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South Bay Digest

El Segundo : Ex-Manager's Claim Denied

September 04, 1986

The City Council this week rejected former City Manger Nicholas Romaniello's claim for reimbursement of lost wages and an undisclosed amount of damages for emotional distress.

In the claim, filed Aug. 15, Romaniello said City Council members Robert Anderson, Carl Jacobson, Keith Schuldt, Jack Siadek and Alan West were responsible for his "wrongful discharge from position as city manager."

"I expected them to recommend the denial," Romaniello said in a telephone interview from his home in Pacific Palisades. "I suspect we will file a lawsuit in the next few months."

Romaniello, the former planning director who was appointed city manager in May, 1985, was suspended with pay April 1 pending an investigation into allegations that he had tried to obtain confidential police reports on West--then a council candidate who had vowed to fire Romaniello if elected. Romaniello later acknowledged that he had asked a police official about the reports.

After the election of West and Anderson, Romaniello was fired, effective July 8. He was replaced by Arthur E. Jones, who had been the city's manager for 18 years before he resigned for health reasons in May, 1985.

In the interview, Romaniello maintained that he was the target of a smear campaign during the April election campaign and that his suspension was a "ploy to harm the incumbent candidates that supported me."

"I have no problem with the idea that that a city council watches me perform and then says (it doesn't) like the way I do it and fires me, but this situation had nothing to do with that," Romaniello said.

With the exception of Jacobson, who said he supported Romaniello's management style and voted against firing him, the council members named in the claim say Romaniello was fired because his restrictive zoning recommendations and slow-growth philosophy created an anti-business climate.

Romaniello, 50, who is looking for another job, said his termination in El Segundo has "practically ruined" his career.

"Everywhere I go and everyone I talk to has heard about this thing and has some very pointed questions about it," said Romaniello, who worked in Seal Beach and Beverly Hills before he joined El Segundo's staff.

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