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:
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