City Manager James Ruth, with the backing of a City Council majority, refused Tuesday to surrender his recently improved severance package despite calls by Councilman William D. Ehrle and several city residents.
Ehrle argued that the package should be rescinded because Ruth failed to tell council members that he had applied for a city of Los Angeles job while negotiating the increase. But the other council members said they still supported giving Ruth a six-month extension of his severance package, which he would receive if he were ever fired. The council approved the extension Nov. 5.
"I have a legitimately negotiated contract with the city, and there's no need for me to reconsider it," Ruth said. "Unlike other city employees I have no recourse if the council were to fire me even without cause . . . except for this compensation."
Ehrle, who was the lone vote against the original measure, had asked the council to reconsider its vote after Ruth revealed that he had secretly applied to become parks general manager for the city of Los Angeles. Ruth has since withdrawn that application.
Ruth previously said he did not tell the council about the job application because he did not want the members to think he was using that as leverage.
If Ruth was fired--which council members say is not being considered--he would receive a year's salary, currently $137,812, and keep his medical insurance and his $475-a-month car allowance for a year. Previously, he would have received each for six months.
"I think six months is a more than sufficient severance package, particularly in today's economy, in this recession, and with the economic chaos we have in this city," Ehrle said.