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Garry McCarthy reverses vacation pay policy after Jody Weis payout

Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy has reversed former Supt. Jody Weis’ vacaticarryover policy. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy has reversed former Supt. Jody Weis’ vacation carryover policy. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

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Updated: July 13, 2011 4:49AM

Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy has reversed a policy change that resulted in lucrative vacation payouts to former Supt. Jody Weis and members of Weis’ command staff.

Weis and his chief of staff, Mike Masters, were among 1,026 city employees who were paid $7.4 million in all for unused vacation days since September in the transition from former Mayor Richard M. Daley to Emanuel, the Chicago Sun-Times reported last month.

Weis, who’s now deputy director of the private Chicago Crime Commission, walked away with a $76,308 lump-sum payment for 64 unused vacation days. Masters, now Cook County’s homeland security chief, left police headquarters with a check for $30,448 — the equivalent of 54 unused vacation days.

Both benefited from the former superintendent’s June 2010 change in the policy governing vacation carryover, allowing “command staff members” to carry up to 39 unused vacation days from year to year “when circumstances prohibited the use of current and prior year’s allotments.” Weis made that change after starting the final year of his three-year, $310,000-a-year contract.

Now, McCarthy has reversed that change.

“Command staff members will only be allowed to carry over a maximum of 25 vacation days from one year to the next. Command staff members should adjust their 2011 schedules based on this change in policy,” McCarthy wrote.

The police policy change will remain in place until Aug. 31, when Human Resources Commissioner Soo Choi is expected to complete a more sweeping review of all city employee-leave policies.

“This review should include vacation leave, sick leave, compensatory time and administrative leave policies. This should also include a review of the number of paid holidays earned by city employees as compared to other public and private employees,” the mayor’s chief of staff, Theresa Mintle, wrote in a July 1 memo to Choi obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Weis said McCarthy “has to make decisions that are in the best interest of the department, the city and the residents.” The former superintendent also said Emanuel’s decision to end unpaid furlough days for the entire city work force altered the landscape that had prompted him to allow a 39-day vacation carryover.

Previously, Weis had cited two reasons for changing the vacation carryover policy to 39 days. The Chicago Fire Department had the same policy, and members of Weis’ command staff, who were among those required to take furlough days, were being forced to either lose earned days off or take long vacations. “Having large numbers of individuals absent for periods of time negatively impacted operations and supervision,” Weis had said.

“When circumstances change, such as discontinuing the unpaid furlough days for command personnel, then decisions and policies associated with such changes need to be reviewed, and changed, if deemed appropriate,” Weis said Tuesday. “Garry is doing exactly what he should be doing.”

Last month, Emanuel vowed to change a liberal policy that has allowed city employees, including Weis, to turn unused vacation days into an “alternate form of compensation.”

“It’s appropriate to have vacation days,” the mayor said then, but he added, “It should not become an alternative form of compensation. And you cannot have the public sector out of line with the private sector.”

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