Krell mailer misfires on DA layoffs

Deputy State Attorney General Maggy Krell has sent out a mailer in the Sacramento County district attorney’s race criticizing one of her opponents, Deputy District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, for taking pay raises during the recent tough budget times.

Here are the salient portions of the mailer that began arriving in voters’ mailboxes this week, followed by an analysis by Sacramento Bee reporter Andy Furillo.

TEXT: “Budget cuts forced the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office to lay off more than 100 employees. But, Supervising District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert took pay raises year after year … These cuts have included support staff and criminal investigators. The office has also lost 20 prosecutors. Because of these cuts, the District Attorney’s Office has even stopped prosecuting certain crimes.”

The mailer also says, “Krell would never approve pay raises for top management while cutting frontline prosecutors. She will require upper management to try cases, instead of simply serving as supervisors and administrators.”

ANALYSIS: The budgets for the DA’s Office adopted by the Board of Supervisors fell from $71 million in fiscal 2008-09 to $61 million in 2008-09 and continued to drop to $58.4 million in the 2009-10 fiscal year. The spending went back up to $68.7 million in 2010-11, and increased over the next three years to $74.9 million in 2013-14, according to county figures.

According to the California attorney general’s office, the number of employees in the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office decreased from a high of 484 in 2008 to 390 in 2012, a net reduction of 94 employees. Of that reduction, 39 resulted from layoffs, according to Melissa Terfertiller, associate administrative analyst for the Sacramento DA’s Office. The remainder of the reduction in force resulted primarily through attrition, Terfertiller said.

The mailer misstated the actual number of prosecutors who were lost to the office due to the budget cuts. The correct number was 16, not 20.

In 2013, 21 of the employees who were laid off in 2008 and 2009 were reinstated, according to the District Attorney’s Office, meaning that a net of 18 employees were laid off since 2009, not “more than 100.”

Krell’s campaign got it wrong in saying that due to the budget cuts, the DA’s Office “stopped prosecuting certain crimes.” The mailer cites a June 16, 2011, story in The Sacramento Bee saying that due to budget cuts, District Attorney Jan Scully said her office would no longer prosecute theft cases involving losses of less than $950 or misdemeanor drug cases. An improved economy and a major settlement in a civil case allowed the district attorney to forestall layoffs that would have cut into the prosecutions, and the office never stopped filing the cases, including 1,028 misdemeanor drug cases and 2,423 theft cases under $950 last year, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Grippi. The office did, however, handle an untold number of the drug and theft cases as infractions rather than as misdemeanors in the earlier bad budget years, Grippi said.

It’s true that Schubert’s base salary increased from $97,000 in 2003 to $152,547.20 in 2012. The raises resulted from contract negotiations between the county and the labor association that represents deputy district attorneys and assistant public defenders.

As for approving pay raises for top managers in the office, the district attorney plays no role in the salaries that are set in negotiations between various attorney associations and the county’s executive management.

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