“ 'He [Berry] has complete loathing and disrespect for us out there who are doing the job' -- APD union VP Shaun Willoughby
BY DENNIS DOMRZALSKI
Apparently, a $33,000-a-year pay raise wasn’t enough for the city of Albuquerque’s Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry. In the two years since he received that 22 percent pay hike, Perry has gotten another $8,200, or 4.3 percent in raises, city records show.
Perry’s yearly salary has climbed to $188,198 a year, or $90.48 an hour. That was up from $180,000 in November 2013, and $182,478 in 2014.
It’s not clear how or why Perry got the raises. Mayor Richard Berry’s spokesperson, Rhiannon Schroeder, who makes $69,534 a year, did not answer an email, a phone message or a text message ABQ Free Press sent and left her asking about Perry’s raise.
In the current budget, the City Council appropriated money to give firefighters a 2.5 percent pay increase, bus drivers 4 percent, and clerical and blue collar workers 1 percent. Perry’s latest increase was 3 percent.
Perry’s continuing pay hikes have blindsided some city councilors and infuriated an official of the union that represents Albuquerque police officers.
Three councilors said they weren’t aware of Perry’s steadily rising salary, and Shaun Willoughby, vice president of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association, called the raises “absolutely ridiculous,” considering that Perry has been Berry’s point man in delaying giving APD officers pay raises they were promised in a 2008 contract that Berry broke in order to save money during the recession.
Not only did Berry refuse to give cops the final raise they were promised in that three-year contract, but he ordered them, and all other city employees, to take pay cuts.
“He [Berry] has complete loathing and disrespect for us out there who are doing the job,” Willoughby said. “He has been fighting with police officers for six years, refusing to make them whole, and at the same time the top brass at APD and Rob Perry get increases. As a police officer, it makes me feel devalued even more by this administration.”
Three councilors – Diane Gibson, Ken Sanchez and Isaac Benton, all Democrats – said they had no idea that Perry had gotten more money after his $33,000 raise in 2013. At the time, Sanchez called Perry’s increase from $147,000 to $180,000 a year “unacceptable.”
“I had heard rumblings that they had increased his [Perry’s] salary, but no one has disclosed that information to us,” Sanchez said Tuesday, adding that “the rank-and-file [APD] officers are the ones we should be looking at for salary increases.”
Gibson said she had no knowledge of Perry’s pay hikes, adding that “it’s one more example of the mayor’s definition of transparency.”
Perry and the mayor have been locked in a battle with the APOA and the city council over how much more money to give rank-and-file officers this year. The administration set aside $1.7 million in the current city budget for raises for police officers. The union said that wasn’t enough, and Sanchez offered a plan to throw an additional $1.3 million at raises, as well as $5 million to settle a lawsuit the union brought against the city for Berry’s breaking of the 2008 contract.
The $3 million would be enough to get cops up to the $28 an hour pay scale they were promised in the 2008 contract, Willoughby said.
Sanchez introduced legislation calling for the administration to settle the lawsuit for $5 million and to appropriate the additional $1.3 million for police raises. But Berry said Sanchez and other councilors who supported the bill were improperly interfering with contract negotiations. Sanchez withdrew the bill after being promised by Perry that he would settle the issue within a few weeks.
Benton said Berry has the authority to hand out raises to Perry and others, but added that Perry’s increases look especially bad.
“The decisions on the contract negotiations are being directed by Rob Perry, and those negotiations are primarily being conducted by clearly what is an anti-union administration,” Benton said.
Even if Perry took an across-the-board raise intended for city workers, as a public relations matter, it doesn’t look good, Benton said.
ABQ Free Press left messages for five other councilors. None were immediately available for comment.
— Dennis Domrzalski
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