The Story of Former City Manager, Shohreh Dupuis' Departure
Dear Recap Readers,
I am sending a column authored by resident Claude Morgan. It relates the story of the former City Manager's departure with a generous severance package. If anyone would like additional documentation for the statements made in this column, it can be provided.
Happy Holidays and please look for my slightly late recap of the last City Council meeting later this week.
The Story of Former CM, Shohreh Dupuis’ Abrupt Departure
The controversy surrounding former City Manager (CM) Dupris continues to swirl in Laguna Beach. The opinion of many of us residents is that former CM Ms. Dupuis made multiple questionable decisions during her tenure as CM. The root question for Laguna residents is: “What is the real story behind her abrupt departure with a substantial severance package?” Residents are entitled to an answer. The package included $450,000 in pay and a similar sum for a continued housing benefit.
After the partial release of findings from the so called “investigation report,” the CM's legal allegations were shown to have no merit. One can only surmise that the threat of litigation created by CM Dupuis and her attorney was nothing more than a classic shakedown that was assisted by the Council and the City Attorney.
Its purpose was to extract a generous severance package for the former CM as she exited the back door of City Hall. In the opinion of many, the CM could have been terminated for cause for her multiple missteps, period. The Council never intervened as she made questionable decisions such as the purchase of the Ti Amo site without an appraisal or room for an ambulance.
Why? Because it released them from accountability for having hired an under-qualified candidate for the CM position. These actions by the former CM and current Council members are valid reasons to be skeptical of the entire investigation and negotiation processes the Council followed.
The “Investigation Hoax” was created so that the blame for the CM’s premature departure could be dumped on Councilmember Weiss. The claims made by CM Dupuis were given false validity by Mayor Whalen, Councilmembers Kempf, Rounaghi and Orgill when they approved the separation agreement without giving Councilmember Weiss any opportunity to address the charges against him. Why? This is a question that each Laguna resident needs to ask of current Councilmembers.
Here are some hard facts:
Councilmembers Bob Whalen, Sue Kempf, and former Councilmember Peter Blake were/are responsible for creating three years of discord by hiring CM Dupuis despite her inexperience as a CM. The former two are also responsible for their unqualified support of a CM whose decisions created increasingly significant legal liability for the City.
The CM’s misconduct during the May 2 armed take-over of Hotel Laguna and 14 West put the City at significant risk of litigation. The CM’s Council supporters recognized this risk and lost confidence in her. If this were not the case, CM Dupuis would still be the CM today.
The “investigation” into the former CM’s legal complaint of harassment and discrimination was not independent or impartial. The City hired the law firm of Liebert Cassidy Meyerhoff, the same firm that represented the CM in her traffic citation case (another of the CM’s faux pas) and was paid over $50,000 for this work. Since they hired the investigator and provided dubious advice to the Council, how could their hiring and work not constitute a conflict of interest?
The Council majority then told the public that the “investigation report” might justify the CM’s settlement agreement and cost less than litigation. This was contradicted by Mayor Whalen’s statement that the settlement agreement was signed prior to the completion of the investigation report. The Council made its decision without knowing if the legal claims made by the former CM were upheld. It turned out they were not.
The investigator’s report rejected all the legal claims made by the former CM. Rather than terminating the CM for cause, the Council rewarded her for threatening a meritless lawsuit. Then they blamed and continued to smear Councilman Weiss through their surrogates - all the while covering up their responsibility for hiring and supporting their problematic CM.
Had the City stood its ground, it would have created a legal nightmare for the CM, not for the City. In the opinion of many Laguna Beach residents, the former CM made more than enough questionable decisions. Her unprofessional behavior provided compelling reasons for her dismissal for just cause. Hence there was no need to cave into her and her attorney’s shakedown of Laguna Beach residents.
What is clear now is that the City Council has mishandled the CM’s departure and should be held accountable.
If you agree, please contact City Councilmembers and let them know how you feel - and that you will be watching their decisions and remembering them when the 2024 and 2026 elections come around.
Laguna Beach Resident
All representations made in this email reflect the views of the author and are not official statements of the City of Laguna Beach or City Council.
Any mistakes or omissions are the sole responsibility of the author, George Weiss. No public funds were expended on this website..
Disclaimer: All representations made in this email reflect the views of the author and are not official statements of the City of Laguna Beach or City Council. Any mistakes or omissions are the sole responsibility of the author, George Weiss. No public funds were expended on this website.© 2022 GEORGE WEISS