Delaware Wilmington

Mayor Purzycki Creates a Job for ex-WFD Chief Goode

While this has been in the rumor mill for awhile, I choose not to believe it.  After all, Mayor Mike Purzycki campaigned on serious change in the city and a change of culture as well.  I was certain that he would make the tough, but needed choice.

But according to the NJ, I was wrong to expect better.  Mayor Purzycki decided to do what other custodians of the 9th floor have done all too often — bought into the culture of the building rather than take steps to change that culture.  So former WFD Chief Anthony Goode gets to sit at a desk — collecting a check — running out a 5 month clock until he gets to officially retire with the full pension that 20 year service gets him.

This is hugely disappointing.  Chief Goode has had some of his escapades documented by the NJ.  And there are more, but suffice to say that the Chief was a fairly toxic presence within the department as Chief.  Instead of letting the Chief move on to his next act, City of Wilmington taxpayers are now liable for this make work job for Goode just so that he can collect his pension after 20 years.  Instead of sending the message through the entire building that you get to stick around for your 20 year pension if you are providing enough value to Wilmington taxpayers to actually earn that, the message is pretty much Business As Usual.  Where whatever is needed to make sure you get to your pension check, you can count on everyone at French St to collaborate in getting you over the 20 year line.  Value to Wilmington taxpayers doesn’t matter, fairness to other employees focused on doing the right thing doesn’t matter, delivering some cultural change to the City of Wilmington doesn’t matter as long as there is a 20 year pension check within reach.  Most of us were hoping that Mayor Purzycki would be a catalyst for orienting French St towards their customers, we find the Mayor prioritizing the saving the pension game.

Make no mistake, though, Mayor Purzycki cannot take Goode’s pension away from him and I am not advocating that.  If Goode doesn’t get his 20 years in, he can collect his city pension when he is 65 (or so).  In the meantime, he can certainly find other work — we are talking about a retired Fire Chief here — while the WFD no longer has to accommodate him.  As it is now, Goode is not at a station (where firefighters are badly needed), he is no longer in management, but he is sitting at a desk and collecting a check.

People in Wilmington voted specifically to change this kind of thing happening on French St.  With this decision, I guess we know it won’t.

14 comments on “Mayor Purzycki Creates a Job for ex-WFD Chief Goode

  1. I don’t understand why he would do this? Is there an upside to this for Purzycki that I’m not seeing?

  2. So disappointed

  3. Is it the case that Goode would have some sort of lawsuit against the city if he was let go? Perhaps there was a literal calculation of how many hours of lawyering they could save if they just paid him to play Solitaire. It sucks, but it might be a fiscally sound decision.

  4. Not a good start at all.

  5. Lash Larue

    Goode is a dirtbag that hid behind a badge. Thank God he wasn’t a Police Officer, although for a short time he though he was, showing up to crime scenes and carrying a pistol. Total asshat. He is not deserving of this mercy from the new administration. He didn’t do the same for FFs when he was appointed.

  6. He’s not going to sit at a desk. He’ll sit his fat ass at home.

  7. I think the upside here is that it prevents a lawsuit, which would have been a likely outcome if Goode was fired within months of being pension eligible. Goode would have had every incentive to seek a legal remedy to get that pension, and even a bogus race/age/etc. discrimination claim would have been protracted and costly to the city. With this he’s signed away his right to bring these claims. (As a side note, the agreement published by the News Journal doesn’t comply with the Older Worker Benefit Protection Act and is therefore likely not enforceable, but even so Goode’s incentive to sue has been drastically reduced).

    With this solution, most of the cost is thrown onto the state (assuming Goode is on the state firefighter’s pension plan and not one of the old Wilmington plans). The only cost to the city is the salary for 10 months.

    The merits of this move can be debated but it is not self-evidently the wrong choice in my view.

    • Thanks for that viewpoint, Dan. I hadn’t looked at it that way.

      I still don’t like it. 🙂

    • cassandram

      I’ve heard this lawsuit avoidance thing. And certainly he signs away his right to legal action, which is good. But it does look like the FF union is going to lawyer up, so what got avoided? And if the FF union was smart, they’d work to figure out which of their own members have good grounds to sue the City over stuff Goode was responsible for and support those lawsuits.

      • Not sure what the union’s claim would be unless this move somehow violated the collective bargaining agreement. You’d hope someone looked into that, although I don’t assume these things anymore. I think there are a lot of reasons to criticize this, but my sense is that it is not a matter of Purzycki expending tremendous political capital right out of the gate in order to give Goode a sweetheart deal solely for Goode’s sake (although that may have influenced the thinking–someone without an intimate knowledge of Goode’s recent past may see letting a firefighter go within months of his pension accruing as somewhat of a raw deal). The Mayor probably also figures he can assuage the union down the road with some other concessions.

        • cassandram

          Thanks Dan. I think that the union may have some claim in hiring Goode outside of the usual process. And if they don’t, they do have members who may have some claim regarding Goode’s personal behavior towards them as Chief. I’m just stunned that the opportunity to clearly stake out a change agenda has been blown right through here. Because while I expect that Goode would have sued the City, I think they just bought some other law suits. But eve more than that, this is pretty much what we would expect from every other recent Mayor. Not exactly the change anyone was looking for, I’m thinking.

  8. Not surprised at all, the last paycheck Wilmington’s government hands out will be to either a “ghost employee” or a make work political job like this. As noted this may be a lawsuit preventative, or just business as usual.

  9. Not a gainful way,to start a “new day”,in the cess pool.wilmington has a long history,of quid pro quo! I guess we all were “hoping”,this new guy meant business,not “business as usual”. The residents,businesses etc,are all suffering,to pay the freight,for “all in the family”,back room deals.
    I cancelled my meeting,with new mayor,after hearing this episode.

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