Atascadero police chief’s settlement raises questions
January 19, 2011
Atascadero city officials released a settlement agreement Wednesday that says both the city and Police Chief Jim Mulhall “wished to end his employment,” even though they previously said Mulhall was retiring in order to spend more time with his family.
The agreement, which appears to bring to light more questions about Mulhall’s sudden exit than answers, includes a one-time payout of $126,000 in exchange for the city agreeing not to terminate Mulhall with cause and both parties agreeing not to sue the other or admit to any wrongdoing. This is the second time in the past two years the city has paid a high ranking police officer severance pay after a controversial exit.
Mulhall and the city also agreed not to disparage the other unless compelled in court to give testimony.
“In the event that Mulhall or the city is subpoenaed, or ordered by the court or believes that the party may be compelled by legal process to give testimony that will disparage the other party such party shall immediately notify the other party… so as to give the party the opportunity to object before the appropriate court,” the agreement says.
In addition, the city also agreed to support Mulhall by giving him a positive reference for future employment.
Mulhall, 58, joined the Atascadero Police Department in 2007 as a Lieutenant and was promoted to the chief’s position in December 2007. Mulhall’s resignation comes one year before he would have met the five years required in order to be vested in his retirement.
As part of Mulhall’s 2007 employment agreement, if fired for cause Mulhall would not be entitled to any severance pay or compensation. If terminated without cause, the city would be required to pay him severance pay equal to six months pay and benefits.
Mulhall’s severance appears to be in line with six months pay and benefits along with pay for unused paid administrative and vacation leave. Mulhall was paid $190,765 in salary and benefits in 2010.
His employment contract with the city calls for yearly evaluations of Mulhall’s performance of his duties. Several sources told CalCoastNews that Mulhall had been under fire for performance issues and was asked to resign or face termination
Today’s settlement agreement offers both parties a degree of privacy that could help keep the specific reasons surrounding Mulhall’s departure a mystery to the general public.