Santa Ana City Council Members have agreed to pay out nearly $652,000 to former City Manager Kristine Ridge, who abruptly resigned this month in the wake of the police union’s high profile legal battle with City Hall that focused on Ridge.
It comes as the result of Ridge alleging “personal/ physical injuries and emotional distress damages,” according to the severance and release agreement, which Voice of OC obtained through a Public Records Act request.
The settlement amount – approved by City Council members behind closed doors on Oct. 9 – will be paid to Ridge in two separate checks.
“The City shall cash out any of Ridge’ s remaining accrued leave balances consistent with her Employment Agreement,” the agreement reads.
As City Manager since 2019, Ridge steered the ship of one of Orange County’s largest and most predominantly Latino cities – and oversaw a budget of $760 million.
A request for comment from Ridge went unreturned over the weekend.
In Ridge’s stead, the city has named Assistant City Manager Steven Mendoza as acting City Manager – a role he filled before, from December 2018 until May 2019, when a wave of staff departures included that of then-city manager Raul Godinez, and the hiring of Ridge, under former Mayor Miguel Pulido.
Now another wave of executive departures this year is prompting hard questions about the future direction of City Hall.
Just weeks before Ridge’s resignation was announced, Santa Ana Police Chief David Valentin announced he would retire by the end of the year, citing – in written parting remarks to employees – “corrupt and compromised politicians.”
In a high-profile saga, Ridge and Valentin resisted an effort by the former president of the Santa Ana police union, Gerry Serrano, to score a pension spike at City Hall.
Ridge and City Hall executives deemed the request improper, resulting in a barrage of police union lawsuits against City Hall, which Ridge – in a written memo – deemed an “intimidation campaign” to “burn the city to the ground unless he gets what he wants.”
The departures also come at a time of a bitter City Council divide over notions of what “saving your community” looks like in a working-class Latino city, where elected officials have in recent months moved to ask voters about noncitizen voting and rent control, and have cracked down on public intoxication and street racing spectators.