After Months of Talk, Atwater’s Interim City Manager Has Resigned. Here’s What We Know.
Art de Werk resigned last week as interim city manager of Atwater just three months after accepting the job, and now we’re learning more about his rocky tenure and departure from the city.
Neither de Werk nor the city will say much publicly because of a settlement agreement stemming from a hostile work environment claim de Werk filed on March 19. But sources who spoke to the Merced Sun-Star were able to shed some light on the surrounding circumstances.
The prelude to de Werk’s resignation was reportedly a text message accidentally sent to him by Mayor Jim Price. The message, which said de Werk couldn’t “admit he f----ed up” in regards to a trash disposal issue, had evidently been intended for someone else. It may have been the last straw for the embattled interim manager.
But as City News noted previously, the relationship with de Werk was rocky from the start. Almost immediately after he was hired by a split vote of the city council, Mayor Price had begun prodding for an in-depth background check of de Werk that would include a probe of his departure from the City of Ceres. The newly-hired city manager was on board with the idea and the city moved forward. Now that he has resigned, the investigation has been halted for good.
De Werk also faced pushback from some members of the community for his decision to place Police Chief Samuel Joseph on administrative leave. The city’s police union says it had issued a vote of ‘no confidence’ in the chief.
With de Werk gone, Atwater has now moved onto its fifth city manager since December of 2016. Lori Waterman, who has been with the city for 12 years, was immediately tapped to replace de Werk on April 3.