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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 22, 2009 10:08 AM. The previous post in this blog was Is it time for the city to fold on the "Heritage Building"?. The next post in this blog is Have a great holiday weekend. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

All cha-chings considered

We seem to have hit a nerve with yesterday's post about the top salaries at Tri-Met: more than a quarter million a year for the main man, 10 drawing more than $150,000 in annual salaries, and 20 over $125,000.

In addition to several comments about the Tri-Met salaries, we also got an e-mail message from a reader who thought we might like to take a similar look at what folks are making over at Oregon Public Broadcasting. The reader sent along a copy of OPB's annual disclosure form to the IRS, a public document that lists some of the big-money employees for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2008. (We get the distinct impression that this reader has a grudge against the management over there, but hey, whatever his or her motive, the reader piqued our interest.)

It occurs to us that information like this merits a website all its own. Somewhere there ought to be a place where Portlanders can go to see the compensation levels of all the high-priced bureaucrats at public agencies and charities, at state and local levels. Something like an Orestar system, but for executive compensation. Does such a site exist? And if not, who out there is ready to lay a nice grant on us to get one started? Just a thought.

Anyhow, given the interest, we'll be following up with more salary information from various government agencies and nonprofits in the coming weeks, but what the heck -- here are the top eight individual execs from the OPB annual report:

PayeeTitleCompensationBenefit plans and deferred comp.
Steven BassPresident & CEO$296,500$34,331
Dan MetzigaSenior VP - Development$170,000$20,666
Maynard OrmeFormer officer, director, trustee, or key employee$159,810$14,383
Jan HeskissCFO & Asst. Secretary-Treasurer$120,000$15,566
Dave DavisVP - National Production$117,500$15,341
Jeff DouglasSenior VP - Station Manager$117,000$15,296
Debbie RotichVP - HR & Admin.$108,000$10,056
Tom DoggettVP -TV Programming$105,737$15,242

As best we can tell, Bass arrived in 2006 from Nashville, after Orme stepped down as president and CEO at age 68. But between just those two current and past top dogs, the organization paid $456,310 plus $48,714 in benis last year. How many days of pledge drive is that? Sheesh.

Anyway, not to pick on OPB in particular. We promise, we'll sniff around some other institutional payrolls in the weeks ahead and let you know what we find.

Comments (38)

Grant, schmant. I'll host it for free. E-mail me, we'll talk.

Wow, I knew that Blumenauer's mass transit lobby in DC could garner enough stimulus and US taxpayer dollars to subsidize the bloated Tri-Met executive salaries. However, I did not know enough people watched OPB to justify that much compensation.

Do enough people watch OPB to justify the six figure salaries? Which legislators at the State and Federal level are responsible for funneling taxpayer dollars to OPB? Can we get some names?

Thanks. Great post.

But between just those two current and past top dogs, the organization paid $456,310 plus $48,714 in benis last year. How many days of pledge drive is that? Sheesh.

What a poetic piece of synchronicity: that's just about what was claimed to have been collected in the Spring Begathon.

Wow. Until those numbers come back down to earth I'm all done making donations. I had no idea.

The Oregonian put up a searchable database of local public employees earlier this year, I believe from 07-08 fiscal year (so almost a year old).

http://www.oregonlive.com/special/index.ssf/2009/01/query.html

The Oregonian site is out of date -- no surprise -- and only includes public employees. I like Jack's idea of also documenting non-profit execs.

And TRIMET just tossed the handsone LT Rail Bridge Design
and sent the Designer packing. Classy....
See more at Portland Spaces.com ,and Portland Architecture.com

I just realized why Tri-Met can't afford to fix the ticket machines.

The OPB 990 has other fun facts, too. They paid around $230,000 to three fundraising contractors/consultants (which could be a bargain, for all I know); also, $168,454 to Speed's Supertow to haul around all those cars that people donate - that's a lotta clunkers!

I just got done cancelling my OPB membership.

Energy Trust?
PDC?
Goodwill?

I think this may be one of the best posts you've ever run on the site, Jack, but I'll admit that I hold a grudge against OPB. A friend of my worked his way up from "Unpaid Intern" to "$9.00 an Hour Gopher" at OPB back in 2005. He was laid off right around Christmas that year because of "funding issues." This was supposed to be a career path for him and he wound up spending the following seven months wallowing in misery and unemployment. I wonder how much donor and taxpayer $ the President and CEO pulled in that calendar year.

What a repugnant organization. I'm disgusted. There's no reason, absolutely no reason, why anyone at OPB should be making a six-figure salary.

To me, six figures is not, in and of itself, a big deal. Over a half-million for the current and retired CEOs is. You could also question the extra $50K for the development guy over the CFO. Stay tuned -- we'll have more.

The excuse they always use is that the pay is comparable to what their for-profit counterparts make, but I don't think they'd have any problems populating their ranks if they paid much less. They risk a huge public backlash with these salaries, because, as Jack says, how many days of pledges is that? I'd rather have OPB be funky and unpolished, than have them lay off $9/hour employees because to preserve the $300K salary of the top guy.

OPB is only the tip of the iceberg, of course. You'd find this type of compensation arrangement at most non-profits. People think non-profit means that the top guy makes $50K per year. That's why the worker bees at non-profits are fine making $20K. It's for the public good, after all. But most of the time, the top dogs make 10x what #2 or #3 in command make. The top dogs are fine keeping this hidden, even when the lower caste could find the information on the non-profit's publicly-available 990 forms.

If people saw the payroll of their favorite non-profits, there is a good chance they wouldn't want to work there or donate to them anymore.

Jack - One candidate for investigation is the "Portland Family of Funds" and its affiliates. It's a strange "mutual benefit corporation" which receives New Market Tax Credits & dispenses taxpayer largesse on its favored chums. The board includes Carl Talton, Hank Ashforth and The Don Mazziotti - what's not to like? Extensive self-congratulatory websites claim creation of 8,000 jobs & $2.4 billion in econ activity, from projects like the Armory theater (in a 'low income' area!) and the infamous Vanport Square. They've got a staff of 15 or so, but list no salaries or financials. Mutual Benefit my eye... I'd like to know who put up the PFF capital, & where the profits go - I was once told they all go to "the Public," but it would be nice to see how - this of course means a big incentive for large salaries & bennies. (I took a class on Urban Renewal at PSU sponsored by the PDC & run by Carl Talton a few years back - He refused to allow questions that did not toe the Party Line, & anyone who did not toss softballs was not allowed to talk!) Maybe a good assignment for WW's Mr. Jaquiss?

In many public- and semipublic-funded operations, besides the salary spending we should see the advertising spending.

Do you really need the Post Office to advertise to you where you can buy stamps? At the monopoly?

When you really aspire to join the Army/Navy/Air Force/Marines/Coast Guard, or "the Guards," do you really need a billion (of your own taxes) dollars (each!) being spent to tell you where you go to buy in on the deal (singular) that is offered?

Oh, is advertising supposed to tell you price-comparison information so you can shop for the "better deal" than the monopoly offers?

Do you have a shopper's 'choice' of where to take your business when you're going to ride 'a' bus?

Do you shop for the cheaper electric power seller at your house?

Do you shop for the cheaper natural gas seller at your house?

Have you compared prices for which laws and which cops you prefer, in case you don't want to buy the packaged "click it or ticket" deal?

And -- my pointy-est dagger -- when you are going to give your extra money to Oregon 'economic development' (with the slim slim slim chance you'll get a BIG REBATE if you scratch off a winning 'receipt'), do you need a chunk of your change to be chisled off into a million$-dollar$ advertising splash that tells you there is only one Oregon lottery (monopoly) you can put your money in, and at the same time pours that ad money into paying for LIARS broadcast programming intending to incite weak-minded hysteria-impressioned raging apes to sabotage the public good and run subversive riot ruining community?

- -
But why don't we pay enough extra taxes for the local schools to advertise their 'features' we can't get anywhere else?

When (Oregon) Public Broadcasting is funded only by taxes, (NO pledge drives, NO corporate 'taglines'), then everyone is going to be paying beaucoup attention to the salaries at the station.

"The Oregonian site is out of date -- no surprise"

Hey it works for TorridJoe's salary. Now I can sleep much better. We should do an average pay for Randy's hey-boys vs the rest of the commissioners.

Re those OPB salaries....not bad, considering they produce just three weekly locally-aired programs (Art Beat, Field Guide, and Oregon Experience). And if you ask them why they don't do more public affairs stuff like most PBS stations do, the answer always is that it costs too much. As one former employee said, "you could put up a satellite dish in the parking lot to air national programs, and OPB wouldn't look all that different." I suspect management salaries have increased over the last number of years during which time the state has eliminated funding and control over OPB.

Hey it works for TorridJoe's salary.

How can he live in Lake O on that pittance?

I'll never give another friggin dime to OPB, until they bring the Exec salaries in check.

Have you looked at the Goodwill salaries lately? Saw those in the papers a few years back. Seemed really excessive for a "charitable organization". I shop at Goodwill, and they have really JACKED the prices in the face of the economic downturn. A lot more people are shopping there, out of necessity. They are really sticking it to the underclass, to stoke the lifestyles of their wealthy rulers. Makes me sick.

Miles: The Oregonian put up a searchable database of local public employees earlier this year, I believe from 07-08 fiscal year (so almost a year old).

http://www.oregonlive.com/special/index.ssf/2009/01/query.html

JK:I entered planner and got 357 hits!

This area has 357 government planners!
No wonder were so screwed up!

Thanks
JK

How about the Port of Portland? Managers retire and collect their PERS retirement. Then come back working for the Port as a consultant. We should check to see how many are double dipping.

Tensk, don't get me started on PGE's advertising. They have been paying Gerber Advertising (now Gard Gerber) for decades to promote them. PGE is probably GG's largest, longstanding account. A monopoly utility! PGE is constantly airing ads (TV & print), mailing flyers and sponsoring events, floats, etc. I'd rather they didn't do that and kept our electric rates lower.

The really galling hit was when they used money taken from the public to pay Gard Gerber to fight the idea of a PUD while dolling out hundreds of thousands in salaries and benefits to Peggy and her upper level cadre.

I worked for Gerber years ago during the summer and grew to loathe the sight of the Watt Watcher.

The OPB fundraising strategy isn't all that different from the televangelists, except OPB is producing a more tangible product than eternal salvation.

And they own the channel.

Want to get really scared? The next time you fly just realize the person landing the plane with hundreds if not thousands of hours of training is making less than a tri-met bus driver in most cases. I guess that union isn't strong enough

"LIARS broadcast programming intending to incite weak-minded hysteria-impressioned raging apes to sabotage the public good and run subversive riot ruining community?"

Tensky - Take a pill & calm down. Your nemesis Lars is ten times more civil on his worst days than your little alliterative run-on diatribes. A deep breath...

Re those OPB salaries....not bad, considering they produce just three weekly locally-aired programs (Art Beat, Field Guide, and Oregon Experience)

Er...they run a radio station too, you know.

Jack-
As you may know, you can check out salaries for nonprofit executives online at www.guidestar.org. Unfortunately, it can take a few years for the 990s to post, but it can give you a feel for how much nonprofits pay their executive staff members.
-Charles

Interesting contrast:

Two paid officers of PETA. Ingrid Newkirk's salary is $32,000; the v-p Marybeth Sweetland receives $68,500. Both work full-time.


Tensky,

"LIARS broadcast programming intending to incite weak-minded hysteria-impressioned raging apes to sabotage the public good and run subversive riot ruining community?"

What are you talking about?

Putting the partisan politics and Bush/Cheney hating aside, Lars' and his
audience have been accurate opponents of most of the local politicians and issues criticized by regular progressives here.
He's in aagreement and thorough about it.
It's the PDC et al who are sabotaging the public good.
Your yet to be determined affliction is causing you to cough up an endless stream of Lars hating phlegm unfit for any use.

I guess I can stop feeling guilty now about watching and listening to OPB but not being a member anymore. That seems to be the gist of their fundraisers, that you're taking something without paying for it if you're not a member. Ugh! Thanks for letting us know who's doing the taking.

If this story has legs, we'll see some interesting items. For Portland Business Alliance: base salary only.

sandra mcdonough president & ceO 217,620

pamela knowles coo & general counsel 144,310

michael kuykendall vp of downtown services 125,469

Also, the executive secretary of the NW Oregon Labor Council (she's apparently the only paid officer) get $62.500.

"Putting the partisan politics and Bush/Cheney hating aside, Lars' and his
audience have been accurate opponents of most of the local politicians and issues criticized by regular progressives here."

Am mostly with you there, Ben.

Besides this wonderful blog, Lars is about the only local media voice that regularly points out the shenanigans, excesses going on at City Hall, in our public and quasi-public sectors.

Look at what else is out there:

OPB?-you must be kidding-they sup from the same trough.

WW?-sometimes

KABOO?- KABOO?…..Hello?……Hello?…..Anyone there?……..

The Big O?-you usually read about it first somewhere else

Local affiliates of the major TV Networks? rarely

On the Web-Blue Oregon: naw-it’s got much more important things to concern itself with

Granted Lars is a free market ideologue, a hater of "big government", a shill for corporate interests, who bullies, cuts off anyone who disagrees w/him-he can be very irritating.

Granted Lars is a free market ideologue, a hater of "big government", a shill for corporate interests, who bullies, cuts off anyone who disagrees w/him-he can be very irritating.

Oooh, let's add the right not to be irritated to the litany of "rights" added without a constitutional amendment by our legislative, oops, judicial branch.

It's soooo confusing; this separation of powers business...

...at least to moi.

For my part, I must now eschew listening to KMHD owing to heir affiliation with the government/media mob that is OPB.

I hope the blues survive this latest assault.

Hey, I know...
We can pay everyone, from the lowest ditch digger to the most esteemed law professor, $45,000 per year with free universal health coverage. Yay, equitable pay for equitable work!

Geoff, you have to give credit to KATU for running some investigative reporting lately, even for tv. Let's commend those you are at least trying. We need more of it to fulfill Obama's Change-well some of it.

"Your yet to be determined affliction is causing you to cough up an endless stream of Lars hating phlegm unfit for any use.

Posted by Ben | May 23, 2009 8:46 AM "
===============

I think this is the funniest line I have ever read on this blog!!!

But I guess I did not know that there was any use of phlegm, regardless of if that phlegm was "Lars hating phlegm" or just garden variety phlegm.

Returning to the specific subject of this thread, perhaps Mr Bass, a B-School grad, should return this week to the Western Ave campus to partake of the ethical influence of the current crop of graduates:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/30/business/30oath.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=Harvard%20Business%20School&st=Search

Perhaps a few other local non-profit CEOs might also partake of the New Idealism for the benefit of all of us.


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Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 92
At this date last year: 144
Total run in 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269


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