A ‘modest’ pay raise for Morrissey? It’s all relative

Just in time for Christmas, Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey is “poised” to receive a $32,000 salary increase in 2009, bringing his annual pay to $177,000. His spokesman calls the raise “modest,” and says “if you want skilled people with the expertise who are going to provide that core government function of public safety, there does have to be fair compensation.” Um, OK. Let’s consider it another way: The proposed salary is more than twice as much as the $80,004 that Colorado Attorney General John Suthers earns, nearly twice as much as the $90,000 that Gov. Bill Ritter is paid — and far more than the $149,000 that Colorado U.S. Attorney Troy Eid currently makes.

According to The Rocky Mountain News, the Denver City Council hopes to decide on the raise before Monday. In addition to the proposed $32,000, the newspaper reports that Morrissey would receive another $10,000 every year through 2012.

“I think Mitch Morrissey has done a superior job,” said City Council President Jeanne Robb. “He’s probably one of the most outstanding DAs in the country, with all the work that he has done on DNA and cold case-type stuff. On the other hand, this is a tough time for everyone, and so I’m concerned about the perception among city employees.”

As the Rocky noted, the pay raise talk comes as other city employees are facing the possibility of mandatory furlough days without pay next year.

Morrissey’s spokesman, Lynn Kimbrough, called it an “equity thing.” However, a review of the salaries of Colorado’s highest-ranking attorneys — the U.S. attorney and the state attorney general — indicates they earn far less than Morrissey’s proposed raise.

A state employee salary database published by The Denver Post earlier this year indicates Suthers, the elected attorney general, earns $80,004 a year. The highest paid attorney in his office, Maurice Knaizer, is paid $130,597. According to federal employee salary databases, the U.S. attorney in Colorado, Troy Eid, is paid $149,000.

And it’s nearly twice as much as the $90,000 that the governor of Colorado — who used to be the Denver District Attorney — is paid.

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