Monday, December 14, 2009

DC Hands Out Millions in Bonuses, Even After Budget Crisis Forces Cuts to Key Social Services

When Mayor Adrian Fenty responded to the budget crisis by cutting funding for services to victims of domestic violence, the homelesss, and others in crucial need, we were lead to believe that everyone in the city was sharing the burden of the budget crisis evenly.

New documents revealing $15 million in bonuses to DC government employees prooves that some of us are bearing the brunt of these hard financial times more than others. Specificlly, those victims of domestic violence get fewer services, while DC Government Employees get fat bonus checks:

Among the big winners were Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, who was handed $41,250 in August 2007 after barely two months on the job; Department of Health Director Pierre Vigilance, who was given $15,000 in 2008; and city property manager Robin-Eve Jasper, handed $18,000 over two years.

The bonuses were ladled out even as the city was facing nine-figure budget shortfalls and officials -- including Rhee -- were firing employees by the busload, claiming they could no longer afford them.

It paid to be on Rhee's good side. School employees, including Rhee's top staff, accounted for nearly half of the Fenty-era bonuses, records show. Then-special education "czar" Phyllis Harris was paid $17,000 in 2008; special-ed bureaucrat Karen Griffin was given $25,000 the same year; and Rhee's chief of staff, Lisa Ruda, was given $17,000 in 2008, records show.

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