In circumstances that strongly suggest a forced departure, Palo Alto Public Works Director Glenn Roberts will retire at the end of this year and will spend the rest of the year on administrative leave, effective immediately, the City Council announced about midnight Monday.
No details were announced about his retirement benefits or other aspects of his departure, but officials said a statement and details would be released before noon today (Oct. 19). Roberts was not at the meeting.
Roberts, who has been weathered several public storms in recent years, will receive six months severance pay, Mayor Pat Burt announced after a late-night closed session that lasted nearly an hour.
The subject of the closed session was listed on the agenda as "significant exposure to litigation" on the part of the city. But, contrary too early news reports, Roberts had not filed any claim against the city, the city attorney's office earlier told the Weekly.
Roberts was criticized last year for his department's handling of the tree removal operation on California Avenue. In September 2009, workers felled 63 holly oaks without waiting the mandated 14-day period. Roberts disclaimed knowing about the order in advance.
In July, Roberts again found himself in the hot seat after Public Works officials discovered a $6.7 million deficit in the city's Refuse Fund -- after Roberts' department listed a reserve of more than $6 million but neglected to tell the council that under state regulations it had to be kept for closure of the landfill. The council last month approved rate increases and cost-cutting measures at city's landfill to help close the budget gap.
Several years ago, Roberts strongly advocated creating a major recycling operation known as the "Environmental Services Center," that was to be housed in a large metal building near the city's wastewater treatment plant on land dedicated for parkland once the landfill operation ends in the next year or so.
The ESC proposal -- significantly different than the present, partially below ground level plan for a composting operation -- divided environmentalists and community members until it was voted down by the City Council.
Roberts' 2009 salary was $179,902, city records show. The city expects to release a full statement about Roberts' retirement and terms of the city's agreements with Roberts before noon today (Tuesday, Oct. 19).