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The Union-Tribune’s Helen Gao had an interesting story today looking at Councilman Carl DeMaio’s misleading comparison of city employees’ fringe benefit costs.

DeMaio said the city’s 61 percent fringe benefit rate far outpaced the national average of 34 percent. However, the city’s calculation came from dividing the cost of benefits by base salary. The 34 percent national figure comes from dividing the cost of benefits by total compensation, including benefits. When measured that way, the city’s fringe benefit rate is far closer to the national average — about 38 percent, Gao wrote.

This isn’t the first time DeMaio’s gotten in hot water for his data. In his pre-council days, when DeMaio was president of The Performance Institute, the sponsors of his analysis of the city budget withdrew their support, in part because of errors in his report. The problems included incorrect information about the city firefighters’ contract and about the budgets of other cities’ offices, which were compared with San Diego.

The Union-Tribune noted some other DeMaio errors in this sidebar accompanying a 2005 profile of DeMaio. Among them:

When DeMaio criticized the Park & Recreation Department for paying 28 pool managers to oversee 35.5 lifeguards in fiscal 2004, he equated full-time equivalent positions with actual people.

A department official said the 35.5 lifeguard positions actually were held by about 90 part-timers. She said 9.4 of the manager positions were held by 10 lifeguards with extra duties and that four of the other managers DeMaio included didn’t supervise pools.

RANI GUPTA

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