After seven years, Westminster City Manager Eddie Manfro will retire next month for a private sector job, according to an internal city memo made public by a city council member.
The City Council is expected to consider his replacement in a special closed session meeting today.
“After much reflection, I have chosen to pursue an exciting career opportunity in the private sector. This new venture is not connected in any way to local government,” reads his letter, which was sent out to the City Council on Thursday.
Manfro did not respond to requests for comment.
Though the letter appears to have been sent out internally, City Councilman Tai Do posted it to his public city council Facebook page on Thursday, calling Manfro’s announcement “totally unexpected news.”
Manfro was named city manager in 2012 by the council following the retirement of his late predecessor, Mitch Waller.
A number of controversies and lawsuits marked his tenure at City Hall, including a federal discrimination lawsuit against the police department by three Latino police officers — which left the city on the hook for an over $3 million federal judgement in 2014 –followed by claims of corruption and retaliation at City Hall by a former police chief, Kevin Baker, in 2016.
The city settled Baker’s claim for $500,000 in exchange for him signing a non-disclosure agreement, then tried to keep his claim a secret until a Voice of OC lawsuit forced the city to make it public in 2017.
Two years later, the city parted ways with Baker’s predecessor, former chief Ralph Ornelas.
Manfro announced Ornelas’ retirement in April 2019 while Ornelas was on administrative leave, amid an internal investigation into the former chief over unspecified policy violations that concluded with results the city is keeping secret.
But new lawsuits filed over the summer of last year by four police department employees — three rank-and-file officers and one top administrator — claim Ornelas fostered a culture of wrongdoing and retaliation, and that the city did nothing despite numerous complaints.
Manfro in his letter to the council described a number of achievements during his time at City Hall.
“We approved the first update to the city’s general plan in almost two decades, and our citizens approved a 1% local sales tax,” his letter reads.
Last year he made over $330,000 in total pay and benefits, according to government watchdog site Transparent California.
His official retirement date is Feb. 29, according to his letter.
Brandon Pho is a Voice of OC reporting fellow. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @photherecord.