Sterling threatens lawsuit against city manager

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Sterling threatens lawsuit against city manager By Jasmine Marshall — Staff Writer 5/8/03 Santa Maria Police Chief John Sterling said Wednesday that he hasn’t given up on the possibility of retaining his job. “I am still hopeful things can work out,” Sterling said following a speech to the Santa Maria Women’s Network at the Santa Maria Inn. The chief was placed on paid administrative leave on May 1. Although he and city officials have declined to comment about the action, three sources close to Sterling say they have seen his suspension letter, which they said reads “… pending termination.” On Tuesday, hundreds of people packed City Hall to tell the City Council they support Sterling and want the city to retain him as chief. At Tuesday’s meeting, City Manager Tim Ness and City Attorney Art Montandon said they could not comment on specific reasons for Sterling’s suspension unless he signs a waiver of his privacy rights. Sterling has not signed such a waiver, and confirmed Wednesday he is represented by legal counsel, who is advising him on his privacy rights and other matters. During Tuesday’s council meeting, Ness did say “decisions like this are not made overnight.” Sterling would not comment on what Ness had said, but added, “I do not have any adversarial feelings toward the City Council. I’ve always had a good relationship with them and hope to continue to do so.” Ness also alluded to the possibility of litigation against himself and the city during Tuesday’s meeting. City Attorney Art Montandon provided the Times with a memorandum from Ness dated March 19, 2003, upon being asked about the potential litigation. “The purpose of this memorandum is to document that Police Chief John Sterling threatened to file a lawsuit against me during a lunch meeting that we had today. The police chief stated at least twice that he was going to sue me for actions that I have taken as City Manager for the city,” reads Ness’s memo. Sterling did not want to speak about specifics of the incident, but said “that document is only a small piece of the overall story and presented alone it is entirely out of context. The full conext and truth of matter will come out in the appeal process.” Montandon also confirmed the City Council has met in closed session following every meeting since April 1 about the possibility of litigation involving Sterling. Staff writer Jasmine Marshall can be reached by e-mail at :nav Source:

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