A draft amendment to Davenport City Administrator Craig Malin's contract that includes changes in his severance package worth as much as $241,000 was informally discussed by aldermen but won't face official action.
Aldermen and Mayor Bill Gluba said Monday that the timing was not right for any change in the contract. Malin, meanwhile, criticized the memo about the amendment written by City Attorney Tom Warner. Malin's contract was renewed with several changes in April 2012.
Under the draft amendment, the city administrator would get six months salary as severance in a single payment and also receive one week's salary for every full year of service and payment for unused leave if separation occurs. Under his current agreement, Malin's severance would be 10 months, or about $153,714.
Warner's memo to aldermen and Gluba, states the amendment starting in 2014 reduces the scope of what termination would provide for no severance payment. It gives three estimated severance amounts based on different scenarios. The highest estimate Warner gives is $241,236, followed by $179,136 or $85,985, based on particulars of the situation.
Gluba said the contract amendment came out of discussions with Malin on a potential succession plan following the departure of assistant administrator Tanisha Briley. The mayor noted Malin said he likely would stay until 2015 when his son graduates high school before seriously seeking another position. Malin was announced last week as a finalist for the city manager position in Ankeny, Iowa.
"We haven't agreed with anything, but we want to be ahead of the curve," Gluba said. "I don't think there is any interest among the city council to open up his contract at this time. No one wants to get rid of Craig Malin."
Alderman Ray Ambrose, 4th Ward, said there were early discussions on succession and not everyone on the council was involved in them. Ambrose was among those on the panel that recommended hiring Malin, and he continues to speak positively about the city administrator.
"I don’t think it was ill-timed. We were talking about trying to plan a smooth transition from when Craig pulls out," Ambrose said. "With Tanisha getting her job, I think a lot of us thought she would be the heir apparent.
"We're trying to be proactive and figure out what is in the future for the city of Davenport and in the future for Craig," he said. "I was on the hiring committee that hired Craig when he was a young driven city administrator. From then until now, I’d put his abilities against any city administrator in the country right now."
Malin hadn't seen the memo until he was provided a copy by the Quad-City Times.
"Our legal department has been wrong on my contract before," he said. "In this case they are wrong again. I think the premise is all wrong."
In an email to the mayor and aldermen on Monday, Malin wrote the draft amendment was intended to improve deficiencies in his 2009 contract "and provide some guarantee of severance in the future that would not increase any City payout, by tying severance to unused sick leave and/or a longevity basis. That was the intent, which Tom could have clarified with a conversation, rather than a memo that would assuredly be leaked."
Aldermen on Monday didn't seem interested in opening up a contract that was last negotiated a year ago.
"I think Craig certainly has every right to ask council to look at his contract," Alderman Jason Gordon, at large, said. "We have the option to say we could revisit it if the time is right. Right now, if you polled the council the majority would say the time is not right."
Several aldermen agreed with Gordon's sentiment.
"It is not the right time," Alderman Mike Matson, 8th Ward, said. "He has a contract. We can discuss it toward the end of this current contract, but not now."
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Alderman Barney Barnhill, 7th Ward, called the proposed amendment a "bad, bad idea."
"He has an excellent contract," Barnhill said. "I am totally opposed to any change in the contract."
Two aldermen were angered that the memo was leaked. Don Decker, who serves on the Riverboat Development Authority board and has been critical of Malin and the city when it was trying to purchase the Rhythm City casino, obtained the memo and forwarded it to several people, including two media outlets. He declined to identify who sent it to him. During contract negotiations, the city attorney usually includes staff attorneys and the finance director on such memos that go to the city council.
Alderman Bill Edmond, 2nd Ward, called Decker a "provocateur, and an agitator who needs to keep his nose out of the Davenport City Hall," while Alderwoman Sheilia Burrage, 5th Ward, called it sabotage as the council heads toward election.
"I’m just hoping this council can start getting it together," Burrage said. "It is unprofessional to sabotage your organization.
"I wish whoever it was would remove themselves," she said.
"If it is going to be a firefight, then it is just going to be another firefight. I guess Nov. 5 will tell the story."