A big kudos to start today's Fishwrap to Samiha Khanna at the Independent Weekly for scooping up the details on the departure/severance package for retiring DCVB head Reyn Bowman.
There's $275,000 (in addition to State retirement benefits) due Bowman from public funds stemming back to a contract negotiated with his board in 1991, two years after his Bull City arrival, and modified in 2004; the initial 1991 package -- providing a month's salary for every year worked, payable when Bowman was terminated or even if he left voluntarily -- stemmed from strong DCVB board support for his leadership and a fear he'd be recruited away to another city.
The Indy's due credit for covering this story in an exceptionally balanced manner, laying out the obvious PR/appearances questions (of how such a severance appears during tough economic times, while documenting Bowman's offer to give back some of his severance and to defer payment over several years to reduce budgetary impact) while also correctly noting that this was part of a long-standing contractual relationship that past board members said was in line with what others in this industry earn.
Personally, I'm not going to fault Bowman for negotiating the best deal he could from a board. Yet the real question raised by the Indy's article is one that seems appropriate for thinking through these deals going forward: incentive and severance packages may be an industry norm, but should future such packages cover the scenario of retirements and voluntary separations in addition to terminations? (Bowman's successor, Shelly Green, has a similar deal -- but only covering involuntary separation.)
That the Indy could get to the heart of this questions while presenting both sides of a thorny issue, and while acknowledging Bowman's long and successful service to the community, is first-rate local reporting. And it shows again how nice an addition ex-N&O Durham reporter Khanna is to the Indy. (Indy Week #1, #2)
In other news:
Scientific, Laettner/Davis Together on Chesterfield: The Herald-Sun today tackles the news of the Chesterfield's travails at West Village, where the building anchoring "Phase 3" of the redevelopment project has found its way into lender hands in lieu of foreclosure. We noted here last week the rumor that West Village developer Brian Davis and Scientific Properties were both reported to be engaged in the bidding; the H-S' Monica Chen uncovers that Scientific, Davis, and West Village partner Christian Laettner have teamed up on a bid to buy and redevelop the site. (Herald-Sun)
Council Stands By Rolling Hills: City Council members rolled their collective eyeballs at the arguments made by former failed site developers Larry and Denise Hester at Tuesday's Planning Commission against a blight declaration for Rolling Hills, with Mayor Bell and other elected officials concerned that a number of PC appointees -- including, the H-S notes, largely those from county-appointed suburban districts -- seemed swayed by concerns over redevelopment and neighborhood involvement that they considered unfounded. One challenge: not enough of the project principals or City legal staff there to speak up on behalf of the project and to answer PC members' questions. (Herald-Sun)
Real Estate Woes To Recover Slowly: Attendees of a key Triangle commercial real estate conference got mixed use yesterday; the N&O reports that multifamily residential should do well in the new year, especially on the lower-priced end, and that single-family residential should see some continued strength on the low end of the market due to tax credits and buyer programs -- but office/industrial, retail and high-end housing doldrums will extend out into 2011 or 2012. (N&O)
County Crime Down a Bit: Crime rates in Durham County outside city limits fell by 1% in total during 2008, though burglaries saw a 32% rise. (Herald-Sun)