Sonoma City Council tight-lipped on series of special meetings to review city manager
On Monday, the Sonoma City Council held its second special meeting in a week - and its fourth closed-session meeting total, all aimed at the performance of Interim City Manager Sue Casey.
Council members have remained quiet about the content of those meetings — held Aug. 25, Oct. 19, Nov. 9 and Nov. 14. Agendas provided by the city indicated the meetings were for a “public employee performance evaluation” and listed Casey’s name and title. Mayor Jack Ding, Vice Mayor Kelso Barnett and Councilmember Madolyn Agrimonti declined to comment on the reason for the meetings.
Agendas for the special meetings cited government code section 54957, which expresses the council’s right “to consider the appointment, employment, evaluation of performance, discipline, or dismissal of a public employee” in a closed session.
Special meetings are held outside the council’s regular calendar to review timely issues facing the city.
Casey is Sonoma’s third city manager since 2020, when Cathy Capriola retired after three years of leading City Hall. David Kiff took on the interim role for six months after Capriola’s departure. He was succeeded by Garrett Toy, who left Feb. 16, also after six months on the job, with little explanation from city officials other than the agreement represented a “mutual parting of ways.”
While Toy’s contract called for an employee review 180 days after hiring, Casey’s contract does not make such a mandate.
Before moving into the interim role, Casey served as assistant city manager for five years, during which time she oversaw finances, human resources and risk management for the city.
“(Casey) has demonstrated competence and confidence in her ability to take on the position,” Ding said at the time of her promotion to acting city manager. “Sue is an experienced management professional and I am optimistic about her ability to serve our community.”
Casey did not respond to a request for comment regarding the performance evaluation.
Casey’s contract with the city designates she return to her former position as assistant city manager at the conclusion of her service as interim city manager. According to govsalaries.com, Casey’s current salary is $224,000.
City Attorney Jeffrey Walter said the council may consider permanent candidates for the position in public meetings, in an ad-hoc committee or in private, individual interviews with council members.
Private interviews with city council members often occur, Walter said, because city manager candidates are often already employed with another municipality. In order to not violate the public meeting law known as the Brown Act, city council members must not collude in their assessments of any new city manager candidates, but are able to compare notes at council meetings.
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