Morro Bay city attorney’s job back on chopping block

October 19, 2013
Jamie Irons

Jamie Irons


Morro Bay City Council members have set special meeting for Monday to discuss terminating city attorney Rob Schultz.

Schultz and City Manager Andrea Lueker have been battling to keep their jobs since September 11, when Mayor Jamie Irons called a special council meeting to discuss firing the city’s top two executives. Though Lueker’s job security remains in question, the council has not scheduled another meeting to discuss firing her.

Last month, Councilman Noah Smukler and Councilwoman Christine Johnson supported Irons in calling for a September 12 closed session meeting to discuss firing both Schultz and Lueker. The meeting spurned outcry from more than 50 members of the public, and the council chose to take no action.

Later in September, the council voted to hire outside legal counsel to provide advice over the employment dispute. Irons since hired San Luis Obispo law firm Simas and Associates to handle the matter.

Supporters of Schultz and Lueker responded by initiating a recall of Irons.

On Monday, the council will meet at 3 p.m. to discuss firing Schultz. The hearing will occur in closed session, but the council will take public comment beforehand.

Irons has yet to publicly provide a reason for promoting the termination of either Schultz or Lueker. Firing both employees without cause will cost the city more than $300,000 in legal fees and severance pay.

The contracts of both Schultz and Lueker call for nine months of severance pay, but critics contest whether they are entitled to all of the money.

On November 1, 2012, the previous Morro Bay council amended the contracts of both Schultz and Lueker to include nine months of severance pay. Their contracts previously stipulated for six months of severance pay.

The council made the change in a special closed session meeting, violating the Ralph M. Brown Act. The Brown Act requires changes in executive pay to occur in open session.

But, Schultz faults the current council for not correcting the severance pay issue.

A month following the meeting in which the council increased Schultz’s and Lueker’s severance pay, the current council took over. Irons replaced former mayor Bill Yates and Johnson replaced former councilwoman Carla Borchard.

In an email exchange between Schultz and San Luis Obispo Tribune reporter Julia Hickey, the city attorney said he notified the current council that it must either approve or rescind the severance pay changes.

“The new council was informed of this issue and it was my recommendation that the mayor or council place this item on an open session agenda for either ratification or rescission,” Schultz wrote. “Unfortunately the new council refused to schedule the matter for open session.”

Schultz also notes that his contract originally included nine months of severance pay, but the council lowered it to six months in 2011.

“The council unilaterally reduced it to six months in 2011 for no reason,” Schultz wrote. “I have always maintained that I am entitled to nine months severance based upon my negotiated contract.”

A majority vote will be necessary to terminate Schultz’s contract Monday.

Council members Nancy Johnson and George Leage have both expressed opposition to firing Schultz and Lueker. They have also accused Irons of handling the employment dispute with a lack of transparency.

A petition to recall Irons began circulating Morro Bay this week. If 25 percent of registered Morro Bay voters sign the petition, a recall election will occur.




  1. IronMan says:

    Sounds to me like the former handyman’s new found power has gone to his head. If the City Attorney and/or City Manager did something wrong then tell us – we are the public. What a POS!

    (5) 15 Total Votes - 10 up - 5 down
    • LameCommenter says:

      IronMan, anybody like Irons who would work to “move the plant” at huge public expense DOES NOT HAVE the luxury of a HEAD, NOR a brain. His power-mad lack of judgment has settled into a different part of his anatomy. Los Osos all over again, with minor nuance differences. How could anybody not learn from the Los Osos debacle and expense ?

      Just the properties on my Los Osos block and the block on either side are out a collective million dollars. Morro Bay is next, if you don’t negate this mindless, crazed clique of THREE and get back on track for an existing shoreline WWTP plant upgrade. Push the Coastal Commission and FIGHT for your town, or history will somewhat repeat itself in terms of the Los Osos sewer debacle.

      I don’t know where this blessed little county FINDS the Irons, Gibson, Marx, Smuckler, Tacker/Edwards (et al) brainless but energetic people, but we certainly do suffer gravely from their mismanagement.

      (3) 13 Total Votes - 8 up - 5 down
  2. racket says:

    Commenters on this thread keep talking about how expensive this blunder is becoming.

    While I agree with that, I point out it is but a drop in the bucket compared to the coming blunder being contemplated in the sewer debacle.

    Don’t believe me; read the City’s newest estimate on their website.

    (8) 16 Total Votes - 12 up - 4 down
  3. taxpayer says:

    ANOTHER SPECIAL CITY COUNCIL MEETING ALERT! Tomorrow, at 10:00 a.m. at the Vet’s Hall. This one to discuss the hiring of a short term interim attorney. Irons, Smuckler and Christine Johnson have obviously never heard that when you’re in a deep hole it’s time to quit digging. Anyone who truly cares about the City of Morro Bay and what these three stooges are costing the taxpayers needs to sign the recall as soon as possible. This is far beyond incompetence. It’s time for the citizens of our fair city to tell the emperor that he has no clothes.

    (9) 17 Total Votes - 13 up - 4 down
    • givemeabreak2 says:

      what does is mean when you writ that the emperor gots no clothes? i keep reading it but I dont get it. I dont like this Irons feller but he’s a mayor, not an emperor, and he wears clothes as far as I can see, and i am glad for that.

      (-8) 12 Total Votes - 2 up - 10 down
      • Kalalau says:

        And you VOTE? Perhaps that is the problem. Education would be advised.
        Elections DO have consequences. And thus….this last election will cost all the citizens of Morro Bay a lot….sadly.

        (9) 15 Total Votes - 12 up - 3 down
        • givemeabreak2 says:

          I voted for him, but that was befowr i knew he didn t have no clothes. RECALL THE MAYOR!

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

      I watched the meeting live on channel 20 this morning…..
      Jamie Irons appears rude every time Nancy Johnson has a question. If he was such a “nice person” as those who support him claim….then he would try to at least appear to be patient and allow her to speak or ask a question. Afterall….many of us voted for her to represent us as well.

      I also agree with Nancy Johnson & with George League that Mr. Schultz would be honorable to represent Morro Bay in the interim …..but oh no… we have to hire at great cost an interim attorney….and possibly pay their travel expenses etc. as well……and for how long???
      So now because Jamie Irons wishes to fire Mr. Schultz who has been very honorable….we now have hired an attorney to negotiate his severance…..AND now ANOTHER attorney will be hired (cost yet to be determined) until a permanent new attorney applies and is hired for the position….(more than likely at a higher cost as well than the current attorney).

      All this because our current attorney who has been very well respected…doesn’t appeal to Jamie Irons???

      This is only the BEGINNING of the HUGE costs that Jamie Irons is going to cost the taxpayers of Morro Bay. These meetings with his rude behavior to any that do not agree with him on the Council are painful to watch.

      Real leaders are able to facilitate compromise without such destructive behavior. Jamie Irons is not even close to a great leader, sadly.

      (8) 16 Total Votes - 12 up - 4 down
      • taxpayer says:

        Although I agree with most of what you are saying, the meeting this morning was to agree to go out and find a temporary attorney as soon as possible to give them time to hire another temporary attorney for 6 months. In the meantime, another attorney has been hired to work out a settlement with our current attorney. So, in all, these are four distinct and separate attorneys that the City of Morro Bay will be paying. And folks, this is just getting started. Jamie Irons, Smuckler and Christine Johnson have no idea what they’re doing and we, the taxpayers, are paying for all of this idiocy.

        (4) 12 Total Votes - 8 up - 4 down
        • kkeene88 says:

          Lets keep in mind these 3+ attorneys are in addition to the severance package (costs mounting as we speak due to the blundering of this entire issue by irons and his cohorts) for Schultz. And lets now forget Leuker, I am sure she is the next in line for humiliating public hearings and then a substantial severance package, larger due to the continued blunder. The city will be lucky to not get slammed with defamation of character, slander, libel, hostile work environment, to just mention a few possible lawsuits as a result of this “leadership”.

          (9) 17 Total Votes - 13 up - 4 down
  4. slophocles says:

    That was a really good article in the Tribune. And the letters they published were all rational and well thought-out. Kudos to the Tribune for their coverage of this very sensitive matter.

    (-12) 18 Total Votes - 3 up - 15 down
  5. Kalalau says:

    So more sad news for Morro Bay… per the latest article in the Trib tonight…..
    This is all going to cost a LOT….LOTS of money….LOSS of morale…and all the DEVISIVENESS that this town really does not need……for our sweet little town that we locals treasure. Irons etal are H*ll bent on an agenda and ruining folks lives….all for their unspoken.. thus far…agenda.
    I am sad to fear that we are heading the way of the Los Osos fiasco….and many of us really also will not be able to afford it. Apparently Jamie Irons does not care about all the retired fixed income folks in this town …….so much for transparency. When he’s done & folks figure it out….I fear it will be too late. Elections DO have consequences.

    (10) 18 Total Votes - 14 up - 4 down
  6. kkeene88 says:

    Absolutely amazed to read the editorial in the Tribune today as well as the letters to the editor. I find it astounding that the Tribune continues to support irons when he has really accomplished nothing in Morro Bay, until now, when he will be accomplishing putting the city into peril. Severance, lawsuits, employee moral at an all time low and general disarray. My guess is that irons thought he could do this, fire the top two administrators quickly and secretively, and now that it has blown up on him, he is reaching, searching, for something. Oh the damage that has yet to come, so sorry for you-City and Residents of Morro Bay.

    (15) 23 Total Votes - 19 up - 4 down
    • mb20 says:

      I know someone who works at the tribune, most of there articles are decided by the small majority that pay to advertise in the tribune. Tribune is going bankrupt cause everyone goes online to read news. So billy joe that owns blah blah blah company comes in and talks about what he believes is going on while writing the check to pay for the next advertisement.

      And ta-da in the newspaper is billy joe’s opinion.

      (8) 12 Total Votes - 10 up - 2 down

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