Antioch To Discuss “Extended Absence” Policy for Elected Officials

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The Antioch City Council will discuss on Tuesday a new policy regarding an extended absence by an elected official. The policy appears to be aimed at the City Clerk who has been absent since October 28, 2013.

The proposed policy states that if an elected official is absent for more than one month unrelated to his or her own medical policy, then the official is encouraged to return the salary, car allowance, and communication allowance (if received) to the City for the absent period.

Since October 28, City Clerk Arne Simonsen has been absent and failed to attend an Antioch City Council Meeting.

According to the Staff Report, Simonsen declined the opportunity to provide a written response to attach to the staff report, but indicated recently that he is willing to reimbursed the City for his monthly salary of $941.20 and his 10-week absence over the remainder of his 4-year term.

The staff report also indicates he is not willing to reimburse the City for his $350 monthly car allowance; because he uses those funds to attend League of California Cities meetings and trainings throughout the year due to the limited budget for the City Clerks Office. The City Clerk does not receive a communications allowance.

According to State Law, the seat would become vacant after three consecutive months, except when prevented by sickness or when absent from the state with the permission required by law.

The staff report states that Mr. Simonsen is not sick, but was out of the country for an extended period of time over the holidays and attending to matters involving his wife’s family. He did communicate periodically by email during his absence.

Simonsen is expected to be returning to Antioch and be present at the January 14, 2014 City Council Meeting.

 

19 COMMENTS

  1. Unless Arne Simonsen comes forward with a written response with the real reasons why he hasn’t attended the City Council Meetings. He ran for an office got elected and should be doing his job or resign from the position.

  2. If Arne Simonsen is a republic as he claims, he will return ALL the money. If he is still a republican, then I am Mickey Mouse. No good standing republican would act this way to take advantage of the peoples money.

  3. Arne Simonsen is a hypocrite and a crook. He is a member of the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association who is supposed to be fighting on behalf of the taxpayer and here he is taking advantage of the taxpayer. More proof that organization is a bunch of frauds including Simonsen. He should be recalled immediately or pressure be put on him to resign. He lied to voters when he claimed he would run the office in an open and responsive manner because he has not been in the office for it to be open and he can’t be responsive on another continent. Fire him now Antioch!

    • There is a state law entitled “abandonment of office” which allows for long term illness, but not one’s refusing to do his/her duty as an elected official i.e. not attending meetings, etc.

      Richard Asadoorian
      Trustee, Contra Costa County Board of Education

  4. What has been the added burden on staff who have too much to do already? Shame on Arne, I voted for him too. Maybe they should take his pay and give it to the staff instead.

  5. his is a copy/ paste of my post the fb page:

    1) I have addressed the outrages salaries and benefits of our elected officials several times last year, speaking on that issue during council meetings several times . All I got were laughter’s. I believe if one is not there- no pay. That simple. I promote a new system . There should be a set budget. Base salary, no benefits, and every month a detailed listing of all claimed expenses put on the agenda, and voted on. If the limit of the set budget is reached, the person is out of luck.

    2) Right now we,re having a 30,000 dollar budget (salary plus supplies) for each council member. ( don’t have the clerks numbers right now) but I believe they are the same as a council member.

  6. thank you mary rocha for bringing up that issue. this will hopefully start a serious discussion on those outrages pay/ benefits of our elected officials.

    • This whole thing is wrong and Arne should pay the tax payers back. However, this is really about Mary Rocha’s hate for Arne back to her being mayor. She also wants him out so her good personal friend Angel, who lost the election to Arne, can be put in his seat. This is all about politics and Mary Rocha.

      Arne, you need to pay all the money back.

      • I agree Julio. Rocha is a very vengeful person. I recall watching a city council meeting around the Holidays. Rocha said something about policies regarding absences and she added that she, too, would like to take an extended leave of absence. Sounds like jealousy to me.

        Everyone can have their own opinion, but the fact is, no one here knows the exact nature / reasons behind Arne’s emergency leave. Obviously, it is important. The article states he is willing to give back his salary, but the car premiums are being used for city business. What more do you blood suckers want?

        I know at least 95% of the people who work for this city wouldn’t even consider giving back their salary, let alone any other compensation.

        • With all due respect, the wages being asked for return are for the period that he was gone. Are they not?

          So how does one use their $350/mo car allowance when one is out of the country? 350 stones is over 630 miles monthly per reimbursement laws. Just how many League of Cities meetings are there a month and where are they held?

          To your 95% point; my guess is 95% of city employees haven’t publicly railed on transparency and the inefficiencies of government the way Arne has and therefore the hypocrite factor isn’t in play with them they way it is here.

          Politics is a game of hardball. You leave an opening like this and then wonder why your detractors pounce on it? Really? And if you think Arne hasn’t exercised a little vengeful activity over his political career I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

  7. @Julio,

    You need to get your head out of your butt and praise someone for doing the right thing and making it an issue. Who cares who brought it up, just be happy tax payers realize just who Arne Simonsen really is and he fooled you all. Applaud Rocha for her action and move on. Not everything has to be political. Sometimes things are just done to correct bad behavior.

    • @jose,
      i been trying for years to contact mary rocha by email and/ or phone. she is NOT available/ never answers. even she is getting phone allowance and has a city email address.

      • Mary is not that hard to contact.There is quite a bit of abuse by local elected officials n East County with the perk abuse. The public or the D.A. don’t take it seriously. It gets progressively worse all the way to the white house. Look at Washington Hospital District.

        • It’s only difficult if you are listed as a local kook.

          John would know as would Don and Mark. They made the ignore list a long time ago.

  8. Just because Mr. Simonsen was once a member and officer of the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association does not mean that he represents the organization or that the organization condones his actions as the City Clerk of Antioch. (In fact, I don’t believe that he has been a dues paying member for several years. Any questions regarding Mr. Simonsen’s involvement with the Taxpayers Association should be directed to Mr. Alex Aliferis, the Executive Director, at 925-289-6900.)

    • Pete, I’d like to say thanks for the list of sponsors on your org’s homepage for the 75th anniversary meeting. No better way to show who you represent in the positions you take on ballot measures. Clearly indicating the big business lobbyist nature of your club.

      http://www.cocotax.org/

      Anyone who thinks you are in it for the average resident is a fool.

      What would be quite interesting is when you take a stance on a tax measure that you state(for transparency) what the savings will be for the major corporations for whom you advocate. I see it as a major conflict of interest that Shell pushes your Executive Director to lobby against a measure so they can save $10k while putting my family in jeopardy in the process. Why should I buy their product or support their business when that is going on?

      The same can be said for Chevron, AT&T, Comcast and a host of other companies who fund your activities. BTW, are you still the designated representative for one of those corps?

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