Based on his salary from last year, San Francisco mayor Ed Lee is the best paid mayor in California, beating out Los Angeles, Oakland, and every other town in our state. But it wouldn't necessarily have been so, if it weren't for a ballot measure approved by SF residents over a decade ago.
The Chron reports that Lee's salary last year was $297,387, based on information found on the State Controller's Government Compensation in California website. LA mayor Eric Garcetti comes in second, at $246,303, and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf is third in CA at $212,000.
In terms of San Francisco's employees, Lee barely begins to chart, however: The position of SF Mayor isn't even well-paid enough to make in on the first page of the government compensation's ranking of SF staffers. Instead, he comes in at #41, after a SFFD Battalion Chief position ($298,907, with $182,945 of that as regular pay and $76,255 in overtime) and just ahead of a Senior Deputy Sheriff who last year made $296,721 ($113,676 regular pay, $167,037 in overtime).
The mayor, it's worth noting, claimed no overtime in 2016. His pay is also miles beneath SF's best paid employee, the chief investment officer SF's retirement system. As reported in September of last year, William J. Coaker Jr. had a base pay of $507,831.60 in 2015, compensation that rose to $527,343 in 2016.
Of course, Lee could have been even lower on the salary rankings if it weren't for Proposition C, a November 2006 ballot measure that allowed SF to set the salaries of its top seven elected officials based on the salaries paid to their counterparts in other Bay Area counties. In the May after voters approved Prop C, the city's Civil Service Commission, which sets SF's elected officials' salaries, was then able to increase then-mayor Gavin Newsom's salary by $57K: from $188,816 to $245,749, the Ex reported at the time.
As part of Prop C's amendment to SF's charter, those top elected officials' pay would "be re-evaluated every five years to ensure they remain on pace with five other Bay Area counties," the Ex reported in 2007.
Here's something that will blow your mind just a bit: That 2007 Ex piece was likely edited by Deirdre Hussey, who was then the managing editor of that publication, before becoming the Ex's executive editor in 2010. (I'm social with Hussey, but she had no hand in this report.) She left the paper in 2012 and (after a series of other gigs) became Lee's spokesperson in 2016.
So it was Hussey who responded to the Chron report noting Lee's top salary ranking last week, telling the paper that as of May 2012, the Civil Service Commission had “certified the base salary for elected officials, including Lee, for a five-year salary cycle for the period of July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2017.” Which means we're due for another round of salary certifications shortly. Daniel Lurie, take note!