Boston Herald – On his way out the door, former Mayor Thomas M. Menino stuck taxpayers with a tab of more than a quarter-million dollars for vacation and sick time payouts to his inner circle, including nearly $50,000 to his top aide Michael Kineavy, according to payroll data obtained by the Herald.
At least 10 of Menino’s longtime Cabinet members, commissioners and advisers cashed in on the maximum two weeks of unused vacation time from last year, plus as many as six weeks of new vacation time they accrued as of Jan. 1 — just days before most of them left as Mayor Martin J. Walsh took office.
In addition, four of Menino’s top brass who had 20 years of city service scored hefty payments for unused sick time, with former public works deputy commissioner Elmo Baldassari raking in $25,645, Kineavy $22,305, and former Transportation Commissioner Thomas J. Tinlin $10,843.
Total payouts to former top officials include:
• Kineavy: $47,580;
• Baldassari: $37,613;
• Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis: $26,987;
• Tinlin: $24,311;
• Chief of Staff Mitchell Weiss: $20,684;
• Fire Commissioner Roderick J. Fraser Jr.: $20,100;
• Corporation Counsel William F. Sinnott: $18,749;
• Press Secretary Dot Joyce: $18,544; and
• Mayoral aide Howard Leibowitz: $18,544.
All told, those payouts totaled $233,115, the data shows.
The goodbye checks raised the eyebrows of former City Hall watchdog Joseph Slavet, who said they were unprecedented.
“Historically, I have never heard of an administration leaving and there being any kind of buyouts. I’ve been around (Boston city politics) 50 years and I’ve never seen that,” said Slavet, former head of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau.
“And didn’t Kineavy get a big fat job?” he added, referring to a Herald report yesterday that Menino’s right-hand man was hired by South Boston restaurateur and developer Jon Cronin.
Slavet also questioned how closely the city keeps track of vacation days and why Meredith Weenick, the city’s chief financial officer under Menino and Walsh, would approve the payouts given the city’s fiscal constraints.
“Here we are going into a $50 million deficit,” he said, “and we have buyouts?”
Weenick defended the payments, saying nonunionized city workers are entitled to them under federal labor law. She added that vacation days at most city departments are recorded by employees signing in and out of log books, a de facto honor system.
“Just like any other employer, we are required to pay people for the vacation time that they have earned. At the beginning of each calendar year, all employees are awarded the vacation time that they earned for their service in the previous calendar year,” Weenick said.
Joyce said the Menino administration “was very careful” about following the law. “There was no special compensation,” she said. “It was what people were owed based on human resources rules. … There was nothing special done for anyone.”
Matt Cahill, executive director of the Boston Finance Commission, a city watchdog agency, said the Menino administration didn’t break any rules, but it didn’t do Walsh any favors, either.
“It’s definitely a huge payout,” Cahill said. “It’s not going to help Mayor Walsh get the budget back in line.”