The payment is the remaining balance owed to Nyhoff under his employment agreement with the city, which was scheduled to end in January 2023.
“It’s something we had to address,” said Vallejo Mayor Robert McConnell when reached for comment about Nyhoff.
McConnell said he doesn’t expect city hall to be impact as the council continues to address issues within the city, including reforming the Vallejo Police Department.
Nyhoff has been away from city hall for nearly a month with an undisclosed medical illness.
Reaction to the news was swift as civil rights lawyer Melissa Nold expressed her pleasure with Nyhoff’s upcoming departure from Vallejo.
“I’m going to have a champagne toast and dessert potluck to celebrate,” said Nold, who has been a staunch critic of Nyhoff.
“I’m glad he is leaving,” she added, “but I’m flabbergasted that he gets to walk away with money.”
Nold called the settlement amount “bad lawyering” on the part of Vallejo City Attorney Veronica Nebb.
His disappearance raised eyebrows as it came shortly before the city council was expected to sign off on Nyhoff’s recommended 2021-22 fiscal year budget. It also took place days after the city’s housing manager, Judy Shepard-Hall, was placed on paid administrative leave.
Prior to her placement on leave, Shepard-Hall filed a complaint against Nyhoff with the city’s human resources department.
City Hall has declined to speak about the Shepard-Hall’s complaint and/or placement on leave, claiming it is a personnel issue.
Earlier this week, U-Haul vehicles were seen outside Nyhoff’s Mare Island home. It’s not known if he has moved to another part of the city or out of Vallejo altogether.
A bulk of the payment, $408,542, will be equal to the amount of salary Nyhoff would receive through the end of the employment agreement. He will also receive $67,382 for 528 hours of unused vacation, $36,768 that would have been paid to his CalPERS, $3,000 in an automobile allowance, and $23,100 for a housing allowance, along with his medical insurance.
Settlement terms also require Nyhoff to cooperate with the city regarding the multiple active lawsuits he has been named in during his time in Vallejo. Nyhoff will also be paid $128 per hour.
“In addition, Nyhoff agrees to execute declarations of fact under penalty of perjury concurrently with the execution by Nyhoff of this Agreement and before he receives any payment hereunder,” the agreement states. “The Declarations shall be prepared by the City’s attorneys, in cooperation with Nyhoff. The Declarations shall contain a recitation of facts in each case identified below and as currently known to Nyhoff.
Those cases include a whistleblower lawsuit filed by three former high-ranking city hall employees. Nyhoff fired Will Morat, Slater Matzke, and Joanna Altman in April 2020, sending shockwaves throughout the city organization.
All three filed wrongful termination claims against the city last October. The claims, including Morat’s August claim – were denied by the city. Nyhoff, then-interim City Attorney Randy Risner, Assistant City Manager Anne Cardwell, and former Human Resources Director Heather Ruiz were then named in a lawsuit the trio filed with the Solano County Superior Court on Feb. 9.
“It is a shame that the Vallejo taxpayers will carry yet another burden with Vallejo City Council’s decision to reward Nyhoff’s exploitation of power with $577,000 in public dollars, and even rewarding his corruption by agreeing to pay Nyhoff an hourly rate for his time required by courts in the future as the City continues to deal with the numerous lawsuits that he has caused,” said Matzke in a statement released by Gwilliam Ivary Chiosso Cavalli & Brewer, the law firm representing all three fired employees.
Other cases include two sepreate lawsuits filed by the Vallejo Police Officers’ Association, and a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by former Vallejo Police Capt. John Whitney.
Whitney, who was fired by the department in August 2019, claims he was retaliated against for raising concerns about officers bending the tips of their badges after killing someone.
Cardwell is expected to remain as acting city manager for the time being.