Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager's spokesman is leaving, and he says money is to blame.
Chief Deputy District Attorney John Goold, who handles the media for the top prosecutor while also supervising criminal cases, said he has accepted a job as third-in-command in the Napa County district attorney's office.
It's a lateral move with a higher salary and a higher cost of living. Salary schedules show that Goold can earn up to $133,578 a year in Stanislaus County and up to $147,671 a year in Napa County.
Goold has been a local prosecutor for 14 years, including eight years in management, and he spent a decade working as a police officer in the Bay Area.
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He said some of the unionized deputy prosecutors he supervises earn almost as much as he does. Those deputies also get overtime and extra pay for on-call duties that nonrepresented managers do not receive.
"The reasons for staying as a supervisor here get less and less attractive," said Goold, 50, adding that his departure is not a sign of dissention in the ranks.
Goold had been talked about as a possible candidate for office when former District Attorney Jim Brazelton resigned in July 2005, but he did not throw his hat into the ring and campaigned for Fladager.
Right-hand man also DA's friend
Fladager, who was elected in June 2006, said there is little she can do to keep her right-hand man, who is also a friend, on the job.
The county sets salaries, based on job classifications, and this year the Board of Supervisors approved 7 percent raises for managers in the district attorney's and public defender's offices, so they would not be out-earned by their top deputies.
That didn't sweeten the pot enough for Goold, who was among the managers who brought a study about "wage compaction" to the county's chief executive officer. The county also shot down Fladager's request for two new supervisorial positions that could have helped ease the workload of Goold and three other chief deputies.
"They were small increases, after many years of no increases," Fladager said.
Goold said he expects his workload to be less in Napa, where there are 22 prosecutors, compared with 50 in Stanislaus County. He starts his new job Dec. 3.
Assistant District Attorney Carol Shipley will take over Goold's media duties until a replacement is found, Fladager said, and Goold's caseload will be split among Shipley and the other chief deputies.
Fladager said Goold's departure may help her make her case for more managers with the supervisors next year.
County Chief Executive Officer Rick Robinson said chiefs in the district attorney's office earn 12.3 percent more than the senior deputies, and 12.7 percent less than the assistant district attorney, who is second in command.
He noted that the county recently released the salaries of its top 100 employees to The Bee. Goold was No. 55, earning $126,449.40 in 2006.
"We think we have appropriately addressed the compaction issues," Robinson said.
Bee staff writer Susan Herendeen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2338.