April 29, 2009

CoCo DA, Supervisors find way to keep misdemeanor prosecutions going through September; DA vows to take a $25,000 pay cut

County leaders will work to find a permanent way to keep the District Attorney’s Office prosecuting all misdemeanor crimes. In the meantime, they figured out a way to keep those prosecutions going through the fall.

This agreement took place at a special meeting Tuesday called by Contra Costa Supervisors to address District Attorney Bob Kochly’s decision to stop prosecuting certain misdemeanors as of next week.

Kochly previously announced that the $1.9 million cut the supervisors said his office had to make in our county's current budget crisis would mean that his office would have to lay off six attorneys this week, which in turn would mean that his office could no longer review or file charges in certain misdemeanor cases.

These crimes included drug offenses, property crimes, simple assault or battery cases, and trespassing and loitering cases. The D.A.'s Office, however, would continue to prosecute misdemeanor DUIs, domestic violence cases, and sex crimes.

In a memo Kochly sent last week to county police chiefs, and obtained by, Kochly said: "With respect to these types of cases, we ask that they not even be submitted by your agency. If they are submitted, they will be screened out by category by support staff and returned to your department without review by a deputy district attorney."

That memo raised a stink among county police chiefs, county leaders, the public, and the media, including bloggers like me. At Tuesday’s special meeting with the supervisors Public Protection Committee, Kochly volunteered to cut his pay in the next fiscal year by 10 percent, which he said would be $25,000. He said that, combined with the resignation of three benefited attorneys this week, will save the jobs of six contract prosecutors who were to be laid off Thursday.

"At least it will buy us some time without incurring further expense to the county," Kochly said.

You can read more about the meeting in the Contra Costa Times story.

(Meanwhile, I have to ask whether 10-percent cut of his earnings only amounts to $25,000. As I reported earlier--based on report from Contra Costa Times’ Daniel Borenstein--Kochly earned $239,000 in salary and benefits in 2007. But that $239,000 didn't include his “double-dipping” annual pension of $165,000, which he earned from working for the county for much of his professional career as a prosecutor and then retiring before seeking the elected office of District Attorney. In 2007, the DA’s salary, plus his pension, made for a yearly total of at least $404,000.

Based on that 2007 figure, 10 percent of his total earnings from the county would be around $40,000, right? I'm not the greatest math wiz. Whatever the figure, it would be more than $25,000. Anyway, just a little tidbit I had to throw in there.)


Anonymous said...

You clearly don't care about the public safety issue, only in disparing Mr. Kochly for the amount fo money that he earns. Why don't you just be honest about that?

Edi Birsan said...

The subject here was the DA taking a $25,000 cut and whether that is 10% of his income. So jumping on Soccer Mom for that and going off topic yourself on the issue of safety is a a bit distracting and deflecting from what the topic here is.

To keep in topic, the question might be what did he mean when he says a 10% cut?
If you count income from the retirement plan *the double dip aspect of the DA's situation then the 10% would be closer to $40,000 as she points out. However, most people when they talk about pay generally think in terms of salary not all sources of income, in which case the $25,000 is closer to the mark.

The easiest way to solve the question is to ask the DA.

Anonymous said...

The double dipping being done by some of our elected county officials is all open and above board.

They first served as long-time employees of the county, earning their retirement benefits, then retired and ran for elected positions. WE put them in the positions they now hold, very probably because they were the most qualified candidates. Why are we crying now about double dipping?

Guess I just don't get why all the moaning about this issue. (disclaimer: I am not a public employee nor do I receive any kind of taxpayer supported retirement)

I'm glad that Kochly pushed the sups on this issue. At least now the general public might just be a little better informed about how their government works. (or doesn't)

Anonymous said...

The headline seems to indicate the continued prosecution of misdemeanors occuring because an elected official will forgo some of his pay--voluntarily. I didi not see any of the BOS stepping up and offering to do that.

Anonymous said...

More than a 1,000 who participated in an SF Chronicle poll tends to agree with Soccer Mom's concern that Kochly was grandstanding. 48 percent said they thought that "Kochly's refusal to prosecute minor crimes" was either "dangerous petulance over budget cuts" or "just a threat to get more funding."

Anonymous said...

Hey, he is a smart man! It worked too didn't it?

Funding for law enforcement in this county has always been a bit spare. It finally took someone with balls to stand up to the Sups and say "ENOUGH"!

If we prosecute and punish correctly we will not have an increase in crime. If criminals think that they can walk all over the judicial system they will.

Good for Kochly! We should be happy that he is serving the law abiding citizens of this county so well.