Shea’s Living Wage Repeal Doesn’t Erase Nepotism Wages Paid as Mayor

Shea, Amante, Choi and Schott with an award of shame.
Shea, Amante, Choi and Schott with an award of shame.
Shea, Amante, Choi and Schott with an award of shame.

Irvine council member Christina Shea happily accepted an OC Taxpayers Association Roses Award of 2015 recently for her role in eliminating Irvine’s “living wage ordinance” that had been on the books since 2007.  Shea and her council majority friends claim this law cost Irvine taxpayers millions of dollars by having to pay higher wages to all City contractors’ employees all over the County even beyond the City.

She wrote on social media that the award was “…a wonderful acknowledgement of our majority taking steps to protect our residents financial well being.”

When Shea was mayor in Irvine from 1998 to 2000, her own daughter worked for her as a part-time council aide.  In particular, the younger Shea’s was a “council aide II.”  The city has no records of what her actual job description was and did not know how many hours she worked per week, but part-timers generally work up to 20 hours a week.  Shea’s daughter was 21 in 1999.  The younger Shea was paid $15.97 an hour in 1999 (this number was confirmed through the City of Irvine).  Minimum wage in California in 1999 was $5.75.  So a city worker on minimum wage working a 40 hour week made $230; Shea’s daughter working a 10 hour week made $159.70 or $319.40 a week for a 20 hour week.  Nice work if you can get it (all numbers confirmed through the city of Irvine on Shea’s status and pay).

As a council aide, the younger Shea’s job description closely mimicked today’s standard requirements which are:

  • Conducting research and analysis on topics related to city policies, procedures, operational programs, agenda items, etc. and prepares oral and written reports on findings to individual members of the City Council
  • Drafts letters and other correspondence for individual members of the City Council.
  • Attends City business related meetings with and/or on behalf on individual City Council members as requested; assembles and distributes meeting follow up information as requested.
  • Exercises appropriate judgment in answering questions and releasing information and in analyzing and projecting consequences of decisions and/or recommendations.

Now before anyone from the right gets all puffy, then Mayor Shea did go through all of the things required with the city manager’s office to clear her daughter for part-time work with the city.  But I’m not sure how exactly she can square paying her own daughter nearly three times minimum hourly wages for part-time work with her desire to save Irvine taxpayers money by killing the Living Wage Ordinance.  It’s still nepotism.

In June, when the council majority voted to repeal the ordinance, the Daily Pilot offered this nugget: “The reason I brought it forward to repeal it is that it’s so unfair to our taxpayers,” Shea said. “What this contract does is add a cost of up to $1.8 million for these contracts that our taxpayers have to pay for so we have to pay for all the other employees in the county. That’s why this ordinance is wrong.”

Unless of course it’s Shea using taxpayer dollars to employ her daughter at a generous wage in 1999.  Minimum wage today is $9 an hour, or $360 a week.  In 2015 dollars, Shea’s daughter would be making $22.87, or $457.40 for a 20 hour week.

It costs nearly $1,900 to rent an apartment in OC today.  That’s up nearly 7% from a year ago.  And before our friends on the right talk about how minimum wage is only for teenagers, we offer this information from the US Department of Labor.

Enjoy your roses and radishes salad.


  1. Dan

    You have your facts wrong
    Best to get correct information before creating an entire narrative based on incorrect information
    My daughter was hired as an intern in 1999 from June till the early part of September as she was home from college. She was hired at the second tier level as a council aide, as we have five tiers of salary levels for our assistants I am pulling the exact hourly wage from staff for 1999 but 16 years ago, that level was probably around $11.50 an hour not this inflated 15.50 you describe, with no benefits , so when I get the exact figure I will post it.

    • My facts were verified by the city of Irvine; I provided guidelines of many hours a week your daughter could have worked. The city confirmed her hourly rate from 1999. Please do post your information. Part-time workers don’t get benefits — and I never said she had any. Even if she made 11.50 an hour as you claim, that figure is twice minimum wage for 1999.

  2. Dan, just when one thinks your gutter level reporting can sink no lower here you come dragging Christina Shea’s family into the brown stuff. While I would agree it is open season on elected officials, when they foul up, trashing families hits a new gutter standard. First off, Shea and all other Council Members are each allotted so much for Council Aide hires. They are free to hire whomever the wish and the City does not have a Nepotism Policy in place. Secondly, Shea’s daughter was hired at the second to the lowest pay level for Aides, with there being two or three above that. If Shea were looking to give away the store she could have hired her at top pay grade. When reviewing the City of Irvine pay levels, I doubt you will find any below the $15.00/hr level which means all employees are making more than your so called “living wage” standard. I might add, they have the education and professional skills to deserve that wage level, not a give away as found with your “living wages.” I also challenge you to show how many of the “living wage” recipients ever lived in Irvine. I would estimate the numbers are slim and none.

    Since you have opened the door to trashing the family of Council Members, can we next expect your to report on some of the antics of your favorite dictator Larry Agran. Remember King Larry leader of the Not So Great Park found a cushy high paying job for his daughter in law at a hell of a higher wage that $15.00 per hour. Wonder what her qualifications were to get such a position other than being related to the dictator. Then there was another Larry Agran Aide, Mr. Daniels who was caught billing the City 12 hours a day seven days a week including Christmas Day (Double time and one half). If you really wanted to do a story on abuse of power, you are looking at the wrong Council Member.

    Bottom line Dan, if you want to take on Christina Shea on factual issues of wrong doing, be my guest. However, your continued launching personal attacks on invented non-issues is getting old, even for those “uninformed” few who read the O.C. Liberal. Get a life and give it a rest.

  3. “City does not have a Nepotism Policy in place” — perhaps one is needed Pat. Larry Agran is no longer in office. I verified my facts thought the City of Irvine. Have a great day

  4. Hey, why don’t you turn those finely honed research skills to looking at what former Anaheim City Council member (and expected candidate for that position this year) has done in the “hiring relatives to get a city paycheck,” department, now that we know how awful you think it is!

      • Within the next calendar here, yes, people will be voting for or against Gail Eastman for Anaheim City Council. It will take place, in fact, at the exact same time as Christine Shea’s next race. The point, if you missed it, is about your own hypocrisy.

        • and what does Gail Eastman’s possible candidacy have to do with the Irvine Living Wage Ordinance?

          When Eastman runs, I’m happy to revisit this but please don’t hijack the thread….this is about Irvine, not Anaheim.

            • Greg, Dan’s trash reporting is merely latent frustration from his BFF’s the Agranistas, no longer being in power. If you don’t have facts to challenge the enemy on, then personal attacks like the one on Christina Shea are the smoke and mirrors. Dan is very good at “smoke and mirrors.” You notice Dan didn’t respond to my question about the qualifications of Larry Agran’s daughter in law to get a high paying job at the Great Park or his Aide committing fraud in his billing hours. Dan’s motto is, “don’t do as I do , do as I say.”

                • Dan, quit using your smoke and mirrors to deceive people. Christina Shea didn’t set the wages for part time Aides, the City Personnel Department did, based on salary surveys. As I stated before, the daughter was started at the second to the bottom step in the wage scale with two or three higher levels above her. If Shea wanted to soak the taxpayer as you allege, why not insist her daughter be started at the top step of the range. Sorry Dan, get a new horse to beat.

              • I think Agran’s daughter-in-law went to a prestigious private university in New England if I’m not mistaken; where did Shea’s daughter go to college again?

                I’m unaware of an aide committing fraud Pat; if you’d like to share links, please do. If that claim was part of HSNO’s original report, you know the entire document was retracted for inaccuracies.

                • Would Larry Agran hiring his daughter in law for a high paying job at the Great Park also fall into that catagory?

                • Got some clarity for you Pat. The daughter-in-law you’re referring to is Ken Agran’s first wife who was hired as a part-timer for the Great Park Conservancy, NOT the Great Park or the City. No taxpayer expense, but a private, non-profit organization trying to raise money for the development of the Park. I believe she holds a B.S. from Chapman with an additional certificate from UCI in fundraising. She was highly qualified for this position. The younger Shea was paid by tax dollars. I will note that Council member Shea has yet to produce the what-she-believes-to-be correct pay her daughter received. The point of it all, Ms. Shea led the initiative to kill the Living Wage Ordinance while paying her daughter what she says was twice minimum wage for administrative work and what the city says is nearly 3X minimum wage.

                • There ya go ….. you’re gettin’ the idea.

                  Nice job trying to make something out of nothing Dan though.

                  BTW – I doubt if the typical minimum wage worker has the credentials of a college graduate – nor could they meet the requirements of the job as listed.

                  How many times greater than the minimum wage do you earn for your work? Is that really “fair” Dan?

                • Junior, this IS something; by Shea’s own words, her daughter worked what amounted to a paid internship for twice minimum wage. Those jobs would be considered a unicorn today.

                  I run my own business and we’re growing and doing fine; I will confess to being the lowest paid employee at my company. My retention rate is exceptional.

              • My guess is: pretty much zero. First, neither she nor I make any such promise to them. Second, I do not generally know in advance who she is hiring. Third, she has literally never asked or even hinted at me to do a single thing for any of her clients on her account. Fourth, they don’t necessarily get my support. That said, I tend to like the people that hire her, but my liking them comes before her hiring them.

                Now, Dear Readers: does it bother anyone that our host lets this person spew out these sorts of political attacks here anonymously? It’s cowardly on “Pinky’s” part; it’s craven on the part of this website.

                (And before our host says anything to this effect: no, it is NOT the same as someone asserting that he shines Jordan Brandman’s shoes. And NO, it is neither satire nor parody. It’s simply defamatory.)

                • The question wasn’t defamatory in the least. The second fragmented portion was complete parody. Defamation is when Zenger wrote in a comment that suggested I accosted someone in a wheelchair at Bootcamp. A comment still up on your site.

  5. Yeah, the rent is high in the county but even going on line you will find rooms renting for $800. As the right says several times liberal cities in Ca like San Fran, LA and San Jose also have high rents. Personality, I have said this ti the Register, changed zoning to allow form pre-fab housing. Now, I would says that both Democrats and Republicans in the County don’t like poor people in their cities similar to the LA area which is run more by Dems. New forms of transportation if they worked like the Hyperloop 10 years away this would allow someone to lived in Needles and worked in Anaheim. Next, 3-d print housing which has been tried on a limited level but China, South Korean and Dubai are interested, cutting down on labor cost. In fact for a Tech Guy you don’t have imagination and solving the rent problem. Another idea pushed by UCLA is the BackYard House for adult children or a rental or aging parents.

  6. It seems Ms. Shea is only interested in paying wages above the minimum wage for relatives of elected officials. Ms. Shea rails against the “cost to the tax payer” yet continues to milk the tax payer by accepting allowances from the city for her “expenditures”. She should at least follow Mr. Lalloway’s example and renounce these benefits. Furthermore, she continues to rail against the issue of the Great Park, yet continues to receive a paycheck from sitting on the Great Park Board, talk about leading by example. Ms. Shea is the example of crony politicians who continue too give themselves away to the higher bidder, whether its the Irvine Company or Five Point Communities. It is easy to criticize working class people when you make a living off the lobbyist you are so eager to please. Again, this is not surprising given her use of her office to harass businesses who carry a publication she opposes. The outrage on the other side of the isle if a democratic official acted in such a fashion would probably break some sort of world record. If Shea has not picked a Halloween costume yet, I suggest a Richard Nixon cosplay would be fitting and appropriate.

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