The City of McKinney will pay former Police Chief Doug Kowalski his full annual salary as part of a severance package he has received, according to a report in The Dallas Morning News.
Kowalski, who formally resigned Nov. 2 after being put on paid administrative leave, signed a separation agreement promising him a lump sum payment on Jan. 4 equal to his annual salary — $140,352 — and health insurance for him and his dependents until May 2014. This was learned through an open-records request by the newspaper.
What the city gets: Chief Kowalski promised not to sue and to refrain from saying anything disparaging about the city or its management. He also promised to keep the agreement confidential.
Not the only time: The Dallas Morning News reports that in the 21 months that City Manager Jason Gray has presided over the city, 20 employees have received severance after being laid off or asked to resign. Those former employees’ jobs included building inspector, librarian, fire chief and deputy city manager.
What did they receive? The News reports that three-fourths of them received four months’ salary or less in their lump-sum payment. Kowalski is the only one to have received a year. The total amount spent on severance during that time exceeds $650,000, records show.
Gray declined to comment, and Kowalski has made no public statement since he was removed from his job on Oct. 5.
Business as usual? “I think this is a standard kind of an outcome of hiring and making changes in the public sector,” council member Geralyn Kever said to The News. “I don’t think this is unique to McKinney at all.”
Curtis Rath of McKinney does not agree.
"It is truly a sad commentary that Ms. Kever thinks this action is standard, and not unique to the public sector," Rath said on his Facebook page. "Have we sunk so far to accept cronyism and corruption as standard operating procedures?
Rath said, "Do the citizens of McKinney think it is OK to use public funds to buy the silence of former employees? These employees were not dismissed for cause. They had their lives disrupted and their reputations tarnished because they chose honesty and integrity over 'playing the game.' It is time for the voters to remind our public servants that they work for us. They were not elected to enhance their financial portfolios or feed their insatiable need for power."
Jolie Williams said, "I do know that I have never stated Kowalski’s termination was or was not justified, but the reasoning behind it is still unknown. I feel that the citizens deserve a reason, although it appears that will never be available as the draft of Kowalski’s formal review on October 5 will be destroyed (per Kowalski’s Severance Package received from a public records request).
She said, "After speaking with Mr. Gray I understand his reasoning for the use of the video posted to youtube, naming Joe Williams new Chief of Police without a search, and the salary increase. I respect Mr. Gray’s decisions although I do not agree with and question them. I have the right as a concerned citizen to question Mr. Gray and his intentions."
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