By Kevin Hogencamp
Last month, the Albany City Commission forced City Manager Alfred Lott to resign in the wake of federal racial and sexual discrimination complaints filed by the city’s subject-matter expert on such issues – the human resources management director.
But, after nearly five years of scandal, lawbreaking, civil suits, political favors and mistakes that have cost Albany taxpayers millions of dollars, the City Commission gave Lott until July 2011 to vacate his post.
Now, guess who is going to San Jose in October?
On the public’s dime.
The City Commission tentatively approved in a unanimous vote Lott’s request to attend the International City/County Management Association’s annual conference in San Jose, Calif. Final approval is slated at the commission’s business meeting next week.
Lott and each of the commission members except Jon Howard refuse to answer the Journal’s inquiries about Lott’s explain, including explaining why taxpayers are footing the bill for the trip.
Thus far, the commission has approved – albeit tentatively – Lott’s $695 conference registration; it is unclear whether Lott will seek to be reimbursed for travel expenses.
“When I saw it come up on the agenda, I looked at Commissioner Hubbard and she looked at me and we were trying to figure out what it is about,” said Howard. “I’m going to look into it before the (business) meeting.”
According to the ICMA, the San Jose conference will offer educational, informational-sharing and networking tools to help municipal and county CEOs manage their organizations. Four daily keynote sessions, 60 educational sessions, 30 roundtable discussions, 32 workshops, six forums and technology demonstrations are planned.
Lott’s contract expired Sept. 19; rather than firing Lott and paying $69,000 in severance – half of his $138,000 annual salary – the City Commission is effectively refusing to officially extend Lott’s employment agreement, as the Adams-led commission did in 2004 with former city manager Janice Allen Jackson. In a letter to the commission last month, Lott claimed that he is leaving his job because he desired to be close to his immediate family in the Northeast. Later, he falsely claimed that his resignation was voluntary.
Sources close to the situation have said since last month that Lott likely will leave post under duress no later than January 2011.