, May 20, 2022

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Vallejo council to get update on search for new city manager, Mare Island land deal


  •   3 min reads
Vallejo council to get update on search for new city manager, Mare Island land deal
Vallejo City Hall

VALLEJO – The Vallejo City Council is expected to receive an update Tuesday on the search for a permanent city manager during a closed session meeting.

Last month, the council learned that the city’s human resources department sent a request for proposals to at least 10 different search firms. Stephanie Sifuentes, assistant human resources director, said her department didn’t have the capacity to conduct an extensive search to fill the city manager position.

The firms include: Ralph Andersen, Teri Black Consulting, Avery & Associates, Peckham & McKenney, Koff & Associates, Bob Murray & Associates, Wendi Brown Creative Partners, CPS-HR, MRG, and Management Partners.

Most of the firms are located in Northern California.

Vallejo used the Los Gatos-based  Avery & Associates when it hired its last permanent city manager, Greg Nyhoff, toward the end of 2017. Nyhoff’s time in Vallejo was fraught with controversy as he was criticized for his handling of a badge-bending scandal within the city’s police department and for proposing to move the police department headquarters to a building along Vallejo’s waterfront, among other issues.

Nyhoff didn’t even finish five full years as Vallejo’s CEO. He disappeared from city hall over the 2021 Memorial Day weekend with an unknown medical condition days before the city council was expected to approve a new fiscal year budget. Nyhoff never returned and the council eventually approved a $577,536 resignation and separation agreement with him in July.

The council then appointed Anne Cardwell, who was originally hired as assistant city manager in late 2018, as interim city manager. Cardwell left Vallejo two months later to become the finance director with the city of Napa. Water Director Mike Malone was tapped to serve as interim city manager.

The city also used the Rocklin-based Ralph Andersen search firm during the past few years to find Police Chief Shawny Williams and City Attorney Veronica Nebb.

Sifuentes has been slow to release the names of the search firms contacted by the city. Sifuentes told the council during the same Jan. 25 meeting that she didn’t have the names with her prior to updating the council on the search.

The next day, Sifuentes declined to provide the names when contacted by the Vallejo Sun. She encouraged the Sun to file a public records request with the city to obtain the names.

The Sun filed a records request on Jan. 26 with Sifuentes giving Melissa Rhodes, the city’s public records act coordinator, the names a week later. The city withheld the names for two days before releasing the records last Friday, records show.

Council to get update on possible sale of North Mare Island

The city’s property negotiators is also expected to update council on the sale of 157 acres of land on the northern portion of Mare Island.

The negotiating team includes Interim City Manager Mike Malone, interim Assistant City Manager Gillian Hayes, Paul Kelley, special advisor to city manager - economic development manager, and Vallejo City Attorney Veronica Nebb.

The proposed sale has come under increased scrutiny following reports that Nyhoff met with officials from The Nimitz Group and Southern Land Group in late 2019. Nyhoff was accused of working to remove certain benchmarks from an October 2019 term sheet, weakening the city’s position in the deal. The council eventually approved a new term sheet which would have the city sell the 157 acres to Nimitz for just $3 million.

Some in the community have cried foul, arguing that the $3 million isn’t enough compensation for that amount of land. They pointed to the Vallejo school district which is seeking no less than $4.8 million for 17.71 acres of land along  Rollingwood Drive and Benicia Road. The property was once the home of East Vallejo Little League baseball. The district is also asking for no less than $2.9 million for the 5.2-acre Farragut school site.

The special closed session of the Vallejo City Council is scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday. The meeting will be held via teleconference.

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