Morro Bay City Council to discuss possible firing of city manager, attorney

ktanner@thetribunenews.comSeptember 11, 2013 

UPDATE: Morro Bay City Council takes no action on city manager, attorney »

Morro Bay Mayor Jamie Irons has scheduled a special closed session of the City Council at 1 p.m. Thursday to discuss the possible firing of City Manager Andrea Lueker and longtime city counsel Robert Schultz.

The meeting will be at City Hall Conference Room, 595 Harbor St., Morro Bay.

The mayor and council members Christine Johnson and Noah Smukler told The Tribune on Wednesday they couldn’t discuss the rationale behind the proposed firings, to protect the privacy of the employees being discussed. Lueker and Schultz serve at the will of the council, according to Irons. The two have requested that the complaints or charges against them be heard in an open session rather than a closed one about terminating their contracts.

According to the requirements of the Ralph M. Brown Act regarding public meetings, calling such a session on short notice required approval by Irons and two other council members. Those members were Johnson and Smukler.

The two council members not involved in calling the session said Wednesday they are astonished, dumbfounded and angry about the actions taken by the other three.

George Leage said, “I’m just very upset, flabbergasted.” He said Lueker and Schultz “are doing a great job for the city, and most people I talk to on the street agree.” He called Schultz “irreplaceable,” and said “Andrea’s been holding everything together in some hard times” and with so many big decisions ahead, “to take away the leadership, to me it’s insane.”

Nancy Johnson said of the council majority, “They’ve lost their minds. … They have a special agenda. They don’t think anybody on the staff knows how to do their jobs. They want to micromanage everything.”

Lueker was promoted to city manager in 2008 after a search that included 47 applicants for the job. She had starting with the city as a lifeguard in 1987 and worked her way up the organizational chart. Her current annual salary is $152,244.

Schultz has been in his post since 1997. He is paid $151,588 a year.

Irons, Johnson and Smukler campaigned successfully as a bloc in June 2012, saying they were seeking change and consensus, and wanted to reduce the levels of anger and acrimony experienced during some previous council terms.

Irons and Johnson replaced Mayor Bill Yates and council member Carla Borchard, respectively; Smukler was re-elected in that election. No runoff was needed in November.

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