Seven Days Columist Reports That State Is Still Awarding Bonuses To Appointed Officials

“’Fair Game’ has learned that about three-dozen politically appointed employees received bumps in pay since last April. That’s despite an edict handed down by then-Administration Secretary Mike Smith freezing all salaries for these “exempt” employees."

Pretty in Pink Slips — Adding an ominous aspect to the already nightmarish process of shedding 600 state jobs, the administration is asking managers to submit their paring plans by Friday the 13th.
 
No one knows how soon the powers will begin doling out pink slips, but the state wants these folks off the payroll by June 30.
 
Not every job is on the chopping block, however. Excluded are 24/7 staff such as state troopers, game wardens, correctional officers and hospital workers, as well as transportation personnel and folks at the Department of Labor.
 
Someone has to process those unemployment claims, right?
 
The governor’s office and the Agency of Administration (which is overseeing the position cuts) are both being held harmless. Typical.
 
Meanwhile, “Fair Game” has learned that about three-dozen politically appointed employees received bumps in pay since last April. That’s despite an edict handed down by then-Administration Secretary Mike Smith freezing all salaries for these “exempt” employees.
 
Nice to know Gov. Douglas is willing to give some workers a pat on the back and some extra padding in their wallets.
 
Of the 35 employees, all but eight received bonuses of less than five percent. The rest received bonuses of five percent or greater, which means the across-the-board pay cut issued last month (for exempts earning more than $60,000) didn’t hurt as much.
One such merit bonus went to William Noyes, deputy commissioner of economic development. Personnel Commissioner David Herlihy said Noyes earned a lump sum bonus of nearly $1800 because he stepped in to fill the commissioner’s post when it went vacant. However, his bonus came just as his $73,000 salary was cut by $3650.
“While there are 35 employees listed here, the total number of exempts who saw a pay decrease was 350,” said Herlihy. In other words, more lost ground than gained.
 
For example, Deputy Environmental Commissioner Justin Johnson got a lump sum $1000 boost in July, but by year’s end his $80,000 salary had been trimmed by $4000.
The largest merit award went to William Talbott, acting education commissioner. He was given a lump sum bonus of $7753 on January 29, on top of a $92,000 annual salary.
Another top bonus award went to Timothy Noonan, executive director of the state Labor Relations Board. He received two merit bonuses totaling $3960. Noonan earns more than $78,000 a year.
 
The rest of the employees on the list are mostly staff attorneys, said Herlihy, and are paid according to a special pay plan.
 
Very special, indeed.