By Steven Tavares

Mayor Stephen Cassidy tried to
remove Hollister with six months
remaining on his contract.

San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy attempted to remove the city’s lame-duck city manager Jan. 18, according to sources familiar with the closed session meeting that night. The council did not relent to Cassidy’s demand Stephen Hollister be excused before his contract expires June 30. One source described the exchange as far more charged than most meeting conducted in either open or closed session.

There were rumors of Cassidy’s intent to cut Hollister loose earlier than planned when the agenda for the Jan. 18 council meeting listed a closed session item relating to the city manager’s job review, even though the subject appeared resolved nearly a month earlier.

Hollister abruptly announced his intention to let his contract run out Dec. 21 after the council handed down a vote of no-confidence. Hollister, who has not publicly spoken on the issue, chose to stay on the job until his contract runs out in the summer. Cassidy, though, was intent on moving along without Hollister while the city spends up to $25,000 searching for his replacement. The two have not been in the best of friends in the past even though they share similar beliefs on pension reform, which Cassidy has championed. Last October, Cassidy criticized Hollister’s role in the city’s worsening budget situation.

Cassidy and his surrogates on the San Leandro School Board of Trustee have utilized a similar strategy in the past for ousting a city executive. During his four-year term on the school board, Cassidy pushed for the dismissal of former superintendent Christine Lim. The duel of personalities ended two years later when the votes for her dismissal were slowly added to the board and was fired in Dec. 2009. Critics of the move partly on the basis of the cash-strapped school district was on the for six months of Lim’s salary with roughly $100,000 remaining on her contract. Hollister earns a salary of just over $200,000.

According to sources, Cassidy’s plan to move along without Hollister was met with stern opposition. Chief among concerns is the city’s rapid recent changeover in leadership and continuing budget uncertainty in San Leandro. Assistant City Manager Lianne Marshall, who may have been a candidate on an interim basis, has also only been with the city for just over a year.

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