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Mayor Gray Cleans House

Firings, salary cuts at the Wilson Building as Congress steps in.

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.

David Abrams March 20, 2011 at 11:50 AM
As to the cronyism issue, it would be interesting (and telling) to go back and analyze DHS staff positions when he was Directir
tom March 20, 2011 at 02:57 PM
how much does the mayor make? prob way too much..
Doug Parrish March 20, 2011 at 04:38 PM
Tom, the last time I checked, the mayor of the District of Columbia made an annual salary of $200,000. As I recall, the mayor's salary requirements last increased during the Fenty administration....and I believe it was about a 50-thousand dollar increase.
oldskool March 20, 2011 at 07:02 PM
We all know that rank has it's privileges and responsibilities. This nation, last time I checked is capitalistic , not communistic . Don't worry about the salaries of the Mayor or his senior staff . The DC area is very expensive and many commute into the District from the surrounding states to be able to afford the "inflation" that has damaged our livelihood since this lucrative..... Global War on Terrorism...... paid for and burdened by the backs and brows of the American taxpayers (of all races ) .....instead I ask that you worry about whether they (Mayor and his appointees have ethical /leadership issues that affect the people of DC in a manner where they can not serve DC to the point that it is prosperous. Worry if they and have to increase taxes and layoff employees who depend on their public service just like the federal government where salaries in the GS and SES grade are higher in some cases than the DC Government rates . Many of the employee are taking forced furloughs and have not gotten a raise in salary for over 3 years. Many are told overtime is not encouraged for"public servants These are some of the many committed servants in the district and never report overtime. Saving the District $$$$$$$.
A. Hillard March 21, 2011 at 01:49 PM
When is Acting Chancellor Henderson going to clean house. All the Rhee-ets came in making bank and hired their own friends in positions that were either vacant from the firings or made up to accomododate them. There is the "fraud" that still seems to plague DC Public Schools and if you think about it...that is money that is wasted...of course no one really looks at it as "fraud"....people who come in when they feel like and lists 8 hours as worked and are not present but yet approved for 8 hours of work....people who say they are teleworking, yet no one knows what they are working on and yet they are paid for 80 hours of work....so, isn't this stealing from the government....shouldn't something be done about this before our kids think the government is an easy place to get "free" money and not be held accountable? Bring Congress on in and let them try to figure out why DC has a high deficit and there is no accountability really going on...

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