The Santa Barbara City Council on Tuesday held an unscheduled performance review of City Attorney Ariel Calonne, who has been on paid leave since late July following an undisclosed incident inside the City Attorney’s Office. While no official account of the incident has been provided, sources say Calonne engaged in an unusually loud and heated argument with a colleague, which was then reported by multiple individuals to the city’s Human Resources department.
Human Resources Director Wendy Levy said she could not discuss the content of the review, nor if any action was taken by the end of it. Assistant City Attorney Sarah Knecht is continuing to function as City Attorney in Calonne’s absence, Levy said. Calonne was hired in 2014 and earns approximately $280,000 a year. He previously worked as the city attorney in Ventura, Boulder, and Palo Alto.
The City Attorney is one of two positions over which the City Council — and not the City Administrator — has direct hiring and firing authority. Members of the council have, so far, declined to comment on the matter.