Asheville City Council split over Hooper resignation agreement

Asheville Police Department Chief Tammy Hooper
DIVIDED ON THE SPLIT: City Council members did not unanimously approve the amount of compensation included as part of Asheville Police Department Chief Tammy Hooper's resignation agreement. Photo courtesy of the city of Asheville

As Asheville Police Department Chief Tammy Hooper prepares to leave her role with the city, she is also gearing up to receive a $118,000 lump-sum payment. That compensation, offered as consideration for accepting the terms of her Nov. 5 resignation agreement and providing up to 75 hours of consulting after her last day, represents nearly 70 percent of her annual salary — an amount not all City Council members approved.

According to interim City Manager Cathy Ball, Council held a closed session vote on the amount of Hooper’s compensation. Mayor Esther Manheimer, Vice Mayor Gwen Wisler, and Council members Keith Young, Sheneika Smith and Brian Haynes all voted in favor of the agreement, while Vijay Kapoor and Julie Mayfield voted in opposition.

Mayfield said the reason for her vote was simple: “I would not have accepted Tammy’s resignation.” Because Hooper reports directly to the city manager under Asheville’s charter, Council members have no formal authority over her employment status. Mayfield thus used the vote to express her disagreement with the chief’s departure.

“I know that there are lots of people who have expressed concerns, and I know that there have been certainly some troubling incidents during her tenure,” Mayfield commented. “But I think on the whole, she has done a tremendous amount to unite the department and to bring it forward. I am going to be sorry to see her go.”

Mayfield declined to comment on whether she regarded Hooper’s compensation as appropriate. “If you disagree with the underlying [decision], the rest of it doesn’t really matter,” she said. Kapoor, who also voted against the agreement, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Manheimer, who signed the agreement with Hooper, referred Xpress to the terms of the agreement regarding the basis for the compensation. Beyond her consulting services “to insure a smooth transition” after her departure, Hooper is being paid for remaining in her role after the firing of former City manager Gary Jackson, settling any disputes with the city and agreeing not to engage in legal action against elected officials or staff.

However, Manheimer did not provide further details about how Council decided the cost of those items or at what value each was assessed. The other four Council members who voted to approve the agreement did not respond to requests for comment.

Hooper’s last day with the city will be Wednesday, Jan. 2. Deputy Chief Wade Wood will serve as interim chief in her absence; city officials have not yet shared details of a planned national search for Hooper’s long-term replacement.

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About Daniel Walton
Daniel Walton is the Green Scene editor and city government beat reporter for Mountain Xpress. His work has previously appeared in Capital at Play, Edible Asheville, and the Citizen-Times, among other area publications. Follow me @DanielWWalton

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14 thoughts on “Asheville City Council split over Hooper resignation agreement

  1. don

    A departing lump-sum payment of $118,000 for 75 hours of consulting…… this is textbook institutional corruption by the ruling elites for the elites. Shame.

    • Lulz

      If you’re lucky enough to be a government crony, your life will be easy. If not, your life will be miserable. Life expectancy in the USA is falling. And it ain’t because some sap doesn’t get healthcare.

    • SpareChange

      Don’t approve of the practice of paying people extra to go away either. There is likely some combination of expediency (let’s just make it a reasonably quiet and low stress break), the desire to avoid a law suit (written into the terms), and a bit of guilt money (because she has probably done about as good a job as one could expect). In that context it could end up saving the city money.

      Let’s acknowledge, however, that this type of thing in the public sector emulates what is very common practice in the private sector, where multi-million dollar payouts and payoffs have become a common expectation even for failed, corrupt, or indicted corporate leaders. This is more of a gilded handkerchief than a golden parachute in comparison.

      • Lulz

        Right, because one extorts money forcefully via taxation and the other does what again?

        • SpareChange

          “…does what again?”
          Well, just to start with and in broad strokes, existing as phony artificial “people” (aka, corporations), claiming legal rights which should be reserved for actual people/citizens, while working to limit their financial and legal liability, while creating phony governing boards which are supposedly accountable to the owners/shareholders but who are primarily hand picked by and loyal to top management, who then vote themselves enormous salaries, benefits, severance packages, etc., while riding rough shod over or sidestepping most of the traditional norms, rules and laws governing real competitive markets. And that’s before you actually get into their internal and external “business practices.”

          • Lulz

            LOL and yet people that don’t pay taxes get to vote. And they don’t vote to lower them. They vote to steal more from those that do. Boy, that’s like a recipe for success right there. Celebrate “democracy” lulz. Too bad the country won’t survive it.

    • Lulz

      Well of course. Only in government do you have to go through 5 women to get one document. It’s nothing more than an employment agency for mainly women so they can be “equal”. It’s inefficient on purpose to create make up jobs. And then they complain that the wages aren’t enough. Well when you have multiple people doing the jobs that could be done by fewer on top of six figure payoffs for others, you start running out of money. But that’s OK, they just raise taxes claiming to “help” the poor.

      • SpareChange

        (Yawn) Does your script ever change? I know you are smarter and better than this, because every once in a great while there is some glimmer of more thoughtful discussion and analysis forthcoming from you. But to just chronically deal in the same, old, tired tropes, with the same cliched responses (LOL), is just beyond tedious. How about trying to actually engage and persuade people, or just put out a thoughtful, reasoned argument for a change? Yeah, the kinds of liberals you so obviously despise do need a poke in the eye every once in a while, but all you do is provide them with vindication and legitimacy. You do realize that you are enabling the very political tendencies you profess to abhor?

      • Robin

        Lulz, you’re nearly spot on with this analysis. As I’ve posted on here before; Gary Jackson inherited a staff of four (Asst. Mgr., City Clerk, Administrative Assistant, and Secretary; super easy to verify). Cathy Ball handed Ms. Cambell a staff of over 25, with over a million dollars of made up, or buzz worthy, jobs. When you’re throwing away that kind of money, $118,000 seems like chump change. I think one prominent national leader called it “crumbs”, and that’s probably how Mayor Manheim and Cathy Ball thought of it. It’s not like we paid her the $195,000 that they gave Gary Jackson.

  2. C-Law

    Hard to believe “progressive” Asheville City government had run off their first Afro-American and LGBBQ police chiefs in such quick order!?

    What’s the problem? Where is the “progress?” Did things only seem better when Bellamy was mayor?

  3. Jane

    Hooper’s silence was bought for all the crap she’s seen that they’re terrified she will tell. Nothing more nothing less. They’re all disgusting.

    • Lulz

      Then she’s doing a disservice to the taxpayers that are paying her. No worries, there are others out there that will eventually come forward.

      • Jane

        Her entire tenure was a disservice to the taxpayers. Like she cares as she counts her money. She’s the most put-upon public servant in history. I truly hope there is someone of conscience left willing to walk over the blue line, but you don’t last long over there if you speak out. The blue line is a huge barrier to truth and justice, not just here obviously. Read the fluff piece by the CT on Van Duncan’s “fierce” support for his employees. Fierce as in allowed routine illegal arrests and perjury. But this is celebrated. May they all rot.

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