax payers and I'd like to know who! Can it possibly shame them into accountability? Hopefully it'll leave a black enough eye on the state so they'll start curbing their excessive pay.

But he is just a poor public servant who works very hard for the well-being of the people. He also chose to take a lower paying job in the public sector because his heart and passion are in public service... (puke).

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