High-pay official resigns

…from the Chelsea Housing Authority, unfortunately–not the Boston Archdiocese.  

Cardinal O’Malley is on his “ad limina” visit to Rome to talk about the state of the archdiocese, and already details are coming out that are troubling to BCI, but that is the topic for our post tomorrow.

What follows are excerpts from the story from the Boston Globe, “High-pay housing director resigns.”  Excerpts are indented, and BCI’s commentary, including some hypothetical quotes, immediately follows.  Anything sound familiar?

The head of the Chelsea Housing Authority abruptly resigned his $360,000-a-year position last evening, hours after Governor Deval Patrick lambasted his salary as outrageous and demanded that he step down…

Faithful Catholics are still waiting for Cardinal O’Malley, the Finance Council, and their well-heeled Compensation committee to acknowledge that the $325K/year salary paid to Catholic Schools Superintendent, Mary Grassa O’Neill since 2008 when she was hired is “outrageous.”  The same holds for the $300K/year salary paid to the General Counsel, the $250K/year salaries paid to the Chancellor, Catholic Media Secretary, and Secretary for Institutional Advancement, and the inflated six-figure salaries paid to two VPs of Development, the Exec. Director of Finance and Operations, Assoc. Superintendent of Schools, Secretary of Communications, and Director of Benefits. 

Patrick also called on the five members of the board that approved McLaughlin’s contract and massive pay increases to step down…

In the Boston Archdiocese, the people who approved Mary Grassa O’Neill’s contract and massive pay as well as other excessive six-figure salaries remain safely entrenched.

“Boiling is the word,’’ Patrick said in an interview. “It’s an outrage. Here we are flat-funding public housing, trying to hold on through the worst economy in living memory…’’

“Traveling around the world, posing for photo opps with the wealthy and with politicians who oppose Catholic teachings, and blogging about it all is the word,” the Cardinal said in an interview.  “It’s business as usual for the high-paid bureaucracy at the Pastoral Center in Braintree.  Meanwhile, we are cutting funding for evangelization and faith formation programs and programs that serve the needy, trying to hold on in the worst economy in living memory…”

Patrick joined a chorus of senior public officials condemning the salary paid McLaughlin, which skyrocketed from $77,500 since 2000.

Cardinal O’Malley, presiding over the funeral of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, complimented the chorus of singers who enhanced the liturgy, when Cardinal Sean wrote: “the music was outstanding with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus enriching the liturgy along with mezzo-soprano Susan Graham who later sang an absolutely striking rendition of Schubert’s “Ave Maria.”  Cellist Yo-Yo Ma graced us with his beautiful solo performance of Bach and later joined Placido Domingo, who sang the “Panis Angelicus.”  Placido has a superb voice.”

When it comes to dealing with criticism of the failed governance in the Boston Archdiocese, Cardinal O’Malley has no voice.

Last night, McLaughlin continued to insist that “I more than earned my salary,’’ which is almost twice as large as that of his counterpart in New York City…

In the Boston Archdicoese, the Chancellor and other defenders of the high salaries insist, “this is what it costs to get the best and the brightest.”  There is no evidence to back those claims.  Mary Grassa O’Neill earns 30% more than her New York City and Los Angeles Public Schools counterparts.  A public comparison vs salaries paid for comparable positions at other dioceses has never been released.

“What we’re seeing is an unprecedented coordinated effort by virtually every relevant agency going at this at the same time with one mission, to protect the taxpayers and try to prevent this abuse from being carried out,’’ said state Inspector General Gregory W. Sullivan, who is also investigating.

In the Boston Archdiocese, what we’re seeing is an unprecedented coordinated effort by virtually every lay executive in the Pastoral Center to get paid well more than their counterparts at other Catholic dioceses. Three lay executives paid $250K-$325K per year in their current jobs are retired with pensions or a significant windfall after their previous lucrative 25-30 year careers.  “No one appears concerned with protecting donors or preventing this kind of abuse from being carried out,” said Attorney General Annie Oakley, who is not investigating. 

McLaughlin is preparing to retire and collect perhaps the largest pension in Massachusetts history. Based on his total compensation and years of service, McLaughlin could qualify for a pension of $278,842 for life.

Mary Grassa O’Neill is retired from a 30-year career with the Boston Public Schools and has a pension for life estimated at more than $75K/year.

“Part of what sets my teeth on edge is that this kind of behavior is isolated, but it splashes back on everybody,’’ Patrick said. “All the people in this government who were here before we got here and are here today trying every day to serve the public’s best interest. . .. There has to be accountability.’’

Part of what sets BCI’s teeth on edge, and those of other Boston Catholics is that these kinds of salaries are widespread in the Pastoral Center, and it splashes back on everybody. The many good priests in the archdiocese and the few good dedicated people who remain in the Pastoral Center are there trying every day to serve the best interests of faithful Catholics. But the corruption continues.  There is no accountability.

He now makes $334,642 a year, plus an additional amount equal to four weeks of unused vacation, $25,741 for this year. His total compensation is 18 times higher than the income of the average family living in Chelsea public housing.

His pay for overseeing 1,415 units far exceeds that of administrators at much larger agencies. The Boston Housing Authority, the city’s largest landlord, pays William McGonagle $135,906. The New York City chief makes $197,364.

Mary Grassa O’Neill, in what really is an advisory job with mere oversight for schools that serve 42,000 students, earns $325k/year, which is 30% more than her New York City Public Schools counterpart, who is paid $250K for operationally running schools that serve 1.1 million students–25X larger than Boston Catholic schools.

If you are asking yourself, why is this happening in the Boston Archdiocese, the only answer BCI can come up with is abdication of leadership. 

What do you think?

17 Responses to High-pay official resigns

  1. jbq2 says:

    This is a scary posting especially in light of the U.S. Bishops being in favor of redistribution of wealth and their silent condemnation of the Republican Party as the party of wealth and priviledge.

  2. sheila says:

    There’s not a soul at 66 Brooks who knows anything about compensation and they do not care. The whole salary structure is out of whack.

  3. Michael says:

    The salary structure is not “out of whack” … It is the pay-offs that are out of whack. These people, [edited by BCI] are all being paid to keep the fraud of the Archdiocese on-going and under wraps.

    They all ought to be ashamed of themselves. But instead, like alcoholics, they tell each themselves that they each deserve their respective salaries and that the Archdioces could not function without each of their “intellects.” [edited by BCI] is being paid off to shut up. His silence is deafening.

    See the problem with speaking up [edited by BCI] is that anyone who musters the courage (or stupidity in some cases) to speak up gets “Avila-ed.”

    • CuriousCatholic says:

      Michael, those are some wild claims of payoffs and hush money. Are you an insane slanderer or do you have some evidence or at least a good argument to support your crazy rant?

    • Angry Parish Council Member says:

      Michael, you’re wrong–the whole salary structure is completely out of whack.

      Are you some kind of mind-reader who can tell what people think? Could you let us know how to read Cardinal O’Malley’s mind, the Chancellors mind, Mary Grassa O’Neill’s mind, Fr. Bryan Hehir’s mind, Jack Connors mind, Attorney General Martha Coakeley’s mind, Deval Patrick’s mind, President Obama’s mind? With the slowdown here at BCI, you could probably dish up some great stories for them. While we’re at it, can you read the minds of my children?

      I’m concerned with what happened to Dan Avila, and I hope BCI takes that up.

  4. rf5580 says:

    I was excited to read the headlines that a high paying official had resigned, only to be disapointed that it was the Chelsea official and not someone from the archdiocese. What a sad state of affairs. Then they’ll all go over and lie to the Pope.

  5. BobofNewtn says:

    The question was asked of us: “What do you think?”

    I do not think that you can compare the incident involving the head of the Chelsea Housing Authority with what goes on in the RCAB because the former involves public officials and authorities that are answerable to the Public. The latter instances involve people who are appointed and rewarded by a cleric who is answerable to no one and he knows it and so don’t we! Our function in the Church is not to question those decisions. We are members of a Church that merely allows us to contribute money and dictates that we remain silent and obedient like sheep to the shepard. Does anyone really wonder why we see fewer and fewer attending services, Catholic politicians openly defying the Church’s teachings and our young going through life without any connection to the Church? Stop the contributions and see what happens – that is the only way we can see our opinions become reality!

    • CuriousCatholic says:

      Bob – are you suggesting that you would like the sacraments less available to us because churches close because faithful Catholics hold their money back too? Choose a more peaceful way. Contribute to your parish generously and other Carholic organizations that you like generously. Then let God hold Church leaders accountable. That is God’s job, not yours Bob. And no offense, but God will do a better job than you.

      Not giving to your parish or to other great work of the Church is just stingy.

      • BobofNewtn says:

        Thanks for your reply. My suggestion about contributions applies to the Archdiocese and not your local parish. Hope that clarifies your concerns.

      • Jack O'Malley says:

        How do you contribute to your parish without contributing to the pastoral lodge?

  6. Dan Brennan says:

    I take a different approach to donating to the work of the Church; I give my money directly to specific people in the Church who are running programs well. Makes no difference to me if they are running a parish Bible study group and use the money for books & materials or a soup kitchen for those in need. I send a higher percentage of my giving to priests and nuns working in foreign countries than I do within the USA.

    There is no place for high salaries within the Archdiocese of Boston. That is a disgrace.

    • Carolyn says:


      You are the mind reader. We do exactly the same in order to avoid the skimming of parish income by RCAB. And we do so solely because of the absurd salaries at 66 Brooks, which underscore the cardinal’s pitiful lack of stewardship of donor dollars.

      Our family has decided to identify a fixed cost for our parish (think utilities, rel ed materials, etc.) and pay the bill directly to the vendor. The vendor acknowledges that we have provided the payment on behalf of the parish, and this gives us the back-up for our taxes.

      And that is how you contribute to your parish without contributing to “the pastoral lodge.”

      PS – Works way better than an IOU, Jack.

      • Dan Brennan says:

        Paying vendors directly is an excellent method. I did not know such an option (with tax receipts) was available. Many would choose to do this if they were aware of it.

        Who said Catholics cannot be both generous and expect accountability?

      • Jack O'Malley says:

        This kind of creative accounting is fine as long as the bean counters at the lodge don’t audit the parish books. If there is suddenly no electric expense or heating expense, they will demand to see the bills and add that to the presumed revenue stream and tax that amount. Financial skullduggery isn’t going to hoodwink Connors’ cabal. Besides, cooking the books is not a good career move for a pastor.

        BTW, as I pointed out, the IOU comment was a joke.

  7. Barbara says:

    How much are the parishes taxed?
    Is the amount taxed taken off the top and not counted as “Income”?
    Are all of the parishes taxed the same, or do they vary?

  8. They’re paying a school supt. $325K and the kids don’t even know the tenets of the Catholic Faith!

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