When Town Executives Are Let Go

An editorial in yesterday’s Newport Daily News makes an excellent point with reference to recent departures of town administrators:

… the lack of information about why the (Middletown and Tiverton) administrators are departing — whether because of poor performance, personality conflicts or political pressure — is frustrating, as is the fact that neither agreement has been made public, even though both involve a severance payment.
That involves public money, and that means taxpayers have a right to know how much administrators are being paid, in effect, to take an extended vacation while they hunt for their next job.

Of course, if the town administrator were an elected official — you know, a mayor — there would be less he-said/she-said about his or her reasons for leaving. If Tiverton’s Glenn Steckman were a mayor, rather than a hired manager, he wouldn’t be making cryptic remarks like this on his way out the door:

He said the town needs to do considerable work including improvements to its worn out infrastructure but the town is limited by a lack of funds to get these things done and by soaring property taxes. “The debt keeps getting bigger and bigger and there’s no end in sight,” he said. “These are tough times and things are going to get a lot worse.”

He’d be making political hay over the reasons that it’s true.

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16 years ago

Look at the way school superintendents come and go these days, thanks to how politically charged that job has become. School board ups salary enough to get a reasonably competent superintendent aboard for three years, he/she endures the slings and arrows from parents, taypayers, teachers, and eventually the people who did the hiring, and superintendent winds up planning exit strategy well before the question of his/her contract renewal comes up.
We’ve all created the kind of atmosphere where you can’t blame the superintendent/administrator for quickly focusing on how to get out while the gettin’s still good.
Growing up in Warwick, it used to be the superintendent came up through the system, and it was the way you capped your career (the only time they went out for a “pro”, chaos ensued). Not that Warwick is Eden, but when the superintendent is someone you knew and had served as a teacher and/or principal there, it helps douse potential powder kegs.

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