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McKinney vs. Tracey: KO 

Atascadero City Manager Wade McKinney asked permission to cut city employees and patch the budget deficit. With permission granted, less than 24 hours later eight city employees were told they no longer had a job—and one of them was Marty Tracey.

“You know I’ve said that this is one of those circumstances where McKinney is just not going to let a good crisis go to waste,” Tracey said.

To Tracey, it came as no surprise that his was one of the positions let go. He and McKinney have butted heads since Tracey was ostracized and scapegoated following an eminent domain controversy in late 2005. Tracey was forced to resign, but fought his way back in as the city’s deputy executive director of the Redevelopment Agency. After returning, however, his job duties were severely reduced, Tracey said. A report released by former mayor Mike Brennler last year named McKinney as one of the key figures who essentially blacklisted Tracey.

When news began to surface about the city’s depleted budget, Tracey said he started preparing for the worst. “It was something when I first started hearing about it I discussed with my wife and said this is probably going to be taken advantage of.”

McKinney did not return calls for comment before press time.

In total 15 city positions were cut, according to a city news release sent out the same day the employees were informed. Eight people actually lost jobs and the other seven positions were already vacant. City administrators made other budget cuts and dipped into reserves but were still left with a $775,000 deficit. McKinney asked City Council members for permission to cut jobs at the April 28 meeting. The members gave him permission and soon after McKinney and others in the city manager’s office decided which positions to cut, but did so privately. City officials argued it would violate employee privacy to discuss layoffs in a public City Council meeting.

As for Tracey, he said he recently bought a home and hopes to stay on the Central Coast, but with the current economy he’s not sure where he’ll end up.

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