Kevin Valine

City revisits $240,000 settlement with manager

Jocelyn Reed, a 23-year city of Modesto employee who managed the Solid Waste Division.
Jocelyn Reed, a 23-year city of Modesto employee who managed the Solid Waste Division. Jeff Jardine

The city is revisiting its roughly $240,000 settlement agreement with its longtime solid waste manager after the California Public Employees’ Retirement System said it won’t count toward the manager’s pension.

Modesto reached a Nov. 15 settlement with Jocelyn Reed that called for her to remain on paid leave while she collects her $113,587 annual salary through December 2018 unless the 64-year-old Reed goes to work for another public agency. She also will receive 2 percent raises this June and June 2018.

Modesto and Reed would continue to contribute toward her pension while she remained on paid leave. But CalPERS sent a Jan. 23 letter to Reed and the city saying it had reviewed the settlement and determined this was a lump sum payment and could not be used in calculating her pension.

It’s a costly decision.

CalPERS spokeswoman Amy Morgan said had Reed retired in November her pension would be roughly 75 percent of her pay versus roughly 80 percent with a December 2018 retirement date. That five percentage point difference is worth several thousand dollars a year.

Morgan said CalPERS gave Modesto a $6,873 credit for the pension payments made under the settlement.

CalPERS reviewed the settlement and its impact on Reed’s pension at The Bee’s request. But Morgan said CalPERS would have discovered the problem on its own when it reviewed Reed’s compensation upon her retirement.

Reed did not return a phone call and email seeking comment. Modesto spokeswoman Amy Vickery said in an email: “In the Jocelyn Reed case, the city can say only that we are currently discussing this matter with Ms. Reed’s counsel. She remains on paid leave.”

Modesto actually placed Reed on paid leave in April 2016 as it investigated her. Under the settlement terms, Modesto agreed not to release its investigations of Reed unless required by law, and she dropped her allegations — which include harassment, gender bias and retaliation — against the city. She also agreed not to speak about the settlement or issues related to it.

Reed has said the allegations were that she had used inappropriate language, played favorites in promotions and had given special treatment to forestry workers. The Solid Waste Division covers compost, green waste, street sweeping, forestry and solid waste operations. She admitted using inappropriate language but said the other allegations were baseless.

Despite several California Public Records Act requests filed by The Bee, the city has not released its investigation of Reed. That means the public cannot decide for itself whether the city conducted a competent and complete investigation and why the City Council approved a settlement that could cost the city roughly $240,000 for a manager the city had investigated.

Kevin Valine: 209-578-2316