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Published Sep. 18, 2009

How many more examples of bad judgment do Hillsborough County commissioners need to see before they show County Administrator Pat Bean the door?

The county's internal auditor reported Wednesday that Bean took advantage of an attaboy program aimed at saving county taxpayers money. She and nine other top executives received 1 percent pay hikes in 2007 under a program designed to reward lower-level workers for finding efficiencies in county operations.

Commissioners were rightly upset because they (a) set Bean's salary, (b) did not approve of any increase and (c) were unaware she hiked her own pay. This looks terrible enough coming the very week the county slashes millions of dollars (and programs) from next year's budget. After first defending what she did - Bean said the county lawyers approved it - the administrator acknowledged: "I didn't use the best judgment." She also voluntarily rescinded the raise, though not retroactively.

The county auditor, Jim Barnes, may have sandbagged Bean by springing his report on commissioners. Barnes bungled (again) - but the messenger is not the issue. Bean's conduct is.

It is incredible that a public employee already then making some $214,000 a year would find it appropriate to pocket another $2,100 for - of all things - finding savings in the budget. Is that not a primary function of her job? The county could not afford that mentality when times were flush. In this recession, it is downright mismanagement.