Martinez may lose city manager

Don Blubaugh, the highly respected city manager of Martinez, has reportedly submitted his resignation letter.

Martinez Mayor Rob Schroder declined to discuss the contents of Blubaugh’s correspondence to the City Council but confirmed that the board would hold a closed session Wednesday on the city manager’s contract.

Blubaugh came out of retirement last year (he was Walnut Creek’s city manager until 2002) and signed a lucrative, two-year contract with Martinez that pays $260,000 the first year and $265,000 for the second. Under the contract,Schroder said, which expires in March 2009, Blubaugh must give the city a 60-day notice if he intends to leave.

Blubaugh also declined to talk about the contents of his memo prior to his meeting with the City Council, calling it a confidential document between himself and his employer.

But Schroder did say that the highly regarded city official expressed frustration at one of the pair’s recent weekly meetings.

A number of downtown projects are on hold in the slumping housing market. The city is about to embark on another potentially bruising ballot over a park improvements bond and downtown redevelopment.

And the city has been in the media spotlight for months after a beaver family took up residence in Alhambra Creek in the city’s downtown, sparking a huge “Save the Beavers” campaign while compromising millions of dollars in flood control improvements.

“Don loves the people he’s working with,” Schroder said, “but he came to Martinez to accomplish a set of goals and he told me he’s not sure he can accomplish these things given the economy and other factors.”

Public employee pension hawks will be interested to know that Blubaugh will see increased pension payments when he re-retires. An analysis by Times editorial columnist Dan Borenstein found that at the end of the two-year contract, Blubaugh’s annual pension will rise by roughly 52 percent, to about $173,000 a year. After just a year, that figure drops to $114,000, or a 41 percent increase. Click here to read Borenstein’s column.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen