The former second-in-command at a central Iowa job training program faced the Legislative Oversight Committee today (Thursday) and like his boss on Tuesday, John Bargman defended his big salary. As chief operating officer of the Central Iowa Employment and Training Consortium, Bargman earned over three-hundred-thousand dollars a year in salary and bonuses.
“I had considerable duties. At times I felt like I had two or three positions to do,” Bargman said. “I put in additional hours. I worked weekends. I worked hard for my compensation.” Bargman says his boss, Ramona Cunningham, worked hard for her money, too, and their compensation packages were approved by the board chairman. “I feel she worked hard for CIETC, had many successes,” Bargman says. “I would assume that the board chair compensated her for what he thought it was worth.”
A private consultant concluded Bargman’s pay was 48 percent higher than the market average, but Bargman told legislators that same consultant went on to defend his hefty paychecks. “On the surface, my compensation level might be higher than what the survey showed, but given the experience I have and the responsibilities I had, she felt it was justified,” Bargman says.
Bargman’s wife, Debra, works for the state auditor’s office today but a few years ago she, too, worked for CIETC and helped set up the agency’s accounting system. “For a period of time she reviewed the general ledger on a quarterly basis to make sure it continued to balance out,” Bargman said.
Senator Tom Courtney, a Democrat from Burlington, says that bit of news will require further scrutiny. Courtney says he’s not concerned with the validity of the audit of CIETC that was released March 31st, nor is he concerned about the integrity of the auditor’s office.
But Courtney says he was not aware of the close relationship between two of the players in this saga. “I’m certainly not accusing anybody of anything, but in this situation where we’re looking at everything, that’s something I sure want to look at,” Courtney says.
The Legislative Oversight Committee plans to reconvene Tuesday and hopes to hear from the Iowa Workforce Development secretary found tossing documents in a dumpster last week.