The Amador Water Agency saw major changes in leadership in the past week as long-time General Manager Gene Mancebo’s employment contract was terminated by the AWA Board of Directors on Tuesday, November 19, just days after Randell Livingston was appointed to fill the opening for the District 5 boardmember created when Art Toy resigned last month.
The AWA Board held a special meeting Tuesday afternoon at 1 p.m. with a single agenda item, a closed session discussion of an employee discipline/dismissal/release. Personnel matters are typically exempt from public meeting requirements, so the details of the discussion of Manncebo’s employment are not known at this time.
Following the meeting, AWA issued a press release announcing the termination of Mancebo’s employment contract that stated, “This decision was reached after an extensive evaluation of the of the Agency and agreement that a change in leadership would be beneficial for the organization … The Board of Directors expressed its appreciation for the years of service provided by Gene and wished him the best in his future endeavors.”
Mancebo had been with the Amador Water Agency for 27 years, including the past 10 years as General Manager. Before heading the Agency, he worked 17 years as manager for Engineering and Planning. He led AWA through the fiscal difficulties of the great recession, but fielded plenty of criticism during his tenure, most recently a report in July from the Amador Civil Grand Jury, which accused the Amador Water Agency of fiscal mismanagement and being a hostile and abusive environment for employees.
The AWA press release said a search was underway for an interim General Manager to fill the position immediately, before starting a recruitment process for a new permanent General Manager. The board’s next regular meeting falls on the Thanksgiving holiday and has been canceled, so the next board meeting will be held on Thursday, December 12.
On Thursday, November 14, the AWA board voted to appoint Livingston to fill the District 5 vacancy left when Toy resigned. The board had received two applicants, Livingston and Brian Jobson. Both were interviewed by an ad hoc committee of Board President Paul Molinelli Jr. and District 3 board member Susan Peters. While the interview committee stressed how well-qualified both applicants were, with Molinelli calling it “a very difficult decision,” the committee recommended Livingston to the full board. Both applicants had extensive experience with utility companies, with Livingston a recently retired executive with Pacific Gas and Electric company, and Jobson a long-time, now retired, employee with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.
AWA board member Rich Farrington raised objections to Livingston’s background with PG&E, saying it wouldn’t look good in the wake of the recent power shutoffs.
“I’m not sure how it’s going to look to read in the newspaper that AWA has appointed a (former) PG&E (executive) to their board,” said Farrington.
In the end, only Farrington voted against Livingston, as board member Gary Thomas voted with Molinelli and Peters to appoint Livingston. Livingston was sworn in by Amador County Clerk Kim Grady and took his seat immediately.
The AWA board also passed a resolution honoring Toy for his nine years of service on the AWA Board of Directors.