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The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

October 20, 2014 at 10:07 AM

No women among 25 best-paid Seattle city employees

There were no women last year among Seattle’s 25 best-paid city employees, and there were just two women among city employees with the 25 highest base salaries in 2013, city records show.

Seattle City Light CEO Jorge Carrasco topped both lists despite having no overtime pay. His base salary for the year was $243,715.40. Mayor Ed Murray in July nixed a raise for Carrasco in response to controversies over the utility honcho’s management.

James Woodbury, a fire chief, was No. 2 on the best-paid list thanks to a salary of $161,589.43 and $74,551.85 in overtime. Philip West, a City Light executive under Carrasco, held the No. 2 base salary, with $230,950.86.

Robin Clark, a Police Department executive, and Kelly Enright, a City Light executive, were the only women to make either list. Clark’s base salary was $179,595.99 and Enright’s was $179,408.74, ranking No. 20 and No. 21 on the base salary list, respectively.

City Councilmember Jean Godden called the results “extremely dismaying.”

“This is to be expected, in some sense, because the people with the most overtime are often the police, fire and utility folks,” Godden said. “The people asked to put in those hours are usually in the professions that are predominantly male.”

During his campaign to unseat Mike McGinn last year, Murray sought to hurt the incumbent’s standing with women voters by pointing out a gender pay gap among city workers.

In July 2013, McGinn had released a report saying Seattle was paying men 9.5 percent more than women on average, largely because men made up two-thirds of the municipal work force and were better represented in the highest-wage jobs.

Then Murray beat McGinn, and the pay gap became his problem. This April, a task force established by McGinn and preserved by Murray released a follow-up report, which said Seattle’s leadership is “disproportionately male.”

There were 111 men with director titles working for the city in 2013, but only 68 women, according to the report, which highlighted “job segregation.” Just 28 percent of city job titles with more than one worker employed both men and women.

In the Fire Department, only four of 20 officials and administrators were female and their average hourly pay was nearly $20 less than their male counterparts.

To address the problem, Murray and the City Council passed a resolution promising to work toward equity and launched a citywide initiative to support that effort. The mayor’s proposed 2015 and 2016 budget includes more than $500,000 in each year to help.

But the issue isn’t going away anytime soon. Murray just last week addressed the gender breakdown of his staff in response to discrimination allegations by a former press secretary, saying 17 of 36 people in his office identify as female.

“We’re working on it,” said Godden, who chairs the council’s gender pay equity committee and who is working on legislation to provide all city employees with paid parental leave, a move aimed particularly at women. “I think we’re doing a little better in 2014. When we get the numbers for 2014, that’s my hope.”

New Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole was hired this year with a base salary of $250,000, which would have made her No. 1 on the 2013 base salary list.

With base salaries of $170,000, new deputy mayors Kate Joncas and Hyeok Kim wouldn’t have cracked the top 25.

Comments | More in General news, Government, Politics | Topics: gender pay gap, Seattle City Councilmember Jean Godden, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray

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