Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Golden Parachute

Tuesday night, Town Councilor Skip Crane nearly pulled the rip cord on a golden parachute for Mitch Berkowitz, our town manager who resigned two weeks ago.
The council accepted Berkowitz' resignation at a special meeting last week. The council agreed to allow Berkowitz to work through March 17, then use accrued vacation time through May 2 while receiving health insurance coverage through the end of May.
At Tuesday's Town Council meeting, Crane proposed a resolution to immediately relieve Berkowitz of his duties. Crane explained that he was simply speeding up the process, and would expect to fulfill the financial obligations (pay and healthcare coverage) to which the town had already agreed.
Under Berkowitz' contract, which the previous council had extended through 2007, Berkowitz would receive six months pay and healthcare if he is terminated without cause. Cause is essentially defined as malfeasance or breaking the law.
Berkowitz prodded the council to contact the town attorney before moving forward with the resolution. Councilor John Welch loudly and firmly told his fellow councilors they were making a big mistake. Andy Upham joined Crane in pushing for the resolution.
Thankfully, Chair Gary Foster was on the fence on the issue. When the resolution was called for a vote, Brad Fogg spoke up from the audience and said he handles six public contracts and saw the council potentially making a big mistake with this resolution.
The resolution failed.
After the meeting was adjourned, Crane and Berkowitz chatted for a moment, and Crane noted he had not realized the implications of his proposed resolution.
Crane got a bit of a scare, and the town was very likely saved from dishing out over $40,000.
That's why it's called a Golden Parachute!
Nathan Tsukroff