The weekend edition of the Washington Examiner reports that “Arlington County asked manager (Michael Brown) to step down.” This after the Arlington Sun Gazette reported a week earlier that “(c)ounty officials have said that Brown voluntarily departed the job to care for his ill wife.” The Examiner began their reporting this way:
“Arlington County officials are conceding that a hiring mistake in filling a top government job will cost county taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars in a time of tight budgets.
"Former Arlington County Manager Michael Brown received a hefty six-month severance package after being forced to resign last week only 4 1/2 months after he was hired.
“Brown's abrupt resignation initially shocked county residents. The mystery surrounding the sudden departure was clarified when Board Chairman Jay Fisette conceded late Wednesday that Brown was asked to leave.
“Over $30,000 was spent on a seven-month nationwide search to hire Brown. And he'll earn more after being forced out than he did in his short time on the job -- the board voted last week to authorize a $110,000 severance payment written into Brown's contract in the event of his termination.
“Fisette detailed the board's request at the Arlington Democratic Committee meeting. The board had done its due diligence in the last few months to conclude that Brown was not a good fit for the county, he said.
“Fisette would not clarify in what way Brown was not a good fit, except to say the decision was not based on any single action.”
ARLnow did report on October 1 that Brown wrote in letter of resignation: “I hearby resign the position of County Manager for Arlington County effective today,” Brown wrote. “This action is regrettable but necessary because of the health of my wife Linda Lee. I need to take time now to assist her.” Brown’s letter is posted here at Blue Virginia.
Brown, who earned $220,000 annually, will be replaced by Barbara Donnellan, who had served as acting county manager from November 2009 through May 2010; she will earn $235,000 annually, according to the Sun Gazette.
Blue Virginia, a decidedly Democrat-leaning website, raised five very good thoughts/questions in an October 3 post, about Brown's sudden department. They were:
- "If the County Board's contract with Michael Brown provided for a severance payment in the event of his involuntary termination, and if the amount of that payment is approximately or exactly the amount reported that he will be paid, that is highly suggestive of the fact that he was involuntarily terminated. Therefore, the cover story that he has to take care of his very ill wife appears to be false.
- "If Michael Brown's wife truly is very ill, and if he must resign voluntarily to care for her, then the amount of the severance payment after only four months on the job appears grossly excessive, a waste of money, and a gift of a campaign issue to Republican County Board candidate Mark Kelly.
- "If Michael Brown really didn't work out after only four months on the job, on the one hand you have to give credit to the Board for acting quickly and cutting their losses. But, on the other hand, you have to give them an "F" for not coming clean as to the real reason.
- "If Michael Brown really didn't work out after only four months on the job, why didn't he work out? How could his deficiencies have been missed after a thorough nationwide search? How much did the Board pay the search firm? Was he the top choice after the search? Again, you have to give the Board an "F" unless they can come forward with a credible explanation for what happened and why they missed it before."
- By all accounts, Barbara Donnellan is terrific and will do a great job as Arlington County Manager. However, no matter how good she is, why was it that just last year, she declined to be considered as a candidate for County Manager during the nationwide search process, but this Friday, she got appointed the County Manager without any nationwide search process? (For the record, Blue Virginia shows question 5 as question 4)
Blue Virginia reported on Wednesday, October 6 (includes video) that he had a phone conversation with Arlington County Board chairman Jay Fisette. You can read the notes from his conversation, but his conclusion was:
“In the end, it's not like there's some big scandal here, and really there's little for the Republicans to latch onto. Of course, that won't stop them from trying, but something tells me that in four weeks, the end result will be the same as usual, with Democrats riding high in blue Arlington. We'll see.”
Scott McCaffrey of the Sun Gazette reported yesterday that because Fisette made his "clarifying" remarks about Brown's departure "at the monthly meeting of the Arlington County Democratic Committee," the local GOP is "disappointed" because County Board chairman "Fisette chose a partisan political event as the setting to begin to tell the truth."
Given the taxpayer money wasted on Brown’s severance package, not to mention Donnellan’s higher salary and the $30,000 paid to the search firm, it seems Arlington taxpayers deserve a County Board capable of making world-class decisions, not to mention a world-class explanation that's more than Brown was not a "good fit."
Additional links include these at the Sun Gazette website (here, here here, here, here, and here), and these at ARLnow (here, here, and here).