Morro Bay manager and attorney still employed after fiery meeting

September 13, 2013

IMG_0354Morro Bay Mayor Jamie Irons led a special city council meeting Thursday to discuss the possibility of firing City Manager Andrea Lueker and City Attorney Robert Schultz. But, the capacity crowd in attendance showed more interest in recalling the mayor than in releasing the city’s highest-ranking employees.

Lueker and Schultz remained employed upon the adjournment of the meeting Thursday, which began in a small conference room in City Hall and moved to the Veterans’ Memorial Building, where a standing room only crowd welcomed the city manager and attorney with a standing ovation. The city manager and attorney remain “at will” employees, though, and the council can, at any point, call a meeting and choose to fire them.

After the council heard more than 50 public comments supporting Lueker and Schultz and only 10 speakers opposing them Thursday afternoon, it met in closed session for more than an hour to discuss the proposed termination of their contracts. Upon returning from closed session, the council reported that it took no action, and neither the council members, nor Lueker or Schultz, would say what, if any, agreements were reached.

Prior to the closed session, Schultz and Lueker requested that the council reveal any charges or complaints levied against them. Irons said there were none.

“Five months ago, I received a satisfactory review from you and each council member and had no idea until 10:45 yesterday that this was going to be called,” Schultz said to Irons.

Schultz, as well as Councilwoman Nancy Johnson, asked Irons to explain his reasoning for considering termination of the contracts. Irons did not say why he called into question the performance of the city manager and attorney.

Schultz also said Irons violated the Ralph M. Brown Act, government code and municipal code in the manner in which he conducted meeting. Irons said he researched and followed the law, but did not seek outside counsel.

Numerous public speakers accused Irons of having a hidden agenda, some suggesting he had pre-picked replacements for Schultz and Lueker.

“I don’t have any response to a hidden agenda,” Irons said. “I called this by myself.”

Irons, along with council members Christine Johnson and Noah Smukler, called for the special meeting on Wednesday, just one day prior to the event.

Nancy Johnson said she was out of town at the time of the announcement and found out about the meeting from a friend. Johnson, who said Thursday that Irons failed to demonstrate transparency, asked the mayor why he scheduled the meeting on such short notice.

“It is not sudden at all,” Irons said. “I have given considerable thought to this. Nor should it be unexpected.”

When the council members arrived in the conference room Thursday, observers were sitting on the floor, lining up in the hallways of city hall and standing outside the building. The council then agreed to move the meeting to the veterans’ hall, where meetings typically occur.

Nancy Johnson said that Councilman George Leage and she requested Wednesday to move the meeting to the veterans’ hall, but they did not receive a response to their request.

Many current and former city employees joined the capacity crowd at the veterans’ hall, most of whom displayed support for Lueker and Schultz. Public speakers repeatedly praised the work of the city manager and attorney, and urged the council not to fire them.

“These people are not incompetent,” said former mayor Bill Yates. “It’s a dumb idea.”

Other speakers described the idea of firing Lueker and Schultz as “insane” and “horse shit.” One said it “breaks my heart.”

Several others said they signed a recall petition, which was circulating in the audience.

Supporters of Irons, Christine Johnson and Smuckler said they trusted the council majority to make the right decision, and that it had the support of the majority of the city’s voters.

“This is here and this is a big deal because the people who are in question decided to make it a big deal,” said former councilwoman Betty Winholtz. “The majority of people who have voted for you, outside the couple that spoke this afternoon, I would suggest they’re still on you’re side.”

Lueker, a city employee for 26 years, became the city manager in 2008. Her current annual salary is $152,224 a year. For the past 16 years, Schultz has served as the city’s attorney. His current salary is $151,588 a year.

If the council chooses to fire Lueker and Schultz without cause, it will owe them severance pay.

 







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123 Comments

  1. taxpayer says:

    I would like to see Cal Coast News do an in depth investigation of this whole situation and other matters concerning Jamie Irons, Christine Johnson and Noah Smukler. Also, how Jamie and his wife’s relationship with the Katy Liptig and San Luis Obispo’s administration was involved in his decision to move forward with something that the citizens of Morro Bay definitely are against. What’s the motive? Was the Brown Act violated? Have there been conversations between the three which haven’t been revealed to the public? Who are the parties that these three are the mouthpieces for? Did some of SLO’s administration give Jamie advice? If so, who? What are these three up to? Is there a financial motive behind this move? Someone needs to dig a little deeper. I hope their are more stories to follow.

    (11) 13 Total Votes - 12 up - 1 down
    • nurse1 says:

      I for one am very disheartened over this whole thing. I am also ashamed that I voted to for Mr. Irons , Mr. Smuckler and Christine Johnson. I am fairly new in town and obviously did not do my homework prior to the election. Lesson learned.

      (13) 13 Total Votes - 13 up - 0 down
      • givemeabreak says:

        No need to be ashamed nurse1. MANY in town were fooled.

        (8) 10 Total Votes - 9 up - 1 down
  2. Rambunctious says:

    Just watched the replay of the meeting. Wow…point made. Can someone shed some light on the family that purchased the Sun Bulletin building and why they are in favor of the attempted dismissal of Schultz and Lueker.

    (3) 7 Total Votes - 5 up - 2 down
  3. slophocles says:

    THIS JUST IN: Minutes ago I spotted Mayor Jamie Irons purchasing name-brand lemonade from Spencer’s Market. When I asked him how he could afford to buy brand-name lemonade and not a generic brand, his evasive, arrogant answer was: “I just like the taste of Minute-Maid, alright?” I followed him outside but he fled on his bike with another cyclist who looked a lot like the Guatama Buddha himself. Where does this guy get off?

    (-2) 12 Total Votes - 5 up - 7 down
    • Kalalau says:

      That’s funny! A little levity is refreshing……something Jamie Irons has not delivered lately!

      (6) 8 Total Votes - 7 up - 1 down
    • givemeabreak says:

      LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We all know Irons does not shop in North Morro Bay. Why would he be slumming it?

      (8) 10 Total Votes - 9 up - 1 down
      • givemeabreak2 says:

        I believe that is sarcasm you are LOL’ing, givemeabreak.

        (-1) 5 Total Votes - 2 up - 3 down
    • rye says:

      stalking Mayor Irons
      Get a life!

      (0) 4 Total Votes - 2 up - 2 down
  4. SLOthinker says:

    I don’t live in MB so I don’t have a dog in this fight, but here are some observations:

    1) The mayor, with a majority of the council, is completely within their rights to replace the city manager and attorney

    2) Sooner or later, (hopefully sooner), the mayor is going to have to explain to the citizenry why he chose this course. It better be about a lot more than a couple of party boats. This is true even if they don’t go on to replace them.

    3) When the mayor lays out his case, he going to need to show the public that the benefits, out weight the costs. (Severance, recruitment, disruptions etc…)

    4) Calling people hooligans or thugs, or complaining about the mayors eating habits, have no place in this discussion and only highlight the posters bias.

    (2) 10 Total Votes - 6 up - 4 down
    • Kalalau says:

      I agree with you …
      #1 Majority of the council….yes within their right….
      But wise ….at the same time?, suddenly Without Cause?, especially since they got great evaluations recently?
      #2 Something makes me think the mayor will not explain to the citizenry why he chose this course and if so….. HONESTLY.
      #3″When the mayor lays out his case, he (is) going to need to show the public that the benefits, out weigh the costs. (Severance, recruitment, disruptions etc…) ” This is my opinion would be very hard to do. For their years of service and knowledge, their salaries are more than reasonable. “Severance, recruitment, disruptions etc…” would be extremely costly.
      #4 Agree

      Remember SLOthinker….these have both been very dedicated and hard working employees for many years in Morro Bay…under a number of Mayors….have a world of first hand knowledge of the workings of our town…..and no matter who has been elected have been very professional and want our town to prosper.

      (4) 12 Total Votes - 8 up - 4 down
    • mbactivist1 says:

      Regarding #4, There’s no bias in calling people hooligans and thugs when they earn the title with their behavior.

      For example, the hooligans among the Schultz and Lueker supporters verbally attacked and abused ladies in the audience who did nothing to provoke those attacks. The hooligans simply recognized the ladies as supporters of the Council majority and that was enough to spark their uncivilized behavior. There were also hooligans who addressed the Council with vicious and completely uncalled-for personal attacks.

      Were you a Morro Bay resident, and were you more familiar with the past infractions of these characters, you might have even worse names for them. “Hooligan” gives them more credit than they deserve,.

      (-9) 19 Total Votes - 5 up - 14 down
      • givemeabreak says:

        All so FUNNY….you are a “hooligan” if you oppose Irons but an activist if you support him. And Ms. mbactivist….just how long have you been a resident of MB? CLEARLY not long enough to know what is REALLY going on. Wish we could have Rodger Anderson back as mayor. A little honesty, integrity, and transparency would be a welcome change.

        (4) 10 Total Votes - 7 up - 3 down
        • mbactivist1 says:

          About 10 years – way long enough to know what really goes on here.

          (-6) 10 Total Votes - 2 up - 8 down
      • givemeabreak says:

        Abused ladies in the audience? GROW UP. IF there was such abuse going on why didn’t they take it to the chief of police that was standing there the whole time? Quit playing the victim.

        (3) 11 Total Votes - 7 up - 4 down
        • mbactivist1 says:

          I am told that some have since taken it to the chief. They were too intimidated at the time to do anything.

          (-6) 10 Total Votes - 2 up - 8 down
          • Rambunctious says:

            Baloney

            (3) 7 Total Votes - 5 up - 2 down
          • racket says:

            There is some precedent for this. I am recalling Betty Winholtz filed a police report when a council meeting didn’t go her way.

            (5) 7 Total Votes - 6 up - 1 down
          • rye says:

            Interesting the word around town, is there has already been a police report filed on
            the bully.

            (-2) 4 Total Votes - 1 up - 3 down
  5. MBwaiter says:

    I never stated I was a waiter at the Galley. Just you cannot ever be called an MB Activist. Please just call or send an email to the Mayor and Father Ed and ask them where they had dinner and with who. As long as you are asking the Mayor questions why don’t you verify that he has more than 12 residential rental units and owns half a block in the downtown area. Dinners at the best restaurant in MB iare only available to the wealthy.

    (7) 9 Total Votes - 8 up - 1 down
    • givemeabreak says:

      LOL!!!!!! This is some funny stuff. Confessions with Father Ed at The Galley. Much easier to confess your sins over a few cocktails and a nice dinner.

      (4) 6 Total Votes - 5 up - 1 down
    • Kalalau says:

      Public Information regarding SLO salaries….some interesting to this thread I think:

      Who makes what in San Luis Obispo

      Click on an employee’s name to see a breakdown of their compensation.
      Name Job title Base salary Total benefits Total compensation

      Katie Lichtig City Manager $221,520 $89,732 $311,252

      Deborah Linden Police Chief $160,394 $73,821 $234,215
      Christine Dietrick City Attorney $155,012 $69,840 $224,852
      Carrie Mattingly Utilities $154,544 $62,869 $217,413
      Jay Walter Public Works Director $151,450 $65,958 $217,408
      John Mandeville Community Development Director $154,544 $61,213 $215,757
      Shelly Stanwyck Recreation Director $144,768 $65,555 $210,323

      Monica Irons Human Resources $139,516 $56,651 $196,167

      Michael Codron Assistant City Manager $92,664 $43,642 $136,306

      (8) 8 Total Votes - 8 up - 0 down
    • mbactivist1 says:

      Jealosy is very unbecomong.

      (-10) 10 Total Votes - 0 up - 10 down
  6. mbactivist1 says:

    Something that stands out for me in the comments made here, and in the events of September 12. That is the stark contrast between the conduct of the Council majority and their supporters, and the group supporting Schultz and Lueker.

    The Council majority and their supporters stick to standard, legal process and procedures, and support their statements with verifiable, documented facts. The opposition resorts to unsupportable accusations, diversionary tactics and, in the case of the September 12 meeting, an attempt to control the process through “mob rule”.

    The Council majority, faced with an unruly mob of hooligans, showed those people the same respect and consideration that they show to the more civilized elements of society. They allowed the mob to heap insults on them and still kept their cool. They did not retaliate, but stuck to the agenda and did not allow the hatred and hostility of the mob to throw them off track.

    Meanwhile, in the audience, things were going on that the Council majority could not hear, or they would surely have taken action to stop them. The hooligans menaced Council majority supporters who wanted to speak and intimidated them into silence.

    The majority of Morro Bay residents are civilized, law-abiding people. Clearly, there is a reason why they supported and continue to support Jamie, Noah, and Christine. Mob action and made-up stories about imaginary transgressions only serve to strengthen the support and show the voting majority that they made the right decision.

    (0) 16 Total Votes - 8 up - 8 down
    • Myself says:

      I don’t believe that the council has too many supporters other than Windholtz, the irate couple on the water front and a couple other tree huggers and trust funders.
      The council was just vaguely legal with their blunder and it backfired on them, they have no facts and no reason for firing these people,I’m not too fond of Shultz but canning him because of your idea of the party boat slips is pretty weak.
      The taxpayers and voters stood up for people that have done their job for the city ,now if there was reason to can these people don’t you think that these people wouldn’t have shown up,small petty crap doesn’t cut it, everyone has their bad decision days, we might be in a couple petty lawsuits or a street or two isn’t getting paved but I don’t hear about outlandish wages or odd ways of doing business like San Luis does.
      If the councils AGENDA is to hire Lichtig and Irons wife then the council majority needs to be out on the street Monday morning, but I wouldn’t think that Irons is that full of him self to say what he did in a public place where he could have been overheard by anyone within earshot,but arrogance does take over.
      I’m sure the majority of the residents are law abiding, but not all of them supported this majority of the council,these people were voted in as the lessor of two evils, just because they were voted in doesn’t mean that they are supported.
      I don’t know what made up transgressions you speak of but when the City Manager and Lawyer explain to the Mayor that he doesn’t run the staff and public works on his own, and then the Mayor tries to fire them over it sounds kind of petty on the Mayors part, and lets not forget the private meetings between the Mayor, Johnson and Smukler , there is a violation for the brown act, and the meetings and calls to other organizations about the Aquarium, this with out council approval.
      My understanding is there were a couple more attorneys present and there may be some Brown Act violations brought up to the council majority, I guess we’ll see what this week brings as the Bay Flushes.

      (4) 12 Total Votes - 8 up - 4 down
    • dingdong says:

      You are right on one thing, the majority of Morro Bay residents are civilized, law-abiding people. You left out hardworking.

      But, your majority was only 25% of the voters. Look at the turn out at public comment. Where was your majority, your minority probably didn’t have time to prepare since their king only gave them 24 hour notice.

      (5) 9 Total Votes - 7 up - 2 down

Comments are closed.