Friday, September 21, 2007

Context is Everything, Mea Culpa

The other day I posted information that was forwarded to me regarding what appeared to me and to the people that forwarded it to me to be huge salary increases at NHMCCD. That information turns out to be somewhat out of context. While I still am concerned about the large salaries and multiple redundant layers of administration overhead at NHMCCD, among other things, I feel somewhat better about the situation regarding the budgetary increases noted previously. Below is the relevant part of an email discussion I have had with Dr. Carpenter over the last two days that helps to clarify things a bit.

My compensation is precisely what was reported in the news when I
took the job. There have been no changes to my compensation.

Reportedly, at the behest of district HR, a review of executive salaries
was conducted last spring followed by a recommendation to adjust
those salaries to be competitive with the national market. This was
discussed in the board workshops which I attended just after coming
on board. The board did adjust those salaries with the current budget.
Apparently the adjustment did indeed amount to a 16% increase. I
understand this to be a one time adjustment and would certainly not
envision additional adjustments of this nature in the future.

Here is my feeble attempt to explain what I think is the genesis of some confusion:

The budgets for various personnel are combined by department. Within the chancellor’s office, for example, there are four full-time positions. The total of these salaries is combined into one line item within the budget. In order for our public to see what changes have been made from one year to the next, we list the total of the previous year’s salaries next to the new budgeted salaries. In this case, the increase you are seeing is comprised of a 5% pay increase for 3 staff members, and the increase in the chancellor’s position that occurred over the summer when my contract was finalized. There was no subsequent adjustment made to my salary.

In the case of the chief information officer’s salary, the budget for salaries again includes more than one employee. The CIO’s salary was not increased more than the 16% market adjustment. In addition, the CIO reorganized the various departments under his supervision and many have been combined in efforts to increase efficiencies and to eliminate duplicate work. Thus, the 105% departmental increase you are seeing is offset by the elimination of other department salaries.

As for deferred compensation, the amount is charged each year to the budget, but is owned by the District until certain requirements have been met, all which are stipulated in my contract. The previous chancellor had a similar contractual arrangement where he received his deferred compensation at the completion of each year of his contract. In my case, however, I will not receive the compensation until I have successfully completed two years of service with the district; hence, the word “deferred” in this type of compensation.

Perhaps we are complicating and confusing the budget by including the detail line items within the documents that are published. It is my belief, however, that full disclosure and transparency is the best, and only, way to earn and maintain the public'’s trust. I invite you to visit with me and I can provide you as much detail as you would care to see.
I thank Dr. Carpenter for taking the time to clarify the issue. He is currently in New Orleans attending to a gravely ill mother, but he still took the time to respond and I sincerely appreciate it. I wish him and his mother well and they will be in my thoughts. I also welcome his willingness to open a dialog. In the past, communications with the administration have been less than satisfactory to put it mildly, and transparent as mud. I look forward to working with Dr. Carpenter to rebuild the trust that has been lost due to Pickelman's tenure at NHMCCD.

I admit that when I was presented with the information I was given, I was more than willing to believe that such arrogance was possible. It certainly would have been in keeping with business as usual at NHMCCD. After all the nasty surprises and skeletons I had encountered in the last couple of years, I was ready to believe just about anything was possible. I am overjoyed to learn that this was not one of them.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greatfull for the explanation of the fire blazing through the woods, however the point of the "wildfire" increase in educational costs of some 343% verses the consumer price index at 92% does not place the opportunity of education any closer to those that cannot afford it.

Adjusting the fuel to the national wildfire averages does not help individual cases, nor the chasm that is created and replicated over and over again. Closing this chasm will only be done through hard work and not keeping up with the Jones's

This Jr. College District, of which I have been associated since it's inception, will only achieve it's original mission and purposes by competent management and the reduction of so many "chiefs" ... the reduction of frivolous wastes and riding itself of those that have mismanaged over the past years.

September 22, 2007 6:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I feel compassion for Carpenter and his family, I'm not convinced that the district has "earned" these inflated salaries, regardless of whether or not they've cut the "pork" as he purports. A $300K salary to the general counsel is garbage, especially when they farm out so much business to "FOPs".

blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

September 22, 2007 11:25 AM  
Blogger Thunder said...

We need an apple to apple comparison of what has been spent for the past 3-4 years and what is being spent now, for this year. Budget numbers are not the actual cold cash expenditure of taxpayer's money.

It should be laid out in simple terms that we Lay people can understand. If people are shuffled from place to place, then it is not a fair comparison...

September 22, 2007 12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

EXACTLY how much money was consumed in adjustments?

We really need some hard numbers to compare apples to apples.... the district has not published that any place, have they?

September 25, 2007 1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is where you find the truth about Richard Carpenter:

Jerked Around in Houston

October 01, 2007 11:05 PM  

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