Claremont Insider: Southard Redux

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Southard Redux

Former Claremont city manager Glenn Southard is the subject of a Steve Lopez column in the LA Times today. Lopez holds Southard up as an example of the excesses in the city manager profession.

In addition to the perks we and others noticed, Lopez noted that Southard, who went to the city of Indio in 2005, received a $30,000 signing bonus with his 2007 contract. Lopez also went to lay out some of the other hidden benefits Southard got while in Indio:

Southard's contract called for a $50,000 life insurance policy and a second policy, for good measure, valued at $500,000. In addition to city contributions to his pension with the California Public Employees Retirement System, "City agrees to deposit the maximum sum allowed" into a separate, deferred retirement fund known as a 457. That put the city on the hook for as much as $22,000 a year more.

He was given 30 days of vacation time the day he started work, with 30 additional days (six weeks) per year. "Such vacation may be carried over, if not used, with unlimited accumulation," said the contract, which allowed him to accept cash, instead, for up to 120 hours of vacation time each year.

In addition, the contract called for 90 days of sick leave, health insurance, a $600 monthly car allowance, 13 paid holidays and two personal days annually.

Besides all of those generous gifts, Lopez says that Southard was also able to buy two years worth of retirement (part of a golden parachute Southard engineered under the cover of downsizing Indio's city staff). That meant that, as Lopez writes, Southard got seven years of retirement credit for five years of work.

As we noted previously, Southard was also able to accumulate the equivalent of $162,000 in unused vacation and sick leave, which he cashed out upon retirement. We're still trying to run down how much of that accrued time counted towards his final year of salary, the figure used in determining Southard's pension payments.

It's not Robert Rizzo territory, but it still stings, especially when Claremonters are stuck with a good portion of the unfunded part Southard's CalPERS retirement bill.