Washingtonian: Right One-Third of the Time!
It's not just bad form to make fun of another journalist's mistakes, it's bad luck. With this blog post, LL has practically guaranteed that he'll be making a giant, embarrassing error in the near future (possibly even in this very item!). But form and luck be damned—Washingtonian needs a good thumpin' for some whoppers in its annual salary issue, particularly when it comes to D.C. officials. (The issue dropped last month, but LL is still getting his mail screened for anthrax and didn't get a copy until recently.)
On the first page of its salary info, the mag has a big picture of Still Mayor Adrian Fenty and lists his salary at $138,200. That's more than $60,000 off the mark. Where they came up with that number, LL hasn't a clue. The D.C. Council approved increasing the mayor's salary to $200,000 a year in 2006. But the previous level was $152,000, not $138,200. And at any rate, that means Fenty's been making $200,000 his whole four-year term.
Also wrong: Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier's salary. Washingtonian says she makes $175,000 a year. That's what Lanier made in 2007, but as a WTOP story from yesterday shows, it's way off her current pay.
Who else? How about outgoing Fire Chief Dennis Rubin. The mag says he makes $165,000; city records show he makes $187,000 a year.
Washingtonian also has a picture of former Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee and lists her salary at $275,000. That's what her base salary was when she started in 2007, but her old contract also called for yearly cost of living adjustments and a potential bonus. LL doesn't know what that shook out to at the time of her departure, but LL is pretty sure it's more than $275,000.
The magazine did manage to get salaries right for City Administrator Neil Albert ($225,000) and members of the D.C. Council ($125,583). So for those of you counting at home, that's a 33.3 percent success rate for D.C. officials.
LL also noticed that the magazine put up a picture of outgoing Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Jerry Weast and pegged his salary at $216,792. The Post said Weast's annual compensation package was worth $500,000 last year. So technically, Weast's listed salary might be correct, but based on the other errors, LL doubts it.
FishbowlDC also noted that Washingtonian totally overshot its salary info for Post reporters. By a lot. (Salaries for Washington City Paper reporters weren't listed in the magazine, probably because Washingtonian guessed, correctly, that they're too low to bother with.)
Add it all up and you've got an awful lot of mistakes on what should be a pretty simple exercise. Tsk, tsk, Washingtonian!
LL has a call into the magazine's editors for a comment, and will update as necessary. But for now, LL would recommend not getting too bent out of shape if you spotted a salary on their list that you thought was unfair. Odds are, it's probably wrong.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery