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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why Did The City Feel the Need to Tack 20 Cents Onto a Settlement Worth Nearly $91K? Here's an Answer.

Posted By on Wed, Sep 16, 2009 at 6:30 AM

click to enlarge liberty_head_dime_barger_dime.jpg
Back on Monday, my colleague Benjamin Wachs pondered why the city felt the need to toss two extra dimes onto the pile for a proposed settlement of $90,670.20 for former Park and Rec Department Spokeswoman Rose Marie Dennis. We ran a short article yesterday about this -- but most of the folks we reached were very tight-lipped about an unapproved settlement regarding one of the city's most embarrassing recent scandals that doesn't involve the word "Rippey-Tourk."

Still, we're wondering why anyone would see fit to toss pocket change on top of a settlement grand enough to go most of the way toward buying a Tesla. But now it appears we've got something of an answer.

Without commenting on Dennis' case specifically (you may recall that she claimed former Rec and Parks Head Yomi Agunbiade both sexually and religiously harassed her -- in writing, no less), City Attorney spokesman Matt Dorsey explained how the unintentionally ridiculous figure of $90,670.20 may have been reached.

Jury awards tend to be nice round numbers -- thousands, hundreds of thousands, or, in the case of USFL v. NFL, three bucks. But when settlments are calculated by tabulating lost wages, unemployment claims, legal fees and other mitigating factors, sometimes fractions of a dollar come up. "These are almost never rounded to the nearest dollar figures," says Dorsey. As for why -- especially considering even taxes are rounded these days -- he does not know.

Dorsey wouldn't comment on the inherent silliness of literally nickel-and-diming a settlement figure exceeding $90,000. But he did make this analogy: "The way I look at it, it reminds me of when I used to pay cash for gasoline. I was used to squeeze that nozzle so I'd get to the nearest dollar figure and not have to make change for a 10 or a 20. But now that everything's done digitally, I don't pay attention to that anymore."

Dennis' settlement is scheduled to be approved or denied by the Board of Supervisors rules committee tomorrow. Once it's officially in the books, bet your pocket change some of the folks we talked to earlier will loosen up and offer up some details.*

*Please forgive us for temporarily losing our senses. Dennis' settlement goes before rules committee on Thursday -- if it is approved there it would then require a nod from the full board. So we're not so sure anymore people will feel liberated to talk on Thursday.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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