By now, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has got to realize he made some big mistakes in setting up his administration. Surely, he feels the pressure mounting on him and his staff (what’s left of it) to come clean on a number of matters, including allegations of cronyism and the fact he was paying his top officials way too much money.
Council member Mary Cheh has announced she’ll hold hearings on how Gray’s top appointees became wealthy virtually overnight. Congress has also officially stepped in. A House oversight committe is probing allegations that Gray’s aides paid former appointee Sulaimon Brown to launch political attacks during last year’s campaign.
So no, Mr. Mayor. No one is out to get you. The fact is, you made some mistakes.
Mayor Gray is now trying to remedy those mistakes by starting the process of cleaning house. He has already , and he has announced of some of his top officials.
Let’s take a look at other salaries that might need slashing, some of which are extravagant, to say the least. Let’s also start by acknowledging that some of these positions, including the DC Schools Chancellor position, are very, very important jobs. But does Kaya Henderson, the new Schools Chancellor, deserve a $275,000 annual salary?
Once again, it’s an important job turning the city’s public school system around, and there’s all the confidence in the world she can continue towards that goal on half that salary. Plus, just think of all the good that could come from the money that's left over-- from new books and computers for classrooms, among other things.
While a cut to Henderson’s salary would certainly be appropriate, some others don’t go far enough. Some officials, including Department of Health Director Mohammad Ahkter, will have their salaries slashed to $179,096. Before the cut, Ahkter was making $180,000. Wow, Mr. Mayor. That’s really bold of you -- bold like a slap in the face to your critics. Then again, maybe the Health Director deserves all that money.
Washington, DC certainly is an expensive city to live in. Ask any journalist.
The problems plaguing the Gray Administration have also caught the attention of Congress, and while there’s nothing more irritating than Congress sticking its nose into the District’s local affairs, maybe this time it’s needed.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is now investigating the allegations that Gray’s campaign aides paid Sulaimon Brown, then offered him a job, to verbally attack Adrian Fenty during last year’s mayoral race.
Apparently, it wasn’t enough that the DC Inspector General’s office was to look into the matter (then quickly withdrew from the investigation).
Apparently, it also wasn’t enough that the DC Attorney General’s office was looking into the allegations. It should be noted that Attorney General Irvin Nathan is on the mayor’s payroll, and is about to see his salary cut by a whopping one-thousand dollars.
Once again, you have to feel for those poor government appointees. How on Earth they are able to survive on those six-figure salaries is beyond me. We’ll have to wait and see how much more house cleaning and salary cutting the mayor will do. Vincent Gray must realize, at this point, that he gets what he pays for. It seems the FBI and now Congress realize that, too.