Duck’s expensive departure warrants details from board

After pocketing $50,000 in sala- ry for not working since Sept. 19, 2013, Larry A. Duck is now gone from his position as superintendent at the Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities — but not before receiving a severance package worth $111,317. The severance includes six months of pay, liquidation of sick leave and personal days owed him, and six months of paid health insurance.

Why the kid-glove treatment for a man who seemingly committed an act so egregious that the board decided to place him on paid administrative leave “pending the results of an Ohio Ethics Commission investigation” and other personnel matters?

Neither the MCBDD members nor the board’s lawyer, Christopher Sammarone, will provide answers that are unambiguous and responsive to the myriad questions surrounding the superintendent’s departure.

Sammarone would only say that the lengthy investigation centered on Duck, who was hired as superintendent March 1, 2001, and was paid $120,636 a year, “potentially divulging” confidential information during a board meeting. What confidential information? Sammarone won’t say. As if to reassure a skeptical public, the lawyer for the board contended that Duck’s behavior did not involve any clients or staff.

So, after all the time away from work — for which he was paid — what do we know about the superintendent’s “potentially divulging” confidential information that led to his departure?

Not much.

Indeed, here’s a kick in the behind for any taxpayer whose suspicions about what has transpired over the past six months have only been heightened by all the secrecy: A resolution passed by the board Monday after a 50-minute closed-door session thanked Duck “for his loyal services to the board” ... and wished him “well in his future endeavors.”

More than $160,000 in compensation for nonperformance of duties evidentally was not enough of a farewell.

But if you think the former superintendent is embarrassed by what has transpired, think again.

After Monday’s meeting, which he did not attend, he told The Vindicator in an interview that he’s “proud of the job I did. The place is in good shape financially and programwise.”

As for the investigation, Duck had this surprising revelation: “The ethics thing is troubling because the board never said what happened. However, I know I didn’t do anything wrong, so I’m comfortable.”

We’re glad Duck is comfortable, but the taxpayers of Mahoning County and the county commissioners shouldn’t be.

Silver lining

If there is a silver lining in this dark cloud of a farce, it’s that Duck has to leave behind the county car that he used for business and personal travel. He had the six-passenger 2013 Dodge van in his possession while he was away from work since last September.

In the midst of all the intrigue surrounding Duck’s nonworking employment, there is a reality that the county commisioners, who appoint five of the seven board members, must face: The public’s confidence in the Board of Developmental Disabilities has been shaken.

And given that two local real-estate levies and state funding account for the $27 million annual budget, full disclosure of the details surrounding the former superintendent’s performance in office is demanded.

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