11:39 PM PDT on Tuesday, October 26, 2010

By IMRAN GHORI
The Press-Enterprise

The Redlands City Council will discuss the possibility of firing City Manager N. Enrique Martinez in a special closed-session meeting called for this afternoon.

The only business listed on the agenda for the 2 p.m. meeting is public employee dismissal.

Councilman Jerry Bean confirmed that the discussion will be on the employment status of Martinez, who has been with the city more than three years. That discussion will carry over to the council’s next regularly scheduled Tuesday meeting on election night.

“We will be discussing this, but no final decision will be made until next Tuesday,” Bean said.

He said he could not discuss why the council is discussing Martinez’s status, describing it as a personnel matter.

Under the city code, the council cannot fire its manager at a special meeting, only at a regularly scheduled meeting. The municipal code also bars the council from changing its management in the 30 days after an election, so any action must be taken that night or after a new council is seated.

“In terms of timing, that’s the reason for this,” Bean said.

Eight candidates are competing for three seats in Tuesday’s City Council election. The winners will take office Dec. 7.

Councilman Pete Aguilar said he will not attend today’s meeting, saying the proposal to dismiss the manager by a “lame-duck” council is inappropriate. He said a performance evaluation of Martinez should take place first and the newly elected council should have the opportunity to decide the city’s leadership.

“Twelfth hour changes and special meetings do nothing but give citizens doubt that we operate in a professional manner,” Aguilar said.

Councilman Mick Gallagher, who is not running for re-election, said he did not feel the timing was wrong, saying the current council is in a better position to evaluate Martinez.

He said he is interested in hearing his colleagues’ views about Martinez’s performance.

“I think as a city manager, the first year and a half, he did exactly what the City Council wanted him to do: that is shape things into place,” Gallagher said.

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