Manteca Mayor Ben Cantu has issued a formal apology for posting comments on the Woodward Park Nextdoor app about Toby Wells who resigned as city manager on Tuesday after just 145 days on the job.
Wells was the city manager of Ceres from 2014 to 2020. He briefly served as city manager of Turlock before taking the manager position in Manteca last September.
“Yesterday (Monday), I posted some comments online about Toby Wells,” Cantu said in a City of Manteca press release. “Those comments were not accurate and I wish to withdraw them. I believe everyone has a right to due process of law, so I want make it clear that Mr. Wells has never been investigated by the City of Manteca. The City of Manteca thanks Toby for his service and we wish him well in his future endeavors.”
The Manteca council meeting, in a closed session Tuesday, accepted Wells’ resignation. That decision was then made public.
Toni Lungren was appointed acting city manager in Manteca. She is the deputy city manager.
Wells, who left Ceres in 2020 to take on a short-lived role as Turlock’s city manager and was released, received a severance payment of $55,000 in addition to his wages and any accrued and unused leave payments through June 11, 2021.
The Turlock City Council placed Wells on investigatory leave on Jan. 7, 2021 less than a month after new councilmembers were sworn in. The fractured Turlock body was split over the settlement when it voted on May 25.
According to a settlement agreement, the city of Turlock believed it had sufficient cause to fire Wells following an investigation, while Wells disagreed that he was subject to termination “with cause” and denied any and all allegations. The Turlock employment contract signed by Wells when he was hired stated that if he was fired without cause, the city would have to pay him eight months of severance, or over $146,000.
Wells was the fifth Turlock City Manager since 2017. Two more have been appointed to the job since Wells was placed on leave, Gary Hampton and Sarah Eddy, the Human Resources manager who began her new interim role. This week the Turlock council hired former Stanislaus County CEO Reagan Wilson to become city manager.