Irvine council member Christina Shea happily accepted an OC Taxpayers Association Roses Award of 2015 recently for her role in eliminating Irvine’s “living wage ordinance” that had been on the books since 2007. Shea and her council majority friends claim this law cost Irvine taxpayers millions of dollars by having to pay higher wages to all City contractors’ employees all over the County even beyond the City.
She wrote on social media that the award was “…a wonderful acknowledgement of our majority taking steps to protect our residents financial well being.”
When Shea was mayor in Irvine from 1998 to 2000, her own daughter worked for her as a part-time council aide. In particular, the younger Shea’s was a “council aide II.” The city has no records of what her actual job description was and did not know how many hours she worked per week, but part-timers generally work up to 20 hours a week. Shea’s daughter was 21 in 1999. The younger Shea was paid $15.97 an hour in 1999 (this number was confirmed through the City of Irvine). Minimum wage in California in 1999 was $5.75. So a city worker on minimum wage working a 40 hour week made $230; Shea’s daughter working a 10 hour week made $159.70 or $319.40 a week for a 20 hour week. Nice work if you can get it (all numbers confirmed through the city of Irvine on Shea’s status and pay).
As a council aide, the younger Shea’s job description closely mimicked today’s standard requirements which are:
- Conducting research and analysis on topics related to city policies, procedures, operational programs, agenda items, etc. and prepares oral and written reports on findings to individual members of the City Council
- Drafts letters and other correspondence for individual members of the City Council.
- Attends City business related meetings with and/or on behalf on individual City Council members as requested; assembles and distributes meeting follow up information as requested.
- Exercises appropriate judgment in answering questions and releasing information and in analyzing and projecting consequences of decisions and/or recommendations.
Now before anyone from the right gets all puffy, then Mayor Shea did go through all of the things required with the city manager’s office to clear her daughter for part-time work with the city. But I’m not sure how exactly she can square paying her own daughter nearly three times minimum hourly wages for part-time work with her desire to save Irvine taxpayers money by killing the Living Wage Ordinance. It’s still nepotism.
In June, when the council majority voted to repeal the ordinance, the Daily Pilot offered this nugget: “The reason I brought it forward to repeal it is that it’s so unfair to our taxpayers,” Shea said. “What this contract does is add a cost of up to $1.8 million for these contracts that our taxpayers have to pay for so we have to pay for all the other employees in the county. That’s why this ordinance is wrong.”
Unless of course it’s Shea using taxpayer dollars to employ her daughter at a generous wage in 1999. Minimum wage today is $9 an hour, or $360 a week. In 2015 dollars, Shea’s daughter would be making $22.87, or $457.40 for a 20 hour week.
It costs nearly $1,900 to rent an apartment in OC today. That’s up nearly 7% from a year ago. And before our friends on the right talk about how minimum wage is only for teenagers, we offer this information from the US Department of Labor.
Enjoy your roses and radishes salad.