Friday, July 6, 2018

UPDATE: Eureka Paid Former City Attorney $165K for Resignation

Posted By on Fri, Jul 6, 2018 at 3:01 PM

Day-Wilson
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UPDATE:
Acting City Manager Brian Gerving responded to a Journal request with a full accounting of Day-Wilson’s resignation agreement payout, which totals more than $165,000.

According to Gerving, who’s in the acting role with City Manager Greg Sparks and City Clerk Pam Powell both out of the office, Day-Wilson was paid $80,794 for six months of severance pay, longevity pay, car allowance and health insurance opt-out pay. Additionally, she was paid $79,670 for accrued executive, holiday, sick and vacation leave, as well as six months of yet-to-be accrued sick and vacation leave, and a $5,000 contribution to her retirement account.

That adds up to $165,464.


PREVIOUSLY:
The Eureka City Council paid at least $110,000 to sever ties with former City Attorney Cyndy Day-Wilson, according to a resignation agreement the city released this afternoon.

Day-Wilson, who resigned abruptly June 26 based on mutually agreed upon terms after the council met in closed session to discuss firing or disciplining her, had worked for the city since November of 2011.

Under the terms of the "voluntary resignation agreement and final settlement" released by the city today, Day-Wilson was paid a lump sum settlement equal to six months of salary and benefits, as well as accrued vacation, holiday, executive leave and sick time. We've asked the city for the total dollar amount paid out to Day-Wilson but have yet to hear back. However, according to the public employee salary database www.transparentcalifornia.com, Day-Wilson made $218,678 in total pay and benefits in 2016 — which would put six months of salary and benefits somewhere in the neighborhood of $110,000, not including accrued vacation and leave time.

In exchange for the cash severance, Day-Wilson agreed not to sue the city under an circumstances "known or unknown, suspected to exist or not suspected to exist, anticipated or not anticipated." Additionally, the agreement holds that Day-Wilson can't disclose any confidential information learned in her role as city attorney.

The agreement also includes a mutual "non-disparagement" clause, which prohibits Day-Wilson, the city council or city employees from making disparaging remarks about one another, including "any statements, either verbal or written ... that criticize, discredit, insult, show a lack of respect towards, or which otherwise could have the effect of harming the reputation of the city or the employee."

If a potential employer should call the city asking about Day-Wilson in the future, the agreement dictates the city's personnel department must only verify the dates she worked for the city, the title of her position and her salary. The city is prohibited from releasing any additional information without a signed release from Day-Wilson.

Under the terms of Day-Wilson’s employment agreement with the city, her employment could have been terminated at any time with or without cause. To fire her with cause, the city would have had to show she willfully breached the terms of the agreement, habitually neglected her duties, committed a crime, willfully violated city policies of a “serious nature” or committed an act of “dishonesty, fraud or other acts of moral turpitude.” If fired without cause, the city would have had to pay Day-Wilson a lump sum cash severance equal to six months of salary and benefits as well as any accrued vacation, holiday or executive leave time. The resignation agreement released today indicates the city also agreed to pay out Day-Wilson for accrued sick leave in exchange for her voluntary resignation.

The city council met in closed session June 19 to evaluate the performance of the three employees who answer directly to the city’s governing body: City Manager Greg Sparks, City Clerk Pam Powell and Day-Wilson.

Sparks told the Journal last week that generally as a part of that review process, each council member would fill out a standardized form, weighing in on the employee’s job performance. The council would then meet privately with the mayor to compare notes, with one council member compiling the feedback into a single form. From there, the employee would be brought in for a conversation with the council, looking back on his or her job performance and forward at areas of improvement and goals for the coming year. No one other than the employee, the mayor and the council is present for these discussions.

It’s unclear what occurred at Day-Wilson’s June 19 review but around noon on June 25 the council posted an agenda for a special closed-session meeting at 1 p.m. the following day, with the potential discipline or termination of a city employee as the only discussion item.

Sparks said conversations about Day-Wilson’s potential resignation began about the time the agenda was posted and her attorney, Larry Kluck, contacted him later that day. Day-Wilson’s last day in the office was June 25.

But Sparks said no agreement was in place nor was any settlement offer on the table when the council convened in closed session June 26. In that closed session meeting, it appears the council discussed what it could agree to in a “resignation agreement” over the course of about 20 minutes, after which Sparks emerged from the meeting to confer with Kluck in his office, apparently relaying the substance of the council’s settlement offer.

Throughout the process of discussing the “resignation agreement” June 25 and 26, Sparks said the city consulted with Jack Hughes, a partner in the law firm Liebert, Cassidy and Whitmore, a large California firm specializing in public employment law. Hughes signature also appears on the resignation agreement, along with those of Day-Wilson, Sparks and City Clerk Pam Powell.
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Thadeus Greenson

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Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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