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Whitefish Bay pays $138,000 in exchange for village manager resignation

DeGrave has left other jobs for undisclosed reasons before

April 4, 2014

Whitefish Bay — Village officials agreed to pay roughly $138,000 in various forms of compensation in return for Village Manager Patrick DeGrave's resignation, according to a resignation agreement acquired through records requests.

The Village Board deliberated DeGrave's resignation in a March 2 closed-session meeting for nearly three hours, according to meeting minutes, after which they went into open session and, after another hour, approved the resignation agreement unanimously.

Present at that meeting was special legal counsel Thomas Scrivner, a labor attorney at Michael Best & Friedrich. While the village usually produces audio recordings of open-session board meetings, the March 2 meeting was not recorded because it took place on a Sunday and staff were not available, assistant clerk Caren Brustmann said.

The deal and dollars

According to the agreement, dated March 4, DeGrave was required to provide a resignation letter "indicating that you have resigned to seek other opportunities effective March 3, 2014." In return, DeGrave receives a lump sum payment of $11,197 for unused vacation days, and two lump sums of $55,983, equivalent to six months of salary. The village also agreed to pay its share of DeGrave's health insurance, $1,249 per month through February 2015 or roughly $15,000.

The village also agreed to provide a letter of reference, and in the event a prospective employer calls, "the village shall respond by making statements that are consistent with the attached letter of reference. The village shall provide no additional information regarding you or your employment with the village."

In his resignation letter, DeGrave said, "It has been an honor to serve the residents and business owners in the village for the last three years; however the time right for me to explore other opportunities."

No explanation

As they were at the time of his resignation, village officials are tight-lipped as to why it was necessary to request DeGrave's resignation.

"There is a sensitive nature to these things. I can tell you nothing more than we've told you already," Trustee Carl Fuda said Friday. "The nature of these types of personnel affairs is such that the details are best left confidential."

This is not the first time DeGrave has left an employer under unknown circumstances. In 2002, DeGrave "basically had to quit his job in Menasha (as town adminstrator) in April to avoid getting fired" after being disciplined for sending improper emails, according to a story by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Menasha officials refused to make the emails public.

In 2010, the Oak Creek Common Council voted unanimously not to renew DeGrave's employment contract, saying nothing beyond "they wanted to go in a different direction and that's it," according to another Journal Sentinel story.

DeGrave has not responded to requests for comment.

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