Newport Beach Councilmember Says City Manager Was “Ambushed”

The Newport Beach City Council accepted an amended contract Tuesday allowing for David Kiff’s early exit as city manager. Meanwhile, comments made by a member of the City Council during that meeting have highlighted a growing rift at City Hall and widening controversy over Kiff’s departure.

As City News noted last week, Kiff’s premature exit has rankled members of the community, including former city officials, who believe Kiff was forced out of the job. Now, sitting members of the council are speaking out, with Councilmember Dianne Dixon claiming the city manager was “ambushed” by some of her colleagues.

"They wanted to fire him. They decided to fire him. They fired him. But they didn't tell anyone," Dixon said. "On what basis did a minority cabal of two council members decide they had the authority to force out Dave Kiff?"

"They are not chief executives, the king or dictators," she added.

The claims made by Dixon and others have been vehemently denied by the accused members of the council. Some Kiff supporters say they just don’t believe them.

Kiff stayed out of discussions Tuesday, saying he’s hoping for a smooth transition. That may be tough to come by.

“I have never quite witnessed a firestorm of irrationality and anger resulting from a retirement of a city manager as I've witnessed this time," one resident observed.

Per the amended contract, the city will pay Kiff more than $100,000 when he steps down. That payment includes the salary he would have earned in September through December, a one-time deferred compensation payment, and up to $5,000 toward attorney fees which he incurred during preparation of the contract. He is also entitled to any unused administrative leave pay for the year.