Chancellor’s Deceptive Compensation Comments

Just when we thought we were about to leave the topic of compensation, Chancellor Jim McDonough was quoted in the Boston Globe as saying something that was not exactly accurate, so we remain on compensation for just a little bit longer.

As we reported in “Latest Archdiocesan News,” on Sunday, Chancellor Jim McDonough was quoted in a Boston Sunday Globe article, Archdiocese to end lay pension plan, about the freezing of the employee pension fund as follows:

“McDonough said it could take many years for the pension fund to become fully funded again, but when it is, the church hopes to redirect the money it had been paying toward stabilizing the fund toward other employee benefits. He said employees have not had a raise in four years.”

This statement sparked a flurry of comments on the blog and private emails to us.  Some people said they believed there were cost-of-living increases given in the 2006-2007 timeframe, and some people said there were not.  But just about everyone agreed that the archdiocese found a way of raising salaries for selected people when they wanted to.   What is really going on?

The Deception

As usual, the commenters to the blog got it a lot closer to the truth than the Chancellor did. As best as we can determine, over the past 4 years some people got cost-of-living increases, and some people did not.  Some people got salary increases greater than what can be accounted for as a cost-of-living increase (with their title kept the same), and sometimes there were title changes along with a salary increase, which give at least the perception that the title change was a justification for the pay raise.  Amidst pay increases for some, a lot of lower-level people were laid off.

The bottom line in all of this is that the higher compensated individuals seemed to be much better taken care of than the lower-paid individuals.  Sort of the same mindset we hear from priests all the time–namely that the archdiocese seems to put a higher priority on the needs of Corporation Sole than on the needs of pastors and priests out in  parishes, college campuses, prisons, hospitals, retirement homes, and other places in the real world that exists outside of 66 Brooks Drive.

We will use two individuals to exemplify how it is obvious the Chancellor was not being honest and accurate in his comments to the Globe.  Then we cover the layoffs.

  • Terry Donilon: Secr. for Communications.  In the 2006 annual report, we were told he was paid $160,680.  It was the same in the 2007 annual report, but in the 2008 annual report (p. 68), it was up to $166,304.  To the right is a picture showing 2007 vs 2008 for Donilon.
  • James Walsh.  In 2006 he was in the top 5 highest paid employees making $137, 523 as Director of Parish and School Services.  In 2007, he was making $144,626 in the same role as Director of Parish and School Services.  In 2008 , he was making $163,650 as Assoc. Superintendent of Schools.  In 2009, he was making $185,270 as Assoc. Superintendent of School.  Click on the picture at the right for the 2006 to 2009 progression.

This is just objective, published information everyone can see that demonstrates the deception just propagated by the Chancellor.  If these two individuals saw pay increases and these increases happen to be published for the top employees, who else saw increases that were not published publicly?  Were some of the increases somehow rationalized by the  McKinsey project commissioned by the Chancellor?  (By the way, why are outside consultants who know nothing about the archdiocese and Catholic Church better suited to solve these problems than Catholics with common sense who know and care about the good of the Church?  But I digress…)

The Rich Stay Rich; The Not-So-Rich Get Laid Off

Then there was the whole matter of the 1-year temporary decrease in 2009 for people making over $100K (5% decrease) and over $250K (10% decrease).  The temporary reduction in salary for those 25-27 positions who earned in total about $3.8M would save around $250K during the year, and was supposed to help save money to balance the budget.  Turned out that the budget was not quite balanced, so what did Chancellor McDonough do?  He restored the salaries of the high-paid people (including himself) to their previous levels, and then at the same time laid off 20 lower-paid people this past June.  What if some of those six-figure salaried employees would have been willing to keep their salary at the slightly reduced level in order to preserve a handful of jobs for the lower-paid loyal employees with decades of dedicated service of the Church?  Was that even an option considered?

Comp. for Top 5 Employees Nearly Doubles

We would be remiss in this discussion to not point out the change at the high end for the top 5 salaried employees.  In 2005, the archdiocese announced that the “Total amount paid to the top five employees was less than $750,000.”  As of this writing, the total amount paid to the top five employees is around $1,375,000.  (Grassa O’Neill at $325K, Lovely at $300K, McDonough at $250K, Landry at $250K, and Driscoll assumed at minimally $250K if not higher).  The fact of compensation at the high end having nearly doubled over the past 4-5 years while the underlings had their pay frozen somehow did not make it into the Globe article.

So, what we have are the objective facts that: a) there are a lot of high salaries paid to lay employees, b) lower-level employees keep getting laid off, c) the lay pension plan is being frozen, and d) the latest comments by the Chancellor on the topic are deceptive–if not simply untrue.

The archdiocese and Finance Council seem to think the solution to the problem of excessive compensation created by current management and approved by the Finance Council is…Ta Daa…form a new committee and hire an expensive compensation consultant to evaluate the situation.  This new expensive consultant engaged by the new committee will make recommendations to the same management that created the problem (with the help of a different consultant) and that has violated trust with Boston Catholics by virtue of deceptive actions and statements.  What’s wrong with this picture?  Has anyone heard of the expression “throwing good money after bad?”

Would it not be better to first try changing the current management and conduct an inexpensive straightforward salary comparison vs other dioceses BEFORE engaging yet a second expensive consultant?  Save the money on the consultant for a little bit.  Would not those limited donor funds and contributions be better used for pastoral ministries, evangelization, parishes running in the red, clergy benefits, lay benefits, and outreach to the poor and needy?

The Vice Chair of the Finance Council and head of the Steering Committee is Jack McCarthy, who we are told is a man of integrity. Perhaps if a number of our readers forward him this blog post, he might be encouraged to take up the matters of both the Chancellor’s deception and the excessive salaries with greatest urgency at the next Finance Council meeting.  His email is jack.mccarthy(at)neu.edu.

We have yet one more installment on Compensation for tomorrow, then onto other ethical breaches, corruption, and deception-related topics.  If you have a little spare time, we could use some help with research, but stay tuned for more on that tomorrow.

4 Responses to Chancellor’s Deceptive Compensation Comments

  1. Hoodwinked Priest says:

    Excellent analysis by BCI once again! Unless the Chancellor claims he was misquoted, it’s tough to conclude from the information available anything other than that he flat out lied. Expecting someone in his role to be both competent at the job and honest are minimum requirements and it’s increasingly obvious that he scores low on at least one of those attributes.

  2. Thanks for the compliment.

    We should mention we are told that a pool of funds was available for cost of living raises in the 2007 to 2008 fiscal year for each of the archdiocesan departments/budget groups. Some managers apparently gave all or many of their staff a raise of 2% or 3%. Other managers might have given only a few people a larger percentage raise, while the remaining employees in the group got zero. This may explain any differing opinions and/or confusion amongst knowledgeable people commenting on our most recent posts.

  3. Anonymous Catholic says:

    What exactly is so special about Mr. Walsh that he saw his pay increase by $47,000 in a 3-year period? Did anyone else get pay increases of $7,000 one year, then $19,000 another year, then almost $22,000 the next year? He saw increases in 3 years of more than a lot of people earn in total working for the Catholic Church in parishes, teaching in schools, or at the Pastoral Center. Why should I give to the Annual Appeal is my donation is just going to pad fat salaries so the rich get richer and the poor stay poor?

  4. […] Kathleen Driscoll, orchestrated by Jack Connors and Jim McDonough.  Most recently, we have the deceptive comments to the Boston Globe by the Chancellor that no one in the Pastoral Center had gotten raises for the past 4 years–when a lot of […]

%d bloggers like this: