City Manager’s Severance Approved by Council (updated)

City Attorney Karl Hall explained the city's severance package with City Manager Andrew Clinger.
City Attorney Karl Hall explained today the city’s severance package for City Manager Andrew Clinger.

The Reno City Council approved today a severance package for City Manager Andrew Clinger. The move was called a “business decision” by City Attorney Karl Hall.

The cost to sever Clinger’s employment could have been more expensive had the city not negotiated the settlement because Clinger could have sued the city, Hall said.

The cost of the settlement is about $230,000. Firing Clinger would be nearly $200,000 plus an unknown cost of potential litigation by Clinger.

But that rationale didn’t sit well with some council members.

Clinger was called a “rarity in the public and private sector,” said Councilwoman Jenny Brekhus, who protested the severance agreement. “I’m having a very difficult time getting to this point. We’re still in investigations with him.

“I’ve heard much harder approaches from your office from potential litigants,” Brekhus said to Hall.

Hall rebutted that the severance relieves the city of contractual obligations to Clinger. Clinger also relinquishes his right to sue the city. Hall said Clinger could sue for attorney fees, libel and defamation, which would be more expensive than the severance package approved today.

“I’m looking at the pros and cons of this particular case. I don’t think there’s any way we’d avoid paying a severance package…. We are going to continue with the investigation,” Hall said.

Clinger faces four complaints of alleged misconduct by three women. Hall said that the results of investigations, which are costing the city up to $150,000, will be made public mid-October. One of the complaints is for alleged retaliation.

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Tray Abney of the The Chamber, who spoke for himself during public comment, defending Clinger. He called him one of the best city managers Reno has had. He noted that Clinger navigated difficult budget cuts while budget director of the state and helped Reno come out of the recession as city manager.

“I think it’s important for this city to move forward and focus on the things that are important,” said Mayor Hillary Schieve

Councilman David Bobzien called the severance an imperfect solution but the best one before council.

Councilman Oscar Delgado noted that the city could use a morale lifting. He made the motion to approve Clinger’s severance.

Brekhus voted against the package and was joined by Councilman Paul McKenzie.

This has been updated to include the video.

Bob Conrad
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Bob Conrad is co-founder of ThisisReno. He manages ThisisReno and Conrad Communications, LLC, his marketing communications consulting company. He also works part time for the University of Nevada, Reno.