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Arroyo Grande city manager ousted

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Arroyo Grande City Manager Dianne Thompson found herself out of a job after less than a year when the City Council voted to fire her June 28.

The City Council voted unanimously in closed session to fire Thompson after placing her on paid administrative leave the week before. Thompson’s ouster followed a tense working relationship with Arroyo Grande Mayor Jim Hill and Councilmember Tim Brown, which spilled out into public on occasion.

Thompson started working as city manager in August of 2015 to replace longtime City Manager Steve Adams, who resigned in 2014 after a high-profile incident where he was found alone with a subordinate employee at Arroyo Grande City Hall late at night.

In the months after she was hired, Thompson drew criticism from Hill and Brown. In early December, Hill expressed frustration with Thompson and city staff in general over not being able to get a discussion of the closure of Highway 101 ramps at Brisco Road on the agenda. Later that same month, Brown criticized Thompson on the same issue during an appearance on a local talk radio show. The public criticism sparked a concerned letter from the city’s insurance carrier in early 2016, which warned that the comments could be construed as derogatory and lead to a lawsuit. 

Both Hill and the other members of the council have remained tight-lipped over their reasons for ousting Thompson. Several declined to comment after she was placed on paid leave by a unanimous council vote June 21, citing it as a personnel matter

Under her contract, Thompson is entitled to a lump sum worth six months of her salary and benefits worth more than $114,000. According to her contract, Thompson would not qualify for the severance payment if her firing was a result of a failure to perform her duties as city manager.

Arroyo Grande Public Works Director Geoff English was named interim city manager in the wake of Thompson’s ouster.

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