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Jerry_Brown_Online_Education.jpgOne chair will be empty when an independent commission convenes Thursday to consider whether pay for California's elected officials is too high, too low or just right.

Gov. Jerry Brown announced Wednesday that he was naming Democrats LeRoy Chatfield and Nora Vargas to vacancies on the seven-member Citizens Compensation Commission, which sets pay packages for constitutional officers, including the governor, and state legislators.

But the Democratic governor's office backtracked just hours later, saying the appointments "were announced prematurely."

"Under statute, prior employment with the state of California precludes these individuals from serving on the commission," that statement says. "When new appointments are made, they will be announced."

Chatfield, who publishes an online literary journal and Web publication related to the farmworker movement, served as an appointee on several boards and commissions when Brown was governor in the 1970s and 1980s. A 1976 Newsweek article also identified him as travelling secretary on the young Brown's presidential campaign.

Vargas, the vice president of community engagement at Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, is ineligible because she spent one year as a legislative relations specialist at San Diego State University.

Filling the two vacant seats would give Brown a majority of appointees on the commission. Three of the five members now serving were named to the commission by former GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Later in the day, Brown named Nancy C. Miller, an attorney from Sacramento, to fill one of the vacancies.

The panel has slashed pay and benefits for elected officials over the last several years, most recently instituting a 5 percent salary cut and axing a program that provided on-the-job cars for state legislators. Annual pay for governor dropped from $212,179 to $165,288 between 2005 and December 2012, while starting salaries for members of the state Legislature went from $116,208 to $90,526 in that period. State legislators are also eligible for roughly $30,000 in per diem payments.

Commissioners are scheduled to meet at 10 a.m.Thursday at Sacramento City Hall for their annual review of elected officials' pay.

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at a news conference at the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. (AP Photo/ Jeff Chiu)

Editor's Note: This post was updated to reflect Miller's appointment. Updated at 6:37 p.m. on March 20, 2013.


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