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Working on the California citizens’ redistricting commission appears to have been lucrative work for the 14 commissioners appointed to serve, who collected between $35,100 and $68,400 in per diem pay based on “honor system” reporting of days worked, many of which were done from home.

Libert “Gil” R. Ontai, an architect by trade and San Diego’s representative on the commission, has so far collected $47,400.

Commissioners received no salary, but were paid $300 for each day in which they reported working six hours or more. Days in which less time was worked could be combined to meet the requirement.

Maria Blanco of Los Angeles, also employed by the California Community Foundation, reported working the least days and thus requested the smallest per diem draw. Michael Ward, an Orange County chiropractor, was the highest-paid commission member.

“My knowledge base, at the start, was very low,” Ward told the Sacramento Bee. “Those first few months, I was getting four or five hours sleep, reading and studying like crazy. That's what was required, just to be competent.”

During two months in 2011, Ward reported working 28 days each, collecting $8,400 per month. In December 2010, he submitted payment requests for a large portion of the holiday week, including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve.

Costs are expected to rise, as some commission members may be turning in additional per diem reports as the council winds down its work on July 1.

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