Orange County, Fl., Sheriff Kevin Beary, called “Central Florida’s best-known politician” by the Orlando Sentinel, pitched a $16 million budget increase to stunned county commissioners as a way to boost the starting pay of deputies. A debate today will scrutinize Beary’s $500,000 media operation, which is bigger than that of Walt Disney World and twice as large as Gov. Jeb Bush’s. “He’s going to have to explain why public-information officers are more important than deputies on the street,” Commissioner Linda Stewart said.
Each of Beary’s six public-information officers earned an average of $70,000 a year in salary and benefits. Beary wants each to get a 3 percent raise and a $3,000 bonus — along with the rest of the sheriff’s 2,281 employees. The much larger Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office handles 15,000 more crimes a year with just two employees to tell the public what their boss and his deputies do.