UPLAND'S LONG civic nightmare is over. Over-ish, anyway.
Robb Quincey was fired Wednesday night as city manager, his invincibility potion evidently having worn off. The way it appears, Quincey drank a beakerfull when he was hired and he'd been bullet-proof ever since.
And due to a ridiculous city ordinance, six months had to elapse after the last election before the council could touch him, making his superpower even more awesome.
I picture the scene like this.
City Council: Robb, you've gone too far this time. Using city funds to settle a private dispute? This can't stand, my boy.
(Hail of bullets bounces off Quincey's chest.)
Q.: Nice try, suckers. I'm invincible! Now I'm going to the bank to cash my paycheck. Haw! Haw! Haw!
(Laughs all the way to the bank, then fills his car with free city gasoline. Scene resumes Wednesday.)
Council: We really mean it this time.
Q.: Haven't you people got the message yet? I'm invincible! (Notices calendar on wall with date circled in red.) *Gasp!* My 180 days are up!
Council, closing in: We've got you now.
OK, it probably didn't go exactly like that. For one thing, Quincey has been lying low since the council put him on paid leave Jan. 4.
But it's true the council wasted little time in turning Quincey into Upland's ex-city manager once the clock ran out.
I'm a little surprised they didn't meet at 12:01 a.m.
Yet there wasn't much drama Wednesday.
I don't know if everyone else who cared was at work and everyone in the audience figured Quincey's fate was sealed, but Musser looked a little surprised by the silence.
Council members recessed to closed session to hash out the details of Quincey's departure. I recessed to dinner.
Before that, though, I introduced myself to Bill Velto, whose voice-mail response to a comment about him in this space made for an entertaining item in Sunday's column. (Highlight of his call: "You're a little man.")
"I overreacted," Velto admitted. Because I'm a big man, I accepted his apology.
So all is well on that score. At least until the next time I check my voice mail.
The council returned at 7:05 p.m., looking somber.
They had been ensconced, by the way, in the "Pinky" Alder Meeting Room, named for a pink-faced former city manager who served honorably for 20 years, from 1955 to 1974, despite not receiving housing and technology allowances.
That was then, this is now.
City Attorney Bill Curley announced that the council had fired Quincey by unanimous vote, effective immediately.
This was a relief. I'd been worried council members would lose focus and double Quincey's immunity to 360 days.
Curley didn't specify the reasons for the firing, other than to say Quincey was considered in breach of his contract and that he had failed to follow council direction. He said further details would be released in the coming days.
Council members deferred comment to Curley.
"I can't say anything," Musser told me. "We have to be very, very careful on this."
How much dough will Quincey walk away with? That was still being calculated by my deadline Thursday, but Quincey won't get any severance pay.
The council deemed that it had cause to fire him and his contract says in such a case he "shall not be entitled to any Severance Pay or other payment except for then due wages."
No more free city gas, either?
I'm still unclear on the purpose of the 2008 Municipal Code provision regarding an 18-month payout - its existence was noted here Wednesday - but I'm led to believe it's a moot point given that Quincey won't receive severance.
I still say shame on the council for, in the same 2008 action, giving Quincey immunity from firing for six months after an election. That proved to be costly - both for city coffers and for the city's reputation.
To take the long view, Quincey's firing represents a symbolic end to Upland's aughts.
This was the gung-ho decade (2000-2010) in which two-fisted John Pomierski ruled as mayor, everyone else cowered (sometimes in Team Upland jackets, sometimes in Hawaiian shirts), money rolled in from the Colonies development and voters largely napped.
The City Council had an air of self-satisfied, masculine camaraderie.
Call them "The Boo-yah Years."
Then the FBI came to town, stones were turned over and interesting things crawled out, tongues loosened, a new councilman was elected, Pomierski resigned and then was indicted on bribery and extortion charges.
Quincey, whom Pomierski recruited as the city's top executive in 2005, came across as uber-competent and unflappable, but that image began unraveling.
We learned that the self-proclaimed business-like City Hall was paying its department heads well above the market rate, that Quincey was probably making double what he ought to have been paid, that he behaved erratically with a former girlfriend and that he appears to have spent city funds on a coverup of an argument with her during which police were called.
As details emerged about his overly generous contract - $368,000 a year after numerous pay raises and bonuses and absurd allowances - comparisons with Bell's pay scandal seemed not unreasonable.
But on Wednesday, after the council's action, Quincey was suddenly unemployed.
Past a sign reading "Employees Only," and inside the glassed-off entry to the city manager's suite, Quincey's smiling portrait could still be seen on the wall, near the door to the office that was no longer his.
On Thursday, it was gone.
David Allen writes Friday, Sunday and Wednesday, more to feel bad about. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 909-483-9339 or write 2041 E. Fourth St., Ontario 91764. Read his blog at dailybulletin.com/davidallenblog