San Leandro City Manager Chris Zapata is moving on after the City Council Monday evening agreed to a mutual separation agreement. The council met in a special closed session meeting to discuss Zapata’s employee performance review. The meeting came just less than a month after the council reinstated him as city manager following a independent investigator’s report essentially vindicated him against claims of sexual harrassment by a local non-profit leader.Under terms of the agreement, Zapata will receive a $350,000 severance package, the city announced shortly after its decision Monday night.UPDATE: According to the separation agreement posted on the city’s website Tuesday afternoon, Zapata will receive $268,000. His attorney will collect the remaining $82,000. Zapata’s contract was to expire in January 2020. His last day as city manager is July 10.San Leandro Mayor Pauline Russo Cutter rang a conciliatory tone, thanking Zapata for his six years as city manager. “Chris has been a valued leader in our community. Included in a long list of accomplishments, our city has made advances in technology, has a strong support net in place for those residents who depend on City services and is more diverse financially than ever before in our history. I am appreciative of Chris’s input to make that happen. I know Chris and his mentoring abilities will be missed but I want to assure you we are planning for his departure and will be in good hands going forward.” “Chris Zapata has done an excellent job in representing the interests of all San Leandro residents,” Cutter added. “We wish him all the best in his future endeavors.” Jeff Kay will remain as acting city manager.Zapata was hired in 2012 after previously serving as city manager in National City, Calif. His arrival ended more than a year of uncertainty at the city’s manager’s office following the resignation of Stephen Hollister. Zapata’s tenure in San Leandro was viewed as successful. He is credited with overseeing the city’s largest slate of capital improvement projects in San Leandro history and also continued its push from a former factory town into a technology leader in the East Bay.Monday’s announcement, though, comes as a surprise to some who believed Zapata had successfully weathered the storm of accusations made by Davis Street Family Resource Center Executive Director Rose Padilla Johnson.But over the past few weeks there had been indications that Zapata’s future in San Leandro remained uncertain despite an independent investigator’s report that essentially cleared him of wrongdoing. Zapata had missed the subsequent two council meetings and had reportedly not been very visible at City Hall since his reinstatement.Several members of the public addressing the council prior to its closed session meeting, urged them to retain Zapata and judge him for his successes as city manager and not on the scandal that erupted last December involving accusation of sexual misconduct.”I don’t want to you to go backwards,” said San Leandro school board trustee Diana Prola. “Give this man his job back and his life back.”It’s unclear, however, whether Zapata indeed wanted his job back or instead opted to cut ties with the city and seek a clean slate elsewhere. A majority of the council was believed to be in support of Zapata. Six, in fact, voted for his reinstatement last month.
This good for Zapata, good for the present mayor and all the former mayors behind the scenes, the special deals that are always benefitting the old guard. It is a continuing bad deal for the citizens of San Leandro who continue to over spend and under receive value from their tax dollars. So much for democracy.