Loose Lips

Cheh Looking to Put Pay Genie Back in Bottle?

A couple of months ago, LL reported on a bizarre effort by Mayor Vince Gray to increase the maximum pay he could offer agency heads by $100,000 a year.

The mayor, whose rocky start can be attributed to—in part—high executive pay, also wanted to add two new pay executive pay scales. Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh said at a hearing on the bill that she thought it was a dumb idea. Today, her committee put out a report saying the same thing. (H/T to Mike DeBonis.)

More interesting is the committee report suggesting a de facto freeze on the salaries of some top officials, including Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson ($275,000 a year), and Police Chief Cathy Lanier ($253,817 a year). The report says the salaries for both are "more than fair" and don't need to go any higher.

The committee report also "stipulates that the salaries are not to be used as a basis for determining the rate of compensation for such future office holders in these positions, and requires that each future officeholder be compensated in accordance with the existing [pay scale]." The top of the existing pay scale, by the way, is $179,096 a year, which the committee says isn't a "disincentive for any potential employees of the District."

So does this mean that Lanier's successor will be making $75,000 less than she does, or the next schools chancellor will be making nearly $100,000 less than Henderson? Not necessarily, says Cheh. She says she's just trying to "slow down" the salary "arms race" by forcing the mayor to begin salary negotiations based on the legal salary cap, and not on what the last guy made.

"I don't want [the current salaries] to be cemented as the starting point automatically," says Cheh, adding that she'd be willing to approve higher salaries for the right candidate, provided there was a justifiable reason.

LL supposes that sounds like a good idea, but also may be wishful thinking. When it was announced that Henderson was taking over for former Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, one inartful reporter asked her about her salary expectations. Henderson responded, if LL's memory serves, that she expected to get paid the same amount Rhee did for doing the same job. Sounds reasonable, no?

Here's the report:

[scribd id=59808885 key=key-29d6eyle29acns3qs0dh mode=list]

  • Joe

    Shouldn't Henderson have gotten paid more? After all, she actually had experience in school systems management, rather than simply in self-promotion.

  • Wendy Washington

    You definitely have a point, Joe -- I heard you.

    Truth be told, neither Kaya Henderson or Cathy Lanier had any business being appointed to the positions they currently hold.

    When have you heard of a district commander being promoted over how many assistant chiefs and deputy chiefs? That only happens when said district commander knows exactly where the appointing Mayor's skeletons are buried. Don't know why Gray kept her on board. I say she is half a scandal away from being canned. Her buddy should have lost her job with the cheating scandal.

    Neither Madame Rhee or Kaya Henderson had the requisite background to run a school system of the size and complexity of DCPS. I will say it again, Kaya is nothing more than a Rheeform sycophant (or acolyte). She is carrying out the same agenda Rhee put in place, just without the fanfare.

  • Yeah

    Games, and Cheh plays them.

  • feral cat blood

    @ Wendy Washington ^5 - right on point!

    It's just a matter of time before Empress(Emperor Wears No Clothes) Lanier is exposed.

    Outrageous salaries for so-called public servants.

    I am working on a screenplay tentatively titled "Swindler's List." There will be a casting call for ALL overpaid DC Government employees.

  • Tom

    This is completely foolish. Why on Earth would city employees be allowed to make more than the highest rate (or the mayor)? At over $200K they are considered rich (by Obama/Democrat standards), yet $179K is nothing to laugh about. Im tired of this city and ALL of the clowns that run it. Its time for a revolution at the polls!

  • Calvin H. Gurley

    Trusting Citizens…this no beauty contest and your Councilmember will still be your friends EVEN IF YOU DON’T VOTE FOR THEM.

    This is about your life….in 4 years intervals. Do you have another 4 years to waste on the same incompetent Councilmember?

    This Council is incompetent and it is costing us Citizens money - increase taxes, city employees lay-off and furlough days for hard working citizens. Don’t forget Runaway Spending by the Council.

    Cathy Lanier needs to leave now…she will cost this city several millions in LAWSUITS due to the un-calibrated BREATHALYZER TEST SCANDEL. Hundreds of motorist lost their jobs, lost their families and were illegally arrested due to management not requiring officers to be fully trained. THIS IS A MANAGEMENT ERROR; AND LANIER IS at fault.

    Department Heads need to be fired…just as quickly as Fenty fired [low tier] several case workers when those children die under the care of a mother who had a case file at the Dept. of Children and Welfare. NoT one MANAGER LOST THEIR JOB. But low line employees lost their jobs.

    This Council and Mayor have to stop being Girly MEN…and fire Dept. Heads who mess-up and as a result bring costly million dollars lawsuits BILLS for the citizens TO PAY.

    Ms. Henderson…
    Wash. Post, METRO, Friday, September 4, 2009 – 26-School D.C. Cheating Probe.
    Erasers made on our children standardized test. Wells did nothing as like the entire council.

    Ms. Henderson was interviewed by the council for the appointment as school chancellor, Wells or not one Councilmember request the release of the sealed report from CTB McGraw-Hill on the cheating scandal to get the truth of the deception.

    In the midst of a McKinley H.S. administrator’s testimony of first hand observance of that Principal masterminding the test score cheating scandal…Ms. Henderson did not listen; but reinstated the cheating Principal.

    I Strongly Recommend MERIT PAY for Department Heads.
    I strongly recommend to Mayor Gray and the Council that all dept. Head jobs start at the core salary of $150,000. Should the first year Lanier can reduce crime or if Henderson can turn around the students’ achievement…THEN GIVE THESE WORTHY MANAGERS A $50,000. BONUS with an increase in pay.

    But not until these Mangers PROVE THEMSELVES. Forget what other cities pay their Dept. Heads…they are not getting their money’s worth. You CITIZENS want a dollar worth OF service and resolutions for a $1.00 of pay!!!

    MERIT PAY is my answer.

    Wake Up Trusting Citizens.

    Calvin H. Gurley

  • Five To Go

    @feral cat blood, I can not wait to see your movie-"swindlers list", too funny.

  • tired

    Bravo to all the posters except Joe (ie Wendy) thank you so much Lanier is a disgrace. She must also have something on Gray in order for him to keep her. To me he is a one term mayor.

  • tired

    Damn my tax dollars are being wasted.

  • candycane1

    Henderson's contract should be based and reflect the existing pay scale, not the ridiculous salary that Fenty set up for Rhee.

    Accountability starts at the top. Teachers and Principals are being held accountable for test scores. The test scores plunged last year and elementary scores have flatlined for this year. Therefore she has yet to earn a dime of what she is being paid. She is being paid a salary way above her skill level and the children are still scoring way below the national standard.

  • GJ

    Lanier is still here because she has a contract that they still have to pay her even if she is let go