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Move means top Manteca city management in 16 months has completely turned over

Manteca Fire Chief Kyle Shipherd is retiring Feb. 1

His resignation letter comes just over a month after “the overwhelming majority” of Manteca Firefighters Local 1874 that represents frontline firefighters cast votes of no confidence in Shipherd’s leadership.

It also follows the late October filing of a claim by Shipherd against the city alluding he may  lose more than $1 million in retirement compensation that he says he is entitled to and may have to spend up to $800,000 in legal fees to make sure that doesn’t happen. Filing such a claim, unless you have been terminated or have left city employment, is unheard of.

Failing a claim — and assuming the city rejects it — is the precursor needed in order to file a lawsuit.

 Shipherd’s departure means that over the past 16 months due to resignation, retirements, terminations, or management structure reorganizations the entire senior management team that was in place Sept. 15, 2019 is gone.

It has occurred as the city has completely restructured its top management and departments in a move that has been described by council members as an effort to move initiatives along faster, reduce the use of outside consultants such as the creation of an engineering division allowed, and to put in place a culture that further empowers the overall municipal workforce to think out of the box to find ways to deliver municipal services more effectively.

The biggest change was at the top. The city manager’s office went from basically a one-horse operation with a pair of project analysts to one that is more in line with cities of similar size and that are growing at a steady  clip.

Manteca now has an assistant city manager and a deputy city manager in addition to the city manager. That is a structure similar to Tracy that has a population of 90,675. Tracy has a city manager and two assistant city managers. Pleasanton — a city of 81,700 — has a city manager and an assistant city manager. Manteca has 86,000 residents. Manteca and Tracy are both growing at 1.5 to 3 percent a year while Pleasanton has plateaued.

Manteca by next month will have its first in-house attorney in the city’s 113-year history onboard.

That will — with Shipherd’s resignation — leave four  department head positons to be filled. They are police, fire, finance, and the city clerk’s office.

Shipherd has been with the Manteca Fire Department for over 24 years including the past four years as fire chief.

He is the sixth fire chief to serve in the past 30 years. The others were Charlie Rule, George Quaresma, Chris Haas, and Kirk Waters.

In the non-confidence letter sent to City Manager Miranda Lutzow in early December, the firefighters union stated, “Unfortunately this vote of no confidence has loomed for many years due to consistent issues with lack of trust, lack of communication, misinformation, lack of competency for the position, lack of leadership, lack of vision and direction of the department, nepotism, unprofessional and/or disrespectful behavior, all lending to what members view as a complete lack of adherence to the Manteca Fire Department core values. Those are the values of Professionalism. Respect, Integrity, Dedication, and Excellence are held dear to the members of the Local 1874 and were jointly created with now retired Fire Chief Kirk Waters.”

Shipherd’s claim states “should” he be wrongfully terminated that it would impact the amount of retirement he would receive for the rest of his life that is estimated at more than $1 million.   


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email