Director Jass Singh was the lone vote opposing the motion to have recruiting firm Peckham McKenney search for a replacement for ML Gordon, who was hired in March 12 and dismissed Aug. 24 for breach of contract. Though the pending search will not cost the district more money, Singh said he favored sticking with Gordon.
“The board has the power to bring him back,” Singh said. “ML Gordon is right for Mountain House. I don’t see a loss if we wait two to three weeks.”
During board discussions, legal counsel Daniel Schroeder informed the directors that Gordon was terminated Aug. 24 automatically and without board discussion because of the wording in the contract signed by Gordon and the district.
Schroeder said Gordon’s prolonged absence triggered the dismissal, as Gordon had exhausted his sick leave, having been unavailable since early June.
Officials said they were not at liberty to discuss Gordon’s medical situation because of privacy statutes.
Singh argued that the board should give Gordon a two-week sick leave extension. Schroeder informed the board they could not extend Gordon’s contract, because he was no longer an employee of the district.
The board approved Duzenski to continue in her interim post, with Director Celeste Farron casting the dissenting vote. Farron previously stated she was in favor of bringing back former General Manager Paul Sensibaugh on a temporary basis, one of three alternatives outlined by Schroeder.
Those options for replacing Gordon included keeping Duzenski; re-hiring Sensibaugh, who Gordon replaced as general manager; or having the recruitment firm recommend someone.
Tingle initially favored starting the recruitment process and bringing back Sensibaugh, who she said already has institutional knowledge of community government.
Sensibaugh retired from the general manager’s position in January, and since then has served as a consultant to assist Gordon during the transition process.
“We do need a full-time general manager that can hit the ground running,” Tingle said.
When asked if she would continue as an interim general manager, Duzenski said she would if she needed to, but noted that the job was overwhelming without hiring assistants.
“It’s a full-time job,” she said, noting that she would soon leave for a week to go on her honeymoon. “My personal preference is, have another person in that seat. What we need to do is try to minimize any further disruption. Nice to have Mr. Sensibaugh in that seat.”
When voting on bringing back Sensibaugh, directors Andy Su, Jim Lamb and Singh voted in opposition, denying the motion.
Su said for the price of hiring Sensibaugh back at $180 an hour, they could hire five additional employees to assist Duzenski. He said past procedures called for the general manager to appoint someone in his absence, which would make it Duzenski’s decision.
Tingle, however, said the district was already short-staffed, and moving someone from one job to another would not resolve the problem.
A few board members argued that the matter should be discussed in closed session to allow time to meet with recruitment officials to address alternatives.
A date for the closed session was not decided Wednesday, but some board members said they would be available to meet Monday, Sept. 17.
• Contact Denise E. Rizzo at 830-4225 or firstname.lastname@example.org
At a glance
WHAT: Mountain House Community Services District Board of Directors
WHEN: 7 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 12
WHERE: Michael Forbes McGrew Board Room, 230 S. Sterling Drive
DETAILS: President Bernice King Tingle and directors Celeste Farron, Jim Lamb, Jass Singh and Andy Su were present.