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Calexico City Council Puts City Manager on Administrative Leave

 -Editorial

In a special closed session on June 7, the Calexico City Council voted 4-1 to place City Manager Esperanza Colio-Warren on administrative leave, with Councilwoman Gloria Romo dissenting. Fire Captain Juan Contreras was appointed as the acting city manager.

A recall group, pivotal in the removal of former council members Manzanarez and Urena, has been demanding Colio-Warren’s termination, citing dissatisfaction with her management of city affairs.

Former Mayor Raul Urena criticized the council’s decision to hold the meeting on a Friday afternoon when many residents were working. He accused Council Members Legaspi and Tylenda of using their positions to oppose Colio-Warren due to previous employment with the City of Calexico.

Urena defended Colio-Warren, highlighting her role in securing grant funding for the New River, the Transportation Center, and fire station improvements. “If you fire Ms. Colio, you will lose the golden goose,” he warned.

Calexico resident Leticia Aldana Cota criticized the meeting’s timing, noting it was just hours before the Calexico High School graduation and lacked a Facebook live transmission. “This is a sham,” she stated, aligning with Urena’s view that disgruntled employees were behind the move.

Sean Acuna, representing the Calexico Police Officers Association, read a letter supporting Colio-Warren, emphasizing her grant writing skills and good relationship with employees. He urged the council to retain her.

However, recall leader Maritza Hurtado disputed Urena’s comments, accusing Calexico Police Officers Association President Luis Casillas of repeatedly attacking their group and behaving in a bullying manner, tolerated by the administration.

City Manager Colio-Warren’s contract stipulates an annual base salary of $181,000, with eligibility for up to a 5% annual increase at the City Council’s discretion. Her salary and benefits cannot be reduced unless part of a broader reduction affecting all management employees. Cost-of-living adjustments are also at the City Council’s discretion.

Colio-Warren’s employment may be terminated due to death, or if she is unable to perform essential job functions due to illness or disability for three consecutive months. Additionally, her employment can be terminated with or without cause, subject to specific severance provisions. Termination without cause requires a vote by at least four City Council members and entitles her to severance payments based on the year of termination, up to twelve months’ pay plus premiums. Severance payments are limited by Government Code Section 53260, ensuring consistency with the specified amounts or equal to the unexpired term of the agreement.

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