EDITORIAL: Case sets the right example by rescinding 7% pay hike

We applaud Fresno County Supervisor Judy Case for doing the right thing by giving up a 7% pay raise, which will lower her salary to $99,764 a year.

"I can't look our employees in the face if I'm not willing to do what they're doing," Case said.

What other Fresno County employees are doing is propping up the county budget. Everyone from deputies to file clerks are working for less than what they used to make because of austerity cuts.

But other than Case, the county's other elected officials have no problem taking home their full salaries -- including raises. Their justification: the county has successfully navigated the Great Recession.

The problem with that argument is that the county isn't out of the financial woods. It can't be if it is relying on employee pay cuts of up to 15% to balance the books.

The situation is exactly as Tom Abshere, director of the local 4,200-person chapter of Service Employees International Union, portrayed it: "This is poor leadership. They are not leading by example."

It's anybody's guess whether the other supervisors or elected officials such as Sheriff Margaret Mims ($163,626 a year) and District Attorney Elizabeth Egan ($166,492 a year) will follow Case's lead.

But it's interesting to note that the Board of Supervisors in Marin County -- one of the most expensive places to live in the United States -- unanimously approved a resolution in June that froze their pay for this fiscal year at $97,739 annually. The Marin County payscale for the board is tied to the salary of Superior Court judges -- as is Fresno's board -- and the supervisors were eligible to receive $107,300.

It's also interesting to note that the salary for the Board of Supervisors in Santa Barbara and Napa counties, where the cost of living also is substantially higher than it is in Fresno, is $84,000 a year.

We have one quibble with Case. She said that The Bee "misreported" in a June 23 story that she had accepted a 7% pay raise.

Nothing was misreported. County personnel records show that she began receiving the bigger paycheck on June 10. After the story appeared, she contacted personnel officials and told them to rescind the raise.

Other than that, good job Supervisor Case.