SLO prosecutors lose paid time off after whistleblower complaint

April 10, 2015
Dan Dow

Dan Dow

The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office is halting a longstanding practice in which prosecutors receive paid time off in exchange for taking on around-the-clock shifts in which they work on-call to assist law enforcement officers.

The practice dates back more than 30 years, but a recent investigation by the county auditor’s office found that it violates both the prosecutors’ labor agreement and the state constitution. That is because the practice of compensatory time off (CTO) is not included in the written labor agreement, which the county board of supervisors adopts.

“I cannot continue the past practice without the approval of the board of supervisors,” District Attorney Dan Dow said in an email to county auditor Jim Erb. “The authority to grant compensation or benefits to employees rests solely with the board of supervisors.”

Erb’s office began investigating the issue after receiving a tip through the county’s whistleblower hotline. On Wednesday, Erb sent a report to Dow informing him of the results of the investigation.

In Dow’s response to Erb, the current district attorney stated that prosecutors had been receiving nine days of CTO a year in exchange for two weeks of on-call duty. The on-call work primarily consisted of helping law enforcement officers with issues related to search warrants, Dow wrote.

Dow noted that the similar practices occur in several other California counties. However, those counties have adopted written memoranda of understanding.

The CTO practice in San Luis Obispo County may have begun between 1978 and 1984 under then-district attorney Christopher Mooney, according to Dow’s email. The paid time off arrangement spans the terms of four elected district attorneys.


Hey taxpayer, government employees are ripping you off 10waysfrom Sunday.

When I “worked” for the state a common practice was taking advantage of the “callback”. If you were called back to the office after your shift was over, you would get paid a minimum 4 hrs overtime. People would drive in and fax one document, charge taxpayer4 hrs.

Keep voting for those who want to help you. All it means is expand government.


Negative…if it was less than 3 hours from the end of shift it would be continuation, NOT a minimum 4 hrs. Also, interesting that you put “worked” in quotes…means you were part of the problem.

By the way, how often are there jobs in the private sector that require you to be “on call”? Not many I would say.


I own my own business and I am on call 24/7. Go back to your cubicle assistant DA.


Sounds like a personal problem. You made your career choice and you have to deal with it. Don’t begrudge someone who is smarter than you. By the way, make up your mind. You called me a burger flipper in one post and you think I am Lee Cunningham in this post. O.D. on your bong today?


I put worked in quotes because 90% of government jobs are high priced welfare and does not qualify as real work.

Yes I was part of the problem, the system ensures everyone is useless,which is why I had to quit to regain my soul.


I admire you for doing that. I agree with you on your 90% assessment. However, DDA’s and law enforcement officers are NOT two of the professions in the 90%.


I work for the private sector and I am “on call” one full month every 4th month of the

calendar. I do not get CTO. I also work one full weekend every other month, and I get

one-half day to one day of CTO. No OT pay as the company classifies most of us as “exempt” against being a non-exempt which would require OT pay.

Most of those who work in the I.T. (Information Technology) in the private sector go

through being scheduled for “on call” in their career.


It seems to me that they should be getting time and a half for overtime worked. The County has been getting a good deal. The Supervisors need to do their jobs correctly.


So now they will have to PAY them for being on call instead of a few extra days off per year? I would write the CTO into the labor agreement post haste or the county will be paying OT checks through the nose. You can’t REQUIRE someone to be on call without compensation. The CTO was a good deal for the county, now, open the checkbook.


– Uncontrolled Standby: An on-call employee required to respond to an employer’s request return to work at any time, 24/7, but not restricted in any manner on off-work activities, response time, or location does not need to be paid as he or she is not considered under the control of the employer for those wide-open standby hours.


“not restricted in any manner”? Not true. They have to carry around a pager, or extra phone, cannot drink, cannot leave the area, must be able to take a call from a police officer or detective at 3am or 3pm no matter what. Sounds like a big pain to me and the comp days was a nice way to “compensate” for the hassle of being on call. And it wasn’t even 1 for 1. It was 14 days for 9 days. This duty is being performed 365 days a year. Some people have it over holidays, summer vacations, etc. 30 years ago when this was implemented it was a reasonable idea to take care of these professionals while they perform this service. What changed? I agree with Perspicacious. Now the county will have to pay for each attorney to be on-call.


Why would someone need to go “whistleblower” on this? Seems kind of weird to me that an issue like this, most likely just an oversight, would need someone to use the whistleblower line to report it.


I wondered the same thing.

If this practice dates back 30 years, it’s interesting the whistleblower waited until a new D.A. was in office. Maybe previous D.A.’s didn’t care or wouldn’t look into it? Who knows…


Unless the whistleblower IS the former DA, Dow’s opponent in the last election, or a friend of one of those guys.

Mr. Holly

It’s only your tax money. But since you caught us we are sorry and will not do it anymore. I wonder how the DA’s office would answer to a thief who says it has been his policy to rob and steal but since you caught me I will not do it anymore. Would there be any consequences for this thief or would he be treated the same as the DA’S?


Keep a watchful eye that they don’t try to get it written in. Wonder how many times they ever got called during that two weeks. Most likely not much, how many emergency search warrants do you figure our little county has really ever needed? Greasin’ a fat hog, ridiculous.


Also, if I receive money from the government I am not entitled to, and it is discovered, then I would owe that money no matter how far back it goes. I doubt the same will apply here.


Comp time payments are not “un-entitled” in most cases. It is simply a matter of substituting overtime hours worked for regular time hours taken off. It can actually be a form of underpayment in the sense that the higher pay for overtime is not matched by the pay for regular time. The benefit for the person receiving comp time is in choosing the times they want off from regular hours.

This issue is all about having a formal written policy about comp time instead of just doing it. In large organizations and those governed by labor contracts of most types, such policies are supposed to be written out.


Having been in the working world and now self employed, I for one say comp time is not a form of underpayment as you state. I use to get paid comp years ago. I liked it because I DIDN’T get whacked with the extra taxes you will on O.T. that in the end makes it the SAME as if you didn’t work the O.T. at all.


It’s Christopher Money, not Christopher Mooney, and Hon. Money was not one to violate written rules, so I highly doubt it began under him.


I know it’s the popular thing to do in these comments to look for some dishonesty or evil as motivation for actions. However, I think that ignorance can play a role too. I will take your word for Money’s honesty (I barely recognize the name) but even a smart many like he apparently was can’t know every little detail he encounters in the world. It is entirely possible that he simply didn’t realize that this was setup in a way that violated the rules. He may have assigned the task to someone he trusted and shouldn’t have in this instance.


Whistleblower Hotline, ey? Was this “practice” EVER included in any SLO County BOS adopted written labor agreement? If not, how is it that it has taken over thirty (30) YEARS to come to light?