BART hires interim director for $160 an hour

Sherwood Wakeman replaces Dorothy Dugger

BART 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.

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 in a closed session 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Board members immediately rescinded their decision after current legal counsel Matthew Burrows said their action was illegal because their meeting agenda only listed a performance appraisal for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 today's meeting, several directors criticized the way the board has handled the matter.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.


Like this comment
Posted by George
a resident of Alamo
on Apr 18, 2011 at 7:00 am

$160/hr is apx. $250K-$300K annual salary. Seems the writer, Glenn Wohltmann, is trying to stir up controversy and make a big deal about a fairly routine salary. Glenn, you might have done better financially if you'd chosen a different vocation. Slinging mud at those who've chosen to set their sights a little higher than you only reveals envy on your part, not writing skill.

Like this comment
Posted by Ralph
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 18, 2011 at 7:15 am

Gotta love BART. Employees get top pay, huge retirement packages that they don't contribute to, and paid medical for life.

Like this comment
Posted by Duffy
a resident of Danville
on Apr 18, 2011 at 8:28 am

Compared with his predecessor he is a bargain at $160/hr. Consultants don't normally get benefits nor retirement so the deal is even sweeter. Keep him on!

Like this comment
Posted by call it like it is
a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Wow! You are fired from your job, and still rake in $958,000 in severance pay. Woohoo!!! Sign me up!

It's no wonder governmental agencies don't deliver any value what-so-ever. Too busy providing mediocre to poor service for a top price.

Like this comment
Posted by C. R. Mudgeon
a resident of Danville
on Apr 19, 2011 at 9:34 am

How telling it is, that the BART board believes that the best person qualified to act as interim general manager is an attorney! Perhaps the efficient and cost-effective operation of BART aligns with a hobby of his. (Although, if he can negotiate wage and benefit/pension concessions from the BART employee unions I will take back my cynicism...)

My question is - did the new interim GM receive a lucrative severance package? I'd like to think that the INTERIM position wouldn't have any severance package associated with it, but on the other hand, the new guy IS an attorney...

At a 40-hour week, $160/hr. works out to just above $330k a year. That doesn't seem too bad for the position. But if the next permanent GM receives another big severance arrangement, the BART board needs to be voted out of office.

Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Danville
on Apr 19, 2011 at 2:17 pm

I think the Board members that fired Dorothy Dugger should consider quitting. I'm glad BART has so much of our money to waste.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

The valley needs strong leadership on BART board
By Tim Hunt | 1 comment | 1,108 views