The El Dorado Hills Community Services District Board of Directors rejected former General Manager John Skeel’s Feb. 26 claim for unspecified damages by unanimous vote during the March 8 board meeting. The claim rejection opens a six-month window during which Skeel can file a lawsuit against the district.
Dennis Timoney of the Special District Risk Management Authority, which provides liability coverage for the district, recommended the action and assured the directors that the joint powers authority stands behind them.
Attorney James Ward of Evans, Wieckowski & Ward LLP was present. He indicated that he’s ready and willing to represent the CSD if Skeel follows through with a lawsuit.
In the parking lot after the meeting Timoney and Ward promised residents they’d do their best to avoid a long and expensive lawsuit, and confirmed a planned mediation meeting with Skeel and his attorneys later this month.
Skeel’s claim accuses four of the five sitting CSD directors — Guy Gertsch, Noelle Mattock, Wayne Lowery and Tony Rogozinski — of violating the terms of Skeel’s employment contract by terminating him without “good cause.”
Human Resources Manager Tracey Lynn Lowry, Assistant GM Sandi Kukkola and CSD legal counsel Bob Thurbon and Lindsay Moore are also named in the claim.
Skeel’s attorney Ellen Arabian-Lee responded by e-mail to the board’s rejection of the claim.
“What has happened to Mr. Skeel and his professional reputation is egregious. The board continues to ignore the public outcry about how this matter has been handled, and Mr. Skeel’s legal damages are increasing each day. In the event that the mediation at the end of this month is unsuccessful, or if we do not have participation by all of the named parties at the mediation, then we will pursue Mr. Skeel’s claims in court.”
Interim parks director
In other matters, former Rocklin Parks Director Mark Riemer made his inaugural board appearance Thursday night as the CSD’s interim parks director.
Riemer started as Rocklin’s lone parks employee and eventually grew the department to 65 employees. He oversaw construction of 30 parks, a community center and police and fire stations. Like Interim GM Rich Ramirez, Riemer is retired and can only work 960 hours per year.
The board also voted to hire executive recruiters Peckham & McKenney to conduct a search for the next full time general manager, citing the firm’s public outreach practices, which involve residents in the front-end of the hiring process.
Board members were optimistic that the total cost of hiring a GM would come in well within the $35,000 budget. The winning bid came in at $17,500, which doesn’t include staff travel costs.