A professor is defending his students for their report that released the average compensation for big-city, midsized city and small city City Managers.

From the O.C. Watchdog, of the O.C. Register:

The students – and Smoller – have been the targets of withering criticism by the top administrators of OC’s cities since the controversial city manager compensation study was released last month. The data on city manager pay and perks was gathered by graduate students working on the campaign of Laguna Hills city council candidate Barbara “Stir-the-Pot” Kogerman.

“Some city managers have criticized me for placing public administration students in a political campaign,” Smoller wrote in a response to critics on our web site. “Student interns are commonplace in all political campaigns. However, public administrators are supposed to be politically neutral. So, the argument goes, this is bad preparation for a career in public service.

“I disagree,” he wrote. “I think that in order to be an effective public administrator, it is important to have knowledge of the political dynamics of the community. Working on a political campaign is good way to get it, quickly…. (T)he students unearthed and compiled public data to ask how taxpayer dollars are spent. This is an extremely timely question given that California is broke.”

The report found that the average compensation for big-city city managers was $292,651; for midsized cities, it was $272,573; and for the smallest cities, it was $262,196.  “In speaking with several mayors and city managers, the feeling I got was that the report-though far from perfect-was largely right,” he says.