Con is gone: embattled Antioch city manager gives two-week notice

Resigns effective July 14; no severance will be paid

“…in the best interests of the city it’s time to move on.” – Cornelius “Con” Johnson

Antioch City Manager Cornelius “Con” Johnson has resigned effective July 14, 2023.

By Allen D. Payton

Embattled Antioch City Manager Cornelius “Con” Johnson has submitted his two-week notice and resigned his position effective July 14th. That’s the same day Economic Development Director Forrest Ebbs will be leaving the City for a new position with Modesto. Johnson was placed on paid administrative leave on March 17 by a 5-0 vote of the council.

According to District 2 City Councilman Mike Barbanica, “This morning, Con Johnson resigned. He gave the City a two-week notice.” Asked if it was in writing, the councilman said, “yes”.

He also said Johnson will not be paid the one-year severance included in his contract. But he will continue to be paid his $22,000 monthly salary for the remaining two weeks.

Asked if the city will continue pursuing the investigations or legal action, Barbanica said, “No further action that I know of is anticipated. As of the 15th he will no longer be a city employee.”

A copy of Johnson’s resignation letter or email was requested from City Attorney Thomas L. Smith and Acting City Manager Kwame Reed. It was not received prior to publication time.

Johnson confirmed his resignation. Asked why, now, he said, “I want to move on. I think Antioch has suffered enough and in the spirit of stability and in the best interests of the city it’s time to move on.”

Later, Barbanica said, “I sent an email to the city attorney requesting to keep the special meeting for Monday, July 10th at 10 a.m. and that we add an agenda item to authorize the process to start immediately recruiting a city manager.”

UPDATE #2: Early Friday afternoon, Reed provided a copy of Johnson’s resignation letter. Addressed to the City’s Human Resources Director Ana Cortez, it reads simply, “NOTICE OF RESIGNATION. Dear Director Cortez, This correspondence serves as my two weeks official notice of resignation as the City of Antioch, City Manager. My last day of employment is Friday, July 14, 2023. Respectfully submitted, Cornelius H. Johnson” and signed by him. The letter was cc’d to the five council members.

The mayor and other council members were sent an email asking for comment.

UPDATE #1: Only District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock responded. She wrote, “Now that Mr. Johnson has resigned, we as council can move forward in hiring an interim city manager to begin the hiring process of a city manager. This is of the highest importance as we have several key positions that need to be filled in order to continue maintaining the city. I truly appreciate staff and all their hard work in multiple positions.” 

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

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