Since I was otherwise occupied today, I just got around to discovering that the employees of the World Bank are getting their Christmas/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah/Festivus/Dido’s Birthday party back this year:
After a one-year hiatus — and a whole lot of water under the bridge since then — the World Bank is bringing back the office Christmas party.
Last year, bank leadership, under then-President Paul Wolfowitz, pulled the plug on holiday festivities, or at least strongly nudged divisions to do so, arguing that such revelry was inappropriate and wasteful at an organization devoted to fighting world poverty. Staffers were encouraged to volunteer or otherwise devote the money to good causes. Explained one bank source: “It wasn’t Grinch-like.” Still, many employees groused that the parties had been a rare chance to socialize with colleagues.
But Wolfowitz stepped down last spring after allegations that he engineered a hefty pay raise for girlfriend Shaha Riza. And now, signs of the season are reappearing at the bank, with most units starting to organize parties.
Before she was detailed over to the State Department, Riza was earning $132,660, according to the bank’s payroll records obtained by the Governmental Accountability Project. Had the bank’s board adhered to its ordinary rules, as Riza was shifted over to the State Department, she should have only been eligible for a raise of about $20,000. Instead she was given a raise of $47,340, whereupon her salary became $180,000. Then last year, she received yet another raise which brought her salary to $193,950. That salary increase not only meant that Riza earned more than Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, but apparently made her the single highest paid State Department official.
You’d be surprised at what kind of party you can throw for the same amount of money that it takes to get someone to fuck Paul Wolfowitz.