On Tuesday night, the Antioch City Council in a 3-2 vote agreed to place city manager Steve Duran on paid administrative leave and terminate his contract.
It was reported out of closed session that Mayor Sean Wright, Mayor Pro Tem Lamar Thorpe and Councilwoman Monica Wilson voted “yes”, while Councilmembers Tony Tiscareno and Lori Ogorchock voted against the move. Closed season also delayed the start time of the council meeting by 1-hour.
Ron Bernal, who is the assistant city manager, will now serve as interim City manager.
Duran, who announced he would retire in August, will now be paid one year severance pay at $230,000 plus benefits. Duran was hired in December of 2013 from the City of Hercules to assist the City in resolving its budget issues.
Mayor Sean Wright read the following statement during the Mayors Comments:
“Elections bring about change that inspires new direction, fresh philosophies and re-energized hope. The reason is an election showed a new desire to help in a community that wants to see things improve. Volunteers have stepped up in greater numbers and to serve on our commissions. Citizens have voiced their desire to help through voice mails and email. Our city has a phenomenal opportunity to take advantage of a growing economy, expansion of eBART and expansion of Highway 4. Sometimes to take advantage of that opportunity, it requires change and you saw that tonight. A city council who chose to make change. I look forward to working as a team with our staff, our new city manager to be able to take Antioch to the potential that it can be. I am excited about not staying in the status quo and moving forward in a direction that gives us the opportunity to be able to move forward, and move forward quickly. As we do that, we do move forward, we do have growing pains and learning.
I thank you for your patience with me as a new mayor and allowing me to learn with you. As it relates to some of the comments in the newspaper that have recently been said about me, unfortunately I am unable to really remark and go into. I would just like to state that many of the allegations, many of the things said about me were in response to obviously to today’s actions and make them not happen. At some point I am sure there will be things that come out as it relates to that and I will work with our city attorney as to what I can say so that it comes out. I want to be as transparent as possible and give out as much information as possible. Thank you so much for all that you do, I am so excited. When we have a commission opening now, we get six or seven applications, it’s amazing how many people are standing up and stepping up to volunteer and work to see a renewed sense of hope and opportunity in this city to really drive forward. I am looking forward to that and doing that with our citizens. Thank you.
During public comments, there were mixed emotions.
Nancy Fernandez called this a time of new beginnings.
“I’ve been through a lot in the politics in the 50-years I’ve been here, some pretty bad, some very sad,” said Fernandez. “This is a new beginning and I thank the three of you for showing our residents that they are valued again.”
Meanwhile, Ken Turnage II and Willie Mims shared there disappointment in the community for cheering the firing of a person.
“What I really have to say pertains to our crowd and not to you (the council). I’ve been a very vocal person in this city and speak my mind all the time and I am going to speak it right now. I have never been a fan of Mr. Duran nor did I think he really fit this city,” said Turnage. “But to hear the people in the audience applaud the mans termination is an absolute embarrassment. Tomorrow, the next day, and the day after that when they tell me how Antioch citizens are less then, I am going to have a very hard time defending this city. Absolutely embarrassment. The man may not have fit our city, but to applaud his termination, if you want to be a better city, you should be better than that.”
Willie Mims agreed with Turnage.
“I am somewhat troubled by the applause, no one should applaud someone’s termination or removal from office. You don’t like the person fine, but to applaud, jobs are not easy to come by,” stated Mims.
At the end of the meeting, Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock announced that she has filed a Brown Act Violation and called for an investigation into a possible serial meeting.