On Tuesday evening, after a four-hour long closed session meeting, the Santa Ana City Council decided to fire City manager Paul Walters. The decision puts to rest the weeks of speculation that the new council majority, formed out of last summer’s Santa Ana Spring, was ready to fire Walters because of his perceived closeness and deference to Mayor Miguel Pulido. The final vote was 6-1, with Pulido in the minority.
Mayor Pulido was so upset regarding the proceedings he emerged for the closed session meeting before the remainder of the council to announce that Walters was being fired and that he wanted no part of it. When the regular meeting began, City Attorney Sonia Carvalho announced the closed session decision to fire Walters. No details of Walters separation terms were given. A review of previously publicized contract terms indicate that Walters may receive a years worth of salary as severance or return to his previous position as Chief of the Santa Ana Police Department.
Walters case may not have been helped buy the statements made by his wife Mary Walters after the previous Council meeting to Voice of OC reporter Adam Elmahrek criticizing the Council majority of engaging in a witch hunt. His sending a letter to supporters, from his city email account, forwarding an open letter to the council penned by his brother-in-law Tim Hirota, which was highly critical of the current council majority and accusing them of planning to turn Santa Ana into a sanctuary city. The Orange Juice Blog published the text of that email in their story yesterday.
Short of any proof, one can only assume that the Santa Ana City Council seeks to remove Paul Walters – not on the basis of poor job performance or for the “good” of the City of Santa Ana, but because of personal vendettas towards him or because they are using him to exact punishment upon someone else to whom he is connected in some way (of course, what else CAN we expect from a council which seeks to make Santa Ana a “sanctuary city”, thereby subverting their constituency in favor of illegal immigrants…).
It appears that this is not the best way to move a majority leaning against you back into your corner. But the final straw in this case may have been Walters announcement to the media, made through the official city spokesman Jose Gonzalez, last week that he expected to remain as City Manager “for the next five or six years.” Walters probably should have stuck with his previous statements that he serves at the pleasure of the council. Not only would that have been true, it would have served to not piss-off the people who control your employment options.