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Fullerton City Council members canned City Manager Ken Domer, without explaining exactly why, at a special meeting Tuesday night.
On a 3-2 vote, the council voted behind closed doors to dismiss Domer, who was unanimously appointed as city manager in June 2017.
“Mr. Domer was instrumental in helping the city council work through its financial difficulties by crafting annual budgets,” said Mayor Bruce Whitaker, who voted to dismiss Domer.
Whitaker said he couldn’t say much about it, but the new city council has different priorities and needed a new city manager.
Other council members also said they couldn’t say much about Domer’s dismissal.
A late Tuesday night news release stated Domer’s departure stems from a “mutually acceptable separation.”
“I want to thank all of the members of City Councils I served for their commitment to bettering the community of Fullerton,” Domer said in the news release. “The opportunity to work in this great City, alongside caring and hard-working staff, will always be a highlight in my career.
It marks the second city manager the city’s gone through within the past five years.
Steve Danley will serve as interim city manager until the council can decide on an official replacement.
Danley is a former performance auditor at the County of Orange and served as the human resources director before retiring in 2015.
During his time as HR director, Danley sanctioned a political insider for going to water board meetings while on the clock as a county employee.
Councilman Fred Jung said he gave Domer enough time after the November election to adjust his performance and make necessary changes to be efficient and transparent as a city.
“I didn’t see that he met that bar that was adequate for me,” Jung said in a Voice of OC interview.
Jung said Danley has the experience to act as a bridge between Domer and the permanent city manager. Jung said that it could take up until fall for a permanent city manager to be hired.
Councilman Jesus Silva, who voted against the dismissal, told Voice of OC he felt Domer was performing well under the city’s current financial position and pandemic circumstances.
He said he didn’t see a reason to change city managers.
Councilman Ahmad Zahra, who also voted against sacking Domer, said he didn’t think it was fiscally appropriate to switch city managers as the city is dealing with its current financial crisis.
He said the city will have to pay a severance package equivalent of nine months worth of salary and for the salary of the interim city manager.
“I’ve had my disagreements with Ken, but I always thought he was a very ethical city manager that also made it clear he would take direction,” Zahra said.
“I’m looking very forward to finding a permanent city manager,” Jung said. “Perhaps Mr. Danley serves that role if he’s a candidate for that during the recruitment process.”
Domer’s dismissal marks another shake up of top-level management in Fullerton following years of staff controversies.
Former city manager Joe Felz resigned in late 2016 after an election night car crash after he had been drinking.
On Nov. 9, 2016, Felz crashed his minivan within a half a mile of his house where a witness called police as Felz tried to flee the scene.
After pleading guilty to reckless driving involving alcohol in late 2017, Feltz faced 40 hours of community service, a $390 fine and an undefined restitution to the city of Fullerton.
The former sergeant who handled Felz’ DUI investigation, Rodger Jeffery Corbet, was later charged with falsifying the police report from the crash.
Corbet could still avoid going to jail since Superior Court Judge Maria Hernandez sentenced him to pretrial diversion a couple months ago.
According to county prosecutors, Corbet’s case could be removed from his record if he completes 80 hours of community service, pays a $500 fine, and agrees to permanently leave law enforcement.
Fullerton’s former Police Chief, David Hendricks, was charged with two counts of battery and one count of resisting arrest after an alleged fight with emergency medical technicians at a country music concert in Irvine. Hendricks quit in late 2018 and a plea bargain dismissed the charges.
A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Councilman Ahmad Zahra as mayor pro tem.