Oxnard City Manager Ed Sotelo, long at odds with the city's mayor, was placed on paid leave Tuesday, after the ninth City Council meeting to discuss his tenure.
The action, during a closed-door session, came as Ventura County prosecutors continue a lengthy investigation into the city's finances.
City Atty. Alan Holmberg said Tuesday that Sotelo's leave is unrelated to the Ventura County district attorney's investigation. The probe, which started in August 2010 with local and federal investigators searching City Hall and the homes of top city officials, initially focused on a $250-million water project but has since broadened.
Citing the confidentiality of personnel decisions, Holmberg declined to talk about the reasons for forcing Sotelo out and said he had advised council members not to talk about it.
Bill Seki, Sotelo's attorney, said his client has been subjected to "continued harassment" by Mayor Tom Holden. Sotelo, who was appointed the city's chief executive in 1998, filed a harassment claim in 2010 against Holden and then-Councilman Andres Herrera, accusing them of creating a hostile work environment.
One of the issues leading to the claim, Seki said, was Sotelo's refusal to rehire two former city employees associated with the water project that triggered the D.A.'s investigation.
Holden did not return a call for comment.
Sotelo, whose base salary is $266,000, is considering "all of his legal options," his attorney said.