Another Change: City Manager Brown is Out

Marysville, CA (MPG)  |  By Lou Binninger

MARYSVILLE, CA (MPG) -After refusing to resign and requesting a public meeting for her dismissal, Marysville City Manager Marti Brown was fired without cause after serving the city since January 2018.

Mayor Ricky Skamayoa along with Councilmembers Bruce Buttacavoli and Brad Hudson voted to terminate Brown though none could offer a proper cause after repeated public challenges from Councilmember Bill Simmons. Stephanie McKenzie argued to retain Brown, as well.

Hudson’s vote should be disqualified since as a businessman he is at odds with Brown and the city’s Public Works Department. Hudson, a bar owner, has a conflict of interest and should have recused himself.

Hudson’s row with the city is due to the city’s refusal to permit his request to use a second story above his bar unless extensive changes were made to become ADA compliant (American Disabilities Act). The city’s position was that altering federal ADA requirements were not the city’s to make and remain exempt from liability.

Marti Brown had just 5-months left on her 3-year contract (ending 12/31/20) and there will be a new City Council starting January 1, 2021. With Hudson complaining about being on the council, Buttacavoli threatening to resign recently and Skamayoa doubtful to be re-elected it seems that they could have let the new council decide about Brown. Instead the three have created an administrative train wreck for city workers and citizens.

Near the end of 2019 with one-year left on her agreement, Brown asked about a contract extension in order to prepare for the future. Her three adversaries would not offer a new contract nor would they engage in an analysis of her job performance.

Yuba Water Agency heard about the ordeal and paid for an independent firm to do an evaluation on Brown. A positive report was accepted in a public vote by the city council. Contrary to the previous toxic manager that had alienated the city, Brown had established positive relationships with agencies and adjacent jurisdictions.

Councilmembers Stephanie McKenzie and Bill Simmons describe Brown as smart, fiscally conservative, good for the taxpayers and with an eye to catch problems that cost the city money.

McKenzie said Brown and her staff were responsible for creating savings or getting grants amounting to around $20 million since her arrival in 2018.

There had been reports of Bruce Buttacavoli asking Community Development Director Jonathan Wright, when he was still employed at the city and prior to Brown’s firing, if he would like Brown’s position. This rumor began to undermine morale among city workers and department directors.

Meanwhile Development Director Wright was fired after it was learned that he lied twice to Planning Commission members saying that he contacted City Attorney Brant Bordsen for a definitive analysis on a municipal code prior to it being voted upon by the City Council. However, Bordsen said he received no contact verbally or in writing from Wright. Planning Commissioners Richcreek and Bramer were both misled by Wright’s dishonesty.

This caused the ordinance to mistakenly go before the City Council which then needed to consider reversing its action.

Skamayoa, Buttacavoli and Hudson had been discussing naming fired Wright to be the next manager on Tuesday 7/28/20. Chief of Police Chris Sachs was currently acting city manager.

The last chief / city manager combo Marysville tried ended in disaster when highly- regarded Chief Marc Siemens took the dual role in late 1998. However, by May 2001 Siemens lost favor with the council and then was the top choice of 35 applicants for the Chief of Police in Rocklin, CA. That left Marysville without a manager and a Chief of Police.

Marysville is the Bermuda Triangle for City Managers and Police Chiefs. With Siemens leaving in 2001 Marysville was looking for its 10th City Manager in 17 years. Since Siemens resigned the city is on its 7th Chief in 19 years.

The city paid Brown $120,000 severance to say goodbye with a fired liar and a Chief of Police as possible replacements.