Wednesday, July 01, 2009

2 SF AIDS Execs Hit $250K Salary Milestone?

PWAs Facing Drug Cocktail Cuts

[UPDATE: Nolan has replied and his email is below.]

Over the course of 2007 and 2008, direct services for people with AIDS funded by local and federal dollars were reduced because of budget shortfalls. In the past few months, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed decimating the AIDS drug assistance program that keeps PWAs alive and healthy.

And while these cutbacks were implemented or proposed, one thing didn't change - increasing AIDS executives' compensation packages in San Francisco.

The most recent IRS 990 tax reports for fiscal year 2007/2008 for two of the top HIV service organizations here show the executive directors and their colleagues managed to find money in their budgets to give them raises.

At Project Open Hand, a hot meals and food pantry agency, the leader, Tom Nolan, had a compensation package totaling $248,200. The budget last year was $10.2 million.

While Nolan is the head of this agency, he spends a great deal of time performing the myriad and complex duties required of him as the chairman of the board of the SF Municipal Transportation Agency. My estimate for numbers of hours Nolan puts in on the SFMTA chairman's responsibilities per week is 20.

Judson True, spokesperson for SFMTA, after five hours of checking into an estimate, even after I pointed out that the agency surely can tell potential board members how much time in a given week they're expect to work on very complicated transit matters, he was unable to give me even a ballpark figure. If True finally gets me an estimate, I'll update.

Over at the SF AIDS Foundation, their executive director, Mark Cloutier, took home $236,797 during the last fiscal year, when the organization's revenue was $24.1 million.

And Cloutier was not alone in receiving such a large salary at the foundation. The IRS 990 shows the chief financial officer, Marty Low, earned $206,239, and Steve Tierney, director of programs, took home $201,227. The director of science policy, Judy Auerbach, was compensated $195,004, and the development director, Barbara Kimport, received $193,180.

Allow me to digress for a moment, and point out that Rep. Nancy Pelosi's district director, Dan Bernal, is a member of the foundation's board of directors. Not that there is anything wrong with that ... is there?

In looking over the three years' worth of recent tax reports for Project Open Hand and SF AIDS Foundation, the salary trend for the executives is going up, up, up, something I expect continues into the current fiscal year's budgets. Sure, I'd like to think a miracle has happened and the agencies have curbed the salary increases, but so far this year, neither agency has announced any executive compensation stabilization or decreases.

How do the salaries of Nolan and Cloutier compare to that of Dr. Mitch Katz, the director of the Department of Public Health?

According to city records in the SF Chronicle's data base, Katz earned $254,227 in 2008. DPH spokesperson Eileen Shields said today that, "in 08-09 our total budget was $1,575,922,495." One point five billion is a figure vastly larger than that of either AIDS service agency, but Katz, with more programs and dollars to worry over, is clearly not compensated based on the size of his budget.

Defenders of high six-figure pay rates for AIDS directors frequently point to the large budgets, and stewardship of the revenue, as partial reason for such good salaries.

But the leader of DPH doesn't make all that much more than the top executives at Project Open Hand or SF AIDS Foundation, even though his responsibilities are greater.

Technically speaking, Nolan and Cloutier are not making quarter-million dollars salaries, but I wager that when we learn their compensation for 2009, we will see they're at that milestone.

Finally, be sure to read the comments from an AIDS community leader and person with AIDS, making additional points about the salaries' issue.


Here's a reply from Nolan, who apparently doesn't spend very many hours at all working on SFMTA business:

Hi Michael,

In response to your message:

1. The SFMTA generally meets twice a month, averaging about 3 hours per meeting; upon occasion I am asked to represent the Board at community and city government functions. In addition, I typically have a once a month meeting with the SFMTA Executive Director over lunch before one of the Board meetings. Typically the Board package arrives on Thursday afternoon and I read it over the weekend. Generally that takes about an hour on Saturday or Sunday.

2. The nature of my job as Executive Director of Project Open Hand is decidedly not restricted to 9 to 5 days. In fact the position requires significant evening and weekend time, a fact the Project Open Hand Board fully understands and supports.


Tom Nolan


Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

from an community leader very concerned with these matters, and who doesn't totally agree with my focus. glad he expressed his thoughts. -michael

A few thoughts:

1. I would not to put too much weight on the size of the organization relative to the compensation. It isn't irrelevant, but there are other factors that are just as or more important.

2. Don't let the boards of directors off the hook by just talking about the ED and not making the board responsible for what the ED is paid. I don't begrudge the individuals for advocating for whatever compensation they feel they deserve, but I do hold boards responsible for what they agree to pay people. Like in DC with Food and Friends, I heard 100 people trash Craig Schneiderman for his enormous salary for every person who even mentioned the idea that his board might be culpable. Craig may deserve such trashing--I don't know--but I know that any board that approves a salary that is such an outlier, so far from the norm, better be prepared to offer a vigorous defense of it.

3. You reference raises, but don't say how much they are or put them in context with the CPI or with entitlement programs or anything like that.

4. The ratio between the lowest-paid full-time employee and the highest-paid full-time employee at an organization is useful to consider.

5. What kind of retirement/pension benefits do any of these jobs offer, if any. I have heard of non-profits offering pensions to executives who have worked x number of years; not sure if that would be included in the compensation package information you've received.

6. If you've got the energy, creating a visual showing the cross-directorships and interlocking relationshps between agencies and elected officials could be interesting.

Tri Tech Global said...

Thanks for the information. I find it fascinating that non-profits can pay very good salary and benefits in the good years, but when the economy tightens up they still seem to pull in relatively big paydays.

After seeing your numbers for SF, I checked out the same types of organizations here in LA for comparison.

For APLA (Aids Project Los Angeles) the Executive Director Craig Thomson earned a total of $243,483 on the latest IRS 990. Their total budget was around $17.9 million. So our guy gets about the same as yours running a smaller organization. However in comparing the other salaries, no one is even close to the SF AIDS Foundation numbers of around $200k. At APLA the Director of Education George Ayala received around $164k and everyone else is in under $125k.

Project Angel Food, similar to your Project Open Hand, has a budget of around $5.6 million (again smaller than your organization’s $10.2 million). The CEO John Gile received $178,239, the CFO Ben Stilp got $104,615 and others were under $90k. These guys are definitely under the SF pay scale, but it is a much smaller organization.

Are these paydays out of line? I guess it depends on who you ask. For running relatively small NON-PROFIT organizations I think they are doing pretty well, as you point out in comparison with the guys who run the Public Health Department. In LA the Director of Public Health receives $260,000 for administering a budget of $3.4 billion.

Here’s how I look at it. If you are earning $250,000 per year, that means that every day you go to work you take home $961. My suggestion is that if these guys could learn to live with getting maybe even $750 each day they would be able to add another $55k to the budget that goes to the people the organization is set up to serve. And because it is tough times for everyone, if they could live on just $500 per day, that would mean that $120k could be freed up. I just imagine that most of the people who are using the services of APLA or Project Angel Food would be very happy to have a $500 a day paycheck.

Keep up the good work there.