City Manager Alex McIntyre's employment contract is scheduled for a renewal vote on June 2, prompting residents to offer the council their opinions on his performance.
Mr. McIntyre's contract expired on March 7. According to City Attorney Bill McClure, the city manager is currently an at-will employee under the same terms as his employment agreement, including a clause requiring a 30-day notice of termination. There are no unilateral options for either party to extend the contract, he said.
Menlo Park is not an easy-to-please community, and some aspects of Mr. McIntyre's job certainly deserve to be called thankless -- sitting through council meetings that start on Tuesday and end on Wednesday comes to mind. That said, he has also not done himself any favors.
Former council members and Measure M advocates Steve Schmidt, Heyward Robinson, Jack Morris and Mary Jo Borak took the city manager to task in an email to the city, alleging that Mr. McIntyre stonewalled public records requests related to his hiring of public relations consultant Malcolm Smith during the heated battle over the Measure M voter initiative that sought to change the city's downtown/El Camino Real specific plan.
The San Mateo County district attorney and the state's Fair Political Practices Commission concluded that the consultant was not used to illegally influence the election's outcome.
City Council members, who had not been told about Mr. Smith's contract prior to Mr. Robinson's public records requests, made it clear during a Jan. 27 meeting that in the future, they expected to be notified whenever a consultant is hired.
Other residents reminded the public that Mr. McIntyre was overheard talking about a confidential personnel matter with a former city manager while in a bar in 2012. The inadvertent leak led to a story in the Almanac about how the city was forced to rehire a veteran police officer fired for allegedly soliciting a prostitute while on duty.
The city manager's response at the time? "You overheard a conversation between two colleagues," Mr. McIntyre told the Almanac. He said he didn't remember precisely what he said at the bar, and stated that it's not unusual for a city manager to consult his predecessor. As for the case itself: "(City Attorney) Bill McClure said I can't say anything."
Residents also mentioned his review of former city gymnastics instructor Michelle Sutton's firing. Prior to hiring a third-party investigator to look into Ms. Sutton's allegations of harassment by a supervisor, Mr. McIntyre said he had reviewed the circumstances to his satisfaction. However, he hadn't talked to the instructors who made the allegations, including Ms. Sutton.
The investigator interviewed 18 people and concluded no illegal harassment or retaliatory firing had occurred.
Mr. McIntyre joined the city in 2012. He told the Almanac he's most proud of:
■ Rebuilding and hiring professional staff.
■ Working with Facebook and other landowners in the M-2 industrial zone to help temper their development plans.
■ Initiating the general plan update.
■ Completing and implementing the Belle Haven visioning plan.
■ The adoption of the downtown/El Camino Real specific plan and completion of the housing element.
"My frustrations continue to be limited to the organization's inconsistent efforts at clearly and concisely communicating what we do and how we do it to our constituents," he said.
Mr. McIntyre has also received praise, particularly from the council, for hiring Police Chief Bob Jonsen.
Asked whether there was an option to extend his contract, rather than having it expire, he said, "I think this is all in the semantics. Extending it versus a new contract essentially results in the same thing. Getting me back under contract again."
With two council members frequently out of town dealing with family emergencies during the past couple of months, getting all five together to do Mr. McIntyre's review has been hard, according to Mayor Catherine Carlton. All five were finally present for a closed-session performance review on May 20. The council will take a public vote on his contract next month.