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City Manager's Pact Has Built-In Security : Pasadena: Philip Hawkey's contract stipulates that he will receive 18 months' severance pay if fired in the first year.


PASADENA — The city manager contract approved Tuesday by the Board of Directors for Philip Hawkey includes generous severance pay benefits designed to forestall his dismissal should the political composition of the board change.

The board's 4-3 decision to hire Hawkey, city manager in Toledo, Ohio, touched off an uproar in Pasadena's minority community, and activists have threatened a recall against two city directors who favored Hawkey, a white, over two black candidates. They also are actively seeking candidates to replace the two directors--William Paparian and John Crowley--when their terms expire next year.

City Director William Thomson, the city's chief negotiator in securing the job contract, said the severance pay will ensure "managerial stability."

"It (the severance pay) was designed to avoid an arbitrary termination and having a seat on this council shift as a result of an election," Thomson said.

Hawkey, who earned about $90,000 annually in Toledo, will receive $119,500 a year in salary. Under the contract approved Tuesday, he would receive 18 months' severance pay if fired in the first year without just cause. He would receive 12 months' pay if dismissed in the second or third year and two months' pay if fired any time thereafter.

In a phone interview from Toledo, Hawkey said he had not sought the severance pay benefits because of political instability in Pasadena, or because of his experience in Toledo, where a change in the council composition in November forced him to begin looking for another post.

"It (the severance pay) was something I desired, at least in the first three years, for security," said Hawkey, who is married and has three children. "It was really the concept of relocating the family across the country and being in place for a while."

The contract was approved 4 to 2, with Mayor Jess Hughston abstaining. Directors Rick Cole and Chris Holden, who along with Hughston had opposed Hawkey's selection, voted against the contract.

Cole said the severance package would hinder what he called "the power and authority" of future boards. Holden argued that Hawkey should not be given job assurances in light of the existing political divisions.

Regarding Hawkey's acceptance of the job, "if a person recognizes the community is split, then that's at his own risk," Holden said.

Cole also objected to the amount of the severance pay, calling it inappropriate. He noted that most city manager contracts give managers a 90- to 100-day grace period in which city councils are prohibited from firing them or making changes in their job description.

Retiring 17-year City Manager Donald McIntyre, whom Hawkey will replace June 18, has no severance pay benefits. McIntyre, whose annual salary is $126,804, said his contract provided only that he must give the board a two-month notice of leaving.

McIntyre also called Hawkey's severance pay benefits "a little on the high side."

Dwight Stenbakken, legislative director of the League of California Cities, said of the severance package offered to Hawkey: "It sounds like they really wanted him. I've heard of (severance pay) for a year, or six months. I don't know if I've heard of 18 months, but that doesn't mean it's not out there.

"More of that is happening all the time in negotiations with city managers."

Hawkey will also receive as-yet unspecified city financial aid to buy a home in California; up to $25,000 for relocation expenses and temporary housing in California while he sells his Toledo home; a $500 monthly car allowance; 60 days of paid sick leave to start, with 10 additional days earned for each year of service, up to a maximum of 120 days; and 20 days of vacation leave each year.

Holden complained Tuesday that Thomson had single-handedly taken charge of the contract negotiations, preventing other city directors from providing their ideas. He also revealed the depth of the board's current political split when he said he walked out of an April 26 closed-session board meeting because, he said, he was "threatened."

"Director Paparian got in my face and wanted to create a confrontation," Holden said at Tuesday's meeting. "It seemed appropriate, and all of you agreed, that it was best for me to leave at that time rather than create more of a circus than had already been created."

Paparian did not respond to Holden's accusation during the board meeting. He later denied threatening Holden, who he said threw a temper tantrum and walked out of the meeting early.

Hawkey's selection aroused the ire of Pasadena's minority community when he was chosen over two black finalists considered equally qualified. In addition, Hawkey's four-year stint in Toledo was marked by racial tensions, much of it inherited from a city government that had been plagued by racial problems for years.

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