Former Santa Ana City Manager Paul Walters — fired after a nearly two-year power struggle between the City Council majority and Mayor Miguel Pulido — will continue to draw hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary and benefits for serving one year as police commissioner and have a building named after him, according to the terms of his severance agreement.
Walters will be paid $264,999 plus health, vision and dental benefits for essentially acting as a law enforcement liaison for the city to a variety of regional boards and commissions. In addition, the city will purchase for Walters two years of U.S. Air Force retirement service credit under the state’s public employees retirement system, known as CalPERS. It isn’t yet known how much the purchase will cost the city.
The city may fire Walters from the police commissioner position only if it shows cause, the agreement states.
The agreement also stipulates that within 18 to 24 months the city’s police administration building will be renamed the Paul M. Walters Police Administrative Building and have a plaque in the lobby hailing Walters’ “service to the city.”
Finally, the agreement calls for the city to foot the bill for the $7,500 in attorneys’ fees from the firm Executive Law Group that Walters incurred while negotiating his severance terms.
Walters’ ouster was part of what Councilman Sal Tinajero dubbed the “Santa Ana Spring,” a movement by the council majority to disperse power away from the mayor, implement greater transparency at City Hall and distribute authority among the seven-member council.
Before Walters was appointed city manager last year, council members had initiated a national search to replace previous longtime City Manager Dave Ream.
Pulido — whose close relationship with Ream was key to his influence over the city bureaucracy, according to City Hall sources — successfully delayed the search until he could gather the council votes necessary to appoint Walters, who was the city’s police chief at the time.
And while some members of the council majority had been reluctant to appoint Walters, the hiring indicated a tenuous peace between Pulido and the council majority. But over the last year as council members grew increasingly frustrated with Walters, that political treaty collapsed, leading to Walters’ ouster.
Counting the Walters payout, the city has had to fork over more than $750,000 to show top executives the door.
Former City Attorney Joe Fletcher was ousted in late 2010 and got a total payout of $333,779, which included more than $140,000 in severance pay and hundreds of thousands of dollars in unused time off.
Fletcher had negotiated a contract amendment in 2002 that allowed him to carry over sick leave and vacation time as if he had been hired 13 years prior to his appointment. It also authorized unlimited accrual of vacation time.
Meanwhile, Ream cashed out $230,366 in unused time off when he retired in 2011.