Editorial: Downing’s payout excessive, pure and simple

NewsMay 11, 2011

From The Salinas Californian Editorial Board:

For nearly the past 40 years you almost couldn’t say “Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital” without mentioning Sam Downing.

In that time, Downing led SVMH to tremendous growth and success…

But Downing has left not one but two indelible marks on SVMH; one he should be extremely proud of; the other he’d much rather soon forget.

Yet in the face of these budget woes, Downing — a public employee working for a public hospital district — leaves with a supplemental retirement payout of nearly $4 million, on top of a $150,000 annual pension. His $668,431 annual salary at the time of his retirement was the third highest among public officials in all of the state.

Public outrage has followed the media’s release of this compensation package. At a time when taxpayers are clamoring for public pension reform, when retirement systems are grossly underfunded, the SVMH Board of Directors turns Downing’s golden parachute into platinum.