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Vallejo’s water director to be named interim city manager

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Vallejo’s water director to be named interim city manager
Mike Malone will be named Vallejo's new interim city manager on Tuesday.

VALLEJO - As expected, the Vallejo City Council will name Mike Malone as interim city manager on Tuesday

Malone, who serves as the city’s water director, will begin as interim city manager on Oct. 8 following the departure of interim City Manager Anne Cardwell on Oct. 7.

He will receive an annual salary of $234,250, according to the proposed employment agreement. Malone will have the ability to return to the water director position upon termination of the agreement.

Earlier this month, multiple sources confirmed to the Vallejo Sun that the council, via a 5-2 vote, directed city staff to begin negotiating with Malone for possible appointment to the interim city manager position.

The initial news that Malone was up for appointment as interim city manager has caused concern from the local community. Malone was accused in a civil complaint of retaliating against a woman when he was operations and maintenance manager with the city of Sacramento. The woman claimed she was subjected to sexual harassment. by her supervisor. That supervisor and Malone were friends, the woman alleged.

Malone becomes Vallejo’s third city manager this year as he replaces Cardwell, who became interim city manager in late July. Cardwell was hired in late 2018 as the city’s assistant city manager.

Cardwell was tapped as acting city manager after then-City Manager Greg Nyhoff disappeared suddenly from City Hall with an undisclosed issue in early June. A month later, the council approved a resignation and separation agreement with Nyhoff concluding his nearly three-and-a-half year tenure as city manager. Cardwell was then elevated to interim city manager.

Malone’s promotion comes as the city faces multiple issues, including defending itself in at least three wrongful termination lawsuits, and a badge-bending scandal involving the city’s police force.

Nyhoff fired three senior-level City Hall employees — Will Morat, Slater Matzke, and Joanna Altman — in April 2020, for reasons that have yet to be made public.

The trio filed a lawsuit against the city, Nyhoff, Cardwell, former interim City Attorney Randy Risner, and the city’s former Human Resources Director Heather Ruiz for creating a toxic environment within City Hall.

Ruiz has since left Vallejo, taking a job with the city of Napa. Cardwell has declined to publicly state where she is going, and Risner returned to the chief assistant city attorney position following the hiring of Veronica Nebb as city attorney in November 2020.

Michael Nichelini, a former Vallejo police lieutenant and current president of the city’s police union, filed a lawsuit in spring of this year seeking $7.5 million in damages from the city. At the time, he claimed that top level city officials retaliated, harassed and tried to intimidate him over his union-protected activities.

Weeks after filing the lawsuit, Nichelini was fired by the city of Vallejo. He then amended the lawsuit, seeking $10 million in damages and getting his job back.

Vallejo is also facing a wrongful termination, whistleblower lawsuit from another high-ranking Vallejo police official. John Whitney filed the lawsuit late last year, claiming Nyhoff and other city officials retaliated against him after he raised concerns about some Vallejo police officers bending the tips of their star-shaped badges after shooting and killing a member of the community.

Nyhoff’s position in the community slipped after the badge-bending tradition was made public last year. Unflattering posters were glued up around the city and Mare Island, calling out Nyhoff for his lack of leadership in addressing the badge-bending behavior.

Days before Nyhoff disappeared, sources confirmed to the Vallejo Sun that the city’s housing manager, Judy Shepard-Hall, was placed on paid administrative leave.

That came after she filed a complaint with the city’s HR department regarding Nyhoff’s actions toward her, sources further confirmed.

Tuesday’s city council meeting will begin at 7 p.m. and will be held via teleconference.

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