Lonnie Roberts awards $35,000 bonus to aide

It seems that Multnomah County's elected officials have the power to grant bonuses - of any size - to their employees. And Commissioner Lonnie Roberts has done just that, to the tune of $35,000 for his outgoing chief-of-staff Gary Walker. From the O:

The bonus is, by far, the largest given to a county employee in memory, and doubles Walker's annual earnings of $34,000. It also highlights the county's lack of a clear bonus policy, particularly for elected officials who enjoy complete discretion over how they spend their budgets. ...

Walker tried to keep the bonus secret, asking human resources to "keep this matter confidential, except for those who need to know," according to an e-mail exchange between two human resources directors.

Of course, the biggest bombshell in the Oregonian is in its final paragraph - where it's suggested that the bonus was an attempt to conduct an end-run around rules that limit earnings while simultaneously picking up a County pension. (Walker is a retired sheriff's deputy.)

But Walker boasts that he easily works a full-time schedule, and Roberts cited those extra hours in justifying the bonus -- even though working more than 1,039 hours or being paid for more than 1,039 hours could jeopardize his pension payments. County officials say Walker's pension will not be affected.

County Chair Ted Wheeler and County Auditor Lavonne Griffin-Valade - both newly elected - expressed some concerns:

Multnomah County Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade questioned whether public employees should get bonuses at all. "My concern is that it takes away from the transparency," she said. "If this is what they feel people should be paid, it should be in the budget and receive some scrutiny from the board."

County Chairman Ted Wheeler said he did not favor bonuses for public employees. "I would not want to see it become a widespread practice," he said. "We should be paying people adequate salaries for the work they do."


  • McCann (unverified)


    Looks like the O wants Lonnie out of his seat.

  • BobTiernan (unverified)

    Well, I guess that settle it -- all five commissioners are sleazebags (incl ex-chair Lynn instead of her replacement).


  • (Show?)

    First, I should point out that there is also a second new member of the County Commission in addition to the county chair.

    Second, I thought I heard that Roberts is termed out-- is that true?

  • Loner (unverified)

    Roberts never should have promised this bonus, but Gary Walker deserves the bonus.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    I have heard for years [no independent verification, so yes, it's rumor] that Roberts is a vote, but that his staff has always done the important work. So, perhaps the bonus is justified in some way, even if it looks like less than wonderful government process. But, hey, it's the Multco Commission, which has not been a stellar body for some time.

  • Byard Pidgeon (unverified)

    Outrageous...I can't think of any other word for this bonus. If I lived in the district, I'd start a recall on this little would-be king who doesn't realize, or doesn't care, that he's using the public's money to reward his pet. On reading what I'm writing, I should also say "Infuriating". By the way, I spent most of my working life in the public sector.

  • TR (unverified)
    <h2>I usually have respect for what Lonnie brings to the table. However handing out a bonus for hard work and loyalty is a misuse of taxpayer dollars. The only exception to such a bonus would be if it could be demonstrated that an employee came up with a suggestion that saved taxpayers a huge amount of money. What Commissioner Roberts has revealed is that Multnomah County has more money than it knows what to do with.</h2>
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