Morro Bay city attorney’s job back on chopping block

October 19, 2013
Jamie Irons

Jamie Irons

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

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.

 


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givemeabreak2

i come around Opec Circle today and coudnt even get a gas pump. whats ‘ol Irons doing about that? Instead of movin our sewere why don’t he move that silly Circle!


As the world turns

Instead of advocating spending thousands of taxpayers dollars moving a traffic circle, you may want to consider taking driving lessons and learn how to maneuver a car.


givemeabreak2

I only been in 4 acxidents on that circle, so lay off. what i’m talking about is clearing that area up so I can get in and out of Valero’s. AMPM charge me 35cents to use the credit card machine.


LameCommenter

Recall the mayor before he and two morons can fire qualified experienced city staff over petulant feelings of this twit of a mayor. Don’t let them engender a move of the WWTP up the canyon. Didn’t Morro Bay learn anything from Los Osos? Want to see my LO rental’s $ 24,000 expense plus on lot costs? It is insanely cheaper to upgrade an existing plant, any existing plant, no matter WHAT the liars tell you. Talk to any construction engineer, designer, or project manager. FIGURE IT OUT FAST, Irons tipped his hand that he’s a Brown Act intolerant petulant tin-horn dictator. Don’t let Irons et al foist their lunacy onto lovely Morro Bay. Lucky for MB that Irons revealed himself in such a clumsy and bold manner, and so EARLY ON in his (doomed) tenure.


You can see his incompetence, now run him out of office via a prompt landslide RECALL ! MB rocks !


givemeabreak2

morro bay’s rentals are already too high to afford so why not let them go higher so everyone can move to Kettleman?


givemeabreak

givemeabreak “2”……..I am with you on that. Kettleman City seems like a great place for you. Thankfully I have worked my entire life and bought a few homes here…..not going to worry about rentals.


givemeabreak2

hey, could you rent me a room, gimmebreak? after all, i’m your creation.


givemeabreak

Why sure! You must leave your Birkenstocks outside and promise to keep those dentures clean.


givemeabreak2

what about pets? i got two cats, seven turkey-vultures, and 4 or 5 iguanas.


givemeabreak

Love turkeys! Gobble Gobble!!!!!


Word

LameCommenter, Your raised voice and lack of paragraphs stringing things along does not help your case.


LameCommenter

Word, ok excuse my raised voice, and I’m sorry if my lack of paragraph separation doesn’t please your sense of good or effective posting. I DO seek to be persuasive when I have experience to offer, and I believe my fellow mankind can digest long sentences and paragraphs where their money and future are at stake.


However, I admit being verbose at times;


the Jamie Irons idiocy is so clearly obvious, and the parallels to financial damage caused in Los Osos are so clear, that I felt the matter was so clear that my bleating one paragraph RANT covered it in an erudite manner.


And I didn’t even mention the collateral damage to the waste water interests of the good folks of Cayucos.


So, fire the mayor via recall, pay attention to all future Smuckler initiatives as brainless and suspect, and I’ll work on posting using an Easy Reader style book.


See Los Osos elect morons via a recall.


See them cancel a funded, vetted, working project.


See each Prohib zone house get assessed $ 24,000.


See the remainder of the planet locate it’s WWTP’s at shoreline, down slope.


While Irons wants it up canyon, pumping costs land costs delays and public expenses be dammed.


kkeene88

Its been over a month since this issue began. Seems that if there were significant issues or concerns the City Council majority would have never let Leuker and Schultz continue to work. So my guess is this is a political move that has nothing to do with performance. Remember that at-will employees can be let go at any time and it can be done with grace and finesse – as prior mayors and councils in Morro Bay have done. This situation has been mishandled from the beginning by irons and his cohorts on the council and they should be ashamed at their actions, which certainly appear to be punitive. When all is said and done, the economic impacts not to mention the impact to the morale of the remaining employees will be staggering.


slophocles

Political or punitive? Can’t be both. Punitive actions handled poorly are poor politics. And if punitive, punishment for what?


probiz

These folks are more concerned about “potential” environmental impacts than costs.


givemeabreak2

I hope Kathy Welles and Garry Johnson speak at that meeting on Monday. Them people make a good speech, only don’t hold back this time. We need you.


givemeabreak

Ms. Welles is out of town. Her father just passed away. I, as many send our condolences to her and her family.


givemeabreak2

someones gotta pick up the slack. i’m talkin to you, J-Barta!


slophocles

Joking, right?


givemeabreak2

no, aint jokin’. They both got good wisdoms an they get me all fired up!!


probiz

I have no issue with Irons keeping personnel matters confidental as they should be. The fact that satisfactory performance reviews were recently given and the employees noted have long records of good service makes me wonder about the course of action.


pasodowny

Smuckler: Tell us about the Brown Act. You and Jan Marx. Experts on the subject are you? When it suits you. Laughable! Except you’re in public office. You remain among the willfully ignorant. I wish people would wake up to the likes of you and Marx.


givemeabreak2

Marxism is a big problem in our society.


mbactivist1

As all the old Yates/Borchard era folks start in with their commentary, I would like to quote a wonderful letter that Tom Harrington wrote to the editor of the Trib last week. No one has said it better:


“Morro Bay Mayor Jamie Irons and council members Noah Smukler and Christine Johnson were elected to put power back in the hands all Morro Bay citizens. The previous council held illegal meetings to raise the pay of favored staff. They insisted a new wastewater plant be built to minimum standards at a site that the Coastal Commission, and other experts deemed environmentally and economically irresponsible. Former councils and staff have spent enormous sums tilting at windmills instead of doing the right thing, whether it was making judicious financial decisions or collaborating with sister agencies.


The current mayor and council are now being threatened because they are questioning and correcting years of policy misadventures as requested of them by Morro Bay voters. In the spirit of Halloween, we can watch the Morro Bay Old Guard try to rule from the grave. It may be another ghoulish and costly fiasco with community members footing the bill.”


Pelican1

Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

Thrice the blinded Mayor hath mew’d.

Thrice and once, the council whin’d.

Harpier cries:—’tis time! ’tis time!

To recall Jamie— thus change the paradigm.


slophocles

You mean “return to the paradigm”, no?


storox76

Do you have anything of substance tao add? Your bumbling and foolish commentary betrays your online anonymity Ms. Winholtz.


Word

storox76 says: “Do you have anything of substance tao add?”


So you insult someone, then you an anonymous commenter claims to reveal another commenter.


Nice lack of substance and a double standard too.


storox76

Did you ever consider that there may be a good reason for preferences given to the “Goog old boys?” Is it possible that they have a demonstrated history of success that indicates an ability to coninue that success? We have enough business failures in our town without risking failure at some of our higher profile waterfront properties by granting longterm leases to those that lack this experience,


givemeabreak2

Yeah-ho, botox76! i am grateful just to be able to walk on that embacradero that bill and george own. I think people should be more grateful. This is theyr town before you got here! Be greatful – Thangksgiving day coming up!


givemeabreak2

sorry, i meant storox76


givemeabreak

Bill who?


givemeabreak2

yOU should know – you made me.


givemeabreak

Oh sorry I missed that one….Bill and Bernie whose mother was really an Ernie?


probiz

Is that why they were elected? Could it be that it was because Borchard left her seat to run in addition to Yates split that vote opening the door for Irons to win the Mayor’s race? Perhaps reviewing the vote count would tell more about the mandate.


slophocles

Maybe this is Morro Bay’s first taste of rational, unemotional leadership and people are scared which is why they are resorting to personal attacks, name-calling, and Harry Potter poems. A lot of them have been scratching each others’ backs and watching FOX for so long that they don’t even understand why they’re angry and don’t know how to express it. When you can stare at your mayor and say to his or her face: “I don’t like you” or “You are wormy”, you might as well just say: “I give up.”


Pelican1

Harry Potter? Try Shakespeare’s Macbeth. An obvious lack of wisdom that lends itself to thinking the current “leadership” is either rational, or unemotional. For they are neither.

Recall the Mayor


givemeabreak2

but they say it in Harrys Potter too dont they, pelcan1?


panflash

Whoa- time out! Please, people, let’s get a grip. I don’t care about that Potter twirp, but please, folks, let’s not drag Shakespeare into this.

Is nothing sacred anymore?


Kevin Rice

No debate is complete until Shakespeare or Hitler is cited.


givemeabreak2

“Voldemort In Love” got pretty good reviews but reviews dont mean nothin. Hitler watched movies too.


Word

And we’re there.


givemeabreak

Rational? LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


givemeabreak2

give ’em hell, give’emabrake!


Myself

Really tired of the sewer plant deal,just where do you people think your going to put it,Standard Oil doesn’t want you on their property,Rigghetti is way too expensive,there way too much dirt to move to make anything work for a flat spot for the plant, and that IS the GATEWAY to Morro Bay,then you have to pipe it up hill to get there,permits for Cal Trans and the Indians that place will run into Millions in cost overruns.

And just who in the heck is the coastal commission to say if there was a tsnami there would be problems with that plant in the excisiting spot,how stupid,all the houses along the beach area and travel trailer parks, I guess that won’t floatsom if a tsnami hits,the sewer plant would dissapate in the ocean so fast you would never notice it,but the houses and trailers would be there floating up to Oregon and Washington,the sewer plant would be a drop in the bucket in the grand plan.

So if two fools and a trust funder are trying to fire these long time city employes on the basis of trying to save the city millions on keeping the sewer plant where its at or worried about a meeting that was in violation of the Brown Act,not that the keys to the city were given away mind you,it brought both employe packages up to par,granted it was incorrectly done but is that the real reason for trying to fire these people, I doubt it,Irons has had a problem with these employes before he got elected and is now on vindictive firing spree.


givemeabreak2

wait. one of ’ems a Trustfunder? i didn’t know that. i don’t trust trustfunders and i don’t fund them either.


Word

And the feeding frenzy of half-truths, made-up points and lack of paragraphs continues.


Opinions are not fact’s, also it’s very brave of you the use an anonymous comment account to attack people by name.

So very brave.


Redsoxman

First of all, who the heck is Tom Harrington?


Second of all, who cares?


Mb1, you still don’t get it. Ms. Lueker and Mr. Schultz don’t dictate the direction of the City Council, they take direction from the City Council. It is their job to advise the council of the pluses and minuses of any proposed action they are considering, which, for the most part, involves budget and legality issues. So releasing these two employees does nothing but creates more expense to the city in the form of severance pay, attorneys fees and cost of finding replacements for their positions, not to mention delivering a major blow to the morale of all the city employees. That’s a high price to pay just because Irons has a personality conflict with them. As far as the severance pay issue goes, why did Irons and Company not put this on a meeting agenda as soon as they were informed of it, which was right after they took office? I guess it was something that wasn’t all that important then, and has conveniently become a “grave offence” now. In the spirit of Halloween, you should fly away on your broomstick and peddle your witches brew somewhere else.


Pelican1

It’s abundantly clear, that Will Rogers NEVER met Jamie Irons.

RECALL THE MAYOR


givemeabreak2

you mean cuz of “politics is applesauce.”? i agree. everyone knows that Jamie Irons HATES applesauce.


SLOBIRD

And I hear that if Bill Yates would have been sober long enough we would not be talking about this.


Old Salt

CHOOM


slophocles

Please explain. Dying of curiosity. Is it an Obama reference?


As the world turns

According to urban dictionary, “choom” means to smoke weed.


http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=choom


givemeabreak2

Billy Yates don’t do that wacky stuff, man.


givemeabreak2

I think Irons could use a drink or two – loosen him up a little bit. Jeez, it’s like watching Spock up there.


LameCommenter

Stiff like Spock, but not exactly. Spock acts with common sense, logic, and wisdom. Irons does not. . .


racket

The buzz I hear is that this is based on sewer plant upgrade controversy. Apparently Irons’ handlers felt the MB sewer upgrade didn’t have enough problems, and instructed him to “make it more like Los Osos.”


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