Palo Alto’s Public Works Director Glenn Roberts retired, it was announced yesterday, but neither he nor the city are explaining what lay behind the sudden decision, except that it was a “personnel matter.” The retirement will go into effect on December 30, and until then Roberts will be on paid administrative leave. Upon retirement, he will receive a severance package of $130,655. His annual salary is believed to be just under $180,000.

A statement by City Manager James Keene read: “Glenn Roberts has a long career of public service and has served the city for 18 years. I would like to acknowledge him for his years of service to the City of Palo Alto and wish him the best in this next phase of his life.”

The statement does not reflect the controversy surrounding Roberts during his tenure, and the City Council meeting at which his severance package was accepted was held behind closed doors, due to “significant exposure to litigation.” Just last July, Roberts was at the center of a budget controversy in which Public Works officials found that the city’s Refuse Fund faced a $6.7 million deficit. Originally, Robert had informed the city that the fund had a $6 million reserve, but this was only partially true.  State regulations required that the reserve be used exclusively for landfill closure. The deficit was only covered by the City Council in September by approving rate increases and a series of cost-cutting measures.

Roberts also made news when he approved the removal of 63 oak trees on California Avenue before the public-notice period had ended. He later apologized for this and promised to improve his department’s public outreach.

Keene announced that a temporary replacement for Roberts will be named in the next two weeks.
Read More at Palo Alto Online.