Big Bear Airport General Manager Sept. 20, 2018

Jack Roberts sits in his office Sept. 20 on his first day as general manager of Big Bear Airport.

The Big Bear Airport District board of directors has accepted general manager Jack Roberts’ resignation effective Friday, Sept. 13.

According to a press release from the district, during contract negotiations it became apparent that the district could not meet Roberts’ salary requirements. Roberts has chosen to pursue other endeavors.

The board thanked Roberts for his service, and Roberts thanked the board for the opportunity to serve, the press release states.

Ryan Goss will serve as the interim general manager.

The announcement comes after several closed session meetings and Roberts’ leave from his duties at the airport district. The closed session meetings began Aug. 14 at the regular meeting. Closed session meetings were held again Aug. 16, Aug. 28 and Sept. 4, all with no reportable action, according to board president Steve Castillo.

On Sept. 10, Castillo told The Grizzly that a press release would be issued Sept. 11 at the regular board meeting per mutual agreement between the board and Roberts. Castillo previously confirmed via text message to The Grizzly that Roberts was out of the office and Goss was the point person for Roberts duties in the interim.

At the Sept. 11 meeting, the airport board legal counsel Betsy Martyn answered claims by the Big Bear Grizzly that the airport board had violated the Ralph M. Brown Act by failing to disclose publicly that Roberts’ employment status had changed and that any action had been taken, even by consensus. Martyn stated that Roberts resignation had not been accepted, and that the press release acts as the acceptance, and it is not applicable until Sept. 13.

Martyn went on to say that the board’s intent was to give Roberts time to decide how to proceed as he has lived and worked in Big Bear a long time. She said the press release also officially names Goss as interim general manager, which is part of his job description.

The Grizzly story that appeared in the Sept. 11 issue shows that the Ralph M. Brown Act, Government Code 54957.1 specifically requires the board to disclose any action that affects an employee’s status, even if the action is by consensus, according to California News Publisher’s Association general counsel Jim Ewert. In the case of Roberts, the status was affected when the board allowed him to take leave of his duties and place Goss in charge of the duties in Roberts’ absence.

Castillo also told The Grizzly on Sept. 10 that a press release would be issued on Sept. 11 at the regular board meeting as by mutual agreement between the board and Roberts, which is action by consent or vote. It’s unknown if there was a formal vote to issue the press release or it was by consent, as there was no reportable action from the meeting held Sept. 4, according to Castillo.

Roberts joined the Big Bear Airport District on Sept. 19, leaving his position at the Big Bear Lake Department of Water and Power and subsequently resigning his seat on the Bear Valley Community Healthcare District. He is a 1992 graduate of Big Bear High School, an Air Force veteran and joined the DWP in 2015.

The airport board did not discuss its plans to replace Roberts, who is the fourth general manager since 2009. He replaced Dustin Leno, who served from 2015 to 2018. Pete Gwaltney served six years from 2009 to 2015, and Gary Dokter held the position from 2006 to 2009. The general manager is a contract employee.

Reporter Kathy Portie contributed to this story.

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