Benicia City Council to approve new employment agreement with Upson

by John Glidden | Oct. 1, 2020

BENICIA — The City Council is expected to approve a new $239,977 employment agreement with interim city manager Erik Upson on Tuesday.

Upson, who serves as the city’s police chief, was appointed interim city manager a week after Lorie Tinfow resigned from the position on Sept. 8.

He currently receives an annual base salary of $215,226 as police chief. During his time as interim city manager, Upson will receive a monthly base salary increase of 11.5 percent for a total compensation of $239,977, according to a city staff report to the council.

Benicia police Capt. Mike Greene has been tapped to serve as acting police chief.

According to the contract, Upson will be allowed to serve as a board member on the California Police Chief’s Association “up and until a permanent position should be offered.”

Upson will also be allowed to continue in his current position as an adjunct professor at Napa Valley College. He is limited to teaching one class per semester during the life of the employment agreement.

Upson will continue to receive the same benefits that he receives as police chief.

Although she officially resigned on Sept. 8, it appears Tinfow was pushed out as she signed a separation agreement on Sept. 4, JohnGlidden.com previously reported.

Unanimously approved by the council in closed session, the separation agreement provided more than $300,000 in severance pay to Tinfow. That included 13 months of pay, unused vacation time, one-half of her sick leave, and one-half of her unused administrative leave.

Tinfow’s contract with the city states that if she is “involuntarily terminated” she will receive “twelve (12) months of the base salary, plus accrued vacation leave, one-half (1/2) of accrued administrative leave, and one-half (1/2) of accrued sick leave, calculated at the base salary in effect on the effective date of termination.”

According to the contract, involuntary termination can occur through Tinfow’s resignation following a salary, compensation and/or benefit reduction without her consent; a reduction in the powers and authority of the city manager position, or the total elimination of the city manager’s position; or if Tinfow resigns following a formal demand by a majority of the Bencia City Council that she resign.

Tinfow’s contract states that if she voluntarily resigns she is only entitled to accrued vacation leave, one-half (1/2) of accrued administrative leave, one-half (1/2) of accrued sick leave, and not any of her base salary.

Tinfow and the city council have not responded to requests for comment.

The Benicia City Council will meet at 7 p.m., Tuesday, via teleconference. To submit a public comment, members of the community can provide comments to the city clerk by email at lwolfe@ci.benicia.ca.us.

The community can view the meeting by broadcast on Channel 27, and livestream online at http://www.ci.benicia.ca.us/agendas.

It can also be viewed through Zoom, (via computer or phone) link:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83642034561?pwd=aURGenREZElxdWdYODFjUDVEckRxUT09
If prompted for a password, enter 454382.


Published by John Glidden

John Glidden is a freelance journalist reporting on the city of Vallejo. The native Vallejoan also covers the local school district, Vallejo elections, and public safety.

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