Wednesday, January 15, 2014

SF Chron Omits Tom Nolan's $390K Pay; Notes Public Workers' Salaries

(Tom Nolan, in his home. Credit: Lacy Atkins, SF Chronicle.)

There's an unacceptable double-standard at the San Francisco Chronicle regarding the salaries of public employees and executive directors of private nonprofits. Today's paper contains another article, this time written by Carolyn Jones, about highly-paid public workers in Bay Area and she cites the $400,000-plus payout to Millbrae's fire chief as one of top salaries.

Back in late December, the Chronicle's John Cote wrote an article about City employees such as the chief of police and fire department officials raking in more than $300,000 annually. At the end of October, Phil Matier and Andy Ross, who frequently sprinkle their political gossip column with details about public sector workers' pay and bonuses, wrote about the overtime collected by sheriff's deputies at SF General Hospital.

I have no issue whatsoever with such reporting and also have concerns about the compensation of these folks, but what troubles me is that the Chronicle does not report on the salaries of executives at local nonprofits. Why can't the paper examine the IRS 990s of the nonprofits, especially those receiving City funds, and tell readers who is the highest-paid executives and what bonuses and perks they receive?

The recent gushing and lengthy front-page profile of gay executive Tom Nolan written by Kevin Fagan, is a prime example of the paper's double-standard. Here's what said about Nolan's tenure at the AIDS food bank nonprofit Project Open Hand:

As head of Project Open Hand from 1994 to 2012, he expanded its food delivery service from people with HIV/AIDS to those with other chronic problems. [...] Nolan moved to San Francisco in 1994 when he was hired to head Project Open Hand. Under his leadership, it nearly doubled operations and expanded its reach to people with other chronic illnesses.

No citation of what he was compensated at the nonprofit. As I reported in November when I was examining the salaries of executive directors at AIDS food programs, Nolan's exit package came to a whooping $317,453. If the Chronicle wanted to verify the figure, all they needed to do was read Project Open Hand's latest IRS 990. By the way, it's an open secret that Nolan spent more time working on transit issues as head of the SF Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors than at the AIDS charity, but that's another story.

The Chronicle further reported:

"Tom knows everyone, and he's already involved in so many things we care about," said E. Anne Hinton, executive director of the city Department of Aging and Adult Services, who hired Nolan last year to spearhead her office's efforts on the senior LGBT study. "He's a leader, but he's humble. He's perfect for this job."

Again, no figure given for what he's being compensated for this City job. I filed a public records request for details about any City earnings for Nolan last year from the City Controller and received this reply from that office's assistant Monique Zmuda:

Thomas Nolan works as a Manager 1 for Human Services Department and is a Board member at MTA.  In fiscal year 12-13 he earned $70,859 from Human Services Agency, and received pay for his role as Board Member at MTA of $2,393 in FY 12-13.  

Add up his Project Open Hand package with what he took home from the City and the amount comes to $390,705, and that figure along with the others for him were omitted from the Chronicle's puffy profile. Why does the paper stoke outrage only about what public sector employees are raking in, but then ignores the compensation for executives at private nonprofits? In the case of Nolan, he's a combination of both kind of worker.

Let's hope the Chronicle brings much needed sunshine to the compensation of executives at nonprofits in 2014, and makes it a standard policy to include the pay amounts of folks like Tom Nolan.

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