Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

An alleged romantic relationship with a city employee has apparently gotten the Santa Ana city manager in hot water with some members of the city council, and they’ve voted to place the community’s top paid official on administrative leave.

The executive director of Santa Ana’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services was named acting city manager Thursday, one day after City Manager David Cavazos was placed on paid administrative leave.

At a special meeting Wednesday, Mayor Miguel Pulido and council members Juan Villegas, Jose Solorio and Michele Martinez voted to place Cavazos on leave. Three council members who support the city manager were absent. They were apparently traveling.

City Attorney Sonia Carvalho said the vote came “as the council continues to review and investigate current and former issues arising from his (Cavazos’) personal performance evaluations, including but not limited to the impacts of personal workplace relationships and the development of a romantic relationship policy.”

A private investigation initiated by Pulido and Martinez in June revealed that the city manager failed to disclose a romantic relationship with a subordinate city employee until a year after the fact, and that his complaint of sexual harassment by Martinez was without merit, according to officials.

The city on Thursday appointed Gerardo Mouet acting city manager. He has been with the city since 1990, beginning in Personnel Services and serving as assistant city manager before becoming executive director in the parks department.

Cavazos was not present at the Wednesday council meeting, during which he was placed on leave. The meeting was called by the mayor.

“All I can say is, I didn’t have a chance to be at the meeting and I’m committed to Santa Ana,” Cavazos told The Orange County Register in a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon. “And I’m very grateful for all the people who spoke on my behalf and we made tremendous progress in the last three years.”

Cavazos is Santa Ana’s highest-paid city manager ever, with an annual salary of $372,165 plus an additional $107,450 in medical, dental and retirement benefits, the Register reported.

During public comment before the vote, all but one of the 15 speakers praised Cavazos for bringing the city, which had been on the brink of bankruptcy, to a surplus.

While Cavazos has been credited with steering the city toward economic prosperity, his tenure has been contentious.

— Staff and wire reports

 

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