Culbreth-Graft wants $105,000 in severance pay

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Former city manager Penny Culbreth-Graft, who resigned from her position March 16, wants the city to give her six months severance pay, which amounts to $105,000.

Vice Mayor Larry Small and councilman Tom Gallagher said Culbreth-Graft notified the city with a letter sent to city attorney Pat Kelley last week.

The letter was from an attorney representing Culbreth-Graft and says the city’s action in swearing in her successor, Steve Cox during the April 13 city council meeting, amounted to “constructive termination.”

Culbreth-Graft contends that such action violated the terms of her contract, and therefore obligates the city to pay severance, Small said.

He said Culbreth-Graft’s resignation became effective April 16.

“After we swore Steve in, she got up and left, saying that she would leave the meeting In ‘Steve’s capable hands.’  We found out after the meeting that she had cleared out her office and left the building,” Small said.

Small is puzzled by Culbreth-Graft’s contention that Council’s action violated the terms of her contract.

“If you look at the record, it’s absolutely clear,” he said. “We swore Steve in on the 13th, but it was not to take effect until the 16th.”

Gallagher has a clearer idea about what happened.

“She’s a complete technocrat,” he said. “She knew exactly what she was doing when she walked out. It was all planned,” he said.

Will the city pay up as requested?  Not if it were up to Gallagher and Small.

“So far, it’s just a letter,” Small said. “We’ve explained the action we took, and why it didn’t violate her contract.  Right now, I’m not sure what it means. If it does become a legal issue, we’ll see.”

Neither Culbreth-Graft nor Kelley could be reached for comment.

22 Responses to Culbreth-Graft wants $105,000 in severance pay

  1. This sounds like a dishonest move on Culbreth-Graft’s part. She resigned – there should be no severance pay. This is just another reason why we shouldn’t have an unelected person running the city.

    April 22, 2010 at 11:47 am

  2. Culbreth-Graft resigned. She left on her own terms. She does not deserve any severance pay and if I were the city, I would not give her a dime. A company should not have to pay someone if they voluntarily leave a job and Culbreth-Graft should be ashamed of herself.

    April 22, 2010 at 11:51 am

  3. Culbreth-Graft doesn’t deserve a reward for leaving the city and quitting her job. No one in the press reported any problems between Penny Culbreth-Graft and the City Council. In fact several went so far as to say that her performance report was good. It sounds like she planned this maneuver from the beginning. Good riddance!

    April 22, 2010 at 11:55 am

  4. To pay this is a great way not to get re-elected to City Council. Let her sue.

    April 22, 2010 at 12:01 pm

  5. This is simply Outrageous!

    April 22, 2010 at 12:04 pm

  6. I agree with you Brad… Culbreth-Graft quit… period the end… just because she “left the building” before her true end of her post… well, that was HER fault… don’t blame this on the city… and do NOT make the general public pay for your issues… ridiculous! Listen Culbreth-Graft, you have a small and distinct window of opportunity to do the right thing here and bow out of all this with your dignity still intact… take it!

    April 22, 2010 at 12:07 pm

  7. I’m not the previous Brad, but I do agree that it was a dishonest move on her part, just like her house, but it was the people on City Council that brought her in, that’s not saying much for any of them, including Vice Mayor Small and Councilman Gallagher.

    April 22, 2010 at 12:14 pm

  8. I think it was slimy on her part, but I think she always planned to move on and use Colorado Springs as a stepping stone. She should just leave – sooner rather than later – and the City should wave bye-bye.

    April 22, 2010 at 12:50 pm

  9. Another example of why people are fed up with government. Council – please do not allow this leech to get a dime.

    April 22, 2010 at 12:50 pm

  10. Brad, when I was on Council fifteen years, we hired a couple of city managers. One turned out well, and one (at least in my opinion) didn’t. Any organization makes hires based on then-available information. When PCG was hired two years ago, she seemed to be a good choice – or, at the very least, an acceptable one.

    John Hazlehurst
    April 22, 2010 at 12:59 pm

  11. When will lessons ever be learned. The 2 external hires for City manager this past 10 years have been total failures. One (predicted early on) with unfortunate mental health and family problems could not manage to control either, the other and current with messy underlying issues. An east coaster and a west coaster; when taken out of their environments just cannot support life.
    From now on stay with the good people already in this city and probably in city government. This is excellent scenario to support a mayor manager as noted by another commenter.

    Joanne Peterson
    April 22, 2010 at 1:04 pm

  12. A lousy group of elected officials strike again! HOW MANY more mistakes will we allow them to get away with? This place is becoming a joke heard nationwide!

    April 22, 2010 at 1:07 pm

  13. I agree with everyone who has voiced their opinion on PCG asking for a $105,000 severence. It made me angry. She voluntarily resigned her position. No one forced her or asked her to leave or fired her and to me this is the most outrageous, unprofessioanl decision a womam of her background and top position could ever act on. There are many unemployeed who had no decision in the loss of their position and who could use a severance pay to help keep on track until they find another job. Does PCG understand what severance pay means? I think this is a means of being greedy and having no remorse about leaving her position at all. the city has enough problems. they need to seriously look into their deciision to give a severance pay to someone who resigned.

    April 22, 2010 at 1:24 pm

  14. This is clearly a “Kick Em While They’re Down” move on her part. The nerve! This kind of person, using “the law” to steal from the city is reprehensible behavior. Whatever she did for our City will forever be tainted by this exit strategy. She should be ashamed of herself. Shame on you Culbreth-Graft, Shame on You!

    Tony Seran
    April 22, 2010 at 1:43 pm

  15. As a seasoned public official once told me, “once you get used tofeeding from the public trough, it’s hard to step away”.

    April 22, 2010 at 3:07 pm

  16. ……… gawd i love this town !

    Like it'll matter .....
    April 22, 2010 at 4:51 pm

  17. …. at least she isn’t claiming sexual harassment on the way out

    Like it'll matter .....
    April 22, 2010 at 4:53 pm

  18. Just think of it as a ‘grief premium’…..can anyone imagine what its like working for such incompetents as the gang over there on Nevada?

    Maybe she’s secretly related to Ray Marshall………

    John Whitten
    April 22, 2010 at 6:39 pm

  19. Sounds as if she found a legal loophole and the acting city manager shouldn’t have been sworn in before April 16. Just goes to show that even with at least two lawyers on city council, they don’t know what they’re doing and Penny played them like a fiddle.

    April 23, 2010 at 4:21 am

  20. John, you are right of course. I, too, have hired both good and poor employees, but I would say that both reflect on me and my decision making skills.

    Our City Council’s decision making skills have been questioned quite a bit lately though. From even before the attempted $12 million bribe by the Morley Brothers to purchase a lot that appraised for $3 million, they bought for over $6 million and want to re-sell for over $38 million, and even before the $50 million USOC deal that led to that attempt.

    I’m sure Council will do right by this, but I’m not sure that the legal fees that might be required would be less than the $105,000 she’s asking for. That is the crux of the situation, similar to when the City deals with Doug Bruce and his flippant court cases. Sometimes we settle because the legal cost would be too great, other times we waste ten times as much or more taxpayer money to fight him on principle. I wouldn’t feign to say that I have the right answer to either question. People will continue to whine no matter the choice.

    That said, it’s good to see the Business Journal breaking news before many, dare I say all, of the other local news agencies. Great work.

    April 23, 2010 at 6:55 am

  21. Shame on PCG for taking this step. I agree with others who have said she intended to do this from the beginning. However, if she sues and wins, the shame becomes the city’s for not knowing the specifics of her contract.

    April 23, 2010 at 7:42 am

  22. Brad, you’re right-especially regarding the cost to the city of fighting lawsuits. I’m not sure that PCG’s claim has enough merit for her to pursue litigation, especially if she might be obliged to pay the city’s legal fees if she didn’t succeed. But what interests me is why she didn’t just make a deal prior to resiging, and walk away with a few months of severance. The city would have simply announced that she was leaving “by mutual consent”, the media would have asumed that she was being fired, and she could have left town with a few bucks and made a fresh start. I don’t see any upside for anyone in the present situation, unless there are some Rumsfeldian ‘unknown unknowns’ that will work in PCG’s or the city’s favor.

    John Hazlehurst
    April 23, 2010 at 10:29 am