Readers respond: Payouts at city hall

Portland paid its director of the Office of Violence Prevention $113,256 (equal to her annual salary) plus health insurance costs for six months to resign from her position. Yet her resignation was “not associated with individual characteristics or performance,” (“Portland’s director of violence prevention resigned with $113K severance, agreement not to work for city in next 3 years,” Nov. 14). In essence by asking for her resignation, the city was unhappy with the job she was doing.

When hiring at the director level, or for any position, decisions should be made based on background, knowledge, skills and experience. Performance expectations should be clearly defined and communicated. In this position, “developing and maintaining positive and effective relationships within City Hall, with agencies and the communities we serve” should be a major priority and a performance standard. If performance expectations are not achieved, termination should occur, but without the payment of full annual salary plus insurance benefits.

Was outside executive coaching considered to help this director succeed? Continued payouts to key positions are at taxpayers’ expense and reflects poorly on Portland City Hall’s ability to hire, train, evaluate and retain key leadership positions, (“Portland officials who leave on own accord still entitled to sweetheart severances, city says,” Aug. 4)

Tom Kelley, Portland

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