Nothing like taking care of a buddy from the Army

Gov. Matt Blevin and his old Army buddy, Charlie Grindle
Colonel Charlie Grindle, United States Army Retired

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin gave a member of his administration (Charlie Grindle) a hefty pay raise to the tune of $215,000 per year. His original salary was $160,000 per year which brings Grindle up to $375,000. That’s a whopping 134% pay raise. But, that’s just from the State of Kentucky.

If you add on his Army retirement pension, his total gross income is in the neighborhood of nearly a half million dollars per year, not counting all the benefits and perks that are provided from both the State of Kentucky and the military.

Charlie Grindle is the Executive Director of Kentucky’s Commonwealth Office of Technology (COT) and is now the highest paid employee in Governor Bevin’s administration. It’s interesting to note that Charlie’s pay raise occurred at a time when the state budget offered no pay raises for state government workers or teachers.

The Governor’s minions attempted to downplay the extraordinary pay raise by saying, the cost savings realized by Grindle’s extraordinary leadership more than cover his pay raise. To put things in perspective, according to Census figures, the median household income in Kentucky was $46,659 in 2016. The median home value in Kentucky is $139,800.

Kentucky home values have gone up 5.8% over the past year and Zillow predicts they will rise 3.5% within the next year. The median list price per square foot in Kentucky is $112. The median price of homes currently listed in Kentucky is $184,900 while the median price of homes that sold is $152,000.

This all means that little Charlie Grindle is living like a King in Kentucky, thanks to an old Army pal who happens to be the Governor. When Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin wanted a new state chief information officer, he didn’t do a national search which in all fairness he should have done. He preferred to hire an old Army buddy and longtime business associate last October at a salary that now leads the nation for similar state jobs.

Bevin said he personally recruited Grindle, who retired last year as a colonel at the U.S. Army War College, for the critical job of managing state government’s technology needs. Grindle started work Oct. 9, 2017, as executive director of the Commonwealth Office of Technology, which now pays a whopping $375,000 per year.

“I’ve known him for some time,” said Governor Bevin. “I became aware of his availability a couple years ago when he was at the War College. … When I heard that he was going to be retiring, I made sure I contacted him and let him know that this is something that I would hope that he would consider.”

Grindle is a retired U.S. Army colonel who holds two master’s degrees and a doctoral degree and before joining state government in late 2017 had headed a company called Lone Star Graphics. Records of Bevin’s 2015 election campaign committee show it purchased some information technology services from Lone Star Graphics, which is in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Retired Army Colonel, Charlie Grindle

The Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet, where the Commonwealth Office of Technology is located, released a statement saying the raise “was necessary to recruit and retain the best talent for this position, as CIOs are in high demand in the private sector.”

The statement said cost savings realized by the technology office under Grindle’s leadership already have paid for his raise many times over. And that was about all they could say to justify such an enormous increase in salary.

“Under his leadership, the Commonwealth saw $2.9 million in immediate cost reductions created by managing consulting contracts and video conferencing. His plan for a new converged server and storage infrastructure will create an estimated $3 million in annual savings beginning in Fiscal Year 2019,” the statement said.

But state Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, said he didn’t think the raise is appropriate. “Surely we can find someone who is dedicated and highly qualified at a much more reasonable salary,” he said.

Wayne said he may be more upset with legislation he voted against at the end of the 2018 legislative session that allowed the raise for Grindle.

That legislation was a last-minute bill to make changes to the 2018-20 state budget bill that had already passed. One of its provisions — included at the Bevin administration’s request — exempted the job of executive director of the Commonwealth Office of Technology from a state law that caps salaries for state government jobs at about $163,992.

“I voted against that because of the way it was done,” Wayne said of last-minute legislation that was never heard by a legislative committee. “It was an abuse of power.”

Grindle’s salary far exceeds those of even other specialists brought into state government by Bevin for particular jobs whose high salaries drew criticism. They include Vivek Sarin, Economic Development Cabinet chief of staff, who makes $250,000, and former state “adoption czar” Dan Dumas, who was hired under a $240,000 annual contract but left the job without explanation.

We know of an individual who was part of the brain trust that began the postal zip code system. It’s said the zip code system has saved billions of dollars over the decades since it was initiated. All this particular individual got was a plaque to hang on his office wall. When government employees begin an attempt to rival what their private sector counterparts are making in salary, the taxpayers soon as asked to pony up billions more.

A 134% increase in salary is not only an abuse of power but a tremendous waste of taxpayer funds. The voters need to get rid of anyone who spends their money like this regardless of party affiliation.