City Manager Keith Breskin is the target of a no-confidence vote by the union representing Lawndale employees.
Lawndale City Manager Keith Breskin has led the community through some of its most prosperous years, but a city employee union claims he has also wreaked havoc in the process.
"erratic demeanor and behavior" has prompted the union to schedule a no-confidence vote against him on Tuesday, according to a letter sent to city workers in the American Federation of State
, County and Municipal Employees.
"We have provided an opportunity for this hostile and vindictive behavior to be analyzed and cured through paid professional help," the letter states.
"There has been no change in his
hostile behavior toward employees."
It is rare for an employee group to hold a no-confidence vote, and it has not occurred in Lawndale
in at least the past 20 years.
The move signifies a strong polarization between Breskin
and the union.
Details of Breskin's
alleged hostile behavior were not described by employees, who said they feared retaliation from him.
was hired, the city has experienced years of prosperity - despite a nationwide economic recession.
fund reserves are healthy, the city has built a new park, launched a major capital improvement plan and planned a new community center.
Asked about the union's allegations, Breskin said he can't comment on specifics but that he is proud to be city manager of Lawndale and said the employees are overall a "tremendous" group.
"Unfortunately, there always seems to be some number of unhappy employees in any organization," Breskin
"Regarding the accusations made by the union, they simply are not accurate.
Further, the union has never filed a grievance regarding my actions in my five years here."
Lawndale AFSCME President Jamie Rodriguez said that one grievance has been filed against Breskin.
The City Council is responsible for hiring and firing the city manager - so the union vote will not, in itself, affect Breskin's
According to news reports, Breskin
was fired from his
previous position as city manager of King City
- where he
worked for four years - amid similar complaints from employees in 2004.
countered by suing King City
for a severance payment and claimed that he
was actually fired for being a "whistle-blower" regarding the mishandling of city funds.
But, in 2006, Breskin
asked and was granted a dismissal before the case could go to jury trial, court records state.
Before landing in King City, Breskin was city manager of Arcata for three years until he was not offered a contract renewal in 2000.
was one in a series of city managers who quickly fell out of favor with the City Council majority there.
In 2005, the Lawndale City Council
voted 4-1 to hire him.
Two years later, the city contracted with Barron Center Inc.
, a company that specializes in improving working relationships.
The goal of the contract was to provide professional development and leadership skills to the city manager and some department heads, according to city documents.
The union letter claims that the city did so solely to manage Breskin
because of employee threats then to take a no-confidence vote.
The city has since renewed its contract with the Barron Center
, spending about $50,000 in total for its services.
The union letter states that employees met with Breskin
in 2007 about the problems and agreed to defer a no-confidence vote until Barron Center workers
had time to try to resolve the conflicts.
"I think it's simply people that have maybe done something wrong or are not good at their jobs," said one employee who supports Breskin
but asked not to be identified.