Morro Bay City Council to begin process of firing city attorney

dsneed@thetribunenews.comOctober 21, 2013 

After three and half hours of closed-door deliberations, the Morro Bay City Council voted on Monday to begin the process of terminating City Attorney Robert Schultz.

The council directed their special counsel Steven Simas to begin negotiating with Schultz to terminate his contract. The negotiations with Schultz could begin as early as Tuesday, Mayor Jamie Irons said.

No reason for the decision was given. Schultz is an at-will employee, meaning the council does not have to give a reason for terminating him.

The council also scheduled a special meeting at 9 a.m. Friday to issue a request for proposals for an interim city attorney. Schultz was not present when the council announced its decision Monday evening and was not available for comment at that time.

After the meeting, Irons said the vote to terminate Schultz was 3-2 with council members Noah Smukler and Christine Johnson voting with Irons to terminate and council members Nancy Johnson and George Leage opposed.

Irons, who is the subject of a recall effort, has also proposed disciplining or terminating City Manager Andrea Lueker. Similarly, no reason has been given for her possible termination.

About 150 people attended Monday’s meeting. In contrast, a Sept. 12 City Council meeting about the proposed disciplining or termination of Lueker and Schultz drew a standing-room-only crowd at the Veterans Memorial Building, which can accommodate 300 people.

The closed session meeting began with an hour of public comment.

Most of the speakers were opposed to firing Schultz. They said the decision to terminate without giving a reason was bad for morale in the city and showed a lack of transparency.

Others backed Irons, saying that the reasons for terminating Schultz are confidential personnel matters and that they trusted the mayor.

At the beginning of the meeting, Nancy Johnson questioned the legality of hiring Simas, pointing out that he does not have a Morro Bay business license. Simas said he has business licenses in San Luis Obispo and Sacramento and does not need a Morro Bay business license to do legal consulting work for the city.

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