Halfway out the door?

City manager’s fate unclear after council calls a second special meeting

Chico City Manager Mark Orme in chambers before the start of a special City Council meeting called Tuesday night (March 22). (Photo by Evan Tuchinsky)

For nearly four hours Tuesday night (March 22), Chico City Manager Mark Orme awaited his fate as the City Council met in for a special closed session meeting with “public employee performance evaluation” on the agenda. He sat in the front of the chambers, stood in the back, spoke with the several department heads present, even pulled out a broom from the janitorial closet and swept corners for cobwebs.

Finally, at 10:15 p.m., he learned … he’ll need to wait another few days. The outcome was a second special meeting scheduled for Friday (March 25) at 2 p.m., this one with the expanded agenda item: “public employee performance evaluation / appointment / discipline / dismissal.”

The council had considered performance evaluations for Orme—as well as its other two direct-report staff members, City Attorney Vince Ewing and City Clerk Debbie Presson—at the March 15 regular meeting. Monday, Mayor Andrew Coolidge called the special session for Orme’s evaluation.

Orme sweeps corners of City Council Chambers while waiting to be called into closed session of a special meeting about his performance evaluation. (Photo by Evan Tuchinsky)

Two citizens spoke—Jesica Giannola in support of Orme, Jeff Creed reiterating his frequent calls for firing the city manager. Council members conferred for 45 minutes and switched conference rooms before calling Orme back; when he returned a half-hour later, they asked for Public Works Director Erik Gustafson, then Police Chief Matt Madden and Ewing. Twenty minutes later, nearing 9 p.m., Coolidge asked for Deputy City Clerk Dani Rogers.

“Sorry, takes a lot of time,” Coolidge told Orme and the others, “lots of politicians back there.”

Rogers reentered the chambers after 10 minutes, but the council and city attorney remained sequestered another hour until Ewing stepped in and asked Orme about his availability Friday at 2 p.m. The council broke closed session a few minutes later—not having spoken with Presson or Human Resources Director Jamie Cannon, the other staffers at the meeting—and Ewing announced the second special meeting.

Confidentiality of the personnel matter precluded the council and staff from commenting.

Note: This story was updated (March 23, at 4:25 p.m.) to include language from the March 25 special meeting agenda.

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1 Comment

  1. Just announced ; Orem resigns. 3/25/2022 Only Bennett and O’Brien vote not to accept resignation. Where do things go now Mr. Editor?

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