Her recent firing of Cambria’s fire chief might get the manager of the Cambria Community Services District fired or reprimanded.
When district directors meet in a special closed-session this morning at 11, they are to re-evaluate the performance of General Manager Tammy Rudock, who has been criticized by many district residents for her abrupt dismissal of Fire Chief Mark Miller on April 12.
Rudock’s evaluation is the board’s second in about a month, with the last closed-session review — described as a “periodic performance evaluation as required by employment contract” — held March 24.
The special meeting, which precedes the directors’ regular April meeting, could draw a full house, because Miller’s firing has triggered strong reactions from many Cambrians. Most say they support the former chief and want him back on the job, soon.
Rudock has declined to explain the firing, citing personnel confidentiality.
“There are a lot of people who probably didn’t know who Mark was two weeks ago but who do know who Tammy is,” board President Muril Clift said April 18. “What we have, unfortunately, is a situation with one popular individual and one unpopular individual.”
Miller’s attorney said today’s sessions probably won’t produce any decisions on re-hiring or reinstating her client.
Linda Somers Smith of San Luis Obispo said she doesn’t think district directors can do anything relating to Miller during the closed or open sessions today.
“My guess is we’ve still got a couple of weeks before there’s any resolution.”
Petitions and emails in support of the fired fire chief are circulating. Many letters to the editor of The Cambrian have been sent, with nearly all of them in support of Miller. Many are urging district directors to fire Rudock and re-hire Miller.
Handmade signs are posted at many intersections and along heavily traveled roads.
Support has come from sources as diverse as the Fire Chiefs Association of San Luis Obispo County, in a formal letter of endorsement, and during an informal discussion by the board of the Cambria Chamber of Commerce.
Miller’s attorney has filed an appeal of his firing. She said the district has hired outside counsel Jack Hughes, a partner at Liebert Cassidy Whitmore in San Francisco.
Somers Smith said Hughes has confirmed that the district will give the issue a hearing. She said she hopes she and Hughes can agree this week on a hearing officer.
As of Monday, none of the five district board members had been told what specific actions had triggered Miller’s dismissal, and had not yet received copies of the letter Rudock sent to the fire chief to explain why she fired him.
Somers Smith has advised Miller not to reveal those reasons yet.
“The termination had absolutely nothing to do with misconduct on Mark’s part or violation of district policy,” she told The Tribune.
Director Frank DeMicco said Monday he doesn’t want to hear Rudock’s reasons until she has gotten them down on paper. Miller has submitted his response and the directors can consider both reports together.
“I want to see it in a formal presentation,” DeMicco said. “I don’t want to see or hear something and have my attitude affected by voice and presentation,” he said. “You want to go into these things with an open mind.”
He noted that while Rudock “has the authority as general manager to carry out staff issues,” Miller has achieved a lot as fire chief. Some of those fire-safety accomplishments include ensuring that fire sprinklers and other safety improvements were installed at the Pewter Plough Playhouse, requiring improvements at the historic Mozzi’s Saloon (formerly Camozzi’s) and assuring that the hulk of a burned-out house on Center Street was demolished.
Rudock’s contract expires June 30, 2012, and district directors have indicated they don’t expect her to stay beyond that. In September, they hired Cambria homeowner Jerry Gruber, former city manager of Atherton, publicly announcing he was being groomed to take Rudock’s place.
DeMicco even verbally stumbled during a recent monthly meeting, twice referring to Gruber as the general manager.
Rudock was hired as general manager in May 2004. Prior to that, she served for two years as the district’s assistant general manager under General Manager Vern Hamilton.
Two meetings planned for today
A special closed-session meeting of the Cambria Community Services District Board of Directors to evaluate the performance of General Manager Tammy Rudock is to begin with public comment at 11 a.m. today at the Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St.
A regular monthly meeting is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m. Directors are due to discuss the future of the Cambria Fire Department, including the possibility of turning over interim management to Cal Fire and/or cooperating with Cambria Community Healthcare District to provide ambulance and other health care services.