- The Washington Times - Monday, June 18, 2012

On behalf of D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, who recently renegotiated a lucrative 5-year employment contract, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson has moved to retroactively strike bans against executive bonuses, longevity and severance pay the Council passed unanimously just three months ago, according to the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).

In a memo Friday to members of the Committee on the Judiciary, which Mr. Mendelson chairs, the FOP slammed the newly named chairman for what it said was a failure to publish a copy of the bill on the council’s website, to seek public comment and to prepare a fiscal analysis of the bill, which is required by law.

“Given its past actions and the problem with the current legislation, the committee’s failure to provide a written version of the legislation raises a host of concerns beyond just its standard incompetence,” wrote the FOP’s Metropolitan Police Department Labor Committee.

The Mendelson bill comes at the behest of Mayor Vincent C. Gray, the FOP said, who, “less than three months after the enactment of fiscal reform legislation executed a contract apparently in violation of District law with Chief Lanier that ignores many of the statutory restrictions.”

The purpose of the Mendelson bill is to retroactively “authorize a lump sum payment equal to 4 months of salary and extended health benefits in the case of an involuntary separation,” and “to amend the law to authorize a 5 percent longevity salary to Chief Lanier in 2015,” the FOP said in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times.

According to the FOP, which represents 3,500 officers, the council went to “great lengths” in March to limit executive salaries in response to an investigation into Mr. Gray´s hiring and pay scandal and escalating director salaries under former Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. That legislation capped executive salaries, eliminated cost-of-living bonuses and required replacements to those positions to revert to salary levels that existed before Mr. Fenty took office, according to the office of Council member Mary Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat and Judiciary Committee member who sponsored the salary cap bill.

In its memo, which was sent to Ms. Cheh and fellow Judiciary Committee members Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, Muriel Bowser, Ward 4 Democrat, and Marion Barry, Ward 8 Democrat, the FOP outlined the various provisions in D.C. law that “specifically prohibit Chief Lanier” from receiving certain benefits.

But by the time the council passed the Cheh bill, Chief Lanier, whose five-year contract expired in April, was already in the midst of renegotiating the new contract, which in May conferred several of those benefits, including performance bonus incentives, and elevated her salary to $253,000 per year, making her one of the highest paid executives in the District.

This, the FOP said, in spite of a D.C. law that states: “The Mayor shall not enter into an employment contract with a subordinate agency head that contains terms and conditions of employment that are inconsistent with existing law.”

Neither Mr. Gray’s office, Mr. Mendelson’s office nor the offices of the other Judiciary Committee members returned emails for comment.

Citing a 2011 report by the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment, the FOP said in its memo that Ms. Cheh, who chaired that committee at the time, questioned whether further salary enhancements for executives were necessary. The FOP memo also said Ms. Cheh’s committee recommended Chief Lanier’s salary be capped at $253,000 “with no provision for longevity pay, performance bonuses, annual increases received by other MPD employees or additional benefits and financial incentives.”

In that report, Ms. Cheh said “although the committee is approving the existing salaries for these positions, which are all beyond the statutory maximum, the committee seeks to ensure that these officeholders cannot continue on an upwards trajectory through bonuses and other financial incentives.”

Meantime, rank-and-file officers last received raises in 2007 and their current collective-bargaining agreement expired at the end of fiscal 2008, FOP President Kristopher Baumann said.