Majority of South Lake Tahoe City Council members honor former city manager Nancy Kerry
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A little more than eight months after parting ways, a majority of City Council formally expressed gratitude to the former city manager, Nancy Kerry.
Outgoing councilors Wendy David and Tom Davis and Councilor Brooke Laine signed a proclamation praising Kerry for her achievements during her more than nine years with the city — six of which were spent as city manager.
The proclamation was presented during a private celebration, organized by Laine, Nov. 13 at Riva Grill, where about 75 people gathered to sing the praises of the former city manager.
The proclamation recognizes Kerry for her fiscal management, her role in fostering development and leadership amid national economic uncertainty.
“It has been a great privilege to serve as city manager, and to lead a great team, and I count it the greatest honor to be a member of the team,” Kerry said at the meeting, according to a press release sent by David Jinkins, a previous South Lake Tahoe city manager.
The Tribune was not invited to the event, which was deemed exempt from public notice requirements.
Minus a handful of exceptions, the state’s open meeting laws, known as the Brown Act, prevent a majority of legislative board members from gathering and interacting outside of publicly noticed meetings.
One of those exemptions, explained City Attorney Heather Stroud, pertains to ceremonial events. Based on her understanding of the law, the private event honoring Kerry did not need to be noticed.
The text of the provision allows an exemption for: “the attendance of a majority of the members of a legislative body at a purely social or ceremonial occasion, provided that a majority of the members do not discuss among themselves business of a specific nature that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body of the local agency.”
Laine, who said she checked with Stroud before proceeding with the event, further clarified that Councilor Davis left prior to the start of the actual event.
Outgoing Councilor Austin Sass and Councilor Jason Collin did not attend the event, although Laine and David said they were invited.
In October, Laine asked council to consider recognizing Kerry and former South Lake Tahoe Clerk Susan Alessi at its Nov. 13 meeting.
David, who serves as mayor, which makes her the point person on council when it comes to composing council agendas, told the Tribune there was consensus from Laine and Davis about bringing forth a proclamation. However, there was no consensus from the rest of council for putting the item on City Council’s agenda.
Laine said she is still unsure why the item never made it on to the agenda.
She decided to organize the private event for later that evening. Ultimately it was successful, she added.
“I think at the end of the day it was great to be able to have the participation of the larger community and especially a significant amount of the movers and shakers and business people in town and their ability to be able to join us and to have that celebration … was ideal,” Laine said.
At the end of the day, there were plenty of people who wanted to thank Kerry for her “many contributions” to the city of South Lake Tahoe during “her years of service,” Laine added.
The proclamation came eight months after Kerry and the city reached a separation agreement.
The separation agreement came one month after Kerry was placed on indefinite leave for reasons that were not publicly disclosed. Shortly after she was placed on leave, the Tribune published an investigation in which current and former city employees cited a toxic work environment at City Hall.
The story was the first instance it was publicly revealed the city had hired an outside party to conduct a review of city management — just months after Kerry received glowing reviews from City Council.
It was the hiring of that outside party that lead, in part, to Laine’s public allegations of Brown Act violations. The complaints sparked a response from David, who also requested the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office look into the allegations.
The DA’s office concluded council may have committed a “few possible” Brown Act violations but the errors did no warrant criminal charges. After the conclusions were released, council members argued about the outcome, with some calling individual councilors.
While the saga has unfolded in pieces through most of the past year, specific details of what led to the falling out have not been publicly disclosed.
In the separation agreement, the city and Kerry also signed a non-disparagement clause — preventing both parties from writing anything “negative, defamatory or critical of the other party.”
At the time, Kerry said she was proud of her accomplishments. And David thanked her for her years of service.
“I leave the city with a great deal of things to be proud of knowing the city is in good financial shape, significant progress on myriad issues was made, innumerable projects were completed and with a team of highly professional employees, the city will continue to provide the best of service to the public,” Kerry wrote.
“The council and I appreciate Ms. Kerry’s service to the city. She has been able to move the city forward in significant ways,” David said at the time. “We wish her all the best in her next chapter.”