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Letter to the Editor: Lawsuits Against City

Manhattan Beach resident voices opinion on lawsuits against city by former city attorney and city manager.

Dear Editor:

Poker anyone? A high stakes multi-million dollar poker game is underway between the Manhattan Beach City Council (MBCC) and fired former City Attorney Wadden and fired former City Manager Dolan, both of whom will inevitably file lawsuits against the city. Unfortunately, the residents are providing the stakes.

The latest gambit by Wadden as a veiled threat is his “Supporting Documents for Wadden Claim for Damages (Submitted Under Seal)” to the MBCC which the city returned unopened. Plausibly, it contains the investigation substantiating the allegations of alleged sexual misconduct by Dolan which the city has refused to reveal. If substantiated, the prior MBCC would have to justify why it provided Dolan a $200,000+severance rather than firing him for moral turpitude. Further, revelation of the investigation would violate the nondisclosure terms of the severance, thus aiding Dolan’s case. Be prepared for another “Anonymous Letter” as the one detailing Dolan’s alleged misconduct. 

Tragically, we, as residents, will (as these lawsuits grind through the courts) suffer the continual exacerbation of wounds created over 15 years by Dolan and Wadden and by the prior MBCCs who failed to prevent the harms they created, damaging the integrity of public policymaking in Manhattan Beach.  

Our prior MBCC settled a lawsuit filed against it admitting violations of open government laws and expending extensive tax dollars to prevent disclosure before capitulating followed by additional penalties. It promised us “commitment to open and transparent government.”  This promise has remained unfulfilled by a rear-guard minority of the prior but still present members of the MBCC (Tell and Montgomery) hindering MBCC Council members Lesser, Powell, and Howorth in promoting open government initiatives.

Sincerely,

Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D.                                                                 
Manhattan Beach resident

bev October 04, 2011 at 09:24 PM
it would behoove the city, and councilmembers powell and lesser, to continue their independence more strongly than ever as the terms and times of nick and dick wind down to a dismal conclusion. and one can only hope that councilmember howorth will once again begin exhibiting the spirit and independence formerly observed during her service on the school board.
Gary Osterhout October 05, 2011 at 12:55 AM
I find it interesting that Dolan is complaining about not being able to find another city manager job, as that seems to contradict his intentions of expressed in the 12/17/09 Beach Reporter prior to any other information being made public: "Dolan said he intends to stay in Manhattan Beach, but does not have another job lined up. “It’s unlikely that I’ll be a city manager again. I have no idea what career is in the future,” he said, adding that he plans to enjoy his new grandson, Geoffrey Jr., over Christmas." What would be a tragedy is if Dolan would prevail in his suit, and the judgment was paid out of the City's overly large Insurance Reserve amassed during Dolan's tenure. I certainly hope that our new administration doesn't just quickly settle because the money is available, and they would prefer to get this problem not of their making behind them--tempting as that may be.
Gerry O'Connor October 05, 2011 at 06:39 PM
Wadden and Dolan are prime examples of public employees so spoiled by years of overcompensation that they now believe themselves entitled to yet *more* unearned retirement cash even beyond their record shattering pensions. Wadden, clearly fired for cause and thereby paid no severance (consistent with his employment contract), has no basis whatsoever for his claim. Dolan, who left under an inappropriate cloak of secrecy that exists to this day, was paid his full severance (arguably and then some), and is responsible for his own reputation. Both collect *very* lucrative pensions, irrespective of job performance, reputation, or any such additional demands they may so boldly make of the taxpayers. Yes, it is best for everyone to move forward -- but if our City Council mistakenly makes yet further payment for such unfounded claims, they will only be perpetuating the problem of employees becoming so accustomed to overfeeding at the public trough that they believe themselves entitled to a huge, undeserved last supper. Our new City Manager and new City Attorney, just for instance, must not be led to believe that such unearned settlements are so assuredly in their future. Our City Council may not be able to disclose certain details of legal proceedings, but they can and MUST keep the public advised of the ongoing status of these two unfounded claims. The alternative of a sudden settlement announcement will fly in the face of any commitment to open governance.
bob johnson October 08, 2011 at 06:21 PM
These shady characters deserved to be shown the door.
bev October 08, 2011 at 06:41 PM
anyone remember who was serving on city council when geoff was hired?
Gerry O'Connor October 08, 2011 at 08:39 PM
Sure, Bev -- the 1996 City Council that hired Geoff Dolan and Bob Wadden was Steve Napolitano, Tim Lilligren, Steve Barnes, Joan Jones and Jack Cunningham. However, more responsibility for this current expensive and problematic mess lies with the subsequent Councils who not only failed to adequately manage their only two direct reports, but who so rewarded them that they created and perpetuated an environment where, for years, the tail was wagging the dog.
bev October 08, 2011 at 09:15 PM
thanks gerry - for obvious reasons, i was thinking a couple of others who have found it difficult to let go of city workings... and yes - i agree - ship of tools - not that sharp - both parties used & abused.

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