Carlos Martinez, who was terminated as Richmond City Manager following a 4-3 vote by City Council on Tuesday, provided the Standard with a statement Thursday.
Here is Martinez’s statement in full:
“I am grateful for the opportunity the city council gave me to serve the Richmond community. The city and the city council face great challenges and need to make difficult decisions, terminating my contract was one of them. I respect their decision. I know that, as most city residents are honest people working hard to provide for their families and pay for public services; the great majority of city staff also serve quietly and unselfishly, honorably doing the right things and placing the interests of the residents first. Therefore, despite the current City challenges, I’m confident with the leadership of the Council and committed staff, the City will continue moving forward. I wish the City the best in the new leadership recruitment process and in resolving the City struggles.”
Mayor Tom Butt has called for a special meeting this Saturday to appoint an acting city manager, after the person initially named to the position, Community Services Director Rochelle Polk, declined the appointment Wednesday morning.
Councilmembers Eduardo Martinez, Demnlus Johnson III, Nat Bates and Melvin Willis voted in favor of terminating Martinez, while Mayor Butt and Councilmembers Ben Choi and Jael Myrick voted to retain him.
Martinez, formerly City Manager of East Palo Alto, serves as Richmond’s city manager for less than a year, having been appointed in October 2018. Martinez had been hired to a five-year contract with $260,000 in annual salary and about $358,000 in total compensation. For the involuntary termination, per his contract, he will receive a severance package equal to a year’s salary.
Martinez drew ire from all five city unions amid efforts to address a city budget deficit expected to grow in the coming years, in large part due to increasing employee pension costs.
Leaders of the cities unions formed a coalition that accused the City Manager of negotiating in bad faith by, in part, misrepresenting the city’s budget deficit and proposing to lay off top managers.
Martinez told council his proposal to lay off department heads was part of a reorganization recommended by an independent auditor aimed at streamlining operations and strengthening the city’s financial position.
The city manager ultimately didn’t prove his case to council or the public — he was also criticized for his general lack of public outreach in the community, as noted in this East Bay Express article.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of the report incorrectly stated the former city manager severance pay. The story is has since been corrected to state that he will receive an amount equivalent to one year of salary.