Controversy surrounds departure of BART's GM

BART general manager Dorothy Dugger resigns

April 14, 2011 7:53:11 PM PDT
The departure of BART's general manager, Dorothy Dugger, is shrouded in mystery as she leaves with nearly $1 million payday. The BART board already picked a temporary replacement. The payout is raising a lot of questions.

There has been a lot of talk behind the scenes about the reasons for Dugger's ouster. Her critics say that she's a poor communicator and that she doesn't follow direction well, but as for those official reasons, no one is talking.

It's not just some BART riders criticizing the million dollar golden parachute going to Dugger. The $600,000 in severance and $350,000 to avoid a future lawsuit comes straight out of the transit agency's operating budget. Some BART employees aren't happy either.

"They could have taken that money and used it for the ridership, used it to fix the system. Our members that were laid off were not paid off," said Antonette Bryant, president of the Amalgamated transit union.

During her final board of directors meeting Thursday, Dugger heard nothing but praise and thanks. That came from the same board that just a few months earlier voted to fire her -- a vote that was later rescinded because it violated public meeting laws.

"I want to thank her for her leadership on balancing the budget, on labor negotiations, on extensions," said BART board member Thomas Blalock.

"Dorothy Dugger is a talented woman worthy of my full support," said board member Gail Murray.

"It will be next to impossible to find a replacement that's worth a million dollars," said board member Joel Keller.

Even though the agency has a $28 million surplus, Dugger's resignation came as no surprise, but she remains tight lipped about her reasons for leaving.

"Clearly a majority of the board made a decision some months ago. The board and I have reached an agreement of resolution of those issues and I will be leaving BART and moving on to the next chapter," said Dugger.

There have been calls for her resignation since BART's widely criticized response to the 2009 Oscar Grant shooting. As the agency searches for a permanent replacement, retired BART lawyer Sherwood Wakeman will be the interim general manager.

"It's unfortunate that she was forced out of a job she did very well in," said board member Lynette Sweet.

Dugger's last day is April 22. The interim general manager is no stranger to BART. He was in retirement and brought out after being BART's general counsel and the interim manager twice before. However, his appointment comes with some controversy and it was not unanimous. At least one board member criticized it, saying it overlooks current BART managers who were already next in line -- BART managers who happen to be African-American.

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