For the second time this year, a city manager in the Coachella Valley has suddenly resigned under mysterious circumstances. Last week’s announcement that Martin Magana would be leaving his post in Desert Hot Springs was accompanied by no explanation at all. Today, it was announced that even though his contract did not require severance pay, the cash-strapped city of Desert Hot Springs would be giving Magana over $63,000 anyway. The city offered no explanation as to why. So much for government transparency.
Via Desert Sun:
Jennifer Mizrahi, the assistant city attorney, said last week that Magana will be on paid administrative leave for his final 30 days in office and will receive five months’ severance pay. That comes up to about $63,300, which is five months of his annual salary of $152,000.
His original contract didn’t require severance pay if he resigned with 30 days’ notice. City leaders said they couldn’t say why he’s receiving severance or was placed on administrative leave, since discussions happened behind closed doors.
Officials would only say that he earned the severance.
“It was determined he was a valuable employee,” Councilwoman Yvonne Parks said.
The move follows news of the city of Palm Desert paying former City Manager John Wohlmuth nearly $300,000 to leave his job in April with, at first, no explanation. It was eventually reported that Wohlmuth was allegedly circulating naked photos of employees around the office, but taxpaying citizens were told by elected officials that it was a “bitter pill” that they just had to do anyway.
Now, two months later, another City Manager has resigned in the Coachella Valley and, yet again, there is no explanation from elected officials.
Mayor Scott Matas said he understood residents might be frustrated about the lack of information and that the agreement is depriving other city services of funding. But he said the arrangement was designed to help Magana, who was a strong worker.
“He did two, three people’s jobs while he was there,” Matas said.
So yes, Desert Hot Springs residents. Your sidewalks may be crumbling and you could use more cops – but that will have to wait because the Mayor would rather give tens of thousands of dollars to someone who had to do the job of two or three people – something that most hard working people in the Coachella Valley are forced to do on a daily basis, only without getting all the loot once they quit their job.
Who knows, maybe it is another scandal or maybe it isn’t. Thanks to the city council of DHS, we may never know much – well other than the fact that even more taxpayer dollars are going to pay a man for doing literally nothing at all.
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