Thursday, May 14, 2009

County's DSS deal was excessive

Compassion is one thing.

But a county-funded, $168,000-a-year think tank job – complete with car – wired up to keep someone on the county payroll for years until he's eligible for full retirement benefits goes way beyond simple compassion.

That's the deal the county made in 2007 with then-Department of Social Services chief Richard “Jake” Jacobsen. The county agreed to pay Jacobsen's salary at UNC Charlotte's Institute for Social Capital until his retirement, at age 66, in February 2010.

And get this: It will be Jacobsen's second state pension. Turns out that when he left the San Diego County Department of Social Services, after a flap about its child-protection agency, he negotiated a retirement date that allowed him to receive a pension for 20 years' government service.

Jacobsen, hired here in 1994, won praise as an innovative leader. But after a 2004 stroke had him out of work for months, things got messy. In 2007 two former employees sued the county, saying they were forced out after questioning his health and performance. Their lawsuit said he had been forgetful, erratic and racially insensitive. (A judge dismissed that suit in 2008.) But in September 2007, County Manager Harry Jones, UNCC and Jacobsen agreed to the UNCC arrangement.

What's done is done. It would be difficult legally for the county to go back on the deal now. But with the county facing a $79 million shortfall in next year's budget, and as up to 400 teachers prepare for potential layoffs, there's no question about this deal. Although it appears it was set up with compassionate motives, it is – simply – excessive.

-- Posted by Mary Newsom


Michael said...

Although it appears it was set up with compassionate motives, it is – simply – Charlotte.