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Posted at 4:21 PM ET, 02/25/2011

Cheh wants D.C. salary probe, council pay cut

By Tim Craig

D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D) plans to look into the salaries that Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) is paying his top staffers, sending an email to the Department of Human Resources requesting the records of all administration officials being paid more than the allowable range.

Cheh, who chairs the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment, said she plans to explore whether Gray staffers' salaries are commensurate with their experience and qualifications.

"I want to look at those with relatively robust salaries and see what that their qualifications are," said Cheh, an ally of the mayor's.

Hoping to get ahead of what she believes is public outrage over city spending, Cheh also sent D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown (D) a note two days ago proposing the council slash its budget by 10 percent. She also is recommending to Brown that he embrace a 10 percent pay cut for council members.

On Sunday, the Washington Post reported that Gray is paying top managers tens of thousands of dollars more than former mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) paid his staffers in similar positions. In some cases, the salaries of Gray staffers exceeds the cap for their job category.

Cheh said the Department of Human Resources should have issued waivers for anyone being paid in excess of that cap. Once she receives that information, Cheh said she plans to explore the circumstances for what justification was used to issue it. If no waivers exist, Cheh said, she wants "to know why."

Cheh, who endorsed Gray a few weeks before the September primary, stressed the salary issue for some government officials predates the Gray administration. She noted some council members questioned Police Chief Cathy Lanier's pension and salary during the Fenty administration.

"This is not an issue new to just this administration," Cheh said. "But it's one that seems persistent."

Cheh's efforts comes amid growing indications that some of Gray's hiring decisions and the uproar over Brown's request for a $2,000 "fully loaded" SUV are becoming serious distractions for the city government.

After campaigning last year for both Gray and Brown, Cheh's own reputation is also endangered if officials don't move swiftly to get beyond the controversies.

Cheh, who represents a ward where voters didn't support either Gray or Brown in the election, said she is hearing "a great deal" from constituents about the SUV scandal.

"Where I go, people bring it up...sometimes in the form of outrage and anger," said Cheh, the president pro tem of the council. "The chairman has to move quickly, send those Navigators back and make the District whole and say again he's sorry, unequivocally and without qualification."

By Tim Craig  | February 25, 2011; 4:21 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council, Mary Cheh, Tim Craig  
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Next: Biddle opens a well-staffed office for council race

Comments

Glad to hear Mary Cheh step up to the plate. My CM Yvette Alexander has not said a peep about the Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown's Navigatorgate situation or Gray appointing friends & family of friends to high paid DC jobs. I doubt she ever will either.

Posted by: dchillrat | February 25, 2011 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Mary Cheh for mayor! Seems she's the only one on the council with a pair.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | February 25, 2011 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Cheh for Mayor? I think NOT. Isn't this the same woman who ran around DC supporting these guys? She is also a little hard on the eyes!

Posted by: Anonymous87 | February 25, 2011 6:24 PM | Report abuse

A salary probe won't make a difference in Dysfunctional City's underhanded hiring actions. What appointees don't make in salary they make up in under-the-table monies.

But low IQ and lower education-level D.C. voters keep on reelecting crooked council members who continually bring on their family members and friends.

Posted by: jismquiff | February 25, 2011 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Mary Cheh should resign. She supported this administration, got Gray elected and chose to look the other way to the atrocities of this council during the past 2 years.
She is the worst.

Posted by: Ward3three | February 25, 2011 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Cheh is doing the right thing. I say that as someone who thinks Cheh is an otherwise silly legislator.

Go get 'em, Cheh.

Vince Gray has become a disappointment to his supporters.

Posted by: ObjectiveReader1 | February 25, 2011 6:42 PM | Report abuse

I find it hard to take Cheh seriously. This is the same councilperson who introduced legislation to make it illegal to kill varmints like possum and raccons who might decide they want to live in your home. She can also take her bag tax and shove it.

Posted by: PepperDr | February 25, 2011 8:35 PM | Report abuse

This week has been a circus at the Wilson Building staring Kwame Brown as the lead actor. Kwame showed his immaturity, ignorance, and his being a materialistic human being.

Kwame Brown shouldn't have been voted in as the DC Council Chair, but disgusted DC voters like myself didn't have a great selection to choose from. It's was between the idiot Kwame and the other pimp, former Ward 5 DC Councilmember Vincent Orange.

I am sick of all of these idiots sitting inside the Wilson Building. Mayor Vincent Gray is a big disappointment in my and other DC voters eyes, but we were glad to get rid of the former dictator Adrian Malik Fenty. Now we are stuck with another politician not caring about his constituents. It's all about me, me, me, with most politicians.

DC voters should take to the streets like the people in Egypt and over throw the Wilson Building and run Vincent Gray, Kwame Brown, Jim Graham, Jack Evans, Mary Cheh, Muriel Bowser, Harry Thomas Jr., Tommy Wells, Yvette Alexander, Marion Barry, Phil Mendelson, David Catania, Michael Brown, and Sekou Biddle out of the Wilson Building.

Disgusted DC Voter


Posted by: DaddyGraceFishSandwich | February 26, 2011 12:15 AM | Report abuse

This week has been a circus at the Wilson Building staring Kwame Brown as the lead actor. Kwame showed his immaturity, ignorance, and his being a materialistic human being.

Kwame Brown shouldn't have been voted in as the DC Council Chair, but disgusted DC voters like myself didn't have a great selection to choose from. It was between the idiot Kwame and the other pimp, former Ward 5 DC Councilmember Vincent Orange.

I am sick of all of these idiots sitting inside the Wilson Building. Mayor Vincent Gray is a big disappointment in my and other DC voters eyes, but we were glad to get rid of the former dictator Adrian Malik Fenty. Now we are stuck with another politician not caring about his constituents. It's all about me, me, me, with most politicians.

DC voters should take to the streets like the people in Egypt and over throw the Wilson Building and run Vincent Gray, Kwame Brown, Jim Graham, Jack Evans, Mary Cheh, Muriel Bowser, Harry Thomas Jr., Tommy Wells, Yvette Alexander, Marion Barry, Phil Mendelson, David Catania, Michael Brown, and Sekou Biddle out of the Wilson Building.

Disgusted DC Voter


Posted by: DaddyGraceFishSandwich | February 26, 2011 12:17 AM | Report abuse

Cheh was supporting Kwame Brown! She is guilty by association as far as I am concerned. And biach, open Klingle Road. It does not belong to your sorry constituents, biach.

Posted by: johng1 | February 26, 2011 1:09 AM | Report abuse

I think passing a simple test should be required before allowing someone to vote. Something like identifying the large bodies of water bordering our continent on the East and West, and naming 4 states along the East coast and two states along the West coast. I believe this very simple test would exclude at least 40% of the simple-minded people who constantly vote to keep our city down.

We must do something about these people who rob our tax dollars! Thieves!

Posted by: johng1 | February 26, 2011 1:17 AM | Report abuse

@johng1: Your proposal is unconstitutional. I get your point, but a vote is the right of anyone who is an American citizen and not a felon.

Mary Cheh is, in fact, the only council member, other than Barry, that has taken a hard stance on this weeks circus.

I understand what Barry was saying, that what Gray is doing is what every Mayor has done before him, without question, however, we are in a different time now. No other Mayor presided over a record deficit, hiring freeze, salary freeze, furloughed employees and threats of cuts to critical city services. The prudent thing for Gray to do would be to cut executive salaries to the levels they were under former Mayor Anthony Williams.

Cheh realizes that the Wilson Building is quickly loosing the public trust. When people are not working and cannot find work, frustration sets in. Waste at city hall is an affront to a public that has been asked to 'share the pain' in a tight budgetary environment.

Not only do they need to look at their own part-time salaries, 2nd only to LA lawmakers, they really also need to look at all the current and future capital projects in the city and suspend all of those not critical to the local infrastructure until we get our financial house back in order. In 2012 they are again going to be asking for citizens to make sacrifices. They have an opportunity, now, to make the cuts in the budget that will make such a request palpable. No more bike lanes, no more street scape projects, no more local funding for street cars, etc. etc. etc.

These are all great projects but that are projects that must be reserved when we are financially healthy. Our financial deficit is not just a narrative to be spoke about yet ignore. It requires very real action. People don't miss what they have never had, cut all new projects, it is that simple.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | February 26, 2011 6:28 AM | Report abuse

Mary Cheh is a joke. She got us in this mess and should resign. She supported Gray and Kwame, she was very vocal about it and many of us trusted her. OUT CHEH!

Posted by: buytheImissFentybumpersticker | February 26, 2011 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Thank you concernedaboutdc..Your comment is so the mark at what the issues are. Bottom line...we are facing budgetary challenges that will require all of us who really care about this city to put selfish wants/desires/ambition aside and do what is best for the ‘whole’. I voted for both Gray & Brown because they seemed the better of what was offered. I am quickly becoming disappointed and disillusion about what should be common sense decisions about vehicles and who to hire & how much to pay. What is really troublesome to me the ‘it’s always been done’ or ‘this one or that one can do what they want’ and the like justifications for some insensitive decisions being made. During difficult times everyone should participate in seeing our wonderful city through which means we all will have to make some sacrifices. Please remember that government employees and elected officials are first Public Servant not Wall Street (Goldman/Sachs) wannabes. I am NOT saying that Public Servants shouldn’t be able to make a decent living however when taxpayers may be asked to give more, employees are already being asked to do more with less…leadership should be more than willing to do the same. The recent shenanigans has made me rethink this whole statehood idea…our city leaders/executive has proven to me that we are simply not ready!

Posted by: DC49 | February 26, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Yes concerned, it is unconstitutional. This madness drives one to say things out of complete frustration.

Posted by: johng1 | February 26, 2011 5:36 PM | Report abuse

"Not only do they need to look at their own part-time salaries, 2nd only to LA ..."
How depressing that a born & reared DC'er now living in Southern California has the same dysfunctional city council following me out here, too.
Like DC, the people of LA keep sending the same, sad group of folks into city government, and we're suffering the same fiscal crisis. In both cities the electorate must take the blame, and accept the scorn and ridicule for the damage they inflict upon their own cities from their political apathy.

Posted by: pdexiii | February 27, 2011 9:11 AM | Report abuse

This is a slick move by Cheh to attempt to distance herself from all of the controversy. Now, the next move is for the councils constituents to toss back a counter to her recommendation with a 50% cut in their budget and salaries and make it a full time job with no moonlighting.
The axe ought to hit everyone, and those responsible ought to be hit hardest.

Posted by: tazz2 | February 28, 2011 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Cheh is a disaster as a council member. She does not listen to her constituents, backed Gray and Brown to get herself in a good political position. Cheh got Tregaron a 13 acre tax free park and then blocked the 5 house lots on Klingle that were suppose to give back tax money to the District. Open Klingle Road end the useless hike/bike path legislation.

Posted by: voter20 | March 1, 2011 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Cheh is more than a disaster as a council member. She's a train wreck and a NIMBY butt kisser to those very few, yet very wealthy, Ward 3 residents who have held Klingle Road hostage from the rest of us. She's as corrupt as the rest of them.

Posted by: chinaindc | March 1, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

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