Parting Gifts from Former Supe Liz Kniss
Posted by Comments (5)on Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Liz Kniss termed out of her job as a county supervisor at the end of last year and rejoined the Palo Alto City Council.
Liz Kniss termed out of her Santa Clara County supervisor seat at the end of last year, and it was assumed she would ride off into the sunset to finish her political career on Palo Alto’s City Council. During the budget cycle last year, the Board of Supervisors even gave her a parting gift of sorts, donating $47k to Palo Alto Animal Services—while she was running for that city’s council seat—even though it is not a county entity. But it seems Kniss may have been throwing around her own handouts in her final year on the board. Kniss used her county charge card, or P-Card, on Nov. 20, 2012, to purchase $796 in services from ForexMentor.com, a website that teaches amateur day traders how to profit from the currency exchange market. County auditors managed to miss the charges in an audit performed last winter, which would come as a shock if auditors hadn’t repeatedly glossed over Supervisor George Shirakawa‘s illegitimate P-Card charges, which include trips to casinos. But the gambling tutorial Kniss bought could equate to just a fraction of the pension spike she gave her former chief of staff, Pattie Demellopine. In April of last year, Kniss bumped DeMellopine’s annual salary to almost $150,000 a year in base pay. The $12,000 raise made the former District 5 staffer the highest paid Board of Supervisors employee—even higher than the total compensation Kniss and the other supervisors received. While Kniss had the right to dictate her staff salaries through her office’s budget, the secret pay bump could add thousands to DeMellopine’s annual pension payout from CalPERS, which in effect passes down added cost to the county. (DeMellopine’s pension is still under review, according to a CalPERS employee.) Kniss did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but that’s probably because converting county funds into euros and yen is a time-consuming task.
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