Wednesday, April 6, 2011

They HAD a Secret

Larry Shaffer, Stephanie O'Keeffe, Aaron Hayden

I call her Jane Doe

While public documents czar Alan Cote denied my appeal for full disclosure of the 8/30/10 Select Board executive session minutes where town officials huddled in secret for over an hour to discuss the strikingly sudden "retirement" of town manager Laurence Shaffer (the very night the Board was scheduled to publicly discuss his annual "performance evaluation"), the town grudgingly complied with my request for Shaffer's "Employment Settlement and release of claims" agreement and that of his office administrative assistant who also, coincidentally enough, simultaneously disappeared.

So here's the executive summary, but I invite you to click on the hotlinks below to read the documents in full: Shaffer's platinum parachute, after only four years of "service" to the town, a whopping $62,129.

And Jane Doe, serving only three-and-a-half years (earning $43,900 last year) sauntered off with $23,012. In the private sector you would be lucky to get a couple weeks to a month pay as severance (and even then only after a ten year minimum service), or in her case about $3,000 and Shaffer's case maybe $10,000.

“I’ve never heard of anybody, public sector or private sector, getting severance pay when they voluntarily leave employment,” said John Tillman, CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute. Interestingly the legal agreements dubbed Jane Doe a "resignation," Mr. Shaffer a "retirement."

"In a week's time I'll be 62 years old and indeed I have been thinking about retirement," Shaffer told the Select Board back then (with two years still left on his contract). That final spring in Amherst Mr Shaffer retired a few things: divorcing his wife and selling his home on Amity Street.

But merely a month after his October 1 "retirement" he was seeking a city manager job in Michigan. According to the 12/10/10 Birmingham Patch: "Because Shaffer's significant other teaches at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, commissioners asked him about whether he plans to commute. Shaffer assured them that he's fully open to making Birmingham his permanent home if he is offered the position and that he's here to stay."

That "significant other" is former UMass psychology professor Jane Ashby who, five years ago, sat on the original Amherst "citizen search committee" that chose Shaffer over two other highly qualified candidates; she too divorced her spouse in Amherst last spring and headed off to Central Michigan University, a state school that made CBS Money Watch list of "25 Colleges With the Worst Professors."

The whereabouts of Shaffer's former administrative assistant is currently unknown.

Jane Doe's agreement
Click links above and below to read
Larry Shaffer's agreement

official minutes of 80 minute 8 /30 executive session (all two sentences, where one of them was redacted)

36 comments:

Roach Patrol said...

Larry, you mentioned 13 individuals.

We need to see the other 11... such as the bus driver who killed that kid and the "mechanic" who each got paid around 15 grand to leave...


Show them all Larry...

Anonymous said...

The school bus incident was an accident. How on earth could the driver see a 2 year old running towards the bus. Shameful that you brought that up. I'm sure the bus driver suffers over that incident every waking moment. Yes, you are a roach.

Brian W. Ogilvie said...

On a side note: that "25 Colleges with the Worst Professors" web page references a "study" whose only data source was RateMyProfessors.com. Given that my own RateMyProfessors.com rating includes a comment from a course I never taught in a semester when I was on leave, and the moderators did not respond to my request to correct the record, I would take anything there with a large grain of salt.

Even if the ratings were completely accurate, I have 24 ratings on RateMyProfessors.com. In my 14 years at UMass, I have taught over 1000 students. Somehow, a 0.24% response rate doesn't suggest a reliable sample.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, kind of like the voter turnout in our recent election.

TCC said...

Shaffer wasn't offered the job, according to this Birmingham, MI announcement about the new city manager: http://www.ci.birmingham.mi.us/index.aspx?page=10&recordid=2702&returnURL=%2findex.aspx%3fpage%3d730

Brian Ogilvie: I live in Michigan, and Central is a mediocre institution.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Ashby's sudden emergence in the Plum Brook/Potwine hoo-hah as the darling of the Awad Party and then her just as sudden disappearance always was wierd. But, for a brief period, she was being promoted for everything by the BANANA crowd. (You can remind us of what the letters stand for, Larry.)

And, where did the aforementioned political flame-out exercise? Oh, the mind does wander during those endless repetitions.....into thoughts of..........Town Managers?

disillusioned said...

so shaffer bounces from town to town stealing taxpayers money. same guy who stonewalled me getting my 7 grand.... which I actually did work for.

so Larry, a prick who scared people out of town positions, has affairs, gets divorced, screws the boyscouts, lies about retiring, etc.... how does someone like that waltz away with 62 grand? sounds like he had someone over a barrel and extorted the agreement. my tax dollars paid his salary when I was a resident, and I demand a full investigation. and Larry, who could be held accountable for this when there are 2 sentences documenting 80 minutes of discussion? this smells worse than Barry roberts' shitpiles.

Bach

LarryK4 said...

BANANA: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody. Just watch what is happening with the Solar project at the old landfill.

Yeah, at one point Select Man Rob Kusner threw a hissyfit because the Select Board was balking at appointing Jane Ashby to a 3rd committee (town protocol calls for no more than two committee appointments per person).

She ended up getting the appointment.

Anonymous said...

Between Anne the Select Board chair discovering Robie the Select Board member, and then making it their little secret, and now this with LarryS, all those meetings with people staring at each other...talking about protecting wetlands.....who knew that Town Government was such a passion pit?

No wonder the meetings ran long.

Mike said...

Once again we can thank Gerry Weiss for bring wonderful Mr. Shaffer to town....

Anonymous said...

Other than the resolve of some never to let it happen again, is there anything good that came out of the almost-nine-year (she quit early) Awad era, involving the misadventures of Anne and Her Friends?

Now that Town Meeting has turned into a marriage retreat, we now know definitively why we voted to preserve this system of government, that brings so many people together under the bright, hot lights, for another several decades.

It's the romance.

LarryK4 said...

Nothing good I can think of.

Only makes me happier I took her out (metaphorically speaking of course.)

Anonymous said...

"The school bus incident was an accident. How on earth could the driver see a 2 year old running towards the bus. Shameful that you brought that up. I'm sure the bus driver suffers over that incident every waking moment. Yes, you are a roach."


Oh, Bob's not suffering. Trust me. He was asking to drive the day he came back to work. This is a monster we're talking about, fool.

Anonymous said...

Larry, it gets better - and I am waiting for Maria G to get dragged into this because Ashby was/is a SPED researcher. In particular, apparently still a PI in an EEG study involving brain waves and reading http://www.psych.umass.edu/eeglab/ongoing_research/
which is related to children
http://www.psych.umass.edu/eeglab/publications_and_presentations/

Jane Ashby, "The nature of phonological representation in reading: Evidence from eye movements and event-related potentials" (January 1, 2006). Electronic Doctoral Dissertations for UMass Amherst. Paper AAI3215898.
http://scholarworks.umass.edu/dissertations/AAI3215898

Anonymous said...

Call it a hunch, but the word "remains interested" implies that she was doing it while here at UMass...

"She remains interested in applying this basic research to improve reading instruction in the primary grades and continues to consult with educators and parents interested in preventing early reading failure."

http://www.cmich.edu/chsbs/x18383.xml

LarryK4 said...

How many layers does this onion have?

Anonymous said...

Well Brian, I am inclined - when in doubt - to see what FIRE has to say about a college and Central Michigan very much is on their radar. http://thefire.org/spotlight/schools/785

Seems that in October of 2001, "students were ordered by university administrators to remove patriotic posters and the American flag from their dormitory. The students were told that these items were “offensive.”"

Now where have we heard that before?!?!?

Anonymous said...

Well, if you want to peel the onion, I would look into the NIH grant that Ashby is the PI (Primary Investigator) of -- and see what other names show up on the NIH grantee paperwork that she has to file.

Who has been paid out of it -- I genuinely don't know and politically can not inquire, but it would be interesting.

And the other question is how UM can have her as the PI of a grant if she is no longer a UM employee...

http://grants.nih.gov/grants/managing_awards.htm

Larry, this could well be serious journalism on the level of what Matt Drudge did with Clinton.

Roach Patrol said...

Come on Larry. Show them.



This is justice.





15 grand ?!!?



ARE YOU KIDDING ME??????????????

Anonymous said...

..... And George Bush pushed the detonator switch to bring the towers down. Or was that Ms. Awad too? You folks really are having to dig deep for anything juicy to talk about these days aren't you? Another sign that town government is chugging along nicely. (Thanks in no part to all those married town meeting members, I'm sure.)

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, hush money will do that. Too bad it's taxpayer money.

Anonymous said...

We don't have to dig deep: we had a horndog Town Manager that we had to pay extra to get rid of, and a dysfunctional system of government that's ready to deal with all the problems of the 19th century. No need to bring the Towers into it.

The dysfunctional part will be on display once again this spring.

LarryK4 said...

What do you wanna bet they spend hours talking about backyard chicken coops?

Anonymous said...

Excuse me, there's more. We had to pay extra to get rid of THIS Town Manager so we could get the qualified, experienced Town Manager that we could have had originally, but we didn't because Anne and Her Friends perceived John as being Barry DelCastilho's guy and since they detested him, he was out. So we had to pay the equivalent of at least one teacher's salary to be rid of LarryS,so he could have his middle age crisis chasing his dream through Michigan.

Unless you have the memory of a fruit fly, this is not digging deep.

LarryK4 said...

And the price of a Library Assistant or Parking Enforcement officer to pay off his administrative assistant.

Anonymous said...

So just how much taxpayer money have we spent in recent years just to be rid of certain employees?

And how does that compare with similar expenditures in other towns and cities?

Just asking.

Anonymous said...

I hope you're keeping track of all these expense figures, Larry. They need to be publicized widely whenever the next override comes up for a vote.

LarryK4 said...

Couple hundred grand just in the past five years.

This public documents request cost me $54 so to compare us Amherst all the other 350+ municipalities in Massachusetts (and since I"m sure they ALL sweep this kind of things under the rug so it would require a Public Documents request to get the records)would get a tad expensive.

Interestingly enough the only question asked of me by the Gazette reporter was along that line:

Hey Larry -

Interesting commentary related to your public records request. Jane Doe certainly did well for herself. As a community watchdog, do you have
concerns about her severance package, or is that standard operating procedure for a community like Amherst?

If you do have concerns, could you
elaborate. Thanks!

Scott

Hey Scott,

I had great concerns precisely because I do not wish for Amherst to become a community where severance packages like these (hers and Shaffer's) become "standard operating procedure." And the more people who know about these backroom deals, the less likely they are to happen again. Sunlight is the ultimate antiseptic.

The Select Board used a lot of taxpayer money (in tight financial times) to sweep a problem under the rug. The people have a right to know. And that of course, is our job.
Larry

Anonymous said...

Why is this a surprise or a secret? If Shaffer had not been paid off, he wouldn't have announced his sudden "retirement" on the day of his performance review and then immediately been in the running for other jobs? Wasn't a payoff obvious?

Thank you Larry for going beyond to pursue the public records case and actually proving it.

Anonymous said...

So speaking of the town manager's office, John Musante seems like a good guy, however, there is one thing that has been bothering me about his compensation package ever since he started as town manager. His compensation package included the town paying for his participation in a program at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. The cost of this perk was never revealed publicly, at least not that I found. From the language in the articles I read, it wasn't clear if this program was a degree program, a one-day course, or something in-between. Regardless, even short seminar series at the Harvard KSG can run into the thousands of dollars. Tax payers deserve to know what funding Mr. Musante's further education is costing them.

Anonymous said...

"And the price of a Library Assistant or Parking Enforcement officer to pay off his administrative assistant." THANK YOU for the perspective!!

What was the cost of the three extra personal days given to the professional staff for Shaffer's last hurrah?

Larry, where's your public records fees bucket? I'll chip in a buck.

You do know that sunlight kills most molds, right?

Anonymous said...

We've made some expensive mistakes in recent years.

Anonymous said...

I gotta wonder if there was a MCAD sexual harassment complaint involved? If this was the quiet settlement of that -- and I do believe that MCAD complaint filings are public info -- we at least knew about the Price family's filing against the SHSD....

Why would an administrative assistant vanish off the face of the earth? And with the extended unemployment, is she still collecting it -- remember that the town gets billed for that, too....

(Seriously, an employer has to pay part of the unemployment or gets charged a higher rate or something -- it costs the employer.)

Anonymous said...

Apart from the rhetoric about why Shaffer left,

(which is usually negotiated, and customary so as give the former employee a clean slate in order to help them land employment elsewhere,)

it is common in the private sector to offer a former employee whose position is downsized 2 weeks pay, plus 2 weeks for each year served, plus a promise not to challenge their unemployment insurance claim, in return for a liability release (aka cannot sue got damages.) .

So in Shaffer's case, 10 weeks pay would be a market rate for golden parachute.

Now, that is private sector but public would be roughly similar.

Was he dating a subordinate? If not the marital situation likely had no bearing on his job loss.

It looks as through the Select Board wanted him to go. Too bad we can't learn the main drivers of their decision, which seems relevant to the public in a democracy.

Great bit of journalism research Larry, and fairly written as well.

Anonymous said...

Well it seems that Amherst and Charlie Sheen do have something in common after all.

Anonymous said...

Stephanie must cringe every time she sees that photo.