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Friday, August 24, 2012

Greg Suhr, San Francisco Police Chief, to Be Nation's Richest

Posted By on Fri, Aug 24, 2012 at 11:25 AM

Congrats, Chief. You can afford a hat now.
  • Congrats, Chief. You can afford a hat now.

San Francisco politicians like to boast that ours is a "world-class city." It certainly pays like one.

Police Chief Greg Suhr will soon become the city's highest-paid employee -- and best-compensated police chief in the nation -- with a pending bump to $307,000. It's been a lucrative year for San Francisco's top cop; based on the city's calendar year 2011 payroll, he earned a mere $256,470 last year in base pay and $267,993 in total compensation.

Supervisor John Avalos complained to KCBS that such a gargantuan salary contravenes "San Francisco values." But statistics don't back him up at all. Avalos earned $97,237 in calendar 2011 -- which made him the city's 10,001st highest-compensated employee in terms of "total pay." Yes, that means 10,000 city workers took home more money than Avalos, who earned just shy of $100,000.

The term "San Francisco values" is somewhat chimerical (though it was the name of my fantasy baseball team). Paying lots of money to lots of people and astounding amounts of money to the city's top officials, however, seems to be one of our core values. And here's the proof:

  • Congrats, Chief. You can afford a hat now.
    • Congrats, Chief. You can afford a hat now.
    Last year, 11,777 workers took home more than $90,000; 2,219 pocketed more than $150,000; and 685 earned upward of $180,000.

  • At the top, 54 high-level employees earn $200,000 or more. The top earners: outgoing PUC director Ed Harrington ($294,580); Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White ($285,262); Airport Director John Martin ($271,329); Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Amy Hart ($268,605); Deputy Police Chief Deinse Schmitt ($261,718 -- more than her boss at the time); and Medical Examiners Ellen Moffatt, Venus Azar, and Judy Melinek ($257,510).

  • Retirement System Deputy Director of Investments David Kushner banked $256,576 in regular pay, and Suhr rounded out last year's Top 10.

It warrants mentioning that former Muni CEO Nat Ford earned as much as $315,140 before being paid $400,000 last year in "other pay" to simply walk away. His successor, Ed Reiskin, earns just shy of $300,000.

One wonders at what salary level "San Francisco values" are breached. Is it $300,000? Or $275,000? Certainly not $97,237.

What San Francisco values is its employees. Perhaps it overvalues them.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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