, May 24, 2022

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Sources: Vallejo's housing manager placed on leave

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Sources: Vallejo's housing manager placed on leave

VALLEJO – Judy Shepard-Hall, Vallejo’s housing & community development program manager, was placed on leave sometime during the past few days, multiple sources confirmed to the Vallejo Sun.

The Sun attempted to email Shepard-Hall on Tuesday about a separate item. An auto message from Shepard-Hall’s city email address stated that “Judy Shepard-Hall is currently out of the office.”

Vallejo Spokeswoman Christina Lee said in a Wednesday night email that “the City is not free to comment on any personnel matters.”

Judy Shepard-Hall, Vallejo’s housing & community development program manager. (City of Vallejo).
Judy Shepard-Hall, Vallejo’s housing & community development program manager. (City of Vallejo).

Shepard-Hall’s placement on leave comes weeks after she filed a complaint with the city’s human resources department against Nyhoff, sources told the Sun. It’s not immediately known what the Shepard-Hall alleged in the complaint.

“Your question involves a personnel matter which the City is not at liberty to speak on,” Lee wrote in a June 10 email.

The month of May was a rough one for Shepard-Hall. She faced criticism from the Vallejo City Council during its May 25 meeting about the delay in opening the city’s navigation center – which was suppose to break ground sometime in early 2020. That estimate has been revised several times with Shepard-Hall pointing to the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the main reasons for the delay.

During the last few months, Shepard-Hall said the center, proposed for placement in South Vallejo to assist the city’s homeless, was tentatively scheduled to open in December 2021. However, that tentative date was revised – again.

Nyhoff said in the May 25 meeting that the navigation center won’t open until late spring or early summer 2022 — at the earliest.

“I’m a hesitant to put a date out there, a month out there,” Shepard-Hall said during the council meeting when asked by multiple councilmembers when the center would open.

Shepard-Hall was also peppered with questions from the council on why the project’s budget had doubled from $4 million to more than $8 million. The project currently has a $5.5 million funding gap.

“I don’t think COVID was the reason things took longer,” Councilwoman Mina Diaz said during the same May 25 meeting. “I feel the ball was dropped along the line.”

In a letter attached to the city’s proposed fiscal year 2021-22 budget, Nyhoff wrote to the council that he admits “and accept failure for missing appropriate steps in the project management phase which caused nearly a year delay of the project.”

Screenshot of automatic reply from Judy Shepard-Hall’s Vallejo email address.

Nyhoff further said he moved the project from the housing division to public works. He doesn’t mention Shepard-Hall by name.

“After an extensive assessment of the situation, we were able to identify the issues that did not allow this project to move forward as planned,” Nyhoff wrote in the May 12 letter. “Since that assessment, we have taken steps to ensure that a Navigation Center will open in Vallejo as soon as possible. Ownership and management of the project have been transferred from Housing and Community Development to the Public Works Department.”

Shepard-Hall, who joined the city of Vallejo in October 2018, was one of 10 senior-level City Hall employees who signed a March 2020 letter to the Vallejo City Council expressing support toward Nyhoff.

While not named as a defendant, Shepard-Hall was mentioned in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by three former City Hall employees who allege Nyhoff fired them after they raised concerns about his alleged unethical behavior.

Shepard-Hall is accused of harassing another employee while also conspiring with other City Hall employees, including Cardwell, and former Human Resources Director Heather Ruiz, to have the three whistleblower employees fired.

When contacted in April regarding the lawsuit, Shepard-Hall said she couldn’t comment because of the status of the ongoing litigation.

“I can however say that I have read the allegations of the litigation you have referenced and these allegations contain many factual inaccuracies which I believe will be addressed as part of the City’s response to the pending litigation,” she added in the same email.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was updated on June 10 to include a comment from Vallejo Spokeswoman Christina Lee about the complaint filed by Judy Shepard-Hall against Greg Nyhoff.

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