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Three top city hall leaders are now gone
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Finance Director Jeri Tejada officially became the third senior management staff member to leave the employment of the City of Manteca this month.

Tejeda resigned this week after being placed on paid administrative leave in September.

Public Works Director Mark Houghton was terminated last week.

Community Development Director Greg Showerman resigned the week prior to go to work for the City of Modesto in a lower position.

“Finance Director Jeri Tejeda has submitted her resignation,” Acting Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Lisa Blackmon stated in a press release Thursday. “We thank Ms. Tejeda for her service to the City and wish her well in future endeavors. Our team in the Finance Department has ably stepped in to continue delivering on their important work. We will soon start planning for the future leadership of our Finance Department.”

Still on paid administrative leave are City Manager Tim Ogden and Police Chief Jodie Estarziau. Ogden was placed on administrative leave in September about a week after Tejeda was placed on leave. The police chief was placed on leave last week.

Both Ogden and Estarziau are having concerns regarding their job performance vetted by what city officials have called “an independent” firm.

Council members have repeatedly stressed that the departures and paid administrative leaves are not interconnected.

What information is available appears to support that.

However, many in the public remember Mayor Ben Cantu during his campaign and after being elected stressing he felt it was time to clean house at city hall.

Department heads are all at will employees while the city manager and city attorney have contracts.

Both Estarziau and Tejeda being placed on administrative leave was the result of the city receiving complaints from employees.

Although no official reason was given for Houghton’s abrupt termination that resulted in him being escorted out of city hall by a uniformed police office, several council members have expressed frustration in recent months that projects weren’t being processed fast enough by the public works department.

The actual firings are being done by Acting City Manager Miranda Lutzow. She has been running the city after the council placed her in that position when they placed Ogden on administrative leave. Lutzow was hired as the human services directors earlier this year. Her predecessor had been placed on paid administrative leave while an employee complaint was being investigated. His employment with the city was subsequently ended.

The City Council only hires the city manager and city attorney. That said city managers — acting or otherwise — carry out policy direction provided by the majority of elected council members.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email