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Rewarding Failure (Editorial)

2 min read

In our next life, we’re coming back as one of those government bureaucrats financially rewarded for failing.

Recent news featured a fine example of the breed. Hot Springs City Manager David Frasher resigned after being accused of making racially insensitive remarks to the black deputy superintendent of the Hot Springs School District, Lloyd Jackson. The Hot Springs Board of Directors unanimously requested Frasher’s resignation after the incident.

But Frasher won’t go hungry. He’ll receive $223,312.20 from the taxpayers because the severance provision of his contract calls for a year’s salary and benefits. That’s five times the median annual income of an Arkansas household.

What’s particularly galling about this is that in October, Frasher reached a $389,500 settlement with Oregon City, Oregon, after being fired in 2015 as city manager there. The reason? A “strained relationship” with the Oregon City Commission after allegations that he made “racially insensitive remarks,” according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “A memo detailing the investigation into the Oregon City incident was considered when the Hot Springs Board of Directors hired Frasher in January 2016, City Director Larry Williams said Wednesday.”

Hot Springs City Attorney Brian Albright said the board could have disciplined Frasher, but he didn’t know how Frasher would have responded. Perhaps the board reasoned that getting Frasher’s resignation and paying severance was cheaper than potential legal action. And perhaps it was. And perhaps employment contracts for handsomely paid government employees can be negotiated to better protect their employers: taxpayers.

► In other news last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states have the power to require online retailers to collect sales taxes. It’s a good decision, one that should be welcomed by local governments losing out on needed tax revenue and local businesses squeezed by the tax advantage reaped by many online sellers.

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