Paul, 3 lottery executives paid $300,000 when they quit Georgia jobs

Apr 5, 2004, 3:59 am (10 comments)

Tennessee Lottery

When Rebecca Paul quit her Georgia job last fall as the nation's highest-paid lottery director to become Tennessee's lottery chief, she left with one final perk a check for $125,139.

The three lottery vice presidents she lured to Tennessee also cashed out when they left, collecting a total of $174,059.

Paul and her lieutenants were beneficiaries of leave policies at the Georgia Lottery Corp. that are far more generous than those for any other state workers. Analysts say the policies are uncommon even in the private sector.

The corporation's 250 employees can accumulate unused vacation from year to year and, if they leave their jobs, get paid for up to three years' worth. They also get paid for half of all unused sick leave, which they can accumulate without limit. As a result, Paul and the others were paid almost $300,000.

Paul, during her 10-plus years in Georgia, accumulated 30 weeks' worth of sick days. When she left Sept. 8, she got paid for half of that. She also got paid for 24 weeks of vacation 18 unused weeks accumulated over her 10 years here, plus six weeks she hadn't used in 2003.

Weeks later, Wanda Wilson, the lottery's general counsel, received $51,327 for 30 weeks of leave. Andy Davis was paid $57,826 for 30 weeks' leave, and Sidney Chambers got $64,906 for 33 weeks.

"Private employers wouldn't think of doing anything that generous," particularly in paying for sick leave, said Deb Keary of the Society for Human Resource Management in Virginia, a nationwide association of personnel managers. The Georgia Lottery has "very generous benefits by any standard. They must be cash-rich."

A Georgia study commission's co-chairman, Republican Sen. Bill Hamrick, said he appreciated the millions of dollars generated by the lottery for education. "But we also need to make sure it's run efficiently when we're asking parents and students to make sacrifices," he said. "They need to make some sacrifices, too."

Paul and the others did not return a call. A spokeswoman for the Tennessee Lottery instead referred the newspaper's questions to former Georgia Lottery Chairman Wyck Knox. "We were focused, as was our charge, to run this as a business," Knox said. Paul "is one of the hardest-working persons I know. & She wasn't treated any differently than anyone else."

Paul, who has the potential to make $752,500 a year in salary and incentives in her Tennessee job, earned $500,000, including incentives, in her last year in Georgia.

Tennessean

Comments

Todd's avatarTodd

I'm surprised that no one chimed in on this story yet.  Ms. Paul and the other lottery execs got sweetheart deals that execs from most private companies couldn't dream of.

Imagine being able to save up all your vacation and sick time from when you first started with a company, and then being able to cash it all in when you quit.  Most companies will only let you rollover a week or two of vacation at the end of the year.  I've never heard of sick days being rolled over.

Sorry, but I think there are lots of capable people out there that could do the same job without the outrageous perks.  Not that I would begrudge ANYONE of all that they can get.  Cudos to Ms. Paul for swinging such a great deal for herself.  But with everyone crying about how the government spends $400 on a hammer, maybe they should take a look at how they pay government workers, on whom much more money is spent.  (Employees are always a company's -- or the government's -- biggest expense.)

I'll bet the office workers don't get to save up their vacation and sick time like that.

repat's avatarrepat

No big thing. We,the lottery players just paid everything for her.

TNmatt's avatarTNmatt

I'm afraid to see what Tennessee's going to pay her when some other start-up pulls her away.

DoctorEw220's avatarDoctorEw220

ok.  time for a government lesson.  what's the best explination for cutting your ties with a government organization?  take something while you leave.  bill clinton took a bunch of stuff from the white house before he left.  bud dyer managed to get a ton of insurance and pension money for his family when he killed himself.  rebecca paul took a ton of money when she left the georgia lottery.

Littleoldlady's avatarLittleoldlady

Why is this so strange for her?  I personally don't see anything wrong with it.  CEO's get paid millions in benefits, perks, etc on the "promise" that they will deliver millions in business to their companies.  Once the contract is inked, they can collect whether they deliver or not. Even for us poorly paid public servants, we can sell our unused personal days back to the county for 50 dollars each or roll them over into sick leave. When I was in the military, we were sell back up to 90 days in leave (3 month's pay) for whatever pay grade. This is not weird to me at all.  If she had the foresight to keep her days in order to make sure she had a nice nest egg when she left, it makes good sense to me. I wonder about my country sometimes, ..if she would have been a man, I don't think anyone would think her benefits so outragoeus. 

johnph77's avatarjohnph77

Actually, this is not at all unusual in private industry at the top levels, what with the "golden parachutes" demanded by executives even before taking a position. The money paid wasn't actually a bonus, per se, but unused leave. If the Georgia Lottery Corp. was structured as a private industry as it seemed to be neither the pay nor the payment for unused leave was out of line. The corporation established rules that had to be approved somewhere and somehow by state officials. Although Ms. Paul took her top lieutenants with her to Tennessee, the remainder of top management in the GLC can take advantage of the experience they gained while working with her in operating an efficient and profitable lottery commission.

Todd's avatarTodd

My point may have been missed.  I have no grudge against Ms. Paul: good for her.  I think the GLC has a pretty poor policy as far as executive compensation, allowing an exec to pile up countless vacation and sick days, and then cash them in at the end.  I'm not sure what private industry company you're referring to, but I've dwelled at the "top levels" of private industry jobs for some time, and I've rarely seen such a thing.  I've seen lots of perks, but the concept of piling up countless vacation and sick days is quite rare.

Remember, your money is going to give her and others like her all that unneeded compensation.  I don't think she would have turned down the job if that perk wasn't included in the package, so it's like throwing money away.

And I hardly think my comments have anything to do with the fact that she's a woman - that's an outrageous accusation.

johnph77's avatarjohnph77

Todd -

Not desiring to get into any sort of argument with you re this thread, I'll make these comments and refrain from any further posts in this thread.

Perks and bonuses fall into the category of compensation paid an employee over and above their base salary. Payment of unused leave, however, doesn't, as it represents a payment for the time an employee could have been absent from the job while on vacation or due to illness. The reason most employers put a cap or limit on the amount of vacation time they will pay upon severance is not to limit these payments but to encourage employees to use that time in order that they take that break rfrom the job and return refreshed. Sick leave is a horse of a different color, though. Not only did the corporation not pay her while she was ill, they incurred no additional medical insurance costs as a result. Granted, most companies with a retirement plan will add any unused sick leave to the end of an employee's tenure before the determination of any retirement compensation, but the GLC chose not to do this. Also, the GLC's sick leave policy of at least 3 weeks per year is generous, to say the least. And it is worth noting that neither Ms. Paul nor her top aides took any significant amount of vacation time for the 9 months of the year prior to their departure from the corporation - did they anticpate their departure?

The other point I'd like to make is that, according to the article, this form of compensation is not confined to the executive sector of the GLC but is available to all employees of the corporation.

gl

john

Todd's avatarTodd

John,

I understand your point of view.  It's OK to strongly defend your point of view without fearing an argument.  I for one enjoy a good debate on a topic like this, and any heat stirred up in the discussion is all good.  I certainly wouldn't hold a grudge because you have a different opinion from me (or anyone else), and I think you debate rather well (mainly because you don't resort to personal attacks and stuff like that).

My point is, that no matter what the policy is, it's giving far too much money away to an exec who up & left.  Normally the incentive to leave your employer is that you'll make more money from your new employer, not because you're going to strike it rich with the one you're leaving!

That $300,000 would be better spent either in increased prizes to the players, or in money to education.  She didn't do a thing to earn it.  Sorry, but not taking sick time is not "earning" it.  Any exec who took 3 weeks of sick time during the year should be fired anyway.  Same goes for the huge amount of vacation offered.  I don't know of any exec who would take more than a couple of weeks a year.  (Then again, maybe that exec from Tyco, but that's a different story.)

If you know me at all, you'll know that I am very much a pro-captitalism guy, and very much pro-business.  I think everyone should get all that they possibly can.  But at the same time, the company/government should not be set up such that people can take advantage of the system so easily.

It reminds me of the toll-takers in NJ who retired with 6-figure pensions because their last year on the job they worked double- and triple-overtime, because their pension was based solely on their last year's salary.  It caused a big scandal.  My beef was not with the toll-takers, who were taking advantage of what was offered, it was with the dope who set up the rules.

whodeani's avatarwhodeani

This reminds of a situation here in Wisconsin a couple of years back. The Milwaukee County Executive set up a sweetheart of a deal where he was due a $2.6 Million payout when he was to retire from various pension benefits. Talk about winning the lottery. Other county employees were also due high sums of payouts upon retirement. To make a long story short, he would have been recalled from office but "retired" first and was shamed into not taking the lump sum payout.

I think it is crazy that public officials set up these deals. These people work for the people they represent. Granted in the case of lottery officials they are paid through lottery sales, in which case they are paid through a "voluntary tax", it is still wrong they loot the till like this. If this was a private company, I would have no problem with this sort of thing. But when you are dealing with public affairs and money, you can't have public officials doing this.

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