Cambria services district board fires general manager

The Cambria Community Services District board voted unanimously Friday to fire General Manager Tammy Rudock, effective immediately, and hire district Utilities Manager Jerry Gruber as interim general manager.

The board announced its decision after a closed session that began Friday afternoon.

The legally mandated 24-hour notice for Friday’s special meeting was posted Thursday afternoon, after more than 300 people jammed into the Cambria Veterans Memorial Building, most coming to show support for former Cambria Fire Chief Mark Miller, whom Rudock abruptly fired April 12.

At the time, Rudock said she couldn’t release details of Miller’s firing because of confidentiality requirements, and no further public explanation has been offered. Miller’s attorney, Linda Somers Smith, said the reasons Rudock cited in Miller’s termination letter “had absolutely nothing to do with misconduct on Mark’s part, or violation of district policy.” Miller has appealed his termination to the services district board. No date has yet been announced for that hearing.

Rudock was hired in 2002 as assistant general manager, then promoted to the top spot in 2004 after her predecessor, Vern Hamilton, retired.

Her total earnings for 2009-10 were $167,000, including auto and housing allowance, but not including other benefits. Her total compensation was $231,000, making her the most highly paid services district manager in the county.

Rudock’s severance package will be in accordance with her contract, district board President Muril Clift said. He estimated that to be about equal to 11 months of her salary.

Gruber, who was city manager of Atherton in the Bay Area when he was hired by the district in September as part of a succession-planning process, will take over the reins as general manager on an interim basis, pending formalization of a contract.

For now, fire chief responsibilities are contracted out to Cal Fire under terms of a $16,000-a-month agreement the district board approved Thursday. The agreement is expected to be short term. Directors approved its 30-day cancellation at the same time.

After the meeting, Gruber told The Tribune his priority will be to re-establish public trust. He recalled going downtown a year or so ago, before he moved to Cambria.

“Nobody had a nice thing to say about the CCSD. I thought that was really unfortunate,” he said, and he vowed to change that perception by working with the community.

“It’s not my district or the board’s,” he said. “It’s the community’s district. I want to be able to walk back into that merchant’s store and know we’re heading in the right direction.”

As for former fire Chief Miller, Gruber said, “We’re going to be having some conversations in a very short period of time.”