A longtime City of South Pasadena department head has been placed on administrative leave, the city’s mayor has confirmed
Dr. Marina Khubesrian, in her second term as mayor, said on Tuesday it was South Pasadena City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe’s decision to put Community Services Director Sheila Pautsch on administrative leave.
Khubesrian said she could not provide specifics regarding the city manager’s actions.
“The decision was made by the city manager,” explained Khubesrian. “I’ve been pretty supportive of her decision and her judgment and thinking about things. It’s something she felt like she had to do, not really a choice. She’s required by law to take some steps until she’s figured out what’s going on.”
Khubesrian explained that the City Council does not get involved in personnel issues, noting: “That’s why we have a professional management staff and the city manager that handles personnel issues.”
DeWolf “is the one who deals with the directors,” insisted the mayor.
In her role, Sheila Pautsch oversees the South Pasadena Senior Center, recreation and transit divisions for the city. Among the events administered by her department each year are a winter event providing kids an opportunity to play in the snow, a family Easter egg hunt in the spring and a summer music concert series– all in Garfield Park. Pautsch also oversees the South Pasadena Historical Museum, affectionally known as the ‘Iron Works Museum’, and was a key leader in the recent exterior restoration and preservation of our cities heritage.
In addition, she’s responsible for the Arroyo Seco Golf Course management agreement, and the San Pascual Stables, the Arroyo Seco Racquet Club, All Star Batting Cages and Historical Museum leases.
Pautsch is also the staff liaison for the Parks and Recreation Commission and the South Pasadena Community Fund.
The mayor explained that the council doesn’t get involved in personnel issues, “otherwise personnel issues would become political issues and they shouldn’t become political issues. The city manager makes the hires, the decision to let someone go or whatever.”
In making decisions, the magnitude of placing someone on administrative leave, Khubesrian said DeWolfe is “very thoughtful, very deliberate and doesn’t make decisions irrationally. She really thinks through the impact of these decisions and I know that she has the community’s best interest at heart when she made this particular decision.”
Khubesrian stressed that, “It’s not the final decision obviously. She’s just put on paid administrative leave right now.”
The mayor said Pautsch could be eligible to return to her job once the process in examining the issue is complete.
An email from the South Pasadenan was sent to John Pope, the city’s public information officer, seeking comment from DeWolfe.
In an email, Pope responded: “Because this is a personnel matter, it is confidential and we will not be commenting.”
In the same email, Pope said Anthony Kim, who works under Pautsch in the community service department, has been named the acting director “and already has shown strong leadership as he steps into the position on a temporary basis,” he wrote. “We have full confidence in Anthony’s ability to lead the department in the interim and maintain the department’s high quality of service to residents.”
Pautsch was unavailable for comment.