Two recently retired city officials deemed important to resolving the City of West Hollywood’s conflict with members of its City Council deputies union and the handling of other major lawsuits will be back on the job temporarily.
The City Council voted 3-to-2 last night to retain the services of Assistant City Manager Sam Baxter, who retired Dec. 5, and LuNita Bock, director of administrative services, who retired Dec. 3, for 180 days. Voting against the proposal were council members John D’Amico and Lauren Meister, both of whom opposed the dissolution of the controversial council deputy system. D’Amico did, however, finally vote in favor of ending it.
Earlier Monday night the council approved a proposal for the city to offer a “last, best and final proposal” to the four-member union. Under that proposal, the deputies who currently remain on the city payroll would be laid off 45 days after receiving a formal notification from the city. Deputies who have been on the job for more than six months would be eligible for varying levels of severance pay. To date the city and the deputies union have been unable to reach agreement on the city’s offer. Under the proposal the deputies may apply for any vacancies within the city’s civil service system. The proposal also will make official and final the Council’s June decision to eliminate the deputy system.
Newly elected Mayor Lindsey Horvath pushed through a proposal to eliminate the controversial deputy system shortly after the June special council election. The city’s elimination of the deputy system is being challenged in court by Michelle Rex, the former campaign manager and later council deputy to John D’Amico, and by Ian
Owens, former deputy to Councilmember John Duran. Fran Solomon, the retired deputy to Councilmember John Heilman, also has brought a claim against the city alleging harassment by other deputies and by Councilmember D’Amico.
In his proposal to bring Baxter and Bock back temporarily, City Manager Paul Arevalo said Baxter is “responsible for managing an ongoing capital project litigation case involving the City of West Hollywood. Sam plays a critical role for the City in managing the high profile and complex case in direct coordination with the City’s outside legal counsel.” Arevalo said that Bock “plays a critical role for the City in managing the high profile and complex employment cases … ”
D’Amico objected to paying Baxter and Bock while they also were receiving their retirement compensation. Meister said that Bock, who oversaw human services, was not the right person to continue any negotiation with the council deputies.
Having worked with Sam Baxter I have huge respect for his competence and credibility; but it seems that re-hiring the retired as “consultants” is an abuse of the system. While undoubtedly Sam with provide necessary services, these “re-hires” simply reflect a problem with the ongoing malaise at City Hall. I warned the City Council that the rush to replace the deputies was fraught with unforeseen consequences. Had we simply gone through a transition period we may have been able to avoid this litigation. While there was a crisis at City Hall with Fran Solomon doing campaign work on City time… Read more »
Well said, Larry and Luca! I’m no expert but even I could have predicted that people who have big contracts and even their own union (!) will not accept being eliminated without insisting on what they were guaranteed (aka sue the city). How come the geniuses on council and city management did not seem to see this coming? In what world do they live in that they allowed this utterly predictable and expensive mess to unfold? Why can’t the City Attorney or legal staff do damage control as he either gave bad advice (once again) or was not asked. The… Read more »
I agree with Jimmy. Both LuNita and Sam can focus on this situation and allow the rest of the city employees, City Manager included, the ability to turn their focus back to the real problems of the City without this ongoing distraction.
I for one. am so glad Sam is Around for this. He is a good, fair and honest man.
I left before this matter was addressed but I will watch the rebroadcast. No mention aa to what amount of money they will be paid. I think it will be excessive. Why do we need these people anyway? Why can’t current employees take care of these issues?
What a joke is right. Those “deputies” have been paid all this time at those ridiculous salaries and D’Amico complains about these two being paid while being paid their retirement?
I am so sorry I voted for Meister. Never again will she get my vote. D’Amico will have to work pretty hard to get my vote again too. Those two seem merged at the hip these days. I thought I was on the same page as they were, but oh, was I wrong.
and by all means, can we pay them a ridiculous amount of money, far and above what they earned as city employees?
what a joke.
Millions. Perhaps the council member who hired their deputies should bear some of the responsibility. We the people have to pay for their childish arguments and political gamesmanship while the citizen pick up the tab.