- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Adrian M. Fenty, the only D.C. Council member who voted against a $52,000 salary increase for the city’s top administrative position, said yesterday the mayor’s spotty record on the hiring of high-priced managers does not inspire confidence.

The mayor asked that the city administrator’s salary be raised to $187,000 to attract the top candidate for the job, Robert C. Bobb, who earns $220,000 in a similar job in Oakland, Calif. He would replace John A. Koskinen, who was paid $135,000 a year before leaving Sept. 12.

“My biggest concern is that we’ve got a mayor who is elected to run the city and oversee all of the agencies,” said Mr. Fenty, Ward 4 Democrat. “He can delegate his authority to whomever he wants, but it doesn’t make sense that someone should make more than him to do that job.”

The council Tuesday approved the $187,000 salary on a 12-1 vote.

The Washington Times reported last spring that the District has 575 city workers earning salaries of $100,000 or higher — more than the much-larger city of Chicago, and 10 times the number of such salaries in comparably sized Baltimore. With its 572,000 residents, the District has 156 more city workers above $100,000 than Chicago, which has almost 3 million people. Baltimore has a population of 651,000.

The Washington Times reported Aug. 6 that a search committee set up by Mr. Williams had Mr. Bobb at the top of a short list of candidates.

Mr. Koskinen, who was also deeply involved in evaluating candidates to fill his shoes, said several qualified people dropped out because the pay was too low.

“We’ve had several people say to us, ‘You’ve got to be kidding,’” he said.

Mr. Bobb, who earned $220,000 as city manager for Oakland, also worked as an administrator in Flint, Mich., and in Richmond, where he served for 11 years.

Former D.C. city Administrator Michael C. Rogers said Mr. Bobb is “regarded as the best city administrator in the country.”

Mr. Fenty said Mr. Bobb’s record may be extensive, but he’s still an outsider in Washington.

“There was no weight — in the hiring of the new city administrator — given to his knowledge, or lack thereof, of city government and that bothers me,” Mr. Fenty said.

He cited hiring blunders by Mr. Williams of other high-profile outsiders to run city agencies, including former Human Services Director Carolyn Colvin.

“Here’s a case where we changed the law so she could make $150,000, and she wasn’t committed and skipped town less than a year later,” Mr. Fenty said.

He also pointed to the recent inspector general’s report on Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jonathan Arden.

Dr. Arden was hired from New York City to clean up the mismanagement of the city morgue. The mayor announced yesterday that Dr. Arden, accused of sexual harassment, discrimination and mismanagement, will be replaced.

“Mr. Bobb obviously has been around, but what we tend to do is hire people and test them and then they don’t work out,” Mr. Fenty said.

Despite concerns from congressional leaders, council members and taxpayers that the District’s administrative salaries are spiraling out of control, the mayor has long contended the salary of the city administrator is too far below the salaries of executives in similar posts in the region.

The highest-paid employees in Fairfax, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties are their county executives and administrators.

Fairfax County Executive Anthony H. Griffin earns $187,494. Chief administration officers Jacqueline F. Brown in Prince George’s and Bruce Romer in Montgomery take home the top salaries of $135,000 and $180,729 respectively.

Mr. Griffin’s salary was used as a benchmark for the District’s pay increase, according to officials close to the issue.

Mr. Koskinen said anyone expected to supervise 27 operational agencies and run a local operation that answers to the “three-headed monster” of the mayor, council and Congress has a more challenging job any other manager in the region.

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