State could owe $870K to Napolitano staff - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

State could owe $870K to Napolitano staff

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Posted: Tuesday, December 9, 2008 6:32 pm | Updated: 11:34 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The financially strapped state will have to write checks for more than $870,000 if all the employees of Gov. Janet Napolitano are fired or quit when Jan Brewer takes over early next year.

Figures obtained by Capitol Media Services show that 141 people who work for Napolitano have accumulated a total of 26,840 hours of vacation time they have earned but not taken. That averages out to more than 190 hours, or more than 41/2 weeks each.

But those hours are not equally divided.

Six of the workers have more than 500 hours of accumulated vacation on the books, time for which they will have to be paid in cash when they leave the state. That figure increases by about 13 hours every month.

And one worker, Renee Rothblum, has racked up nearly 1,100 hours. At her pay of $37.91 an hour, she is currently entitled to almost $41,300.

Overall, more than two dozen gubernatorial staff members would walk away with checks in the five-digit range if they're not kept on by Brewer.

That list includes Jan Lesher, who has been chief of staff for less than a year. But Lesher would be entitled to more than $24,000 because she has been on Napolitano's payroll for years as head of the governor's Tucson office and, later, director of the Department of Commerce.

And Jeanine L'Ecuyer, the governor's communications chief, would get a check for more than $16,000.

Gubernatorial press aide Shilo Mitchell said the amount of accumulated vacation time may appear unusually large, given that Napolitano has been in office only six years.

But Mitchell said some staff members in nonpolitical positions - like Rothblum, who is the assistant to the governor's chief of staff - predate Napolitano. In fact, Mitchell said, Rothblum's tenure goes back to the administration of Gov. Rose Mofford in the 1980s.

Mitchell also said some of these workers conceivably could be kept on by Brewer when she takes office early next year, reducing the one-time payout when Napolitano resigns after being confirmed by the U.S. Senate as President-elect Barack Obama's choice for Secretary of Homeland Security.

Mitchell, who has fewer than 300 hours built up and less than $7,300 coming her way, said Napolitano was aware of the large number of vacation hours being accumulated.

"We were looking at this knowing that, in 2010, the governor's term would be up," she said.

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