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Managing expectations
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Unless you've spent the last couple of weeks under a rock, you know that former Savannah City Manager Michael Brown is once again a former manager. He recently resigned from his new job in Arlington County, Va., under odd circumstances.

In his Sept. 30 resignation letter to the Arlington County Board, Brown - who spent a grand total of four and half months on the job - referenced his wife's declining health.

But according to several published reports, he was forced out for other reasons.

Board Vice Chairman Chris Zimmerman shed some light in an interview with the DC website, saying that Savannah and Arlington are "comparable in the basic sense. But [Savannah's] not part of a three-state area, an area with the influence of the federal government. It may not be as comparable as may have been thought at the time."

Another board member, Jay Fisette, also contradicted Brown's resignation letter by saying this on video at a public meeting:

"When the board determined that Mr. Brown's fit with our organization was not what we hoped for, Mr. Brown was given the opportunity to submit an official resignation letter."

Still, Board members seem unwilling to put 100 percent of the blame on Brown:

Fisette added that "there was no one issue or one decision" by Brown that led the board to ask for his resignation.
"He didn't do anything horrible. He's a good guy," Zimmerman echoed. "It's unfortunate."

"Unfortunate" is a relative term. The truth is that Brown is doing far better for himself in unemployment than most of us do in full employment, as detailed in our special "By the Numbers" section elsewhere on the website.

The figures - a $125k severance package on top of the nearly 100k annual pension he'll receive for the rest of his life courtesy of Savannah taxpayers - are a sick joke to the typical City of Savannah resident making do on the median annual salary of $29,000.

We want our most important officials to be fairly compensated. But the realization that government salaries, benefits and pensions are now dwarfing many jobs in the private sector is fueling the serious anti-government anger felt throughout the U.S. right now.

The Arlington County Board itself is feeling heat over the decision, as evidenced by Fisette's defensive statement that Brown's severance package from Virginia "was fully consistent with the terms of his contract and was not discretionary."

The chances of Brown returning to his old job here are zero, for a lot of reasons - some having to do with the circumstances of his Virginia resignation and others having to do with current political realities in Savannah.

The only real - but still exceedingly thin - silver lining for Savannah taxpayers is knowing we don't have the only local government in the U.S. that makes expenditures that they and their constituents eventually regret.