On Tuesday, a special closed session before the regular Antioch City Council Meeting on March 14, the City Council will hold an employee performance evaluation of City Manager Steve Duran followed by a possible dismissal of a public employee.
Closed session will begin at 3:45 pm Tuesday (Agenda), where the following will occur in closed session:
- Performance Evaluation of the City Manager
- Public Employee Appointment — Recruitment of City Manager
- Public Employee Dismissal
In response to the agenda being posted, Duran has spoken openly with the media where he claims information from a closed session city council meeting on February 14 has been leaked to the public regarding his employment status and what members of the council plan to do.
“Once the leak occurred, it was all over City Hall and also in the community in short order,” said Duran on Saturday.
The leaked information was that Mayor Wright made a recommendation to terminate Duran as City Manager of Antioch—but that he did not have the votes. Duran says his job is now on the line and looking at possible litigation.
“I am a City Manager so my job is always on the line, especially when there are new mayors/city council members. That’s why typical City Manager contracts have a 12 month severance provision, which is what I have,” said Duran. “That’s $230,000 plus benefits for me.”
When asked about Tuesday’s agenda, Mayor Sean Wright declined to comment Monday saying he would welcome a chance to defend himself based on what was being written in the papers, but that this was a personnel matter and instead his comments would be reserved for Tuesday’s meeting under Mayors comments.
He did, however, confirm that he placed the items regarding an employee evaluation and termination on the agenda but Duran requested they be pulled. Wright declined that request.
Mayor Pro Tem Lamar Thorpe also declined to comment.
Duran’s contract runs through January 2018, however, he previously provided the council with a retirement date of August 1, 2017. There is nothing preventing Duran from changing his mind and fulfilling the term of his contract unless the council dismisses him early.
Although no examples were provided by Duran, he is claiming members of the council were interfering with day-to-day operations and issued a warning to Council members not to interfere stating policy.
“Interference comes in when Council Members insert themselves into the staff responsibilities of policy implementation and City operations. That would include real property negotiations and other staff meetings with developers, prospective developers, vendors, etc. Our department heads and I are always happy to meet separately with Council Members (not a quorum) to discuss City business,” said Duran.
According to Duran’s contract, the council is not allowed to interfere with hiring and firing of city staff, but there is nothing preventing the council from holding meetings with anyone, including staff.
Duran says he is concerned that closed session items were being made public and that it is a violation of The Brown Act. The City Attorney is now in the process of an investigation and they know where the leak came from.
“It is not only inappropriate, but is a violation of state law known as The Brown Act for information discussed in Closed Session to be leaked. The item on the February 14 Closed Session on Performance Review – City Manager was put on the Agenda by the Mayor. Outside legal counsel specializing in labor issues was in Closed Session and the City’s Administrative Services Director, who is responsible for Human Resources, and I were asked to leave for the discussion, which is highly unusual. We did not know this was in the works,” explained Duran. “Thus I was not privy to the discussion and did not, in fact could not have leaked. Only the Mayor, City Council Members, the City Attorney and outside legal counsel were present. Although I know who did leak, I am waiting for an investigation to be completed and, at this point, that’s on the City Attorney’s to-do list.”
The Mayor and all of the City Council receive training on the Brown Act each January following the election to the League of Cities two and a half day training in Sacramento which covers the Brown Act and ethics courses.
Duran says it’s anticipated that the City Attorney will recommend in the future what actions it should take regarding possible violation of the state’s open meeting law.
Although its unclear if its coincidental or not, the possible firing of Duran comes after Antioch Police Chief Allan Cantando announced he was retiring from the police department after 30-years of service and will take a job at Bank of America. If Duran is let go prior to Cantando leaving, an interim city manager or a quickly hired city manager would then select the next police chief instead of Duran.
Click here for the agenda.