Loose Lips

Last Post on Double Dipping Cops

LL was ready to concede the fact that nobody cares if a couple million dollars or so of District money is misspent and let this week's column about more than two dozen retired cops improperly double dipping quietly die. But then LL got an email from Mayor Vince Gray's chief of staff last night complaining about a comparison between the double dipping mess and the exorbitant pay and nepotism that marred Gray's early tenure.

Says COS Chris Murphy:

It’s a little disingenuous to lump together what’s happening now with the “early hiring and pay practices” of the Gray Administration. The double dipping started during the previous administration — we are the ones cleaning it up. If there’s not a great legal case to recoup the money —and no one seems to think there is — it’s because we’re stuck with the facts of what occurred during the prior administration. We welcome the scrutiny here because it only highlights that we weren’t the ones that caused this problem — but if you’re going to scrutinize us please do us the favor of being honest about where the blame lies for how we got here.

The Gray administration certainly deserves credit for cleaning up a mess not of its own making by disallowing any future double dipping (though it ought to be noted that four of the double dippers were rehired in 2011, while Gray has been in office). But Murphy is the one being disingenuous by not at least acknowledging a large and shady part of this story involves something the Gray administration is entirely responsible for. That part of the story involves MPD Police Chief Cathy Lanier giving huge raises to three of her double dipping subordinates just days before the city was set to slash their improper pay.

Commander Daniel Hickson, who oversees the MPD’s First District, saw his pay jump from $129,999 to $177,000. Lieutenant Jacob Major’s salary went from $100,000 to $136,050. And Bill Sarvis, a medical services manager who has only been on the job since March, had his salary go from $125,000 to $152,686. For Hickson and Major, their salaries now far eclipse what others of similar ranks are making.

Even more disingenuous was the Gray administration's early attempts to try and convince LL that these pay raises were entirely related to job performance and had nothing to do with the fact that the city was going to enforce pension offsets of the three employees' salaries. It was only because LL obtained emails from Lanier showing otherwise that city officials copped to the fact that the pay raises and the pension offsets were related.

When asked about the pay raises, the mayor told LL in a statement: "I am deferring to Chief Lanier on these personnel issues and feel confident that she did what was needed to retain talented individuals in the department." In other words: I'm too scared to call Lanier on her shady raises. Go away.

To LL, that seems like the same lack of oversight and accountability Gray exercised with his former H.R. boss, Judy Banks, and chief of staff, Gerri Mason Hall — the chief architects of the freewheeling and high spending early days of the Gray administration. That's why, Mr. Murphy, the comparison is apt.

Of course it's not hard to see why Gray (and the rest of the council, for that matter) might make take such a hands-off approach with Lanier. If there's anything pols know how to do, it's read a poll. And the polls make it clear: in this town the police chief is a heck of a lot more popular than the mayor.

  • Ward 2 Crew

    It does not matter whose watch this double dipping started on, FIX IT!! Hold Chief Lanier responsible for the BS raises and she does not like it, SHOW HER OVERPAID A$$ the door!!

    DC needs a cleanup, from top to bottom and from side to side.... this crap makes no damn sense. Wake up Gray and take a 5 hour energy boost and get something done, you look OLD and you are moving s...l..o..w.....

    And this ethics bill by Bowser is a JOKE!! Its nothing. Bowser reminds me of a bad substitute teacher, yeah you are present but you are incompetent as hell. It is unbelievable that she is actually putting time on this ethics AMENDMENT bill.....SMH. If she is the best in Ward 4 then it must be a bunch IDIOTS living in 4!! No wonder Upper Georgia Ave is hot mess. Oh yeah Ward 4 gets 2 Walmarts and the funny thing is that ward 4 is allowing them to come... like that is great economic development!! The Fools of Four will have low, low, low prices... smh

  • Lol

    ^. Not a real ward 2 resident.

  • Truth hurts

    Gray's administration justifies its existence by repeating two themes, both false: 1) Fenty's responsible for all that's wrong with DC, or 2) anything bad that's happened during 2011 was caused by someone who unforeseeable betrayed Gray's trust. This is just more of the same. I read LL's blogs and LL wrote that the vast majority of the double dippers began doing it on Fenty's watch. So get a life, Mr mayor c.o.s.

  • DCVoter

    Mr. Murphy, stop crying and just fix the problem...your solution is allowing the Chief to jack up the salaries of the double dippers?! It's like a parade of idiots down at City Hall...

  • Renegade 1

    Another prime example of the lack of integrity & ethics at the top of not only the police department, but the entire DC Government - and they wonder why they can't get statehood!

  • Renegade 1

    Is anyone ever going to hold Lanier accountable for all of her un-ethical moves, and her lies to cover up those moves - prime example: the railroading of Burton for telling the truth and going against her. Secretly members of MPD would back Burton, but then you would have 3000 members on non-contact pending termination.

  • Renegade 1

    Well hopefully things will get better, it certainly can't get any worse - Hell maybe I'll even see one of those polls that gives Lanier her alleged 80% approval rating I keep hearing about, I doubt it! Polls for approval ratings seem to never make their way to Simple City. Maybe we can start a East of the River Approval Poll and see what the other half of the city thinks of the Chief for Life.

  • EnoughAlready

    So this is the Gray Administration controlling its message to the press? Maybe the new guy should go back to the Hill. Someone needs to muzzle Murphy. Not the best spokesman for the Mayor....

  • robert

    When is the residents of this city going to wake up. Don't you all realize that our city is a laughing joke, and no one takes us serious, and we are always crying for statehood. We ALL need to wake up.

    Just recenty I noticed that two cops from my neighborhood were no longer round, they were great. So when I asked an MPD supervisor, he told me that they left MPD to work in Maryland. He said that MPD can't keep anybody good because the way our city is being run.

  • GJ

    Alan, I think that your doing an injustice to the people that were rehired. You kind of make it sound like they were just sitting here collecting a check. That is not the case. All of these people are doing a job and should get paid for it. They all also earned a pension. Wheather you love or hate Chief Cannon he has put his agency on the map. For many years DPS did not preform it's function. That left MPD to do thier jobs. This is no longer the case. Commander Hickson works his butt of and Chief Sarvis brings a great deal of knowledge to the position. That's just my opinion.

  • W


    On the DCHR electronic job application, there is a radio button that asks "are you now collecting or have you ever collected a pension from the District of Columbia?" It's been on the job application since Fenty, and is still there. Answering this question is supposed to flag the application so that DCHR can address the pension issue with the candidate if they are hired, and as you point out, it's illegal to collect a pension while actively employed. So either someone didn't answer accurately on their application, or someone at DCHR broke the law in allowing the pension to keep paying an active employee.

    You should apply for any old job in DC through that system, you'll see the button. It's supposed to be the fail safe to prevent a situation like Lanier has on her hands.

    Also, I'm familiar with the DCHR system because I've applied for several jobs at DC government since 2008, all of which I'm qualified for. I haven't gotten any of them. So when people ask "what's the harm in paying cops extra, or paying Sulaimon, or Albert Brooks' son?" The answer is that they don't end up hiring qualified people who will work for less than these clowns that keep causing scandals. The District can do a lot better by bringing in some of us young workers who know, for instance, how to use Excel, or how to balance books. District taxpayers are being ill-used by these cronies.

  • Terry Miller

    This is confusing to me, because I remember something that passed during the Ramsey administration that allowed MPD retirees to "double dip." Ramsey said all the wise old heads were retired and he wanted to brink them back. What happened to this provision? Was it repealed?

  • DC Voter

    Sometimes when bad news is breaking, it is best for the spokespersons representing elected officials to keep their colective mouths shut. All they do is make matters worse and keep the issue alive. Someone should educate the not for ready primetime players in the Gray administration of this fact.

  • EB

    And I think W hits it on the head. The old heads are hanging on too long and costing too much money. It's not that Gray's a cretin, although he is, it's that he's holding onto 4 way overpaid, pre-retirement employees, when 1 new UDC hire could probably do the job adequately. It would immediately reduce unemployment in the city AND create hope and opportunity for young people.

    A dozen $90/year meeting transcribers who mail the meeting minutes out to agency heads is killing opportunities for 20 year olds who have the drive, and need the assist.

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