BRATTLEBORO — Outgoing Town Manager Yoshi Manale’s resignation and severance agreement were officially approved.
“We’re here to ratify two prior decisions made by the Brattleboro Select Board,” Board Chairman Ian Goodnow said at a special meeting Tuesday.
Before the board unanimously accepted the resignation and approved the severance agreement, Goodnow reiterated the town’s gratitude for Manale’s service and its best wishes for him in future endeavors. Goodnow said the board is advised by counsel not to comment any further than what has been said in earlier statements.
Dale Joy of Brattleboro said she thinks Manale “did great.”
“He went out and met the people,” she said. “He didn’t even have a chance, that’s what I feel.”
Wichie Artu of Athens, a candidate for Vermont Senate and member of the Windham County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, asked the board if there would be an official statement coming from the town in response to an incident where feces were anonymously mailed to him at the town offices.
“I think it’s a good question,” Goodnow said. “Obviously the board condemns those actions utterly and entirely but a public statement is something the board can consider making.”
Artu said he thinks “it’s important for us to stand in solidarity.” Previously, Goodnow told the Reformer he was “abhorred” by the incident.
If the next town manager is from a bigger community like Manale had been, Ron Cargill of Brattleboro suggested allowing the person more time to ease into the position. Cargill said he believes things were happening and changing too quickly, which ultimately led to the resignation.
Brattleboro employed Manale as town manager starting Nov. 29. The two parties signed an agreement that says Manale would receive $60,000 in severance pay “in the event of a termination other than for just cause.”
“Recognizing that the employment relationship was not working to each party’s expectations, Manale has tendered his letter of resignation and Brattleboro has accepted the letter of resignation,” states the severance agreement.
With the severance payment, Manale will receive $60,000 in severance, therefore he’ll be getting nearly all of his $120,000 annual salary before leaving less than six months into the job. As part of the agreement, he also will get 12 weeks of health coverage benefits continued, $3,565 in accrued time off, as much as $6,000 in moving expenses and a letter of recommendation with content both parties agree on.
Manale will “not knowingly make any statements to any third parties which might reasonably be construed to disparage Brattleboro or harm its reputation,” the document states. And town staff and the Select Board won’t speak ill of Manale, according to the agreement.
For comment, Manale has deferred to his statement announcing the resignation.
“In a small town like Brattleboro, I have quickly discovered that the prominence of this position creates drawbacks for me to fulfill the duties of the job most efficiently,” the statement reads in part. “I am leaving with a sad heart. After consulting with the Select Board, I am sure that I have made the right decision to move on.”
Manale has been praised for his fresh thinking on issues such as housing but criticized for his part in handling failed contract negotiations with Rescue Inc. Between the Rescue controversy and his resignation, he received feces in the mail. He called it “a disgusting prank” and said he doesn’t believe “whomever sent it represents the people of Brattleboro, as I have found most of them to be kind and welcoming.”
On Tuesday, Manale did not attend the meeting in person or on Zoom. Assistant Town Manager Patrick Moreland will serve as interim town manager.