General manager of BART resigns office

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BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger officially announced her resignation Wednesday after encouragement from the BART board of directors - a move that has drawn complaints from those who question the forced resignation in the face of BART's current budget surplus.

According to minutes from a Feb. 24 board meeting, the BART board of directors voted 5-4 in favor of seeking Dugger's resignation under the topic of "Public Employee Performance Evaluation" at a Feb. 10 closed session.

The board voted unanimously to rescind this action on Feb. 24. According to BART board of directors President Bob Franklin, the action was rescinded because it was illegal to bring the call for resignation under the notice of a performance evaluation. Franklin said the general manager position was one of five which the board has the power to appoint and dismiss, calling the resignation a "mutual agreement."

But board member Lynette Sweet raised issue with the board's method in the resignation request.

"She was pushed out," Sweet said. "She resigned because five board members one day in February illegally fired her in a closed session."

In the face of the illegal call for Dugger's resignation, Sweet also said she was concerned that the board has no enforcement group to whom it answers.

"We don't pay attention to our own rules," she said.

Franklin would not comment on the board's reasons for seeking the resignation except to say that the majority of the board wanted to "move in a new direction."

Dugger could not be reached for comment.

According to a statement released on the BART website, the resignation will grant Dugger about $600,000 in severance pay that would have resulted had she been formally terminated as well as $350,000 "to ensure a smooth transition and to avoid any litigation between the parties."

Franklin said the latter amount represents the minimum cost that would arise if the case were brought to court.

"It would cost a lot of money and a lot of time," he said.

Sweet said the anti-litigation funding was agreed upon because otherwise Dugger would have been able to file a lawsuit, which could have caused significant embarrassment for the five who voted for the resignation.

According to Franklin, the board will send a request for proposals to three or four headhunting firms around the country to select which will seek out potential candidates for the general manager position - a process he estimates could take between three and five months to complete.

At a meeting Thursday, the board selected former BART General Counsel Sherwood Wakeman as its interim general manager, a position that Wakeman will hold starting April 23 at a salary of $160 per hour until the board can hire a permanent manager.

Dugger worked for the transportation company for almost 19 years and began her stint as BART's first female general manager in 2007.


Contact Sarah Burns at [email protected]

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