Stephen Dunn Office

Upland City Manager Stephen Dunn’s walls are bare Monday after he cleaned out his office. He’s officially said to be on vacation. David Allen — Staff

By David Allen, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 04/15/14, 5:53 PM PDT |

To Uplanders curious about whether their city still has a chief executive, let me offer this definitive statement: Maybe.

City Manager Stephen Dunn is absent and a special City Council meeting Monday to evaluate him ended without a decision. So did a second meeting regarding “discipline/dismissal/release” of an unnamed employee who is almost certainly Dunn.

The lack of clarity wasn’t a total surprise. The Upland City Council doesn’t like to make decisions. It’s not part of their brand.

Dunn, however, seems to have acted decisively: He cleaned out his office.

He last reported for work April 9, but the aviation buff returned over the weekend to remove the airplane art from his walls and cart off personal photos and other items from his desk, probably in the pre-dawn hours Monday.

And in a hallway, where portraits of past city managers are displayed, Dunn’s was turned to face the wall — a statement on someone’s part, possibly Dunn’s.

Is Dunn really gone for good, though? Last June he tried taking an indefinite leave of absence but was back in a couple of days. Officially he’s said to be taking this week off. So it’s always possible he’ll be back.

Maybe he’s only redecorating, and next time I visit, his office will have paintings of dogs playing poker.

If Dunn is frustrated with the City Council, you can’t blame him. I’m frustrated with them myself, and I only see them twice a month. Imagine working for five people who are pulling in two or three directions at once — and just when you’re trying to build consensus to make drastic cuts.

Dunn’s evaluation has been on several recent closed-session agendas, which leads me to think this is less a formal evaluation than a serial opportunity to vent.

Monday was a little different: Dunn’s evaluation got its own hour-long meeting at a special time, 5 p.m. Musser’s goal, as he told me Friday, was to give the council enough time to hash the matter out and reach a conclusion.

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