- The Washington Times - Friday, June 6, 2003

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams is ready to change the language in a resolution that would authorize him to give big raises to his top administrators, so that the D.C. Council can approve a pay raise for Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, a spokesman said last night.

“We’ll do whatever the council wants,” said Tony Bullock, a spokesman for Mr. Williams. “If they’d like us to resubmit the legislation, we’ll do that. … The only thing the mayor is looking to do here is refer the chief’s salary to the council. That’s all we intend to do. That’s all we want to do.

“If the legislation was inartfully worded, it needs to be amended or resubmitted,” he said.

Mr. Bullock said it was never the mayor’s intention to “hoodwink” anyone when last month he introduced emergency legislation that would grant Chief Ramsey a $25,000 pay increase, from $150,000 to $175,000 year.

The Washington Times reported Tuesday that the legislation would add the position of police chief to the highest level of the D.C. government’s executive-service pay schedule and raise the salary cap for that level to $175,000. That would in effect allow Mr. Williams to pay his agency directors and Cabinet members, who are currently on the executive-service pay schedule, as much as $34,000 more a year.

Executive-service employee salaries are now capped at $141,000 a year.

Since that report, several D.C. Council members have said they would oppose the resolution and expressed frustration that Mr. Williams’ bill ties Chief Ramsey’s pay increase to raising the salary cap of executives.

“I think this is a terrible dilemma the mayor has put us in,” said council member Sharon Ambrose, Ward 6 Democrat, who supports a pay raise for Chief Ramsey but not others. “We were having a discussion with Chief Ramsey about safety issues, and this muddies the water terribly.”

Council member Kevin Chavous, at-large Democrat, agreed.

“My understanding was that the proposed increase would only involve the chief,” Mr. Chavous said. “I can’t support it if it includes some officials other than Ramsey.”

Last night, Mr. Bullock disputed reports that Mr. Williams intends to use the resolution to raise the salaries of 26 top administrators in the future and said the most important thing is to respect the council’s right to review Chief Ramsey’s pay raise.

Meanwhile, Chief Ramsey said yesterday he refuses to take part in the discussion between the mayor and the council over his contract renewal.

“I’m not going to get into the political debate,” Chief Ramsey said on WTOP Radio’s “Ask the Chief” program. “The mayor has submitted what he’s submitted.”

Chief Ramsey said he planned to remain in the District, but added: “If this doesn’t work out, I’ll go elsewhere.”

He said he’s “not going to lose any sleep” over the contract issue and can find a new job if he must. “There is no one better to do this job than me.”

Chief Ramsey, however, declined to discuss how the wording of the resolution could affect his raise, or his future in the District.

When asked whether the mayor had done enough to support him in what has become a contract dispute with the council, Chief Ramsey said Mr. Williams is “the biggest supporter I have.”

Council members Kathy Patterson, Ward 3 Democrat; Adrian Fenty, Ward 4 Democrat; and Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat, have said they don’t support a pay raise for Chief Ramsey because his department still has problems, including a lack of officers in neighborhoods, poor performance in investigations and a rising crime rate.

Chief Ramsey conceded on the radio program that he has made mistakes.

“If you want a miracle, go to church,” he said.

Council member Harold Brazil, at-large Democrat and staunch supporter of the chief’s pay raise, urged the council not to focus so much on the legislative language that would give Mr. Williams the authority to raise the cap on the executive-pay schedule.

“If it’s just a question of wording. Why not sit down and pick the wording out?” Mr. Brazil asked. “If [Mr. Williams] needs additional authority, come back and ask for it at a later time.”

Mr. Fenty said he doesn’t support a pay raise for Chief Ramsey. Nevertheless, he said the way the legislation was written is unfair to the police chief.

“Ramsey is getting a horrible deal,” Mr. Fenty said. “There’s no way the council is going to approve across-the-board pay raises to $175,000. That has no support in the community.”

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