Detroit and Flint City Councils Unanimously Pass Resolutions in Opposition of Michigan’s Emergency Manager Law

Both Detroit and Flint City Councils unanimously passed resolutions in support of the referendum campaign to repeal Public Act 4,“The Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act.”  On Monday evening,September 12, 2011 the Flint City Council voted on a resolution to support the referendum of Michigan’s Emergency Manager Law. On Tuesday morning,September 13, 2011 the Detroit City Council adopted a similar resolution, highlighting cuts in Michigan’s revenue sharing and the expanded power by emergency managers to dilute local representation and sell public assets. Detroit and Flint join the cities of Pontiac, Benton Harbor, Eastpointe, Ypsilanti, and Montague in opposition to PA4.  Read more at Michigan Forward.

 

Transitions

Bernalillo County, New Mexico (population 662,564): This afternoon, the County Commission will choose a new county manager from a list of four finalists. The finalists are Ed Adams, Chief Operating Officer, City of Albuquerque; Melinda Carlton, Oscar S. Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission in Riverdale, MD, and interim county manager Tom Zdunek. Whoever is selected will be responsible for overseeing about 2,500 county employees. Read more at KOB News 4.

Jefferson County, Alabama (population 658,466): County Commission will interview Hoover Mayor Tony Petelos for the county manager’s job, Commission President David Carrington said today. Petelos, who is serving his second term of Alabama’s sixth largest city, is a former Alabama lawmaker who gained a reputation for bipartisan work as a legislator and statehouse official. The county commission tried unsuccessfully this spring to recruit candidates for the position but two finalists removed their name from consideration. State law set a June 1 deadline for a county manager to be in place but gave the commission an additional 120 days to look for candidates if none of the finalists gets a super majority of commission. Read more on AL.com.

Tucson, Arizona (population 520,116): City Manager Mike Letcher has resigned. Letcher notified city officials via email, saying his resignation will be effective in August 2012. Rumors that Letcher’s job was at risk have swirled at City Hall since two council members called for his termination over the recent publicity over major management problems at the city’s parking authority ParkWise. He also was criticized over the problematic implementation of the city’s new 911 system, which had been plagued with dropped calls and technical malfunctions as well as morale and staffing woes. Letcher has held the city’s top post since 2009. Letcher was hired after four council members voted to fire former City Manager Mike Hein two weeks earlier, after the council reviewed Hein in closed session. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.

Rancho Cucamonga, California (population 165,269): The former Bell city manager, who was once employed in Rancho Cucamonga, will receive drastically reduced pension benefits after the California Public Employees Retirement System slashed the payouts of top-paid officials. The move means Rancho Cucamonga’s share of Robert Rizzo’s pension is also significantly reduced.

Rizzo, along with seven other former Bell officials, faces corruption charges for conspiring to inflate each other’s salaries to astronomical figures. When news broke of the salary scandal last year, Rizzo was earning a salary of nearly $800,000 with a total compensation of nearly $1.5 million. At the time, estimates of his CalPERS benefits totaled $650,000 annually. But Rizzo is now set to receive almost $52,000 after the state retirement board reviewed his and other government officials’ pensions.

“We took a close look at the pay that he received in Bell and concluded that most of the pay would not qualify and would not be included in the calculation of his pension benefits,” said Edward Fong, spokesman for CalPERS. CalPERS decided just $7,100 of Rizzo’s monthly salary should be factored in the calculation of his benefits. Read more at theInland Valley Daily Bulletin.

Temecula, California (population 100,097): The City Council and Assistant City Manager Bob Johnson are close to wrapping up the negotiations on his city manager contract, which has been the subject of multiple closed-session meetings in recent weeks. Johnson will be sliding into the city manager’s chair on Jan. 1, 2012, when longtime City Manager Shawn Nelson retires at the end of the year. During the 2010 council election, Nelson’s contract, which paid him more than $285,000 annually, became campaign fodder by candidates seeking to unseat the three incumbents running for re-election. The incumbents, all three were re-elected, responded to that criticism by noting that the next city manager would make less than Nelson, who was uniformly praised for his stewardship of the city. Although city officials haven’t divulged information about the negotiations, a number lower than Nelson’s salary and higher than Johnson’s current pay would put Johnson’s eventual salary somewhere between $200,000 and $280,000. Johnson, 66, is making more than $190,000 in base salary and his compensation is much lower —- nearly $100,000 less per year than Nelson —- because his tenure with the city has been far shorter than Nelson’s 20-plus years.

The council’s negotiations with Johnson are being conducted in a political climate that has seen the salaries of city managers, administrators and elected officials come under fire statewide. In the city of Bell, the city manager was ousted after the disclosure of widespread financial chicanery. In Murrieta, inspired by the abuses in Bell, an ordinance was passed following a successful ballot initiative that seeks to cap the total compensation awarded to top city officials, including benefits and pension contributions, at 2 1/2 times the median household income. Read more at the North County Times.

Marshall County, Alabama (population 93,019): County Administrator Nancy Wilson was placed Thursday on administrative leave with pay, a step before she will be fired pending a request for a hearing on the matter, according to courthouse sources. Wilson, who started in August 2007, replaced the late Marshall County Commission Chairman Billy Cannon, who had been doubling as administrator since Pam Gilmore had retired the previous year. Gilmore held the job more than 30 years. A native of Albertville, Wilson was hired away from a similar position in Dallas County that she’d held since 2000. Prior to that, she worked for 17 years at the Department of Economic and Community Affairs. Read more at the Arab Tribune.

Yakima, Washington (population 91,196): The tenure of the city of Yakima’s first new city manager in 32 years begins today. Don Cooper, who will take his oath of office at tonight’s city council meeting, said he wants to spend first few weeks getting acquainted with city staffers and the community’s major players. But it won’t be too long before he dives into major projects, including hiring a new police chief, he said after this morning’s mayor’s briefing. Cooper, 61, said he hopes to hire a new chief by early December, but is now looking at a year end deadline as the position has not yet been advertised, something he wants to resolve soon. Cooper, who will earn $155,000 as city manager, arrived to Yakima late last week. He spent this past weekend driving around the different neighborhoods and was able to visit the Yakima Farmers Market Sunday. Read more at the Yakima Herald.

Sheboygan, Wisconsin (population 50,792): The Common Council has sought Mayor Bob Ryan’s removal since a three-day drinking binge in late July, requesting his resignation, then pursuing a forced removal when Ryan refused. Alderman Don Hammond and Cory Roeseler are introducing resolutions to halt the removal process and promote Finance Director James Amodeo to city manager. Amodeo — who is working his first government job and was hired in August 2010 — would handle the day-to-day operations of the city and report to Ryan and the Common Council. Read more from the Sheboygan Press.

Eastpointe, Michigan (population 34,077): Controversial former Sterling Heights city manager Steve Duchane is in line to become the next top administrator at Eastpointe City Hall. Duchane, a former police officer, was fired in Sterling Heights from a $123,000-a-year job after he admitted he lied about having earned bachelor’s degrees at the University of Michigan-Flint and Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio, and that he played college football at Eastern Michigan University. In the days after his admission, other allegations of falsifications surfaced including statements made in depositions during a federal personal injury lawsuit. Read more from the Macomb Daily.