Monday, January 09, 2012

Standard-Examiner: Greiner Severance Package Totals $77,300

Sodden Reader Query: Did the concerted acts of both Greiner and Boss Godfrey paint incoming Mayor Mike Caldwell so deeply into a corner that Caldwell has no alternative but to "go along" with what some might characterise as Greiner's Golden parachute?

This morning's Standard-Examiner is running a story this morning which is bound to give fiscally frugal Ogden City taxpayers heartburn, as Scott Schwebke reports that one of the final acts of the Boss Godfrey administration was the awarding of a $77,300 severance package to Chief Greiner, who was "fired from his job last month because of a federal Hatch Act violation." Here's the lede:
OGDEN -- Former Police Chief Jon Greiner, who was fired from his job last month because of a federal Hatch Act violation, will receive a severance package from the city with a gross value of $77,300.
The package stems from a settlement agreement Greiner and former Mayor Matthew Godfrey signed Dec. 30, according to records obtained by the Standard-Examiner.
The payout equals six months of Greiner's salary and accrued health, dental, vacation, vehicle and retirement benefits.
In exchange for the severance package, Greiner has released the city from any future legal claims.
The severance package given to Greiner is standard for all city department directors, Mayor Mike Caldwell said.
Check out the full story here:
At least one of our WCF readers was earlier wondering why Greiner's involuntary termination might entitle him to a severance pay package, inasmuch as he was "fired for cause," i.e., "because of a federal Hatch Act violation."

Being the curious type, and intrigued by our gentle reader's query, we "googled" the underlying rules, of course.

Turning to the Ogden City Code, we find that the provisions governing Ogden City employee "Classification and Pay Plans" are governed by Ogden City Code Section 2-6-9.

The rules for the denial of of severance pay benefits to "involuntarily terminated" Ogden City employee are spelled out in Subsection F.

It does seem to us that there is one provision within that subsection which might operate to prohibit the payment of a severance package to Chief Greiner, although it's a mite thin, in our view:

3. Prohibition: Severance pay shall not be paid to an otherwise eligible employee who:
a. Has been terminated or requested to resign under bona fide charges of nonfeasance, misfeasance or malfeasance in office
The terms nonfeasance, misfeasance or malfeasance are technical "words of art"of course. Click the links below for some commonly-used general definitions:
So what about it Gentle readers? When you apply the above general definitions and principles of law to the facts of the Greiner Hatch Act problem, can an valid argument be made that Greiner's severence package is prohibited by the Ogden City Code, due to acts of nonfeasance, misfeasance or malfeasance on Greiner's part? In ignoring the demands of the federal Office of Special Council in 2006 to either drop out of his State Senate race, or alternatively to resign his office as Ogden's Chief of Police, did Greiner wilfully or negligently breach a duty owed to his employer, Ogden City, to refrain from a course of action which would jeopardise Ogden City's federal grant funding? Did Greiner's good-faith exercise of what we've called on WCF the Richard Perkins defense (Ogden's Hatch Act Compliance Program) operate as an excuse for his failure to heed the OSC's warnings? Did Ogden City's failure to fire Greiner early on, and instead to cooperatively join with Greiner in his Hatch Act litigation obviate any argument that Greiner acted in a manner which could deny him a severance package? Is Boss Godfrey's eleventh hour agreement to a severance "payout [which] equals six months of Greiner's salary and accrued health, dental, vacation, vehicle and retirement benefits" anything more than the last minute looting of the Ogden City treasury, or did the concerted acts of both Greiner and Boss Godfrey paint incoming Mayor Mike Caldwell so deeply into a corner that Caldwell has no alternative but to "go along" with what some might characterize as Greiner's Golden Parachute? Is Greiner's severance pay award just another example of Godfrey's fast-collapsing "House of Cards," which we wrote about yesterday?

So many questions... so few answers...

Who'll be the first to toss in their own 2¢?

Nothing better than a little mental exercise to clear out the Monday morning mental cobwebs, right?


Ray said...

So after taking advantage of laws that allowed retiring in place and drawing a full retirement and being retained at full salary as Chief. Greiner decides to run for state office in violation of Federal Hatch Act law.  Maybe 100,000's of thousands of dollars in lawyers fees incurred by the city/state in his defense. When push comes to shove Greiner is fired for the illegal act he committed and then recieves $77,300 to leave. Unbelieveable! And people wonder why there is no trust in government! With his demonstrated ethics I suppose he'll apply for unemployment benefits as well...  

Ogden Lover said...

On one hand I'd love to see him not get this money, but it's blackmail so we are not having to fight this in court at probably greater expense.

blackrulon said...

One of the unintended results of Greiner receiving a hefty termination package will be hesitation to fire other non performing department heads. Is this severance the result of changes Godfrey pushed through the city council late last year?

Dan S. said...

Ironically, the severance provision was put in place by the city council just before Godfrey first took office. Godfrey was an unknown at the time and had said things that made the council think he might do quite a bit of immediate "house cleaning". Lower-level city employees already had some protection against this, but not department heads. So the council passed an ordinance that entitles any department head to severance pay (up to 6 months, depending on how long they've served) if terminated without cause.

Still, as Rudi points out, it isn't clear whether Greiner was entitled to severance pay under this provision because clearly he was terminated for good cause.

Val Holley said...

I love this comment from Matt Godfrey, from the Deseret News of Dec. 1, 2002.  The reporter noted the mayor had arranged for Ogden to loan money to itself through the BDO.  "We were all doing backflips when we discovered we could do that," the young mayor crowed.

rudizink said...

Nice Catch, Val!  Too funny!

(It only hurts when we laugh here in Ogden City, of course)

Dan S. said...

Blockbuster update from Chris Smart over at the Trib: The legal fees to defend against the Hatch Act accusation cost the city's insurer $293,000. And according to a Standard-Examiner article from April 2010, the city will eventually have to reimburse all of that money. So it would have been cheaper to just pay the $215,000 fine than to fight this. Of course, Mayor "John Paul Jones" Godfrey always prefers to fight.

good_reader1 said...

How can you recieve a severance package from a job you retired from? Even if you were then re-hired the first retirement should be the one that counts.

WC Citizens against Greiner said...

Now, after costing the citizens of Ogden buckets of cash, Mr. Greiner is seeking a Weber County Commission Seat.  Regardless of your political affiliation, you can join a bipartisan group to keep Jon Greiner from collecting any more cash of the people.
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