Former BART lawyer takes over as general manager 

A sharply divided BART board finalized the severance package of outgoing General Manager Dorothy Dugger on Thursday and announced a temporary replacement who will earn $160 an hour.

Sherwood Wakeman, a former BART legal counsel, will take over as interim general manager April 23. Wakeman, who has twice served as interim BART general manager before, will earn $160 an hour.

Because he retired under California’s public pension plan, Wakeman cannot exceed 960 hours of work in one fiscal year, a duration of roughly six months. If BART still has not found a full-time replacement by the end of this fiscal year (June 30), Wakeman will be eligible for 960 more hours of pay, starting July 1. If Wakeman uses all 960 hours before the end of this fiscal year, he’ll earn $153,600. He can earn that same total next fiscal year as well.

BART Director Lynette Sweet opposed Wakeman’s selection, saying an internal hire would be more cost effective and better for agency morale.

Transit Agency spokesman Linton Johnson said BART has yet to hire a search firm to lead the process of selecting a replacement for Dugger. He did not have a ­timetable for how long the search would take.

The agency agreed to pay $985,000 for Dugger to leave. Her departure has been inevitable since the board voted 5-4 in February to make her resign — an action later rescinded due to violations of California’s public meeting laws.

Gail Murray, one of four directors who wanted Dugger to stay, spoke at length at the agency’s board meeting on Thursday about her displeasure with the process.

“I completely disagree with what the board has done. By any objective standard, she has excelled,” Murray said. “I don’t think through this action today that the board is likely to find someone who is $1 million better than Dorothy.”

Despite presiding over an agency that has a budget surplus expected to be $28 million for the upcoming fiscal year, Dugger fell out of favor with the nine-person BART board. On Thursday, when the five-member bloc opposed to Dugger had a chance to offer insight on their motivations, they were notably silent.

Only President Bob Franklin offered remarks, but they were to praise Dugger for handling the situation with poise.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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Will Reisman

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