I’ve lived in Morro Bay for 24 years and served in city government for 20 years, six as mayor. I have never seen the community as torn apart as it is by the recent actions of the current mayor and two councilmembers. This triumvirate, two of them with only 10 months in office, plan to terminate Andrea Lueker, who has worked for the city for 28 years, currently as city manager, and Rob Schultz, city attorney for 15 years. The mayor stated that there are no complaints or charges against either employee. This “at will” action will leave city staff with no experience at the helm as we face some major budget and project hurdles, and could cost up to $500,000 in severance pay, hourly attorney fees, and replacement recruitment efforts.
Some citizens blame these two for doing their jobs properly by following the direction of previous councils, the wastewater treatment plant being the prime example. I believe the triumvirate’s cavalier action to scuttle that project and start over will cost ratepayers an estimated $41 million and 38 percent or more increase on their bills, something I predicted during the election and was angrily told by then-candidate Irons was “fear mongering.”
Many of the triumvirate’s supporters, who regularly berated previous councils, now cry foul when criticism is directed at their favorites. When instructed by the mayor to give 24-hour notice for a meeting to discuss their termination, Lueker and Schultz asserted their right to a public hearing so they could respond to any charges. The community support was immediate and passionate, but hardly a “mob.”
Lueker and Schultz have served under several different councils and always responded to changes in council direction, including when the triumvirate took office, while maintaining a positive attitude and keeping the city running smoothly. They deserve to be respected and thanked for that, not terminated.
-- Janice Peters - Morro Bay