Santa Ana City Attorney Parts Ways, Paid $191,699 For Unused Time Off, Stemming From Questionable Contract Agreements

Learning of the story of former City Attorney Joe Fletcher makes us want to get a job for the City of Santa Ana, craft a few shady amendments into our contract, and then leave with all the hefty payouts and benefits. 

According to a story by Voice of OC, Fletcher managed to cash out $191,699 in unused vacation and sick leave when he left the position last week, which will be added to the $142,080 he'll receive as part of his severance package. In total, that's $333,779 for walking out the door.

It's not just the sums of money that are peculiar, but also the way Fletcher managed to make them come his way.

From the Voice story: "Fletcher was able to receive such a large payout, Councilman Sal Tinajero confirmed, because of a 2002 contract amendment that allowed him to carry over sick-leave hours as though he had been working for the city since 1983--13 years prior to his actual hiring in 1996. The amendment also allowed him to accrue unlimited vacation time."

Which bodes the question of who's to blame: Fletcher for trying to milk every buck out of the system that he could, or the boneheaded official who signed off on the deal? We're leaning toward the latter.

Authorities on the issue say they hadn't seen a departing employee with more than 400 to 600 hours, and if Fletcher's hours had fallen into this range, his payout would have been less than $100,000. A representative from the city told the Voice it would not release the breakdown of Fletcher's hours.

This is the same city attorney who didn't seem to mind hearing about city-council members receiving donations that proved a conflict of interest (which they later admitted), but then again, that probably paled in comparison to his coming payday.

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