Santa Anaâ€™s Mayor, Miguel Pulido, has been around a while. He was elected to the Santa Ana City Council in 1986 and as Mayor in 1994. One thing Pulido has learned very well is how to get whatever he can for himself out of the job. During his time as a member of the Council and Mayor, Pulido has managed to get himself appointed to numerous committees and commissions throughout the county. All of these committees compensate their members with a variety of per-diems, insurance, cars, car allowances.
Until the recent scandal over salaries, benefits and meeting per-diems in the City of Bell, nobody really paid much attention to what stuff these local officials get. The scandal has spurred local agencies across the state to start posting the salaries and benefits given to their officials on their websites. These disclosures had encouraged inquisitive reporters and community activists to dig deeper to see what they could find. The results of one such excavation project has the potential to help ring the final bell on Mayor Miguel Pulidoâ€™s 16 year reign as mayor of Orange Countyâ€™s largest city.
The Voice of OC, Orange Countyâ€™s leading non-profit investigative news source, dug through the layers of mud covering Mayor Pulidoâ€™s compensation on Wednesday with Tracy Woodâ€™s story Santa Ana Mayor Double-Dipping On Benefits. Wood found that Mayor Pulido is currently receiving $15,275 in medical and dental benefits paid for by the City of Santa Ana. Pulido also pulled down an additional $17,728 in health benefits paid by the Orange County Transportations Authority (OCTA). Miguel Pulido pulls down two tax-payer funded health plans costing more than $33,000 annually. Many of Santa Anaâ€™s residents do not have benefit of even one health insurance plan, and according to county statistics 23.1% of Orange Countyâ€™s MediCal eligible clients live in Santa Ana.
Mayor Pulido, who would not speak with Voice of OC because they broke the story, when asked about his multiple medical insurance plans, told the Orange County Register he knew he was getting double medical benefits, which meant he could use one plan when the other didn’t offer the coverage he needed. “I didn’t understand any other ramifications,” he knew he was getting double medical benefits, which meant he could use one plan when the other didn’t offer the coverage he needed. “I didn’t understand any other ramifications.”
Then yesterday, Voice of OC confirmed that Mayor Pulido had been receiving a free car from the South Coast Air Quality Management District Board of Directors since he was appointed in 2005. They pay for the car, currently a modified Toyota Prius, maintenance, and fuel. But event though the city has faced hundreds of employee layoffs over the past few years, Pulido has taken the $6,000 car allowance to pay for the use of personal vehicles for city business. The problem is that Pulido doesnâ€™t drive any other vehicle than the SCAQMD provided Prius. The picture below is of the care he drove to last nightâ€™s community forum where he spoke about city business. A significant percentage of Santa Anaâ€™s residents, some with the lowest family incomes in the county, rely on public transportation, provided by OCTA. In November 2009 Mayor Pulido voted to cut 150,000 hours of bus service at OCTA.
So we have a grand jury report that criticize a light rail contracting decision (led by Pulido), A City Council that under his leadership has a problem listening to criticism, and revelations now of the mayor double-dipping on both medical insurance and car allowances. I have to wonder what toll these truths will have on this yearâ€™s mayoral contest between Miguel Pulido and former Rancho Santiago Community College District Trustee Alfredo Amezcua.
One thing for sure, for a part time job, the mayor has got some pretty generous benefits.