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Ex-Cudahy City Manager's Suit Over Firing Dismissed

May 24, 1987|LEE HARRIS | Times Staff Writer

CUDAHY — A suit against the city filed by a former city manager who said he was improperly fired has been dismissed by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge.

Judge Paul Turner ruled last week that the city legally terminated John Porter last year from his $55,000-a-year job. Porter's attorney says he will appeal the ruling.

"The judge ruled that a city manager is an 'at will' employee and serves at the pleasure of the City Council," said Jack Joseph, city director of administrative services.

Sued for $307,937

Porter was suing the city for $307,937, which included salary remaining on his contract and other fringe benefits and overtime, Joseph said.

The city claimed that a five-year contract with an automatic renewal clause granted to Porter by the council in 1985 was illegal and the judge agreed, Joseph said.

Jane D. Saltsman, Porter's attorney, said that she believes her client was "dealt with unfairly" by the city and that he will appeal the judge's decision.

"The city says it didn't have the authority to enter into the contract. The judge agreed. We are challenging that. We believe the city owes him that amount specified in the contract," Saltsman said.

A former controller for J. C. Penney Co., Porter was originally hired as the city's finance director by a 3-2 council vote in June, 1985. In September, 1985, Porter replaced Gerald Caton, who resigned under pressure as city manager. Caton received an $82,000 settlement from the city.

Election Played Role

Caton was rehired as city clerk after an April, 1986, municipal election in which Mayor Faye Dunlap and Councilman Lynwood Evans were defeated. Dunlap, Evans and Councilman Gabe Zippi had voted for Porter's contract.

Councilmen Wilfred Colon and Tom Thurman, who won election bids, voted with Councilmen John Robertson and Joseph Graffio for hiring Caton as city clerk.

In July, Colon, Thurman, Robertson and Graffio voted to remove Porter as city manager. The next month, Caton was rehired as city manager. He serves as both city clerk and city manger at a salary of $60,000. He was hired on a yearly basis.

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