Los Osos hires district manager during contentious meeting
October 5, 2013
By JOSH FRIEDMAN
Amid screams of outrage from the audience, the Los Osos Community Services District Board of Directors hired an embattled executive Saturday as its new general manager.
During the 8 a.m. special meeting, the board voted to hire former Atwater City Manager Kathy Kivley to serve as the district’s full-time general manager at an annual salary of $90,000.
After publishing a staff report Friday, district legal counsel Michael Seitz refused to disclose details of the contract or the name of the candidate. He said those details would become public during Saturday’s board meeting.
“If the board is comfortable with the contract, it will be time to approve it,” Seitz said Saturday after he gave each of the directors a copy of the contract. “Then it will become a public document where you can take public comment at that time.”
However, the California Ralph M. Brown Act requires agencies to make documents pertaining to open session meetings available to the public after a majority of the board receives a copy, according to section 54957.5 of the Brown Act.
Shortly after the meeting started, members of the public, some swearing, demanded to see the contract before public comment and before the board took action. Seitz argued against allowing the public to participate in the process until after the vote.
Seitz then recommended that the board halt its open session and approve the contract in closed session.
But, the board rejected its attorney’s advice and chose instead to allow members of the audience to read the contract and make public comment prior to the board voting in open session.
Seitz, who was dressed in flip flops, jeans and a sports jacket, then passed out copies of the contract to each member of the audience. In order to allow the public time to read the contact, the board took a 10 minute break.
Nevertheless, attendees complained that they were unable to look into the candidate’s background because they were not permitted to know the name of the applicant until minutes prior to her appointment.
In April 2011, the Atwater City Council made Kivley its city manager at a base salary of $134,000.
In September 2012, the Atwater City Council voted to fire Kivley, according to the Merced Sun-Star. At that time, the city had a projected $3.7 million negative general-fund balance for the 2012-13 fiscal year.
The Los Osos board made no mention of Kivley’s termination at the meeting Saturday and approved her contract by a 4-0 vote, with Director Michael Wright absent.
“She impressed all of us with her knowledge and experience,” Director Marshall Ochylski said. “Kathy stands out in a very good pool of candidates.”
Kivley, who does not yet live in Los Osos, participated in the meeting Saturday by telephone. The board agreed to pay her $7,000 to relocate to the Central Coast.
Kivley, 65, will begin work on October 14.
“I look forward to working there and I also look forward to living there,” Kivley said.