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Whitman accuses Brown of Bell-style mismanagement

August 9, 2010 |  1:04 pm

Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman on Monday accused her Democratic rival Jerry Brown of presiding over his own Bell-style salary scandal while he was mayor of Oakland.

The charges, aired in a new mailer aimed at Los Angeles County voters, come as Brown, the current state attorney general, gains political traction with his office's expanded investigation into the Bell controversy.

The city has been the focus of national attention ever since The Times revealed that City Manager Robert Rizzo was being paid $787,637 a year, Police Chief Randy Adams' salary was $457,000 and assistant city manager Angela Spaccia's was $376,000. All three resigned amid public uproar.

The Whitman mailer features a black-and-white image of Brown next to a mountain of cash and the words "mismanagement, overpayment and failure." It concludes, "We can't afford Jerry Brown."

The numbers Whitman cites, however, don't quite represent Bell-level excess. An Oakland city attorney's salary exceeding $180,000 a year is noted. And there is a confusing statistic about the number of city workers earning more than $200,000 growing by "740%" over three years -- with no mention of how many workers that included or what they were paid before.

Brown spokesman Sterling Clifford said the charges are absurd.

"Meg Whitman has completely removed fact from context," he said. "This is the Whitman campaign desperately trying to be relevant where the contrast between Jerry Brown, who understands how government works and is fulfilling his responsibilities as a constitutional officer, and Meg Whitman, who has no experience at all and is sitting on the sidelines as she has done her entire adult life, couldn't be clearer."

Clifford said the number of Oakland employees making more than $200,000 a year rose from five to 42 from 2003 to 2006. Thirty-one were firefighters, he said.

-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento