Letters to the Editor — Clayton council needs to investigate staff turnover

CLAYTON, CA (Mar. 20, 2024) — The city of Clayton has a problem. We have lost numerous city managers, finance directors and community development directors in the last seven years. We have just lost another key staff member. This time our well-respected city manager, Bret Prebula, has resigned.

You have to wonder why we are experiencing such a high turnover rate. Clayton used to attract and retain qualified employees by providing a professional, well-run working environment. That seems to have changed.

Has the City Council created or allowed City Hall to become such a highly charged, toxic workplace that many employees decide to look elsewhere rather than work there? I suspect this high departure rate is making recruitment of qualified replacements more difficult, and a training challenge once hired.

I think the City Council has a civic responsibility to investigate the working conditions and relationship between City Councilmembers, community members and the staff, and to correct the conditions that are causing so many employees to leave.

The results of this study should then be shared with our residents.

Keith Haydon

Clayton residents: Are you paying attention yet?

Bret Prebula is the eighth city manager to leave Clayton since the 2018 election. Think about it: eight city managers in six years.

Bret brought experience, civility and a clear sense of Clayton’s burgeoning fiscal challenges. The recent survey showed that Bret has widespread community support.
So why leave?

For starters, how about the coordinated, incessant, public and private, City Hall meddling from certain councilmembers? Or the mayor publicly throwing the staff under the bus? Or the continuous whine that he stop the Olivia project? Or the council’s attempt to neuter his discretionary authority?

Clayton is being rightfully mocked for how this council is being managed (“Is there a parliamentarian in the house?”). Instead of the council majority team firing Brett because he doesn’t bow down to them, they drove him out.

Clayton will be swimming in red ink for the next five years if we don’t do something. One needed element is a strong executive team. Who in their right mind would take this on now? Maybe that is the plan.

Edward E. Hartley

Clayton on brink of fiscal implosion

On a night that should have been celebrated by everyone in Clayton, instead two disturbing events occurred at our council meeting that could lead to the fiscal failure of our city.

Citizens learned at the March 5 meeting our enthusiastic city manager hired last year resigned–continuing the perpetual churn of city leadership. In addition to this fateful news, the city council failed to immediately vote for a recommended measure that would have resolved our city’s fiscal insolvency.

As the council was unable to digest our city manager’s presentation of the five year budget deficit forecast, this led the council to kick the tax measure down the road again for another two years.

Our city manager’s resignation also reflects the success of a small, but vocal crowd’s anti-establishment sentiment in our city, who advocate our police force continue to be paid lowest in the Bay Area.

Unfortunately the night’s celebration of the city’s 60th year of incorporation may also be seen as the day the city fiscally imploded.

James Killoran

Another day, another city manager

Another day, another resignation. It’s become so commonplace in Clayton that it almost feels normal. Except that it’s not.

The unprecedented hemorrhaging of city staff since 2019 has sat quietly in the background while most Clayton residents go along their days without notice. Our city staff and police work tireless hours with a skeleton crew. Their pay is approximately 30 percent lower than their peers in neighboring cities, despite continued pleas to the current City Council majority to make this right.

If this weren’t demotivating enough, since 2019 they have been used as political pawns by two current councilmembers – including out of context ridicule on social media and in council chambers. Clayton residents, ask yourselves: Would you stay in this dynamic or move on to a less toxic environment?

Our City Manager Bret Prebula is a talented, knowledgeable and passionate individual. We were lucky to have him. He will be sorely missed, along with the 15 professionals that passed through City Hall in this short time.
Please join me in asking our council to formally investigate.

Terri Denslow

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