- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 15, 2003

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams yesterday appointed Yvonne D. Gilchrist as director of the Department of Human Services, one of the three agencies he said last month he would investigate because of a proliferation of six-figure salaries.

Ms. Gilchrist will receive an annual salary of $140,000. She served as director of Baltimore’s Department of Social Services for the last 14 years. She replaces Carolyn W. Colvin, who, after only two years, resigned unexpectedly in February.

Mrs. Colvin was earning $150,000 in the District before she was appointed director of the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services. Before her resignation, Mrs. Colvin was the seventh-highest-paid employee on the D.C. payroll.

The Washington Times first reported last month that the District has many more workers earning $100,000-plus salaries than Chicago, a city with nearly 3 million residents, and Baltimore, a city of similar size with 651,000 residents. With 572,000 residents, the District has 156 more workers earning more than $100,000 annually than Chicago. Only 34 of Baltimore’s 15,000 city employees make more than $100,000 a year.

Of the District’s 34,000 city employees, 575 receive $100,000 or more a year. That number rose from 301 in 1999, when Mr. Williams took office.

Mr. Williams, a Democrat, told The Times last month that he would call for a review of the Department of Human Services, the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Health. The three departments together employ 156 persons who earn more than $100,000 annually, which cost the District $14.6 million in expenditures in fiscal year 2003.

Mr. Williams appointed City Administrator John A. Koskinen to oversee a review, but Mr. Koskinen later said any review would only deal with “manpower” concerns, and not the salary issues. Mr. Koskinen’s response evoked sharp criticism from Republican congressional leaders, including Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, of Virginia, chairman of the House Government Reform Committee.

Several D.C. Council members called for a review of the salaries. Some city government officials speculate that the council may conduct its own review if the mayor’s office doesn’t change its mind.

“If they are not going to be looking at the issue of salaries, then they are not going to be doing a thorough job,” said council member Kathy Patterson, Ward 3 Democrat.

Meanwhile, Ms. Gilchrist will inherit a department with 1,576 employees, according to statistics compiled in the latest city payroll. Of that total, 20 employees earn more than $100,000. Most of them make between $100,000 and $116,000.

Some of the employees earning the six-figure salaries are: Deloras A. Shepherd, the department’s associate chief financial officer, who makes $124,330; and Bertley E. Barrow and Currie L. Ball, both medical officers, who earn $119,772 and $116,191 respectively.

One of the largest in the District, the Department of Human Services offers welfare, homeless and adult-protective services. However, the department recently has been the subject of several class-action lawsuits that accuse the department of improperly caring for mentally retarded and troubled children.

Another agency Mr. Williams had said he was going to review was the Department of Health, which employs 1,169 workers and has a proposed 2004 budget of $1.4 billion. Interim Director James A. Buford — who earns $132,395 — is the highest paid of the department’s 41 employees who make more than $100,000.

The Health Department offers several high-profile programs in the District, including the Addiction, Prevention and Recovery Administration and the HIV/AIDS Administration.

The department recently came under fire after it awarded former D.C. Mayor Sharon Pratt — who went by Sharon Pratt Kelly during her tenure — a six-month, $236,000 contract to serve as the District’s liaison with the federal Department of Homeland Security.

The Department of Mental Health employs 1,581. Of that number, 95 workers earn more than $100,000, which cost the District $7.7 million last year. The expenditures come at a time when the department has laid off lower-level employees, and St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, the city-run mental health facility, is under increased scrutiny after charges of lack of patient supervision and patient neglect.

Steven R. Steury, the city’s supervisory medical officer for psychiatry, is the sixth-highest paid worker on the city payroll, earning $155,000 a year. Craig C. Krause, who holds a comparable position, makes $145,000.


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