Morro Bay to fire city attorney

October 22, 2013
Jamie Irons

Jamie Irons

The Morro Bay City Council decided to fire City Attorney Rob Schultz during a closed session meeting Monday.

After more than three hours of closed session discussions, the council directed its outside legal counsel, San Luis Obispo attorney Steven Simas, to negotiate a termination settlement with Schultz. The council did not provide a reason for choosing to terminate Schultz.

The council voted 3-2 in closed session to fire Schultz, with council members Noah Smukler and Christine Johnson joining Irons in supporting the termination. Council members Nancy Johnson and George Leage cast the dissenting votes.

Irons attempted to fire both Schultz and Lueker last month but faced heavy resistance. A petition to recall Irons since began currently circulating Morro Bay.

The council has not called a meeting to specifically discuss firing Lueker, but Irons has not indicated, either, that her job is safe. Firing both executives without cause is expected to 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, although some dispute their legitimacy.

The previous Morro Bay City Council improperly amended each of their contracts in November 2012 to include nine months of severance pay, as opposed to six months. The council did so in a closed session meeting, which violates the Ralph M. Brown Act.

Schultz, however, faults the current council for not correcting the mistake and approving the contract in open session, as he instructed them to do.

Schultz also says that his original contract contained nine months of severance pay. However, the previous council improperly lowered the severance pay to six months before raising it back to nine.

More than 100 people attended Monday’s 3 p.m. special meeting. Most public comment speakers opposed firing Schultz.

 


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Rambunctious

The time will come when all will know why Irons and his pals are going down this road…all I can say is they had better have a good reason or the council meeting last month will look like a grade school performance of Nutcracker Suite…compared to what they will face in the next meeting.


slophocles

I agree. It better be good, and not the least bit personal. I must say I don’t see Jamie Irons making that mistake, but I could be wrong.


taxpayer

The next meeting is tonight.


givemeabreak2

dag-nam – almost forgot. I’m going down there to talk at open mic.


Pelican1

Reciprocity…the community will speak loudly and clearly as the RECALL proceeds.


danika

Can Jim App of Paso Robles be next?


probiz

There is always a lot of comments about the “good old boys” of Morro Bay and the preferential treatment that they receive. Do the critics even pay attention to what these folks do for our town between volunteering, charitable giving, and advancing civic causes? Rob and Andrea are/should be included as being considered valuable and highly contributing members of our town both professionally and outside of work. I don’t feel that preferential treatment is extended to our longtime civic minded citizens, but, I think perhaps that they have earned additional consideration through their good works in our town as well as the jobs that many provide by running successful businesses for generations in some cases. They provide more value to our community than anyone that fancies themselves a “watch dog” and files frivolous and damaging lawsuits on a regular basis.


slophocles

Highly visible altruism, along with helping those who need it, is also very good business.


probiz

Good business people are essential in our town. Leadership, the ability to provide work and civic responsibility are all good things.


probiz

I just have to ask. How can anyone dislike a comment extolling good leadership skills, the value of people that provide jobs in our community and the respectability of those that are aware of their civic responsibiities? Really?


givemeabreak2

Get used to it. I once got a dislike for saying something about comorants. Who hates cormorants?


racket

Same as last time, I hate all sorts of ‘rants.


givemeabreak2

Oh, that’s right.


racket

This zany turn of events puts Schultz and his staunchest supporters at odds:


BEFORE THE BLUNDER: Rob and the community both working to save money for Morro Bay.


AFTER THE BLUNDER: Community still working to save money for MB, Rob now working to get money *from* Morro Bay.


Sad sour note to end what has been a good run for a good man, a good civil servant, and a good attorney.


Redsoxman

Gotta agree with you. Unfortunately, Irons put Rob in this position and left him no choice.


mb20

Like you wouldn’t take severance if you got fired without cause and had a family to support…

Isn’t that the point of severance?


If he was really performing poorly enough to be fired it could have been done at the yearly mark like it has been for the last 12 years. Granted he got good approval from council 12 years in a row but Irons definitely is one to know about what a good city attorneys job entails…


If he was actually in negligence then he would be fired with cause, and wouldn’t be receiving severance. I really fail to see the problem with him collecting severance.


There was a time and place for him to be brought up to be fired and this clearly was not it.


probiz

May not be true. Firings take place without stated cause on a regular basis to limit liability. I am not sure of the expertise of the attorney hired by the city as you don’t get a lot for $250 per hour. Attorney Fees alone can be outrageous let alone jury awards.


racket

mb20,


You are missing my point, and I agree with you. I would take all that my severance allowed, and I would take all that I could get for the city fouling my reputation and my work. I would take all I could for their lack of appreciation, and for their being morons. And you, the taxpayer, would not like me for it. And I don’t blame you. So, the legacy of Rob Schultz now goes from “Excellent Civil Servant”, to “Another Pariah.” Sad. Sad sad sad.


slophocles

What information do you have that it was in fact a blunder? We are all anonymous so what would it hurt if you told us what you know?


racket

Well let’s see … you had an able City Attorney, committed to service to the City. Now you’ve got something less. Blunder.


Watch last night’s meeting, and pay particular attention to Irons explanation (just before the cameras exit for the closed session) about how “without cause” was true for that day, at that time, in that moment, on Sept 19th, but, um um um, it’s different now.” Blunder.


slophocles

Why is that a blunder? And I did see and hear the part in the meeting and I heard the laughter in the back of the room. I’m still not getting your connection. If you’ll remember that meeting on the 19th was to DISCUSS THE POSSIBILITY of terminating the city attorney and city manager. Last night’s meeting was to move forward with the termination.


racket

It depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is.


Redsoxman

No, the meeting on the 19th was not to DISCUSS THE POSSIBILITY, it was to START THE TERMINATION PROCESS. Irons does not discuss, he just does things his way, knowing that his two cohorts will go along with anything he says and does.It’s good to be King!


givemeabreak2

No. That was all a dream.


Redsoxman

I believe Schmuck shot J.R. in that dream, no?


vergonha

horrible to think, let alone putting it in writing!


givemeabreak2

what’s so horrible about It? My gun rights are in the Bible. In Matthew, I think.


Redsoxman

Obviously you’ve never watched or heard of the old TV show “Dallas” J.R is J.R. Ewing, not J.R. Irons.


slophocles

I have a feeling Bill Buckner is somehow behind all this.


taxpayer

Everyone needs to sign the recall petition before Jamie Irons bankrupts the City of Morro Bay. Next, the council will be asking for a vote on a sales tax increase because of insufficient funds. The answer is no.


slophocles

Wouldn’t you first like to know the DETAILS of why the council is pushing to fire Schultz? What if it results in SAVING the city money over the long haul? How do people that don’t know what’s going on know so much about what’s going on?


Redsoxman

I believe EVERYONE would like to know said details. This thing of “protecting the employees privacy” is just a smokescreen by Mr. Transparency” to hide his real reasons for firing the two. Ms. Lueker and Mr. Schultz welcomed the opportunity to have the reasons for dismissal made public, as they knew Irons had no reason to dismiss them. Irons even said, on record, that their dismissal would be “without cause”. So perhaps if the Emperor…uh, excuse me….Mayor would be forthright in his reasons for his actions, everyone, proponents and opposition, would have a clearer idea about what he is trying to accomplish.


mbactivist1

To avoid the potential for a costly lawsuit, the City must keep the details private. This is because people successfully sue their ex-employers for revealing the reasons they were fired, even in cases where something the (former) employee did something illegal. Juries are very weird sometimes.


Nobody ever said why a former City Manager and a former Public Services Director were fired either. That’s just how it’s done. Irons is following sound, standard practice.


I suspect that Schultz was probably told on Monday what the Council has on him. Why not ask him to reveal what they said? He can’t sue himself.


Redsoxman

“…people successfully sue their ex-employers for revealing the reasons they were fired, even in cases where something the (former) employee did something illegal.” First off, I hope you mean “especially” instead of “even”. Secondly, and you don’t seem to get this, is that both Ms. Lueker and Mr. Schultz are on record as saying they welcomed the reasons for termination. The only person who is being protected in this case is Irons, as he knows full well his own personal reasons for his actions. Why don’t you ask HIM to reveal what his motives are? Or perhaps he is afraid of being sued for defamation of character.


Public_Parent

You really do not understand how this process works, do you?


Redsoxman

1) Yes I do.


2) If you’re a parent, I pity your children.


slophocles

Good argument.


mb20

Or maybe Schultz no longer wants to work for Irons anymore, seems like a pretty hostile environment for someone to be in when they can receive 9 months severance pay and find other employment opportunities.


Bummer to let a good employee slip away like this, but he won’t ever come back after this.


probiz

He only would have to wait a short period of time. Irons will not win re-election.


probiz

Not correct. The City has nothing to gain by sharing the “reason” for the termination with Rob as it is an at will position. Anything that they share only creates added liability. The liability issue is already huge due to the most recent satisfactory job performance review. I would say that contradicts Mayor Irons “sound, standard practice.”


danika

“I would say that contradicts Mayor Irons “sound, standard practice.””


There is no evidence that the liability issue is already huge because of his recent satisfactory job performance review. I know a thing or two about liability and EPLI coverage.


Perhaps something happened after the performance review that warranted his firing. Or perhaps the issue was kept from the City during the performance review.


slophocles

That’s very true. Something could have happened after the last performance review, or some information could have come to light after the last performance review, or the favorable performance review could have been given without knowledge of that information.


probiz

Just doesn’t make sense. The City did the performance review so nothing was kept from them. If a violation that was egregious the entire Council would be on board instead of the split. Employment Practices also has limits. The city would not be pursuing a settlement if Irons believed that the libability risk was low.


probiz

Also, there is no evidence to support your speculation. What we know is that Schultz has 16 years of satisfactory or better service. His last review was satisfactory and was given this year. He has served any number of City Councils and Mayors well. Very unlikely that all changed.


slophocles

How can anyone KNOW this is a smokescreen? I realize this discussion board is a place to express opinions, but people keep making these assertions that as far as I know, they have no actual knowledge of. It’s POSSIBLE it’s a smokescreen, but it’s also possibly a few other things. Personally, all the accusations I’ve heard leveled at Irons sound a little conspiratorial. I find it hard to believe he’s as diabolical as people that don’t know him are asserting. It’s possible he’s diabolical, but I have a feeling that there’s more to learn about this situation.


probiz

I don’t see any type of smokescreen. I see a Mayor that honestly thinks he is doing the right thing for the right reasons. I don’t happen to agree with him and think his actions are ill advised but I don’t think they are mean spirited. It appears to me that this is a case of someone being in a postion that they are not qualified to hold. Elections matter and the real folks to blame are the ones that failed to vote last election.


vergonha

Get real the recall is a waste of everyones time and money!

Get over it, and stop the bickering and move forward!

Life moves on in Morro Bay.


givemeabreak2

I’m so mad I’m gonna sign it 3 times. Under different aliases, of course.


givemeabreak2

Sometimes if you tear the bottom of your check where the numbers is it throws off the computer and you can beat the check to the bank.


Pelican1

RECALL THE MAYOR


givemeabreak2

yer a good Chanter, Pellycan1


panflash

Some people commenting on the prior CCN article on this subject are expressing the hope that Schultz will sue the pants off the council. As I understand it, the council action was apparently to direct Simas to negotiate a separation agreement with Schultz.

While I understand and appreciate the hope that Schultz would undertake such a legal action in retribution for the council action, I regret to advise that such separation agreements usually include clauses in which both parties agree to not purse legal action against each other following approval of the agreement.

Keep in mind that Schultz has a family to feed and clothe, with at least one child now in college. If the agreement provides him with nine, or even just six, months of separation payment, it would be hard, indeed, to turn that down.


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