State moves to fire contractor for paying CEO $1.2 million
Gov. Rick Scott's juvenile justice agency is playing hardball with a non-profit foundation, and threatening to cancel nearly two dozen contracts with the group because it paid its top executive $1.2 million in compensation.
The confrontation between the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Henry & Rilla White Youth Foundation casts new light on problems between Florida state government and its heavy reliance on contracts with private vendors to provide essential services. DJJ is a great example: About 60 percent of its $522 million budget is contracted, and 23 of those contracts are with the White Youth Foundation for services and programs to at-risk youth.
The foundation in 2010-11 paid top executive William Schossler $1,269,905, as was first reported by the Times/Herald. Schossler has said a significant portion of that amount was for his retirement, but DJJ Secretary Wansley Walters was shocked by the figure and quickly took action.
After a series of meetings and exchanges of letters, Walters said "with great disappointment" that the state must take further action. In a letter sent by certified mail, she said that DJJ would find the White Foundation in default of nine of its contracts within 10 days if it didn't take action to reduce what she called excessive "corporate overhead." Nine contracts would be cancelled immediately and 14 others would not be renewed when they expire.
Schossler has said much of the $1.2 million was a long-delayed retirement benefit. He hired attorney Karen Walker of Holland & Knight, who said a significant amount of Schossler's pay package came from the Henry & Rilla White Foundation, a "related entity" that’s not under contract to DJJ. Walker noted that the organization provides "quality services" to youth in Florida under fixed per-diem rates and that all of its contracts were competitively bid.