• WHAT: City Council special meeting, closed session to discuss city manager evaluation and potential action, as well as anticipated litigation.
• WHEN: 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26.
• WHERE: City Hall, council chambers, 1 Plaza
The Patterson City Council will hold a special closed session meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26, to discuss concerns about City Manager Cleve Morris.
The meeting will be a continuation of a closed session that lasted more than two hours prior to the council’s regular meeting Tuesday, Oct. 20. Sources with knowledge of the situation told the Irrigator there are general concerns about the management of City Hall and that some of those concerns stem specifically from the handling of the Del Puerto Health Center’s attempted move to the Keystone Pacific Business Park.
Local resident Mary Martin said Friday that a public show of support for Morris was being planned for the night of the meeting. The gathering is set to take place outside City Hall at 5:45 p.m. Monday, 15 minutes before the meeting’s scheduled start.
Reached by phone Friday afternoon, Morris said he couldn’t comment on the matter — and, because he was not in the closed session meeting on Tuesday, he was unsure what was discussed.
Morris said he has talked with council members in the past about various concerns they’ve had about his performance.
“We talk about it from time to time — nothing specific I can bring up,” Morris said. “We constantly talk about things.”
Asked if councilors had expressed concerns about the handling of the health center move, Morris hedged.
“We’ve had a lot of discussions about that,” Morris said. “Again, I can’t confirm or deny it, but that could be part of the deal, yeah.”
When Tuesday’s closed session ended, Mayor Becky Campo announced the “city manager evaluation” item had been tabled to Monday and that an item regarding potential litigation from local developer John Ramos would be added. An item on “anticipated litigation” is on the agenda for Monday’s meeting, though Ramos’ name is not mentioned.
Council members said they couldn’t speak on the concerns about Morris or what action might be taken because it is a personnel matter. The council has hiring and firing power over the city manager, though the city’s municipal code states the firing process must begin with action taken in a regular council meeting.
If the council decides it wants to dismiss Morris, it must provide him written notice and allow him a hearing to plead his case. The council can suspend the city manager with pay once the notice has been given.
The anticipated litigation stems from a request Ramos has made to be reimbursed for legal fees incurred during his appeal of city staff’s approval of the health center’s move, sources confirmed.
The move was approved by city staff, but Ramos — the health center’s current landlord — appealed, claiming that the city’s zoning laws prohibited the move. His appeal was denied by the Patterson Planning Commission in February but later upheld by the City Council in May.
Ramos argues that if City Attorney George Logan’s opinion had been sought out before staff approved the move, the appeal and the coinciding legal fees would not have been necessary. When the issue first went before the city council in April, Logan recommended that the city require a zoning amendment and an environmental review before allowing the move.
If the council determines Ramos should have his legal fees reimbursed because of an error by city staff, Morris or Community Development Director Rod Simpson could be assigned blame. The city manager has authority over heads of the city’s departments, like Simpson.
• Contact James Leonard at 892-6187 or email@example.com.