Zapata pledges to donate his severance package to San Leandro charities

In what appears to be a bid to close his chapter as San Leandro city manager on positive terms, Chris Zapata is pledging to donate a large portion of the $350,000 severance package he received last week to local non-profits and charities in the city.

The offer is pending approval that he is hired by the Anaheim City Council as its next city manager Tuesday night, said Mike Lyster, chief communications officer for the city of Anaheim.

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Former San Leandro City Manager Chris Zapata

How much Zapata would be donating is unclear, but likely a substantial amount. Although the severance package signed by the San Leandro City Council and Zapata included a $350,000 payout, $82,000 was specifically earmarked for his lawyers.

The remaining $268,000 minus applicable taxes and payments for accrued vacation time, will be given to a number of San Leandro non-profits and charities of which Zapata has supported over the years, said Lyster.

The Davis Street Family Resource Center, a long time stalwart among San Leandro non-profits for women and children, is not likely to be a recipient. Rose Padilla Johnson, the executive director of the Davis Street Family Resource Center, accused Zapata of sexual harassment last December.

The resulting controversy led to Zapata being placed on paid administrative leave before an independent investigation cleared him of wrong doing on June 4. Although he was reinstated to his job, the fallout over the allegation led Zapata and the city to reach a mutual separation agreement earlier this month.

Zapata’s interest in Anaheim’s vacant city manager’s position began in the fall when the city opened its national search for a replacement. Fifty-three applicants, including Zapata, were whittled down to three finalists before Zapata was named last Friday as the council’s choice, said Lyster.

Anaheim’s interest in Zapata was so strong that the Anaheim City Council waited on release of San Leandro’s independent investigative report being released to the public.

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If hired Tuesday, Zapata will be moving from a city of roughly 85,000 to Anaheim, a city of 350,000, and home to Disneyland.

“Chris was very upfront about the issue he was dealing with in San Leandro. We take those issues seriously,” said Lyster. After release full release of the report, he added, “We saw nonreason for further consideration. We felt we had the confidence that we needed.”

If Zapata’s employment is approved by the Anaheim City Council Tuesday evening, he is slated to receive an annual $291,000 contract.

UPDATE – July 17, 9pm:

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