Richmond Times-Dispatch - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

Richmond does not re­sem­ble Peters­burg. Al­though it con­fronts fi­nan­cial stress, it does not stand at the precipice. For­mer Richmond of­fi­cials have signed up to help Peters­burg right it­self. There is lit­tle in­di­ca­tion that Richmond is re­cruit­ing in its sis­ter city to the south. In one of his depart­ing ges­tures, for­mer Mayor Dwight Jones left new Mayor Le­var Stoney with a sym­bolic ticket that listed Peters­burg as its des­ti­na­tion.

Jones awarded gen­er­ous sev­er­ance pack­ages to four se­nior ap­pointees. The $166,000 to­tal will come out of city funds; ac­cord­ing to Ned Oliver’s news story, “Stoney said the pay­ments, which will come out of his of­fice’s bud­get for the re­main­ing six months of the fis­cal year, have ham­pered his abil­ity to hire staff in the near term.” The mayor’s of­fice says it lacks the stand­ing to stop them. “Our hands are tied,” spokesman Jim Nolan says.

For­mer Mayor Dou­glas Wilder does not like the sit­u­a­tion. His aides did not re­ceive sev­er­ance. “Hell no,” Oliver’s story re­ported Wilder as say­ing. “Be­cause they were not sev­ered. When did we be­come so rich as a city that we could just throw money away pub­licly?”

Wilder asks a good ques­tion. And he called on Stoney and the City Coun­cil to en­sure that the ex­trav­a­gance does not set a prece­dent.

Sev­er­ance does not ap­ply to govern­ment ser­vice. Em­ploy­ees who serve in po­lit­i­cal po­si­tions know their jobs end when their chief’s term closes. Per­ma­nent em­ploy­ees hired un­der civil ser­vice might qual­ify for sev­er­ance but that’s a dif­fer­ent story and needs fur­ther re­view. Sev­er­ance in the public sec­tor mim­ics one of the least rep­utable prac­tices in the pri­vate. Golden para­chutes have no place in govern­ment or busi­ness. The Wall Street Jour­nal’s de­fense of cor­po­rate perks in­vite scorn. They flour­ish among cap­i­tal­ism’s im­per­fec­tions. The public realm need not adopt them.

Wilder is right. Stoney ought to take his ad­vice.

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