Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Commissioners Tank Touart

"Escambia County commissioners voted 3-2 Tuesday to deny former Administrator George Touart's request that he be allowed to retire and collect a pension," the PNJ lede reads this morning.

Past news coverage of county administrator George Touart's demand for a handout after resigning under pressure never quite made sense to us, except maybe as reparations for some historical wrong. After all, you don't quit in a tearful tantrum and then ask your boss for more money, do you?

Today, Michael Stewart of the Pensacola News Journal finally explains what has been happening. The boldface emphasis, below, lies at the core of things:
Touart announced his departure from his $155,252-a-year job on Sept. 6 after the News Journal ran a series of articles detailing his failure to disclose financial and personal ties to local businessmen and developers doing business with the county. Following the revelations, Touart was placed on administrative leave.
* * *
Almost immediately after Touart announced he would leave the post he has held for 5½ years, a controversy ensued about whether he would "resign" or "retire."

His desire was to retire, effective next April 2, the earliest date for him to be vested in the state pension system and to collect up to a $1,275-a-month pension. But that would have required an amendment to his contract.

The only option possible under his contract was to resign, entitling him to 90 days paid administrative leave and any unused sick and vacation leave. The cost to honor the contract will be $145,037.
In other words, Touart quit -- and then tried to beg or bully commissioners to amend the employment contract retroactively to gift him with more money.

As for the question -- "
You don't quit and then ask your boss for more money, do you?" -- the answer is: Only in Escambia County.

But thanks to the unexpected appearance of rational thinking among a bare majority of county commissioners, it doesn't work even here. As Independent News publisher Rick Outzen says on his blog, it's enough to give you "new respect
for Escambia County Commissioners Marie Young and Kevin White."

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