(UPDATE: Very interesting comments at ArlNow.com – promoted by lowkell)
For once, I’ve got to agree with Scott McCaffrey of the Arlington Sun-Gazette:
I need to do a little more digging on Friday’s bombshell announcement that Arlington County Manager Michael Brown was out, and Barbara Donnellan was in as his successor.
…the County Board is going to have to explain why it (a) publicly said this was a completely voluntary departure by their so-new-he-was-still-learning-where-the-men’s-room-is manager and (b) why, in the midst of a budget crisis, they tossed $110,000 his way for a “voluntary” departure. Those two facts do not jibe.
I’ve been trying to find out more information on this since Friday, and have basically gotten nowhere. It seems, for whatever reason, that the Arlington County Board doesn’t want to discuss what happened here. Instead, they’ve appeared defensive and unwilling to share information. That, of course, is only going to make people more curious and more suspicious.
With that, here are a few thoughts and questions I’ve gathered from talking to (a few) people over the weekend.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
4. 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?
Lots of questions, few answers so far. Hello, Arlington County Board members? We’re all ears!