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    Westminster plans to discuss city manager’s contract this week
    • July 11, 2023

    When Christine Cordon took over the role of Westminster’s city manager in a time of political turmoil in the city, she was lauded for providing a calming presence in often contentious meetings.

    Residents even voted for her to be recognized in the Register’s list of 125 most influential people along with Assistant City Manager Adolfo Ozaeta for sparking changes in Westminster. The duo brought back public events, implemented the city’s first strategic plan and, according to the nominator, introduced the city to topics that were considered taboo before.

    Now, as Westminster’s city leaders prepare to discuss Cordon’s contract and employee evaluation in Wednesday’s upcoming regularly scheduled meeting, they have added to the closed session discussion “Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release,” according to the agenda.

    It is unclear if Cordon will be dismissed of her duties on Wednesday or if a clause for dismissal will be added to her contract.

    Ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, Councilmember Amy Phan West said periodic evaluations are needed so “the City Council can establish clear expectations for the city manager and ensure that her actions align with the goals of the council.”

    “It also provides an opportunity for constructive dialogue and feedback, allowing the city manager to address any concerns raised by the council members,” she said.

    But the hint of potential change to Cordon’s contract has been met with uproar among Westminster residents as well as with some members of the City Council.

    “Her unwarranted dismissal would be devastating to the future of our city,” said Councilmember Carlos Manzo. “Since her appointment, she has conducted herself with the utmost professionalism. She has moved us in a positive direction and (is) doing more with minimal resources.”

    Westminster, Manzo said, does not need a “yes person” who just appeases councilmembers’ ideas and suggestions, but rather the city manager should provide “honest” answers to councilmembers’ questions and ideas. He said Cordon has done just that.

    “We don’t know everything and depend on professional guidance,” Manzo said. “We should not be at odds with our city manager if we don’t get the answers we want to hear.”

    Terry Rains, who runs the popular social media platform Westminster Buzz and is a council observer, said she has observed that the greater community is outraged and fearful of what Cordon’s potential dismissal could mean for the city.

    “The community wholeheartedly trusts Christine and her ability to run our city. She is a straight shooter, honest and respectful of everyone,” Rains said. “Residents and business leaders know Christine will never cross legal or ethical lines for anyone.”

    If Cordon is let go, Rains said, it would be for political reasons. She speculated that Cordon would be replaced by someone willing to cross lines she is not.

    “If she is fired, any hope of this city surviving and eventually thriving will be lost. Westminster will likely become the most corrupt city ever,” Rains said.

    In 2021, Cordon was elevated to the role of city manager from her role as city clerk after City Manager Marwan Youssef retired following outrage over his decision to hire former Westminster Councilmember Tyler Diep as a city consultant.

    Diep was earning $6,400 a month for connecting councilmembers to elected officials. But the contract was short-lived: because of the outrage, Diep canceled his contract a little over a month into signing it, pocketing $13,400 for the short time he served as a consultant.

    Since taking the city’s top job, Cordon was instrumental in pushing for city leaders to put a 1% sales tax measure on the ballot. Without the sales tax measure, Westminster would have been forced to eliminate more than 30 senior management positions, cut its police force by 33% and disband all commissions not required by law.

    “We’re already running thin,” Cordon said at the time.

    Earlier this year, she was recognized by Rep. Michelle Steel, R-Seal Beach, and State Sen. Janet Nguyen, R-Huntington Beach, for her work in Westminster.

    While Cordon is usually calm during council meetings, in a late May meeting, what was an innocuous staff presentation soon turned tense. Staffers had just presented to the council a plan to install billboards on the 405 Freeway to bring in some much-needed cash to the city. They also shared a potential company to contract with.

    “I find it insulting,” said Cordon as the council majority — which includes Mayor Chi Charlie Nguyen and Councilmembers NamQuan Nguyen and Phan West — questioned how staffers went through the RFP process to select the billboard company and how they determined what is best for the city.

    “There is a transparent, clear process and how you issue RFPs in a general law city. This is exactly what we’ve done,” Cordon said. “If you would like to be behind the scenes, with the process, writing the process, picking out the consultants, please by all means we have plenty of city jobs available.”

    Ultimately, the council voted to go ahead with staff recommendations at the June 28 meeting, praising staff for their work.

    Cordon and NamQuan Nguyen declined to comment for the story while Chi Charlie Nguyen did not respond to a request for comment.

    The City Council is scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, July 12 at 8200 Westminster Blvd.

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    ​ Orange County Register