UPLAND – The city of Upland has rejected a wrongful termination claim filed against it by former city manager Robb Quincey.
In his claim notice seeking unlimited damages over his May 4 termination filed on his behalf by attorney Joseph Wohrle in November, Quincey maintains the city breached his employment contract, violated the labor code and wrongfully terminated him.
Quincey, who was handpicked by then- mayor John Pomierski to serve as city manager in the aftermath of former city manager Mike Milhiser’s forced departure in 2005, had zoomed to a level of unprecedented authority in Upland while working for a city council dominated by Pomierski. But his fortunes shifted shortly after FBI and IRS agents in June 2010 descended on City Hall and Pomierski’s home to serve search warrants in conjunction with a federal probe of political corruption in Upland’s municipal government, including charges that Pomierski, with the assistance of city staff, was shaking down developers and others with business proposals or permits pending before the city.
In the aftermath of those law enforcement raids, information about questionable actions involving Quincey circulated in Upland, including a report he had retaliated against a police sergeant, John Moore, who had investigated an alleged domestic disturbance incident involving the city manager by preventing Moore from being promoted to lieutenant and that he then acted improperly to create a third captain position in the department and promoted one of the department’s lieutenants into that newly formed post to ultimately promote Moore after Moore began to prepare a legal complaint alleging retaliation.
It was action Quincey took in the aftermath of Moore’s promotion in which he went beyond his legal authority to make maximum $25,000 disbursements without prior council authority to cover $50,000 of a $57,816 bill for services rendered to Moore by the law firm Lackie, Dammeier & McGill that formed the basis of the city council’s decision to fire him. In his claim, Quincey maintained the payments to the law firm were properly processed by the city’s finance department. In firing Quincey, the city also relied on information pertaining to Quincey’s relationship with former assistant finance director Ruby Carrillo, who was reportedly involved in providing and documenting the payments to Lackie, Dammeir & McGill. Carrillo is no longer employed by Upland.
The claim asserts Quincey’s contention that he was actually terminated because in the latter part of 2010 he had undertaken a critical evaluation of the billing practices of the city’s legal counsel, the law firm of Richards, Watson & Gershon, which employs city attorney William Curley. “For years, claimant expressed concern to his staff and the city council about legal fees generated by Richards, Watson & Gerschon,” the claim states. Quincey’s claim sets forth that he balked at allowing the law firm to provide legal services to other cities and water agencies where there was some level of conflict with regard to those multiple representations.
Quincey’s claim also alleges mayor Ray Musser and councilman Ken Willis defamed him in statements to the press. The official reason provided for terminating the 51-year old Quincey, who was receiving a base salary and add-ons of $368,529, benefits of $92,096 for a total compensation package of $460,625 per year, was that he failed to follow specific city council directions and had breached his employment contract.
The city council quietly rejected Quincey’s claim on November 28. Wohrle has six months from that date to file a lawsuit on Quincey’s behalf. He has not done that, but last month Wohrle filed a petition with the San Bernardino County Superior Court at the West Valley Courthouse in Rancho Cucamonga for arbitration in accordance with Quincey’s employment contract. The court is to consider that request on February 14.