City manager was paid to leave previous job

Los Altos City Manager Chris Jordan

Daily Post Staff Writer

Los Altos City Manager Chris Jordan, who has ignited controversy for ignoring a 4-1 council directive, was paid $141,652 to leave his last job as city manager for West Linn, Ore.

The Post obtained a copy of Jordan’s separation agreement with West Linn after filing an open records request with that city. He got $112,918, which equaled nine months pay and was also allowed to keep his health insurance benefits for nine months. In addition, Jordan was given $28,734 in accrued vacation days. His payout totaled $141,652.

The 2015 agreement said a majority of the city council had asked that Jordan give them terms by which they could enter into a separation agreement with him. As part of the agreement, Jordan and the city agreed they wouldn’t sue one another.

Jordan declined to comment on the agreement yesterday. He said in en email to the Post that he is proud of his accomplishments in West Linn. Although he has “no secrets” about his time there, he said he never discusses his contract or anything to do with his employment with the press.

The separation agreement says that if it is necessary for West Linn to provide a reference for a prospective employer, Jordan should direct that employer to contact West Linn’s Human Resources manager, who would release his dates of employment, final salary and position held.

Did the Los Altos council know?

Los Altos Councilwoman Jan Pepper did not respond directly when asked if the council had seen the severance agreement before hiring Jordan. Pepper, who was on the council committee that hired Jordan, said he had been upfront about his departure from West Linn when he was hired.

“He had told us there had been a change in council members,” she said. “That’s always a challenge for all city managers. I think it is pretty common that some council members will like a city manager and some will not like a city manager.”

Pepper said she thinks Jordan is doing a good job in Los Altos.

Jordan drew criticism in Los Altos for ignoring a vote by the majority of council to return the council meetings to the Civic Center chambers.

Council meetings were moved to the Los Altos Youth Center after Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins complained that the chambers were triggering her asthma.

Dispute over location of council meetings

Residents have complained that the youth center is hot and lacks the proper equipment to livestream the meetings. The council voted 4-1 to move back to chambers, but Jordan failed to follow through.

Prior to taking the job in Los Altos, Jordan was a controversial figure in West Linn because of his aggressive management style.

West Linn Council President Teri Cummings, who helped hire Jordan over a decade ago, said he was controlling.

Jordan systematically replaced city department heads and convinced council to hire an attorney that worked under him to deal with the city’s legal needs, said Cummings. Normally, the city attorney works for the city council, not the manager, though the manager can consult with the attorney. In this case, Jordan wanted an attorney to work directly for him in West Linn, a town with a population of 26,000.

A 2015 article about Jordan’s resignation in the West Linn Tidings, a newspaper there, says his career change was set in motion during the 2014 election when current Mayor Russ Axelrod and former Councilwoman Brenda Perry unseated two incumbent council members. The pair had been critical of city employees, especially Jordan, during their campaigns.

Jordan’s severance agreement with the city was signed by Jordan and Axelrod.

Earlier stories

• Sept. 6, 2019City manager clashed with council members in his previous job in Oregon

Sept. 4, 2019City spends $50,000 on councilwoman’s asthma claims; city manager overrides council decision

• Feb. 23, 2019Councilwoman, resident at odds over cigarette odor



  1. I’m SHOCKED Jordan was run out of the town he previously managed. SHOCKED!

    Tell me again, isn’t he the one that unilaterally amended City Hall hours and days? All without discussion with his managers (and our elected representatives: Council members) or us that pay the taxes that make for his pay. Is he also not a defendant, along with his co-conspirators, in a lawsuit in Federal Court? Did he not throw a young female staffer under the bus for “the flashing Stop sign” debacle when it should have been him and his deputy manager who took ownership for completely bypassing residents’ concerns on what matters to residents?

    If not for apologists like former Mayor Mordo and current council members Bruins and Pepper, co-conspirators like City attorney Chris Diaz etc. Jordan would be selling his wares to others downstream. When exactly would Los Altos City Council members, the elected members of the tax paying residents, really oversee and manage the City Manager, set the tone on what is acceptable and what is not, and show the offenders the way out of Los Altos?

  2. Kudos to Watcher for those links.
    It is now clear what it takes to run this rascal out of Los Altos: a complaint to the State of CA AG’s Office coupled with a letter to the FBI pointing out the irregularities that have compounded in local city hall practices under City Manager Jordan’s watch.

    If local City Council won’t step up to clean the mess it’s time for others to step in. It sure would be good to see Jordan and his co-conspirators be taken down, held accountable for all others to see and take not of what NOT to do.

    The staff-centric legal model has haunted us ever since former City Manager Chris Jordan hired Assistant City Attorney Megan Thornton in 2012 without going through a formal budget process. Later in an attempt to formalize this hire, the City Council at the time made the error of deciding to add the position in a private session, something the Oregon State Ethics Commission said was incorrect.
    Eventually the position was added to the budget, and Thornton and Jordan went on in 2013 to submit two ballot measures to the voters that changed our City Charter in the September 17 election. Measure 3-431 created a broad “non-interference” policy whereby the City Council was not to interfere with the City Manager’s personnel decisions. The language is so broad that no council since has much dared to address the inadequacy of service ethic demonstrated by some staff.

  4. In West Linn Chris Jordan, without going through a budget process, hired an attorney that served his interests. In Los Altos he did better! The City attorney, Chris Diaz, was hired via the City’s budget process but primarily serves the interests of the select and favored few: Jordan, Bruins, former Mayor Mordo. Was it not Mr Diaz, at Bruins’ behest, that demanded a resident leave a City Council meeting? All owing to Bruins’ animus toward that resident? Did not a resident 2018 file complaints with Council demanding they independently investigate a cover up involving co-conspirators Jordan, Diaz, Mordo et al? Did not Diaz stonewall the resident’s requests for public records that would have blown sky high the conspiracy and cover up?

    The clock is ticking…tick tock…and it is just a matter of time before they will be held accountable. Qualified immunity is not what they suppose it is.

  5. What Jordan attempted in West Linn was State Capture, i.e., get control of the instruments of power that would enable him to do what he wants.
    He failed in West Linn because of vigilant Council members and voters.
    His second attempt in Los Altos was successful. The City’s former Mayor and some council members bless and endorse Jordan’s unilateral, arbitrary actions. E.g., amending City Hall hours (even days!), etc. Was there not an attempt by former Mayor Mordo to give Jordan a second raise for 2018, mere weeks before Mordo left office? City Attorney Diaz, supposed to report to the Council and comply with the laws of this land, conspires with Jordan and Mordo to cover up their shenanigans, stonewall residents’ requests for public records, etc. Jordan and his underlings misrepresent and present fabricated reasons to justify their actions to inquiring Council members, with full knowledge they would be protected by co-conspirators Mordo and Diaz.

    It goes on and on…and will stop when disgusted residents stand up and demand accountability, City Council wakes up and acts, independent agencies and institutions step in and investigate, and those involved in the unlawful acts pay a steep price for their disregard for the law and duties owed the public.

    Kudos to the PA Daily Post and its staff for their reporting! Good journalism!

  6. People are so uninformed. The reason that contracts for jobs like City Manager have severance payments pre-defined is because political winds often change and render the person incompatible with the elected body. So there’s a cushion in the event this happens. This is just a guy that was hired by one group of elected officials and then fired by a changed group. He was representing the wishes of the group in office all along. The new group fired him for the “sins” of the previous elected people.

    He wasn’t PAID TO LEAVE. He received a severance for being asked to leave for no legal cause. He wouldn’t get the payment if there was cause. It’s actually an endorsement of the guy that he received the severance.

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