BART Names Interim GM In Wake Of Pricey Severance Deal

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Interim BART General manager Sherwood Wakeman.  (BART)

Interim BART General manager Sherwood Wakeman. (BART)

OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Bay Area Rapid Transit directors voted 6-3 Thursday to hire former general counsel Sherwood Wakeman to serve as the transit agency’s interim general manager until it finds a permanent replacement for Dorothy Dugger, who announced her resignation on Wednesday.

KCBS’ Bob Melrose Reports:

Wakeman joined BART as a lawyer in 1973 shortly after it began passenger service and he became its general counsel in May 1987. He stayed in that position until he retired in July 2007.

He served as BART’s interim general manager on two previous occasions.

Dugger, who joined BART in 1992 and became its general manager in August 2007, said Wednesday that she will step down on April 22. Wakeman will take over the following day and will be paid $160 an hour.

BART said it is giving Dugger, who was its first female general manager, a severance package totaling $958,000.

Dugger’s departure had been expected after the board voted 5-4 to fire her at a closed session on Feb. 10.

Board members immediately rescinded their decision after current legal counsel Matthew Burrows said their action was illegal because their meeting agenda only listed a performance appraisal for Dugger, not a possible vote to fire her.

However, the board’s vote created uncertainty about whether Dugger would continue to lead the transit agency for the long term.

At the Feb. 10 meeting, board president Bob Franklin, James Fang, John McPartland, Robert Raburn and Tom Radulovich voted to fire Dugger but directors Tom Blalock, Joel Keller, Gail Murray and Lynette Sweet voted to retain her.

At Thursday’s meeting, several directors criticized the way the board has handled the matter.

Director Sweet said the situation “is a debacle that we’ve gotten ourselves into” and “if we had followed our own rules we wouldn’t be paying additional dollars to bring someone new in.”

Sweet also said, “I have a problem in going outside BART to bring someone else” to serve as interim general manager.

She said BART should have followed its rules of succession and hired Deputy General Manager Marcia deVaughn, Assistant General Manager for Operations Paul Oversier, or Burrows.

Murray said, “I completely disagree with what the board has done and I’ve been very, very angry at the board’s action in February.”

Murray said Dugger “has excelled in achieving the goals the board has set for her” and has managed to balance BART’s budget the past two years, something she said most other transit agencies in the Bay Area and the state haven’t been able to accomplish.

Referring to Dugger’s severance package, Murray said, “We’re unlikely to find someone who’s $1 million better than her.”

Franklin estimated Wednesday that it may take five months to find a new permanent general manager, but Fang said he hopes someone can be found in two or three months.

(Copyright 2011 by CBSSan Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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