Tim Ogden’s tenure as Manteca’s city manager could be in jeopardy.
The City Council is meeting tonight at 6 o’clock for a special meeting to discuss the performance evaluation of the city manager and subsequently the possible discipline or dismissal of a public employee.
The special meeting comes on the heels of Tuesday’s special meeting where Ogden’s job performance was discussed in closed session for nearly five hours. At one point the council ordered out for Round Table Pizza so they could keep discussing the city manager’s job performance.
Ogden’s job performance was also the subject of another closed door session on Sept. 17.
Mayor Ben Cantu as well as various council members starting several months after the November election has been at odds with Ogden over how various issues have been dealt with and perceptions of how their requests are handled.
Ogden signed a contract for 3½ years from Aug. 7, 2017 through Feb. 28, 2021.
If for some reason the council moves to end Ogden’s employment that contract lists 10 reasons why he could be terminated with cause. They are:
If he is unable to perform his duties for a period of 60 days due to a physical or mental disability as determined by a mutually agreed pon medical doctor.
Willful destruction theft, misappropriation or misuse of city property.
Intoxication on duty — whether by alcohol or non-prescription drugs.
Conviction of a felony.
Dishonesty, fraud, or misconduct in officer or securing appointment as city manager.
Violation of any conflict of ingests law or regulation.
Violation of state or federal discrimination laws concerning race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental disability, marital status, sexual orientation, sex, or age concerning either member of the general public or city employees.
Willful retaliation against any city official or employee, or member of the general public who in good faith reports, discloses, divulges, or otherwise brings to the attention of any appropriate authority and facts or information relative to actual or suspected violations of any law occurring on the job or directly related thereto.
Violation of the city’s harassment policy as determined by a judgment, admission, or criminal conviction, or any other personnel or employment rule, policy, or procedures.
If none of those thresholds are met, should the council elect to dismiss him, taxpayers will be on the hook for severance pay.
Contracts councils have signed with previous city managers over the years have made it clear if they are terminated while still willing and able to perform the duties of city manager that they will receive a lump sum payment equal to their remaining salary. In the case of Ogden’s predecessor that the council dismissed after less than seven months, Elena Reyes’ annual salary was $191,800. Once others factors were added to the tab — accrued vacation and sick leave as an example — the previous city council issued a check to Reyes approaching $240,000. Due to a clause that prohibited the council from terminating Reyes during the 90-day period before or after an election, she was put on paid administrative leave the last week of November 2016 until mid-February 2017 during which time she made $91.30 an hour based on a 40-hour work week for not working.
Unlike Reyes, Ogden’s contract does not have a clause that prohibits the council from terminating him 90 days before or after an election. The contract with Ogden specifically spells out maximum caps on a payout if the employment agreement is terminated without cause. It states the city manager may receive “an amount equal to his monthly salary multiplied by the months left” in his contract, or 18 months, whichever is less.
If Ogden is terminated without cause he’d be entitled to 14 months of pay based on the remaining time of his contract or roughly $228,000 plus accrued vacation and sick leave. That means if the council parts ways with Ogden without cause taxpayers will be on hook for more than the $240,000 the previous council spent to dismiss Reyes.
If that happens, the council buying out city manager contracts will have cost taxpayers right around $500,000 in just 30 months.
Ogden is Manteca’s fourth city manager in 12 years since Steve Pinkerton was hired in 2007. Pinkerton departed to take a similar job in Davis and now is serving as Community Services District general manager in Mountain House west of Tracy. He was replaced by longtime Manteca municipal employee Karen McLaughlin who retired prior to Reyes being hired. The city only went through two city managers in the previous 20 years — David Jinkens and Bob Adams.
Due to a variety of reasons — from a multitude of challenges of running a city to political reasons — the shelf life of the average city manager isn’t all that long. A 1998 study by reaches Stumn and Corrigan placed the national average for a city manager’s tenure between seven and eight years. More recent studies, specifically involving California cities, suggest the average tenure is now closer to three to four years.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org