Did you read the Bee this morning? There's a story about Laurie Berman. She's the current Director of Caltrans. Governor Jerry Brown appointed her to the job in early 2018. She lived in San Diego, where she ran the Caltrans District Office.
The problem is she still lives in San Diego. Oh, she rented a duplex here for $1,330 a month (of which the state pays $1,130)---but she has been flying back and forth between San Diego and Sacramento several times a week. And because of that, the state has been picking up airfare, Uber and Lyft rides, rental cars and meals (because technically, Ms. Berman was travelling away from home---which is San Diego).
It's all legal, nothing unethical or shady. It's just wrong. We taxpayers have paid an extra $20,000, give or take, that we wouldn' t have had to if Ms. Berman had actually moved to the city where she works, Sacramento, or if the governor had appointed someone who would. For a salary of $195,000, is that asking too much?
But wait---there's more. The story also tells the tale of Ms. Berman's Chief Deputy Director, who spent a year and a half commuting from Santa Ana. Looks like that arrangement has cost us another 20 grand and change.
When I first came back to California, in 2013, I was appalled to find that Governor Brown was living in Oakland and not in Sacramento---and more so to find out that, while I was gone, Governor Schwarzenegger flew home to L.A. most nights. This is Sacramento. This is the State Capitol. Is it too much to ask that you live here while we pay you to do the peoples' work? The good news is that Jerry fixed it and moved into the mansion. I'm happy to see Governor Newsom and his family have done the right thing and made Sacramento home.
Now that Ms. Berman has given notice and the Chief Deputy Director has returned to his regional Caltrans gig in Orange County, we should expect the jobs to be filled by people who will come join us as citizens of California's Capitol City. You and I go where the jobs take us---or stay put if we don't want to leave (and I don't ever want to). "Must be willing to relocate to Sacramento" should be a requirement.
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