VALLEJO – The city of Vallejo released a job brochure last month seeking to hire a new permanent human resources director, who would be the third in two years after Mark Love left in early January.
Love’s departure came about seven months after he was named permanent HR director. He got the job after Heather Ruiz accepted a job as the city of Napa’s HR director and left Vallejo in March 2021.
Love’s exit also created another vacancy in interim City Manager Mike Malone’s cabinet. Vallejo entered 2022 with six top city positions filled in an interim or acting capacity: City manager, two assistant city managers, water director, public works director, and human resources director.
Two other positions, the housing & community development manager, which oversees the city’s housing division, and the planning & development services director, who is responsible for the planning and building divisions, are also being filled on an interim basis.
“Turnover throughout the City is a concern shared by all department heads and Council,” Malone told the Vallejo Sun in January when asked if he was concerned with the amount of turnover within city hall.
Love was first hired as assistant HR director in November 2019. He was elevated to interim HR director after Ruiz left. Then-interim City Manager Anne Cardwell promoted Love to permanent HR director in July 2021 as one of her first acts after securing the interim city manager position.
Cardwell’s time as the city’s interim city manager was brief as she left in October 2021 to take the finance director position with the city of Napa.
Carmen Valdez, a consultant hired by the city, is currently listed on the city’s website as interim HR director. However, city spokesperson Christina Lee confirmed last month that Terrance Davis, one of the interim assistant city managers, is actually serving as the official interim HR director.
“Carmen is only helping Vallejo on a part-time basis and therefore does not have signing authority, hence the reason Terrance currently holds the title until we permanently fill the position,” Lee told the Vallejo Sun.
Davis was originally hired as the city’s public works director in August 2017. He was named the city’s second interim assistant city manager last November, joining Gillian Hayes.
Following Ruiz’s departure, the city turned to attorney Christopher Boucher to conduct the HR recruitment. He has been hired again to conduct the current search.
Boucher isn’t a stranger to Vallejo as he was hired by the city to conduct an investigation into an unspecified complaint involving then-City Manager Greg Nyhoff in 2020. Boucher cleared Nyhoff of any wrongdoing and a day after the city council was updated on the investigation, Nyhoff fired Slater Matzke, Joanna Altman and Will Morat, all top members of his cabinet.
All three were required to participate in the investigation. They have said since that they believe Nyhoff fired them for talking about his behavior toward city hall staff.
“These individuals did not work well with Mr. Nyhoff, they did not care for Mr. Nyhoff as a city manager and frankly they wanted to get him removed as the city manager,” Boucher told ABC7 in December 2020.
All three went on to file a lawsuit against the city for wrongful termination. Besides Nyhoff, Cardwell, Ruiz, and then-interim City Attorney Randy Risner are also named in the lawsuit.
The terminated employees allege that Nyhoff “created a culture of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation Vallejo that was so deeply embedded that other employees felt free to do the same,” according to the lawsuit.
Nyhoff would leave the city more than a year after the controversial terminations. Nyhoff disappeared over the Memorial Day holiday last year with an undisclosed medical issue. He never returned and the council went on to approve a $577,536 resignation and separation agreement between the city and Nyhoff. The payment was the remaining balance owed to Nyhoff under his employment agreement with the city, which was scheduled to end in January 2023.
When hired, the city’s new human resources director will earn between $155,00 to $188,000 in an annual salary. The first set of resumes will be reviewed on Monday.
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THE VALLEJO SUN NEWSLETTER
Investigative reporting, regular updates, events and more
- Vallejo City Hall
- Mark Love
- Mike Malone
- Heather Ruiz
- Carmen Valdez
- Terrance Davis
- Christopher Boucher
- Greg Nyhoff
- Anne Cardwell
- Slater Matzke
- Joanna Altman
- Will Morat
- Randy Risner
John Glidden worked as a journalist covering the city of Vallejo for more than 10 years. He left journalism in 2023 and currently works in the office of Solano County Supervisor Monica Brown.
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