Chandra Wallar

Paul Wellman

Chandra Wallar

Wallar Rejects Orange County Offer

OC Supervisors Balked at $290,000 a Year Request

Tuesday, March 26, 2013
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Expressing disappointment with the way her recruitment unfolded, Santa Barbara County CEO Chandra Wallar declined an offer to become Orange County’s next CEO. In a letter to the OC supervisors who had been negotiating with her, she said the process was made “more difficult and awkward” when news of the talks were leaked to the press, and also because open discussions about compensation were held by the board after deal points had already been negotiated.

“Had I anticipated that confidential information would be leaked to the press and that negotiated and agreed upon compensation deal points would be subsequently withdrawn, literally at the eleventh hour, I would not have submitted an application,” Wallar told the OC committee.

Poor coordination in Orange County led to confusing public and private processes that left Wallar’s status in both Orange County and Santa Barbara in limbo. Last Tuesday, the five-member OC Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed they wanted to hire Wallar, but a majority of supervisors were uncomfortable with the compensation Wallar wanted. “Chandra Wallar is an excellent leader and she’s really paid her dues and she’s really worked her way up,” said Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who was most vocal of his support.

But even he wasn’t willing to approach the $290,000 annual base salary Wallar was seeking. Her predecessor made $254,000. Wallar makes $232,000 plus benefits in Santa Barbara.

In her letter to Orange County supervisors, Wallar said her negotiated salary and benefit package was in line with compensations in similarly-sized California counties. “In fact, in some cases other counties are compensating their CEOs substantially more, and as you reported during the April 19th Board meeting, the median for your survey market is approximately $300,000,” she wrote.

Now, instead of heading to Orange County, she will remain in Santa Barbara. A performance evaluation had been scheduled for the day news leaked of her OC negotiations, and could be rescheduled now that she’s sticking around. In an email, using language that isn’t exactly inspirational about her feelings toward Santa Barbara, she told the supervisors here it was “never an issue of wanting to leave SB but more of a desire to end my career in a larger and challenging organization.”

It remains to be seen how much damage Wallar caused by looking for work elsewhere as she kept Santa Barbara supervisors in the dark. With her contract expiring in October, the supervisors will have to address concerns about how their CEO has managed county departments, several of which have been struggling or seen their heads depart.

Wallar also has the budget coming up. According to a report last Tuesday, Santa Barbara County is looking at a $10.8 million budget deficit for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

And while she continues to pursue new sources of revenue, negotiations between Wallar’s office and Rick Caruso about the future of his Miramar property are basically stalled. She, along with the Sheriff, will also have to continue to develop plans for a new North County jail.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Over-compensated, looking for greener pastures, a poor negotiator, unhappy in her current job at $234K @ year: re-negotiate her contract or let her go in October. There are many intangible perks that come with living in Santa Barbara, and this lady apparently doesn't value them very much. Try hiring from within at 180K.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
March 26, 2013 at 8:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Agree with DrDan on this one. She prefers to be elsewhere; let her go.

at_large (anonymous profile)
March 26, 2013 at 8:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Santa Barbara's wellbeing is way down her list of priorities.

Blow her out.

lawdy (anonymous profile)
March 26, 2013 at 8:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

“never an issue of wanting to leave SB but more of a desire to end my career in a larger and challenging organization.”

What she meant to say is her pension is based on her final salary.
Dr Dan is so right on this one, fire her now.

CManSB (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2013 at 1:14 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I'll take her job at $232,000 plus benefits in Santa Barbara, I could live quite well, not b*tch about much and have a say in running a better and conservative Government. I just put in my resume' along with my request for $32K less so it sweetens the pot, and I'll start packing my bags to come home....

dou4now (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2013 at 5:15 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Her performance hasn't been stellar by a long shot. Lot's of good, solid department heads have been leaving even before she took this job. She just made them happen quicker. But then again, this micro managing board is the one the department heads are accountable to, not her.

BeachFan (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2013 at 8:33 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Boy she is really digging her own grave here-- her comment to the Board that she is looking for something "challenging" really says it all.
Her continued presence at the County should be viewed now as problematic, as her loyalties and focus obviously lies elsewhere.

truthtimesb (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2013 at 2:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

She's lit like Joan Crawford in the photo.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2013 at 2:35 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Based on Wallar's comments she pulled out because her deal wasn't kept secret. Keep in mind her job was in part to stream line and cut the fat in county government, but she's wanting a huge pay increase. This is the hypocrisy people hate.

How can she now seek to impose further cuts on county workers while it's obvious she's greedy??

Time for the BOS to find someone new.

Validated (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2013 at 6:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Anybody want to guess that it'll end up like SBCC? Fire someone and then have to buy out the remainder of their contract. She should have been canned for not letting the supes know she was looking elsewhere (but only if that wasn't allowable under her contract).

Carpreader (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2013 at 10:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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