BRAD MALAMUD, San Clemente
Former City Manager James Makshanoff resigned in January for a better paying job. Makshanoff was an at-will employee paid over $350,000 per year, likely more than 95% of San Clemente residents.
The city entrusted its governance to him. Recently, he raised claims against the city for monetary damages. In my view, shameful doesn’t come close to describing this gambit, which smells of legal extortion, as it’s difficult to imagine any economic damages.
Mr. Makshanoff was not a victim. He was in charge. He was the boss. In his own words, he had a good job, informing the council that leaving “was not an easy decision for me.”
Why do we know about this claim, as Makshanoff sought confidentiality? Because one brave councilmember thwarted the cover-up over the objection of other councilmembers. Acting mayor Laura Ferguson informed the public of Makshanoff’s claim, and the SC Times, to its credit, ran an informative article (recently).
Sadly, Mr. Makshanoff will likely be paid to avoid expensive, protracted and disruptive litigation. Payoffs are based on a “cost-benefit” analysis. But, if Mr. Makshanoff is paid off without a trial, other city employees will seek similar payouts when they leave. It will create a lottery that the city will fund. No payoff should occur without a trial.
Makshanoff’s claims and potential lawsuit must end now. I ask Mr. Makshanoff to drop his claim with prejudice (promise not to refile a claim or lawsuit). Mr. Makshanoff, do the right thing.