In a swift action with little discussion, the Eureka City Council voted 4-0, with Councilmember Heidi Messner absent, at a special meeting today to accept the resignation of City Manager Dean Lotter, who was placed on administrative leave earlier this month after a scant four months in the post.
The terms of his separation were not immediately released but will be seven days after all of the parties have signed the papers, according to City Attorney Robert Black.
“The separation is a clean one in that both sides are allowed to go their own way and put this situation behind us,” Black said, noting the agreement releases the city from any liability.
Under the law, Lotter has the legal right to change his mind during the seven-day period.
One member of the public, Judy Sousa, expressed concerns about a lack of transparency in the process and any potential costs the city could incur. “I’m not comfortable with how this happened or the speed in which it happened,” she told the council.
Councilmember Natalie Arroyo briefly addressed the public, saying the decision was carefully considered.
“We have certainly been thoughtful about it and thorough,” she said.
In an email to the Journal
earlier today, acting City Manager Pam Powell said the agreement will serve as his resignation and Lotter did not submit a separate letter.
Under his contract, Lotter was to give the city 60 days of notice in the event of a voluntary resignation, “unless the parties agree otherwise.” The city has not released any details on why Lotter was placed on administrative leave.
Brought on board after a months-long nationwide search that saw the Midwest native best 40 other candidates, Lotter’s resignation marks a stunning upheaval of the city’s leadership structure as Eureka faces difficult budget decisions amid the COVID-19-related economic downturn.
In an interview with the Journal earlier this year
, Lotter — who recently bought a house in Eureka with his wife — said he wanted to stay in the city manager’s job for at least another 15 years.
Reaching that benchmark would see Lotter serve longer than David Tyson — who held the post for a decade in the aftermath of a rotating series of city managers. The city’s last city manager, Greg Sparks, left after five years and his predecessor Bill Panos didn't make it a year.
Instead, Lotter will have served the shortest tenure in recent memory, if not all of the city’s 170-year history.
“We are appreciative for the work that Mr. Lotter performed during his tenure and the City Council wishes him success in his future pursuits,” Mayor Susan Seaman said in a news release sent out after the meeting.
According to the release, the process and timeline for selecting a new permanent city manager will be announced at a later date.