Laguna Niguel Mayor Sandy Rains abruptly resigned from her role as mayor today but will stay on as a council member, according to a city press release.
Rains’ resignation comes less than a week after two of her colleagues, Councilmembers Stephanie Oddo and Ray Gennawey, publicly called for her removal from the mayoral office after Rains called for a debate on the dismissal of City Manager Tamara Letourneau.
Rains did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
Her request to debate Letourneau’s dismissal behind closed doors came after Oddo and Gennawey called for a discussion on the evaluation and dismissal of former city attorney Chris Neumeyer to be scheduled for the Feb. 21 meeting.
At that meeting, Oddo, Gennawey and Councilwoman Kelly Jennings called Rains’ action retaliation for the discussion about the city attorney – who according to Gennaway had resigned two days before the meeting.
“We had an odd request from the mayor. She would like to add the review and dismissal of the city manager. But she’d be willing to take off the word dismissal from the city manager agenda item, if we took off the word dismissal from the city attorney review,” Oddo said.
“The request by the mayor is a perfect example of retaliation. It’s irresponsible, unethical, it’s bullying and it’s not how an organization should be run.” Oddo added from the dais.
Oddo called for a debate on the removal of Rains as mayor at a future meeting as well as her removal from regional appointments. Gennawey voiced support for her request.
“There was absolutely no legitimate reason for Sandy Rains to put this item on the agenda,” Gennawey said.
“Mayor Rains used the city manager’s livelihood as a bargaining chip to keep the city attorney. That is not how we treat our staff in Laguna Niguel.”
Both Gennawey and Oddo also pointed out that Letourneau’s contract does not allow for the council to initiate terminating her appointment within 90 days of a change in council.
Rains apologized at the meeting to Letourneau, city staff and her colleagues.
“I was given bad legal advice,” she said. “Our city does deserve better and I will accept whatever the consequences are of my actions because I feel that’s the right thing to do.”
Rains was appointed to serve in the Mayor role for a year by her colleagues in December. She was first elected to serve on the city council in 2018.
Councilman Rischi Paul Sharma, who serves as the mayor pro tem, will serve as mayor until the council is expected to pick someone to fill the role on March 7.
Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member with Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.
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