Dallas “Mad Men” Give New City Manager “Presidential Salary”

Story By: Darwin Campbell, African-American News&Issues

Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work. She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship – and you know what, a father does, too. It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a “Mad Men” episode. This year, let’s all come together – Congress, the White House, and businesses from Wall Street to Main Street – to give every woman the opportunity she deserves. Because I firmly believe when women succeed, America succeeds.” – excerpt from President Barack Obama 2014 State of Union Address

Dallas city leaders must be stars in a “Mad Men” episode because they have a new $400,000 man. A.C. Gonzalez a male Latino, is the new male city manager steps into the job being paid $95,000 more than his predecessor Mary Suhm, a White female who served in the position for a decade before retiring and never saw that kind of money. Suhn only made $305,000. He will now be making as much as President Obama, who makes an annual salary of $400,000 as the nation’s Chief Executive. Gonzalez will be tasked to run the daily affairs of the city.

Gonzalez, a Latino, was the No. 2  man behind Suhm and hand-picked by the Dallas City Council after interviewing candidates David Cooke from Wake County in North Carolina, and Deanna Santana from Oakland, Ca. Gonzalez, who becomes Dallas’ 15th city manager, justified his own salary that the council approved was based on the market. He has lobbied for himself stating he is worth the money.
The setting at $400,000 really speaks more to how underpaid Mary was, not how inappropriate this salary amount is,” Gonzalez told reporters. “It’s really in the middle of the market. When you look at the private sector in terms of what payments would be for a comparable position, this doesn’t even come close.

Suhm’s salary was affected during the economic downturn and even was also cut by 6 percent as part of an effort to balance the city budget – Nothing in his agreement appears to include getting a salary cut based on performance or the economy. Other female city managers in Texas cities also make less money. In San Antonio City Manager Sheryl Sculley, a White woman, has been on the job and makes only $355,000 a year.

Houston, the largest city in the state, does not have a city manager and instead assigns those responsibilities to its mayor, Annise Parker, who also is a White woman, is paid just $210,000, or about what San Antonio pays one of its deputy city managers and she manages the state’s largest city and the fourth largest city in the United States. Marc Anthony Ott was selected as City Manager for the City of Austin by the Austin City Council in January 2008. Ott is African-American and the 17th person in city history to be appointed City Manager in a full-time capacity. His salary comes in at a $302,000

In 2004, Joyce Wilson, a White female as El Paso’s first city manager. Her contract was extended in 2010 and expires in September. She earns nearly $239,000 a year and oversees more than 6,200 city employees and an annual budget of more than $754 million.
Some on the council felt that the salary bar should have been lowered and the should have started him at a much lower level and let him work up to the $350,000 or more.

However, it does not address the issue that Suhm was underpaid by the council as a female and at a time when the economy is delicate and people are suffering hard times searching for jobs, needing assistance and and benefits for the long-term unemployed. Gonzalez background includes a record in municipal management for more than 28 years, with 14 years serving the City of Dallas as an Assistant City Manager. During his tenure, he has spearheaded projects that have changed the face of Dallas, including the development of the Omni Dallas Convention Center Hotel, management of the Love Field Modernization Program, negotiations of the Dallas Stars Reunion Arena lease, which brought the professional sports franchise to Dallas.

He is responsible for the daily operations of the municipal organization. He manages a staff of approximately 13,000 employees and a budget of nearly 4 billion. Most recently, Gonzalez served as interim City Manager beginning in June 2013. He was also the First Assistant City Manager overseeing Aviation, Dallas Fire-Rescue, Municipal Courts, Office of Emergency Management, and the Dallas Police Department. Over the past 5 years, he has also managed Convention and Event Services, Housing/ Community Services, Economic Development, Planning and Development Services. Gonzalez has served two stints as Assistant City Manager of the City of Dallas. The first, from 1988 to 1995, and the current one starting in 2006. Before returning to the City of Dallas, Gonzalez was the President of Buerger Investments, a privately owned investment company.

Previously, Mr. Gonzalez was the Deputy Superintendent and then Superintendent of the Austin Independent School District from 1995 to the end of 1999. His most recognized achievements include: executing a $437 million bond program which built 11 new schools, 156 classroom additions and renovated 96 campuses; developing the district’s first historically underutilized business program; and leading the development of the district’s first joint building project with the City of Austin, which connected an elementary school with police, social services, library and park and recreation facilities.

Gonzalez has served as City Manager for three Texas communities: City of San Marcos, from 1979 to 1988; City of Carrizo Springs from 1976 to 1979; and City of Dilley from 1974 to 1976, where he started his career at age 23 as one of the youngest city managers in the U.S.
Mr. Gonzalez earned his Bachelor’s Degree with honors from the University of Texas at Austin in 1973 and his Masters Degree in Urban Studies from Trinity University in 1976. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings expressed confidence in the new man on the job and said he will support Gonzalez and council members have followed his lead.

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad world…Women should be outraged…

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