The last thing anybody expected was controversy at the September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center. But that's exactly what has happened after a former employee received a severance package.
The Wall Street Journal reported today that Joan Garner, former executive vice president of design and construction at the memorial, received $296,565 in compensation after leaving her position in May 2010. That brought her total salary for the year up to $439,463, making her the highest paid employee at the organization.
Tax records for the organization, which were first reported on by The Record of Bergen County, show that seven other executives received compensation that totaled more than $200,000. Four of those executives received more than $300,000, including the president, Joseph Daniels, who earned $378,288 in salary and benefits. All in all, the foundation spent $6.5 million on salaries and other benefits in 2010, a sharp increase from the $5.3 million in 2009.
The executive pay at the memorial has come under heavy fire from the families of 9/11 victims, who have called on Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the organization's chairman, to get the salaries under control. However, Bloomberg has long defended the compensation at the memorial and other nonprofits, and his spokesperson said they are in line with similar nonprofits.
Ken Berger, president and CEO of Charity Navigator, disagreed with the mayor. He told The Journal that the salaries in question are on the high end of the spectrum, and that an organization with such an important public mission shouldn't be spending money this way. His comments certainly fall in line with the outraged comments from families who lost loved ones during 9/11.
You can read more about this controversy in The Wall Street Journal. In addition, you can read all about the construction of the many September 11 memorials in The NonProfit Times.