Ex-official To Get 6 Months' Pay

Brown Is Still Silent On Why Trio Resigned

April 12, 1992|By Brian Sullam | Brian Sullam,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — Even though former Public Works Director William S. Mowell resigned from city service in March, he will receive another six months of salary, said Mayor W. Benjamin Brown.

Brown said Mowell will be receiving the pay as part of a separation agreement reached with the city.

Mowell, along with Jonathan Frenzel, the former deputy Public Works director, and Kevin Bode, a planning supervisor, resigned from city employment without explanation.

On Thursday, Brown held a press conference to berate the news media for "tearing down the reputation of the mayor and City Council of Westminster" and to complain that state law prevents him from disclosing any more information about the resignations.

"I want the public to understand that nothing is being hidden," he said. "There has been no breach of public trust . . . in the situation that led to the resignations."

While acknowledgingthat Mowell is still being paid, Brown said that the other two city workers are not.

"They were good employees and did terrific work,"he said of the three who resigned.

Brown said because of state law -- which says personnel matters must remain confidential -- he could not discuss the incident.

To bolster his contention, Brown released a letter written by City Attorney John B. Walsh Jr. which said, "(It) is my opinion that neither the mayor, nor council members is authorized to discuss this matter beyond acknowledging the resignation of those employees."

Asked if he fired the three, Brown said, "Their resignations were handed to me, and I accepted them."

Brown saidthat if he or other city officials discussed reasons for the resignations, he could subject himself or the city to a possible lawsuit.

He would not say whether the city signed a confidentiality agreementwith the employees.

"I have no right to open personnel folders toyou," Brown said to five reporters at the press conference.

Brownalso reiterated that no laws were broken.

"If there were, there would have been a public record," he said.

Brown said he did not understand the furor that erupted over the resignations. He also said that no members of the public have called him about the resignations even though there have been what he termed "inflammatory" newspaper editorials written on the subject.

The mayor said he did not appreciate some of the comments in the editorials, adding, "There is not much in this job other than our reputations," and "it is unfair to tear my reputation down."

He warned that unfair attacks on public officials will discourage people from taking public office.

"It certainly isn't because of the money," Brown said. "I have never said 'No comment' before. I have never begged off questions from the press."

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