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Council to Hire Outside Firm to Investigate Complaints About City Manager

Redondo Beach City Manager Bill Workman has come under fire in recent months.

FILE PHOTO: Redondo Beach City Manager Bill Workman. Photo credit Ed Pilolla.
FILE PHOTO: Redondo Beach City Manager Bill Workman. Photo credit Ed Pilolla.

The Redondo Beach City Council on Tuesday is expected to discuss and approve an agreement authorizing a law firm to conduct workplace investigations within city hall.

Todd C. Simonson, a partner in the law firm Jackson Lewis PC, has conducted about 50 workplace investigations over the past six years, according to an administrative report prepared by Redondo Beach City Attorney Mike Webb.

The agenda item comes two weeks after the city council announced that it would hire an outside investigator to look into complaints and charges against City Manager Bill Workman. 

Workman was the subject of a no-confidence vote among city employees held toward the end of last year. About 70 percent of the city's total work force—or about 98 percent of the 297 employees who returned ballots—expressed no confidence in the city manager's performance.

Members of the Coalition of Redondo Employees allege that Workman has not been "honest" in his dealings with employees during a tense series of contract negotiations for five of the city's six employee groups.

Before the Jan. 14 city council meeting adjourned to closed session, Workman read a statement to the mayor and council. In the statement, the city manager reaffirmed his commitment to the city and indicated that he respects the "rights of unions to bargain for improvements to wages, benefits and pensions."

Workman grew emotional as he continued in his statement.

"The repeated attacks on me in recent months have been harassing, hostile and in retaliation for my work as one of your designated labor relations representatives—and—for carrying out the fiduciary duties mandated upon me as your city manager," he said before going into more detail. 

Workman alleged that an attorney representing the Redondo Beach Firefighters Association "stated to me that if I did not agree the compensation demands of the City's public employee unions, they would personally attack me and that my health would suffer.

"This was an unequivocal intimidation and threat by the unions," Workman said. (Read Workman's full statement.

Stewart Adams, the attorney, denied these allegations in a letter to Workman that was shared with members of the press.

"I am saddened by your remarks," Adams wrote. (Read Adams' complete response.) "I am saddened because I never threatened you, and I certainly made no comments that your health would be jeopardized or that you would be subjected to personal attacks."

Tuesday's closed session agenda includes a public employee performance evaluation for the city manager, as well as an item for public employee discipline/dismissal/release—complaints or charges brought against an employee by another person or employee. It is not known whether the latter is related to Workman. 

Closed session of Tuesday's city council meeting will begin at 4:30 at city hall, located at 415 Diamond St. in South Redondo Beach. The council's open session will begin at 6 p.m.

Jerry Patrick Wood January 28, 2014 at 03:10 PM
So instead of having our council and elected officials review the fact s we spend money on someone else we can blame what a travesty. Where can I submit application for this plum consulting job
Nicole Mooradian (Editor) January 28, 2014 at 05:48 PM
I believe the council is hiring an outsider to do the review to keep it independent.
Jim Light January 28, 2014 at 10:19 PM
There is plenty of evidence already. Waste of money.
Kelly Sarkisian January 28, 2014 at 11:38 PM
An outside investigation may show more than we already know. If the investigation reveals misconduct it could save the city big money in severance pay ect for the city manager. Let the process work itself out!
Jim Light January 29, 2014 at 12:04 AM
Waste of money. There is plenty of evidence to find cause. Our elected officials need a backbone. Workman is self destructing - he's now in a he said/she said with a lawyer and his letter to City staff is written evidence of his tactics of intimidation. Workman is no leader and he is proving himself incapable of even managing. The surprise is not that City staff have risen up against him so strongly, but rather that they waited so long to do it. The real shame is that the Council has let it get to this.
orlando January 29, 2014 at 12:57 AM
Let's see. A union is complaining about a boss. That's a GOOD thing where I come from. Public sector unions are bankrupting the state.
David Mallen January 29, 2014 at 12:38 PM
The hiring of an outside "independent" investigator is almost certainly required by law, like it or not. City Attorney Webb made the right call again. The law firm hired by the City is well-respected for its expertise in labor & employment matters. The choice is a conservative one, as the law firm does defense work for employers.
Jim Light January 29, 2014 at 04:21 PM
An "independent" investigator may provide some level of insurance should there be a lawsuit from Workman, but from my government experience it is not required. There is ample evidence the council or City Attorney's office could gather on their own to justify firing Workman for cause. I doubt $30K will buy that much protection. What I question, and time will tell, is whether the Council will use the consultant to somehow justify keeping Workman and taking some corrective actions with him. Many of us have heard Aspel and Ginsburg praise and defend Workman publicly. And we know they work well pouring the concrete of their agenda in the back room before public participation. The end result will be telling. A 98% no confidence vote across all 6 employee unions is a rare, rare occurrence. To write this off as a purely compensation motivated action is an insult to city employees and is not born out by all the evidence available. The Council did not answer the question of whether former employees would be interviewed. I would also have members of the public interviewed. Several of us have experienced what City staff have had to live with, Workman rules by fear and intimidation. And that creates a hostile work environment. Is the Council too scared to make a decision? Are they too inept to make a decision and justify it? Or, are they looking for a way out of firing Workman? A "yes" answer to any of these questions is bad. In the end I question whether $30K for an independent consultant would really swing anything in a court case. There is ample evidence and no reason for the council not to show real leadership, do the right thing for the city and fire Workman for cause.
LoyalD January 29, 2014 at 06:19 PM
A few weeks ago, someone posted a comment that "Redondo Beach Should Remove the Cancer." Shame on you for likening any person to "cancer." Did it occur to any of you that the City Staff you are negotiating with are acting at the Council's direction, that at least three of the five councilmembers gave direction to the City Negotiating Team to make the offer you have before you? No, just personalize your attacks on your fellow city employees who just happened to choose the city manager's office when they chose their road to employment.
LoyalD January 29, 2014 at 06:23 PM
These City Negotiators you keep attacking are just like you and me, persons doing their job, at the direction of their boss. Make you feel good for attacking them, instead of the real decisionmakers? The City Council is going to need a scapegoat for their decisions unfortunately. City Negotiating Teams just don't make up contract offers, that is why closed sessions exist...for the City Negotiating Team to get direction from the Council. What do you think the rest of the County thinks of these shenanigans; so typical for associations to start attacking those who can't defend themselves. No confidence vote from employees who want raises; hilarious, you think the common reader even weighs that vote. It's like asking a kid if they want a single or double scoop of ice cream.
Jim Light January 29, 2014 at 09:16 PM
You seem to think our only issue with Workman is in the union negotiations... hardly. Multiple of the public have had the "pleasure" of experiencing Workman's attempts at intimidation. Mine was related to the City's misleading responses to traffic analysis data. Others have been on other matters. And many of us read publicly the frustration of a city employee and resident whom Workman chastised for contacting a Councilman. And if you follow Facebook, you will find former city staff revealing what is really going on at City Hall. Workman is a big boy in a very public position. His leadership style is now coming back to haunt him. I agree the Council is his boss and should have nipped this in the bud. But Aspel and Ginsburg have publicly praised Workman and stated that they rely on his advice because he is the "expert". So at least two of the council have abdicated their responsibility so far. We will see what they do after the wasted money on the consultant. As to your statement about others on Workman's management team... when you follow a bad leader without taking action to mitigate the hostile environment, you are complicit. It appears you've not listened to the employee reps or read their submissions... this goes beyond salary disagreements. This is about a failure in leadership.
Wolfman January 31, 2014 at 10:22 AM
Labor Unions are a necessary evil in our society private sector but when you have them in the public and government sector you are inviting some real problems as the tax payers are now held hostage
Just Me March 12, 2014 at 01:11 AM
@LoyalD, you obviously have your own agenda. Have you gone nearly 6 years with not only no raise, but a loss in pay? Redondo Beach employees have. Do you have any concern that the city is losing employees, that the police department is at an all time low in man power, incredibly low morale, with even more looking to leave? And now tonight, Peter Grant states in the City Council meeting that he believes the city will see a $3.9 million dollar deficit in the coming year. And on top of it, Matt Kilroy plainly lies when presenting facts about CalPers. Ask yourself, why is it that all of the surrounding cities are doing well economically, their employees are getting raises, while city leaders in Redondo Beach claim they are not doing well and the employees are still not seeing a return to their ORIGINAL wages? Is this what you call good city leadership? Are these the people you are supporting? Astounding! And your analogy was completely wrong.....with the way the city is treating their employees, it's like taking ice cream from a kid who doesn't have any to begin with. How much longer do you think your public servants should hold out and be loyal to Redondo Beach? This is about people serving their community with the worst wages in the South Bay. But, since you're not one of the ones who has to worry about going home safely to your family each night at a reduced wage, I guess it isn't that important to you.

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